The Venge proved itself in its first year: Mark Cavendish claimed the green jersey in 2011 riding a McLaren S-Works model. Specialized have now launched this more affordable Comp model for 2013.
Highs: Excellent frame; stable, pinpoint handling
Lows: Spec compromised to accommodate the price of the chassis
Buy if: Speed is your thing, and you’re happy to upgrade later
The frame and fork are the same shaped and profiled FACT IS design as the S-Works, complete with Di2-ready routing, but its lower grade carbon adds a little weight. Shimano 105 mechs are paired with a Tiagra cassette and FSA Gossamer Pro BB30 chainset for a super-smooth drivetrain. Specialized use their own adjustable Comp-Set stem and deep bend bar, and we’re big fans of the Romin saddle. We’re also impressed by the build and ride quality of the DT Swiss wheels.
The Venge’s ride is all about pace. It feels fast, but what impressed us most was its composure. In heavy rain and blustery winds the Venge was never troubled; its smooth, aerodynamic lines cut a straight path without fuss. The Venge is also one of the quietest bikes we’ve ever ridden: no noise, no rattling, just a smooth, silent ride.
The looks may be a little Marmite, with its hunchback top tube and long head tube, though it’s not tall at the front, but the proof is in the riding. The Venge is at its best when pushed flat out, its 52/36 compact gearing enabling you to hit higher speeds than a 50/34, especially on descents. We’d like to see more brands fitting these ‘pro’ compacts.
The ‘pro’ compact gives higher gearing than a typical 50/34: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
The ‘pro’ compact gives higher gearing than a typical 50/34
Early Venges did feel a little harsh, but the Comp is more forgiving. Some of that could be down to the carbon used being more compliant, but it also has plenty to do with the supple Turbo Elite tyres and traditional wheels. If you like riding flat-out there’s little that can match the Venge’s abilities, and should you fancy a time trial or triathlon, the adjustable stem and flippable seat clamp – offering zero or 20mm offset – means clip-on tri bars will give you a very capable bike. It’ll also cope with a sportive.
At £2,500 it’s expensive for its spec, but we’d recommend ignoring its perceived kit downgrades and just enjoy the fact that this is one of the quickest framesets around, with impeccable manners and swift handling. Those components will eventually wear out, but you’ll still have a hugely impressive frameset.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.