This is the brand new Specialized S-Works Venge belonging to Peter Sagan, the three-time world champion who won stage two of this year’s Tour de France. We borrowed it for a quick look at the Grand Départ in Vendée.
Sagan, as we all know, is box office. He’s one of the most exciting riders to watch because he can win from just about anywhere. He’ll take on a long breakaway on the cobbles or mix it with the most powerful sprinters in a mass dash for the finish line. Not surprisingly, his sponsors take every opportunity to provide him with eye-catching equipment because they know it’ll get seen.
Sagan is now riding the recently revealed third generation Venge which is, of course, lighter and faster than previously, according to Specialized. It’s only available with disc brakes and electronic gears. Cannondale’s new SystemSix and the latest version of Giant’s Propel are also disc brake-only (although the previous version of the Propel is still available with rim brakes).
Specialized actually started designing the new Venge by first developing its own Free Shape Optimisation software that could generate millions of tube shapes and analyse them based on aerodynamics, surface area and stiffness. Specialized isn't just taking a tube profile off the shelf, it wanted to develop tube shapes that met its particular requirements.
The previous Venge’s curvy down tube has been replaced by an arrow straight one, there’s a new semi-integrated handlebar and stem, all-new rear stays and an aero seatpost. It has been designed entirely with disc brakes in mind, there is no rim brake option at all. Specialized feels the benefits of disc brakes outweigh any negatives. One of those positives is increased tyre clearance. The Venge will take a 32mm tyre, which is huge for an aero road bike.
The new Venge is designed solely for electronic shift systems. This is because it is a bike aimed at high-level racers where electronic gears are the most common choice, and also because there are fewer compromises in having to factor in cable routing for a mechanical groupset. Specialized’s thinking is that if you’re striving for optimum aerodynamics, why introduce a compromise like cable routing? Of course, the downside is that it immediately sets the entry price high. Sagan uses satellite shifters for his Di2 system, by the way, which you can see poking through the bar tape in the picture above.
The Di2 junction box has also been relocated to the back of the saddle clamp due to feedback from the pros. The main benefit is that it allows team mechanics to access it more easily when leaning out of a car window than if it were located in the down tube or handlebar.
The new Aerofly II handlebar has an aero profile and is said to be is faster, lighter and stiffer than Specialized’s previous design. All cables and brake hoses are internally routed and there are textured patterns on the top for extra grip.
Specialized claims the new stem is stiffer than any other that it has tested including the Zipp SL Sprint that Sagan has used in the past. The new stem takes internally routed cables and hoses from the handlebar and passes them directly into the frame via a small cover on the underside. It’s fairly similar to the systems used on the BMC Teammachine and Cannondale SystemSix and should provide easier setup while offering an aerodynamic advantage.
Aero bikes are always a little heavier than standard road bikes because of the size of the tubes. A 56cm Venge has a claimed weight of 960g, which is lightweight for an aero road bike. Along with a lighter fork than previously and savings elsewhere the new Venge module saves 460g over the old one, according to Specialized. The bike has a claimed weight of 7.1kg when fully built up with high-end equipment.
Sagan's Venge has 2015, 2016 and 2017 written on the inside of the chainstay, those being the years of his three world championship wins.
There's a little design on the seat tube that says, "If I don't have yellow, I have green. If I don't have green, I have rainbow." This is (more or less) something that Sagan said at a press conference after winning his first yellow jersey in the 2016 Tour de France – referring, of course, to the race leader's yellow jersey, the green jersey for the leader of the points competition and the world champion's rainbow stripes.
The Specialized S-Works Venge in this Peter Sagan limited edition finish is available to buy. With a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes, Roval CLX 64 Disc wheels and Specialized's own S-Works Power Cranks, it is priced £10,000.
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Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.