Recently unveiled to the public, Mark Cavendish will be hoping that the new Specialised S-Works Venge Vias is the bike that helps increase his impressive tally of 25 stage wins at the Tour de France. The new Specialized bike is claimed to be a full two minutes faster than a standard road bike over a 40km (25 mile) time trial, thanks to several clever design features.
Reportedly the culmination of 1000 hours of testing in Specialized’s wind tunnel (or “Win Tunnel”, as it had been christened), the frame has been completely overhauled compared to the previous generation of the Venge that Cavendish rode at last year’s Tour de France.
The new bike has seen Specialized’s engineers focussing exclusively on aerodynamics and handling, even if this meant making the frame slightly heavier (a 54cm weighs in at a not insubstatial 1,150g).
The most eye-catching parts of the new bike are the integrated brakes. Specialized has christened these its “zero-drag brakes” on account that they apparently create zero additional drag compared to the frame built up without the brakes.
The front brake extends from the back edge of the fork, and has a similar effect as a fairing, but doesn’t fall foul of UCI rules on account of the additional material being part of the braking structure. The rear brake is built into the seat tube, which Specialized claims is more aerodynamic than positioning it on top of the seatstays or beneath the bottom bracket. What’s more, the brakes will apparently offer the same level of power and modulation as the market-leading Shimano Dura-Ace dual-pivot brakes.
Interestingly Cavendish’s bike is fitted with 53-39t Dura Ace chainset and SRM power meter, despite the rest of the team using the sponsored FSA chainsets. Cavendish suffered dropped chains using various other chainsets and has subsequently used Shimano.
Although Cavendish has often been seen using Zipp bars and stems, his set up for the Tour de France is Specialized’s new integrated cockpit. The bars feature a swooped design, rising up by 25mm on either side of the stem to give relief from the very aggressive position. A specially designed aerodynamic stem houses all the cabling, meaning that you don’t see any of the cables until they exit the frame to join up with their respective components.
Not likely to be a popular feature with any mechanics, aerodynamics appears to be higher priority than practicality. The front end also features an integrated out-front mount for Cavendish’s Garmin head unit.
The head tube has also clearly been designed with aerodynamics in mind, with a very slender profile when viewed from head-on but is still apparently as stiff as the current top-level Tarmac. The rigidity of the fork on the new S-Works Venge ViAS has apparently been increased by 30% over the old model in an attempt to provide handling.
Despite aerodynamics being slightly less important at the rear, Specialized seems to have left no stone unturned. As you would expect, the S-Works ViAS comes with an aero seatpost, but the company’s designers have also lowered the whole back end in order to reduce drag.
New Roval wheels and Turbo tyres
Cavendish will be using the all new Roval CLX 64 wheels and S-Works Turbo tyres – claimed to be the fastest wheel/tyre system ever developed. As you would expect nowadays, the rims are exceptionally wide (24mm internal width at the front, and 26mm at the back) to make sure there is minimal disruption of airflow at the junction between the wheel and the tyre. The Roval AF1 hubs have also been reworked with aerodynamics in mind, and should hopefully spin for days with their ceramic bearings.
The redesigned S-Works turbo tyres also play their part in the 5 minute saving that all of the new Specizlized products combined claim to offer, apparently being 35 seconds faster than a 23mm Continental GP4000S II over 40km.
So, how much will Cav’s bike set you back? The bike will initially only be available with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components, which will set you back an eye-watering £8,500 with limited availability from late August. Is this the bike that will carry the Manx Missile to stage win success? The only problem is that Peter Sagan has one too!
For more details, head over to the Specialized website.