Friday, 28 October 2016

Tech Talk: Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS

Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS

Two minutes. That’s how much faster Specialized claims the new Venge ViAS is compared with a standard road bike over a flat 40km. Tested to be a full minute faster than the previous Venge, the 2016 Specialized Venge features dramatic aero features such as a truncated head tube, an integrated low-riding stem, an elongated front brake mounted behind the fork and a rear brake tucked midway up the seat tube. 

The ViAS was modelled in McLaren’s in-house MIDAS (McLaren integrated data analysis integration software) system, the same system the car manufacturers use for mathematical simulations of the interaction between a track and their Formula One cars and equipment. Spesh then took that bike to their wind tunnel to optimise aerodynamics and develop what they claim to be razor-sharp handling.

 Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Frameset

At 1,150g, the Venge ViAS frame is certainly not light. But after long-term modelling work with McLaren Applied Technologies, Specialized is highly confident that the massive reduction in aero drag will override the weight penalty for most riders in most situations in terms of overall speed. In overhauling the Venge, Specialized's designers decided to focus on making the most aero, best handling road bike possible. Freed from the “it has to be ultralight” mandate of most road bikes, Specialized designers, engineers and product managers like Chris D’Alusio, Luc Callahan and Mark Cote pushed the envelope.

The front end is nearly as stiff as the current S-Works Tarmac, and the bottom-bracket-area stiffness is higher than any Specialized road bike. With a longer seatpost than before, there is a slight increase in flex and thus comfort, though Specialized declined to quantify how much. But what about those brakes? Early aero road bikes were notorious for sub-par braking, as designers often compromised brake mechanics while chasing aero performance. 

Radical Looks Caliper

Longtime Specialized designer Chris D’Alusio started tinkering with the Venge brake design years ago. Largely unconstrained by a weight target, D’Alusio was free to focus on aerodynamics and brake performance. D’Alusio and Specialized studied wheel flex in relation to various points on bike frames in general, and found that there was more movement below the bottom bracket at above the seatstays than in between the two, where the Venge brake is anchored. Specialized aero engineer Chris Yu also pointed out that tunnel testing showed the under-the-chainstay brake location is not good for aerodynamics, as the down tube can speed up and funnel air through that area. “We tested against [Shimano] Dura-Ace 9000 for feel, modulation and power,” D’Alusio said. “And the Venge ViAS brakes are right on par.” 

Less is more

Sleek and cables in front end

In building the Venge ViAS, Specialized adopted a holistic approach. While one man’s integrated can be another man’s incompatible, Specialized decided the gain in aerodynamics was worth giving up some compatibility. Aero, non-standard seatposts are now common on road bikes, but integrated stems and brakes are a step further. Similarly, with the new Venge ViAS, the swooped handlebar is a requirement, too, unless you happen to want a really low bar position. While cables might not seem like much, they certainly can increase drag on a bike, which is why you increasingly see them hidden away on time trial bikes. To hide cables and wires from end to end, Specialized employed wide headset bearings to route the derailleur and brake lines from inside the stem down into the frame.


Stem:The stem is the component on a bicycle that connects the handlebars to the steerer tube of the bicycle fork. Sometimes called a goose neck, a stem's design belongs to either a quill or threadless system, and each system is compatible with respective headset and fork designs.

Seattube: The tube where the seatpost going, its linked a downtube, toptube, chainstay and seatstay.

BB/Bottom Bracket: The bottom bracket on a bicycle connects the crankset (chainset) to the bicycle and allows the crankset to rotate freely. It contains a spindle that the crankset attaches to, and the bearings that allow the spindle and cranks to rotate. The chainrings and pedals attach to the cranks. The bottom bracket fits inside the bottom bracket shell, which connects the seat tube, down tube and chain stays as part of the bicycle frame.

Seatstay: The tube connect seattube with rear drop out

Headset: The headset is the set of components on a bicycle that provides a rotatable interface between the bicycle fork and the head tube of the bicycle frame.


Ride On!

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