SPECIALIZED VENGE VIAS REVIEW – FINALLY
After four months of waiting, finally the VENGE VIAS PRO is here and ready to go.
You can take as much of the wind tunnel, wattage reduction, reduced wind drag, better at yaw angles, on a 36 degree day, at 50 kilometres per hour, if you hold your head slightly to the left at 93 psi on an indoor velodrome test riding data as you want and review it until the cows come home. But, what does this all mean to the mere mortal wanting to ride a road bike and get performance benefits and a quality ride ?
Well, all of this data still means exactly that to a mere mortal. The bike is very, very fast, whether you are going at 50 kilometres an hour or only going at 30 kilometres per hour, all of these little details still have an influence on the bike's performance.
After three solid test rides, taking in some dubious and questionable road surfaces, the VENGE VIAS ticks all the proverbial boxes.
The first thing l noticed and was pleasantly surprised by was how smooth the bike is. Aero bikes have a reputation of being very harsh in their ride, not so the Venge, it is very compliant.
(Just to make sure how much the amazing S Works tyres influenced that ride quality, l also tested the bike with some ZIPP wheels paired with Conti tubulars in and the ride was still extremely smooth)
Great, that's a relief, a smooth ride, now the next test, with a crosswind as little 5 kph will l be riding at right angles like l am riding through Fiji during a Hurricane ? Not the case, even with the ROVAL CL64 deeper rims in the bike, my sub 60 kg frame was not being blown around at all into the crosswinds of about 12-14 kph. All that work and development into frame shape and design as well as rim aerodynamics on the Roval CL64's has paid off big time to ensure the bike remains stable and wind gusts have no more effect on the bikes handling than on my regular round tube bike frame. Another box ticked off and another great sigh of relief. Although l am not prepared to test it during a hurricane in Fiji.
From there, give the bike a little bit of stick to see what happens and yep, it accelerates, very, very quickly and then it was no problem whatsoever to hold and maintain speeds of 36-38 kph. To clarify, when l say no problem, l mean not as tough as on my normal round tube shaped bike, l'm not that fast. With the aerodynamics of the Venge frame, it's handlebars and front end combined with the CL64 Roval wheels, the bike held it's speed with no where near as much effort as it takes for the regular frame bike which is exactly what you expect from a bike like this.
Next stop, handling. The first few corners on the Venge l did have to readjust my line, but not in a bad way. This thing corners so incredibly well that there is nowhere near as much effort required to duck through a corner and maintain speed. In the third ride on the bike, whilst with a fast race group going through a corner, l found myself in an unusual position, well out in front ! As we went through a left turn several other riders had to slow to maneuver their machine through it when l just had to point the Venge and it did all the rest. Whilst on the subject of handling, there has been some conjecture over the braking power or quality of the proprietary aero brakes virtually built into the Venge VIAS frame. They are no Shimano XT Disc brake but they certainly do not lack power or performance. Like any bike component or any brake, they need correct adjustment, brake pad alignment, brake pad/rim compatibility and they stop you just like any other good quality caliper road brake. Another sigh of relief as yet another rumor about this fast bike is put to bed.
With the Roval CL64 Wheels the bike comes in a little heavier than road bikes in it's class at about 7.5 kgs. I am in a fortunate position that if plan on doing a hilly ride, l can change wheels and bring that down to about 6.9 kgs which is mentally far more appealing. That all said, the bike feels like 7.6 kg to pick up, but accelerates like a bike that is 6.5 kgs, there is no penalty in performance by a little additional weight which is probably due to the specific cable routed head stem and integrated brakes.
This bike is an amazing weapon and what l find most remarkable, it does not have to be only for the elite racer. Let's face it, everyone wants to go fast, they won't say it to your face, they won't tell their bunch riding mates, but most cyclist's are competitive and want to go fast. Due to the smoother than expected ride, incredible handling and bike geometry, this bike can be for everyone. What l mean by geometry is that bikes of this nature are generally far lower in the front that the geometry of an endurance road bike. Specialized have realised that riders need the bikes to accommodate their bike fit and body positions and so have left a lot of fork steerer tube and spacers protruding from the head tube of these bikes. This extra height, combined with the 2.5 cm rise in the Aero handlebars, means that the bikes can pretty much accommodate any road riders bike fit and body position, making this bike far more user friendly and open for any cyclist to take advantage of it's unrivaled aerodynamics, speed, compliance and handling.
This bike feels amazing to ride and a unique sight to look down and see totally clean bars, stem and frame due all of the cables being internal routed through the bars and stem. A feeling you only really have previously experienced with a track bike or a fixie bike.
If we had to star rate this bike, it would have to be 10 out 10. Fortunately we don't have to star rate it so let's just say that this thing is amazingly fast !