Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Di2 Review

The S-works Venge ViAS is like having a pro race bike as an enthusiast with the same carbon layup and same technology ridden in the pro peloton!

September 24th, 2015 I took ownership of my very first S-Works Road bike. The fact that it just happened to be a Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Di2 was pure gold and here is my review! I didn't have a chance to demo it before I bought it. And, quite frankly, the astronomical price was downright scary.

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What sold me on the S-Works model over the Pro model was the Roval CLX-64 Wheels, the S-Works Power Saddle, the carbon S-Works Cranks with the Quark Power Meter, the Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain, and Ceramic Speed bearings. Did I mention the Quarq power meter? Yes, I believe I did. After working with my local bike shop on pricing to the point where we were both happy, I placed the order and waited for the singularly most advanced and expensive bike I have ever ridden, or I dare say, ever seen.

S-works box

Unfortunately, I did not keep track of the date I placed the order with my bike shop. I will kick myself later! It seems like it was mid to late July 2015. Due to the manufacturing runs and the demand already burdening production in mid-2015 I had to wait a few agonizing months for delivery. Why would some pro team need an S-works Venge ViAS anyway? I hope you can see the sarcasm there as well as a heap of progression. I can now have a pro race bike as an enthusiast with the same carbon layup and same technology ridden in the pro peloton! Shortly before I returned home from working out of state in September 2015, I got the call. My S-Works Venge ViAS Di2 size 52 had been shipped, and it would arrive at my LBS the day I was scheduled to return home. At some point in the early afternoon of September 22nd, 2015, I woke up in my bed after driving through the night in a euphoric haze. The thought of my new bike had me moving expediently with much haste, ok, racing, to my LBS on all the backroads and shortcuts through town. When I beheld the box with the S-Works logo safely shielding the masterpiece within, I was on pins and needles. So, naturally, I snapped a photo!

The shop mechanic and I opened the top of the box, and I got my first look at the 2015 Roval CLX 64 wheels with ceramic speed bearings. They were light as can be, rolled forever when I spun them, and the bladed spokes immediately caught my attention. Ever since the Mavic Crossmax, I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with bladed spokes! While I was spending too much time fiddling with my new Roval CLX 64 front wheel that was reasonably acceptable, the mechanic asked me a question. He may have had to ask a few times as I looked over at him with glazed eyes.

Had I remembered to bring my current 2014 Venge Pro Race force with me so he could transfer over the measurements? On a side note, I had been having cross wind speed wobble issues at speeds over 40 MPH on the descent of Yellowstone trail going below the I-90 bridge on the east side of Coeur D Alene ID. I love riding that loop but had speed wobbles so bad I was forced to slow all the way under 18 MPH to regain control. I am 5 foot 6 inches and weigh 125 to 130 pounds and have a lean upper body. He dropped the bars a bit to bring more of my weight over the front tire, but I had not tested it yet. I was still a little freaked out by the last time the bike got away from me. Yep, you guessed it; my trusty old steed was still at home.

I got to thinking about the speed and efficiency claims for the Venge ViAS, and I decided to do a test to see if it was faster than my current Venge Pro. The technology in the frames alone were miles apart so I knew there would be no contest. I also needed to test the newly dropped bars where it mattered so it was off to the Centennial Trail in Coeur D Alene ID and the Yellowstone trail loop with the fun, wide, nearly straight, descent down East Sunnyside Road.

The Yellowstone trail loop is an optional residential road section on the Centennial Trail as it follows East Coeur D Alene Lake Drive towards Higgins point. My GPS records it as being a 5.7 Mile Loop with 490 feet of climbing, although it always feels like more. It follows East Yellowstone Trail, South Bonnell Rd, and East Sunnyside Road to finally merge back into the Centennial Trail. East Yellowstone trail and South Bonnell Road make up 2.5 miles of climbing with a kicker near the top of Bonnell road that pitches up to 13.9% near the top. It’s brutal, and I love it! The loop is perfect for a shoot-out between two Specialized Venges. I know what you are saying, a 2.4-mile ascent with a 3.3-mile descent is not really how you test 2 aero road bikes designed to be sledgehammers, and I would have to agree. The total distance of the test came in at 27 miles, covered 15.5 miles of flat, 5.9 miles of descending and 5.5 miles of climbing with a day of rest in between. The results were exciting and just what I had expected.

topofusion

The Venge ViAS is very FAST! The power transfer through the frame felt instant. It sliced through the wind like butter. It was super composed on the descents and made me want to ride faster. It seemed to roll as if it was under its own power and kept speed much longer than I expected. The Roval CLX 64 wheels were incredible! There was hardly any wind during both tests, but both bikes have deep dish wheels. My time for the 27-mile test on my Venge Pro Race Force was 1:31:21 and the time for my new S-Works Venge ViAS?was 1:25:25. The S-Works Venge ViAS DI2 was nearly six minutes faster over 27 miles than my Venge Pro Race Force.

Here is a better breakdown. It was a full two minutes and ten seconds faster on the flats, a minute and a half faster on the climbs, and two and a half minutes faster on the descents. But it wasn’t exactly comparing apples to apples on the drop down East Sunnyside Road, so that cuts the nearly 6 miles of descending over the 27 miles in half.  Slashing the descending time in half due to annoying wobble issues with the other bike, we would still end up with a margin of over five minutes. I also don’t have a power meter on the Venge Pro, so I am unable to perform a test within the more precise confines of power zones. But let me tell you a bit about both bikes.

The Specialized Venge Pro Race Force is a quick and light bike. At 15.8 pounds It has a FACT 10r carbon frame, 53/39 Pro Fact Carbon Cranks, SRAM Force 22 Groupset, S-Works Turbo Tires, and Roval CLX 60 Wheels. Before the S-Works Venge ViAS Di2, The Venge Pro Race Force was one of the fastest bikes I had ever ridden and was my first aero road bike. The Venge Pro replaced my Scott CR1 Pro which had an Ultegra groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels

There is more to both bikes that can be found in the Specialized.com bike archive links listed below:

ViAS bike

The S-Works Venge ViAS Di2 at 17.1 pounds has a FACT 11r Carbon Frame, S-Works FACT carbon 52/36 Cranks with Ceramic Speed Bearings and Quarq Power Meter, Proprietary brakes, Dura Ace Di2 Electronic drivetrain, Roval CLX 64 Wheels, and S-Works Turbo Tires.

When I had the bike shop weigh the bike after they built it, I was stunned to see it weighing so much. Usually the more expensive the bike, the less it weighs and, you find yourself adding weight, while looking like you’re up to something, to legally enter any UCI races! Not the case with this bike, it’s girth is like Godzilla in a pit toilet. It just doesn’t seem right, however, as you throw your leg over the top tube and engage your first pedal stroke, all thoughts of Godzilla fold neatly away into the grin that broadens your facial features. The Frame is stiff and rewards even the smallest bit of force with speed on the ground.

ViAS bike

The first weekend I owned the bike I rode in the Coeur D Fondo, a 108-mile group ride around Lake Coeur D Alene in North Idaho that starts and finishes at the Coeur D Alene resort. It’s a great way to earn a beer at the Octoberfest venue. This was my first ride over 100 miles, and it also climbed 6200 feet. I rode solo and had nutrition issues during the ride that kept me well outside my sub-6-hour goal. I finished in 6:39:02, averaged 145 Watts and had an average speed of 17.4 MPH. My moving time was 6:12:38 and I had a max speed of 51.9 MPH.

I have ridden a lot of miles with this bike in the 15 Months that I have owned it. Its poise at speed is incredible and because it has so much aero technology I find myself not having to work as hard to get the same results as my other bike which has been relegated to the stationary trainer.

I hooked up with a couple of riders during the Colorado Longmont MS-150 who were using the event to train for the Triple Bypass ride in Colorado. In the beginning, they were attacking the hill climbs, and I had to react in order to keep up. One of the two had a power meter and had mentioned that he had to put 335 watts of power down just to keep up with me when I started attacking the climbs. Forty miles later after they had faded, I found myself cruising at 27mph across the flats of the 67-mile route to Fort Collins bridging across to the next group of riders to rest a bit before attacking again. This was the-life! The grin never left my face the entire ride although it did turn into a grimace going up a steep climb that came out of nowhere on the outskirts of Fort Collins. I only averaged 146 Watts for that ride and completed the 67-mile route with nearly 1800 feet of climbing in 3:37:26.

ViAS bikeS-works boxViAS biketopofusion

The S-Works Venge ViAS Di2 can handle a lot of power and speed but for us smaller riders with less power it offers a complete package of efficiency. I have found myself riding farther and faster than I have ever ridden before and finishing fresher than ever before. That equates to less overall power for the same results, and that continues to bring out the grin I have known to have while riding this bike. It’s the same one that found its way onto my face when I first threw my leg over the top tube, and it’s the same one that shows no sign of ever fading.

The power transfer is fantastic, the speed across the flats is approaching ludicrous, and even the climbing is incredible. I passed a rider a few months ago on a 4% grade at 17 MPH during a ride up the Rec path from Frisco to Copper Mountain CO. The CLX 64 wheels will act like sails in the crosswinds and will move you off your line, but the bike is super poised so you will never feel out of control. Their 21mm internal rim width gives you a contact patch that shouts control and, I dare say, has you looking for wind.

I have already been stuck out on the road with dead Di2 batteries, and that is before I found out that I could remove the cable from the rear derailleur and manually move it to whichever gear suited me best to get back home. The Di2 hoods are comfortable and can be adjusted to fit my small hands, and I have also been able to swap out that idiotic white bar tape with black tape and the white power saddle has been replaced with a red one. It looks even more like a beast dressed in red and black. If you have a chance to own or throw your leg over one of these even for a short time, jump on it! You will not regret it!

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Brian Koehn

Breckenridge, Colorado

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