Specialized S Works Venge review
The Specialized Venge ViAS was the winningest bike at the 2017 Tour de France.
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It’s not every day you get to drive the fastest car or fly the fastest plane, so when a leading bike brand agreed to let me borrow its fastest bike, I got plenty excited.

The California-based Specialized sent an S-Works Venge ViAS Disc, a whole lot of bike that has won stages in the Tour de France and countless other top races. It’s an aero road bike built to do one thing: go fast.

I’ve been riding this impressively equipped Venge — with wind-cheating ZIPP wheels, the novel electronic shifting eTap, and powerful SRAM disc brakes — for the better part of a year.

Swapping my regular bike for a superbike was like going from a Civic to a Corvette. Here’s what it was like.

1/23

First impressions: wicked fast, technically crisp, surprisingly comfortable, supremely balanced.

First impressions: wicked fast, technically crisp, surprisingly comfortable, supremely balanced.
This is a lot of bike.
Daniel McMahon/Business Insider

The aero road bike became a thing around the mid-2000s. The new kind of bicycle had a single purpose: to go fast in a straight line.

Engineers tested lightweight carbon-fiber tubes of myriad shapes and sizes to help riders slice through the wind, reduce drag, and go faster. But while the early aero bikes were significantly faster, they handled like time-trial bikes. Over bumpy roads they felt harsh, the handling twitchy. They were not fun to ride.

Thankfully, aero bikes have a come a long way, as has the Venge. Specialized’s fastest offering, which has now seen a few iterations, inspires more all-around riding confidence and feels comfortable for a carbon aero bike.

2/23

Cheating the wind by design.
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When Specialized rolled out this version of the Venge, in 2016, it said it was the fastest bike it had ever made, as well as “the stiffest and most aerodynamic.” That meant something, given that Specialized has its own “Win Tunnel” and for years has been making some of the most sought-after bicycles, which have won just about every race you can name, including world championships, the classics, and grand tours. In fact, the current men’s world road champ — and one of the best bike racers of all time — counts a Venge among his quiver.

3/23

Aero design defines the bike, from the cockpit through wheels. The frame is made of Specialized’s FACT 11r carbon.
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But let’s be clear: You buy an aero bike to be the fastest on your group ride or the first across the finish line. At least now you can have your speed and enjoy it, too, because the dragster has evolved to Formula One.

When it launched this Venge, Specialized claimed the bike would save a rider a whopping 45 seconds over 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) compared with the Tarmac, the company’s climbing bike, which itself has since been updated.

4/23

More stages were won at the 2017 Tour on a Venge ViAS Disc than on any other bike.

More stages were won at the 2017 Tour on a Venge ViAS Disc than on any other bike.
Marcel Kittel on his custom-painted Venge ViAS Disc.
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Germany’s Marcel Kittel, one of the world’s fastest road sprinters, won a whopping five stages at the 2017 Tour aboard a Venge ViAS Disc. In fact, Kittel made Tour de France history by becoming the first rider in the world’s greatest race to win a road stage on a bike with disc brakes.

5/23

The oversize aerodynamic tubes seemingly bend around the wheels, these being ZIPP’s 454 NSW carbon clinchers.
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All around the Venge is an emphasis on integration of aero shapes that help limit wind resistance.

6/23

Specialized maxes the aero profile along the seat tube to tuck the rear wheel in closer.
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7/23

Traditional stacking spacers are replaced with an elegant aero cover.
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8/23

The sleek seat stays just look fast.
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9/23

Oversize tubing around the CeramicSpeed bottom bracket makes power transfer from the rider to the bike super stiff and efficient.
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10/23

ZIPP’s SL 70 Aero handlebar is mated to an SL Sprint stem. The ultralight aero combo felt stiff and good in hand when sprinting.
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11/23

Embracing faster.
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I didn’t…