Early aero machines paid the penalty for decreased drag numbers with increased gram numbers. Not so on this Venge. Specialized tells us that it’s the most aerodynamic Venge yet, but the frame weighs just 960g.
Overall weight is only 7.56kg in a large 58cm with 64mm-deep aero carbon wheels. That’s impressive. As is the S-Works’ specification.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Specialized S-Works Venge SRAM eTAP is part of our annual Bike of the Year test and our Superbike of the Year winner.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
The CLX64 wheels spin on CeramicSpeed bearings. They have a wide, 21mm internal dimension and are shod with supple S-Works Cotton Turbo tyres in a unique 26mm width that spread closer to 28mm on these rims.
(Editors note: the bike is pictured with a set of non-stock Schwalbe Pro One tyres. The stock bike would ship with S-Works Cotton Turbo Tyres.)
Roval’s CLX 64 wheels. Tom Wragg
The drivetrain is SRAM’s wireless pinnacle, the Red AXS, which performs immaculately. AXS can be tuned to your personal preferences via the accompanying app.
It comes with a power meter, which is a direct-mount unit loaded with beautifully machined chainrings that bolt directly onto the Red carbon crank arms. It’s a neat design and accurate, too.
Rear SRAM Red hydraulic disc brake and rotor. Tom Wragg
The Venge-specific carbon seatpost is topped with one of the finest saddles around right now in the form of the short-design Power; in fact, it’s the flyweight carbon S-Works model, which retains all the comfort of the Power design but at a minimal weight.
The cockpit is appreciatively simple. The Venge-integrated stem flows into the head tube, its traditional four-bolt bar clamp holding the flat-wing-topped Aerofly II bar in place.
S-Works Venge aero post with S-Works Power saddle. Tom Wragg
Specialized also includes an integrated GPS mount that slots into the faceplate, which is all well and good but how does it ride? Simply put, the Venge is a revelation – a bike this fast has no right being this smooth.
For the last 18 months I’ve been riding an S-Works Tarmac and several times I thought I’d grabbed the wrong bike because the Venge feels so close to it (but faster). On the worst road surfaces, it’s a tad firmer, but that’s arguably down to the 64mm-deep wheels.
The S-Works Aerofly II bar. Tom Wragg
Handles like a dream
As for its geometry, compared to a 58cm Tarmac the 581mm stack is 10mm lower and the 405mm reach a tad longer by 3mm. It doesn’t feel too low or stretched.
The parallel 73.5-degree angles and 44mm fork offset contribute to the bike’s wonderfully balanced, quick handling and, unlike most bikes with this level of aerodynamic integration, the steering isn’t limited by stops.
The gearing combination is a 48/35 chainset and 10-33 cassette over 12 gears. Compared to an 11-speed setup, it’s like running a 52/36 with an 11-28 but having both a harder and lighter gear, plus smaller jumps between the gears.
On the Venge, this close spread makes total sense to maintain high speeds at an even cadence. As for climbing, the gearing’s ample for any gradient; when it comes to descending, the Venge is simply unbeatable.
The only minor moot point is that the luxury S-Works Cotton Turbo tyres, while rolling superbly, will struggle to resist punctures.
I’d opt for something a little tougher – or tubeless – for the winter/early spring and save the cotton for Sunday best.
Overall, this Venge is stunningly well equipped, brilliantly responsive and exciting to ride. Did I mention fast, too? The hardware is so complete that you’d never need to change a thing.
If ever a £9,750 bike could be described as ‘value for money’, this might be it.
Specialized S-Works Venge SRAM eTAP geometry
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 73.5 degrees
Seat tube: 53.7cm
Top tube: 57.7cm
Head tube: 18cm
Fork offset: 4.4cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7.2cm
Bottom bracket height: 26.8cm
With thanks to…
BikeRadar would like to thank 100%, Q36.5, Lazer, Garmin and Facom for their support during our Bike of the Year test.