Frame, Fork & Seatpost: Specialized Venge Elite

ccs-62657-0-49173100-1492177049.jpgThe Gloss Tarmac Black, Hyper, Red colour scheme dazzles in the sun with colourful sparkles.
The Venge was launched in 2011 in collaboration with racing giants McLaren, who provided their Formula One expertise and carbon know-how to optimize the frame's aerodynamics.

The FACT 10r carbon frame is said to provide the ideal blend of light overall weight, stiffness, and responsiveness. The carbon layup utilises less high-modulus carbon fibre, making it less stiff and slightly heavier than the range-topping S-Works. The tube profiles and wind-cheating shapes stay the same, however, and with aero-optimized tubing, a compact race design, and a tapered head tube, the frame is effectively optimized for aero performance.

The full monocoque FACT carbon fork was designed with aero in mind and has been wind-tunnel-optimized. Specialized have their own take on the seatpost clamp with a two-bolt design used to hold the aero seatpost in place. The seatpost can be flipped around for either a 20mm or 0mm offset. While photographing the bike, I noticed a nifty hole at the back of the seat tube indicating minimum seatpost insertion. Clever, good looking and practical.

Specialized have the color down as "Gloss Tarmac Black / Hyper / Red", what they don't mention is the blue, red and green sparkles visible under direct sunlight. The base colors are already striking, but with the extra bit of sparkle, it is quite unique and special.

As one would expect from an aero bike, all cables are neatly routed internally with the option to close off ports with rubber grommets when not in use. In this case, a useful feature with the wireless SRAM RED eTAP groupset used on this build.

The frame came equipped with a BB30 CeramicSpeed bottom bracket.

Drivetrain: SRAM RED eTAP

I sampled SRAM's RED eTAP late last year when it became available for public consumption and was very impressed by its ease of use, feel and intuitive controls. I was therefore very happy to be able to fit a SRAM RED eTAP groupset to one of our long term bikes to fully test it over an extended period.


For those not that familiar with the groupset, have a look at our First Look and product launch articles.

Powering the groupset is Quarq's latest DZero power meter crank. The crank has aptly been named after the DZero Experiment (DØ Experiment to be precise), one of science’s most accurate and innovative projects to detect subatomic particles moving at the speed of light. With a new measurement circuit, a revised strain gauge design, improved accuracy throughout the pedal stroke and software advances built into the Qalvin App, DZero represents a big step forward for Quarq and their range of power meters.


Dual Bluetooth low energy technology and ANT+ let you choose how to capture the data and it has been programmed with over 10,000 data points to eliminate temperature effects on power measurement. Quarq’s direct force power meters measure total power output from both legs with 1.5% accuracy. The DZero comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating, 2-year warranty and free firmware updates via their Qalvin BLE app which can also be used to set the zero offset, check battery voltage, run diagnostics and perform firmware updates.

Both the crank and eTAP integrates with my Garmin 820, completing the "To Infinity and Beyond" feel of riding a bicycle in the digital age.

Wheelset: American Classic Argent Tubeless

The temptation was there to build the bike with mid-depth carbon wheels, but as the bike will be used for training rides through winter I started looking around for a tubeless wheelset. American Classic's Argent wheelset made the cut as they come tubeless ready, have proven themselves to be reliable and, at 1392g, the wheelset is lighter than most carbon offerings, at a fraction of the price.


Tyres: Specialized Roubaix Tubeless, 700x23/25c

No use running tubeless rims if you're not going to run tubeless tyres, right? I've opted for a set of Specialized's Roubaix tyres in 700x23/25c. The odd sizing is simple to understand and quite clever actually: The 23/25 refers to a 23mm tread width on a 25mm casing which allows for a larger, more forgiving casing with the quicker handling of a narrower contact patch.

There's an extra layer of puncture protection built in courtesy of the Endurant casing which will be welcome on our glass-strewn roads.

Handlebar & Stem: ITM X-One

The ITM X-One Road Handlebar is a full carbon bar designed with maximum comfort and performance in mind. Featuring an anatomic flat top that allows the palm of the hand to lie naturally on the grip, which helps relieve strain from your arms and hands when riding.



This has been paired with ITM's aluminium X-One stem. The AL 7075 T6 alloy stem is 3D forged and CNC rectified before being wrapped in carbon fibre and comes with a carbon front plate.

The handlebar has been wrapped in Specialized's S-Wrap Classic, triple-density, synthetic leather handlebar tape. It is said to provide a tacky grip and good vibration damping. During the course of the review period, I will play around with different bar tapes to find what offers the best longevity along with comfort and feel.

Saddle: Astute Italia Skycarb VT

Astute Italia is an Italian company that specializes in the design and manufacturer of high-end saddles. The Skycarb uses a pair of ultra thin carbon shells and 3k carbon rails to help keep weight down to 140 grams. Despite its weight and relatively low profile, the saddle has proved itself very comfortable over the last couple of months thanks to its triple-density memory foam as well as Astute's shock pad absorber system damping, sandwiched between rails and hull.


Other bits and pieces

I have opted for Specialized Zee Cage II bottle cages even though the Venge's frame allows for traditional top-load bottle cages. I have been using the Zee Cage II for a while now and they are some of the best bottle cages on the market. Besides, I find it easiest to have some conformity between bikes.


To mount my trusty Garmin 820, I have fitted a K-Edge Garmin/GoPro combo mount and finished the build off with my Shimano 105 pedals that I have been using for a while now.

The Build

Specialized Stellenbosch assisted us in putting the Venge together. Take a look at the time-lapse video of the build below:

Full Specifications:

  • FrameSpecialized Venge Elite
  • ForkSpecialized FACT carbon, full monocoque
  • WheelsetAmerican Classic Argent Tubeless
  • TyresSpecialized Roubaix Tubeless, 700x23/25c
  • HandlebarsITM X-One Bar 44cm C2C, 68mm reach, 138mm drop, 215g
  • StemITM X-One Alu Stem, 80mm, 0 / 10° rise, 144g
  • Headset1-1/8" upper, 1-3/8” lower, steel bearings, 20mm alloy cone spacer, w/ 20mm spacers
  • BrakesSRAM RED Mechanical
  • ShiftersSRAM RED eTAP
  • DerailleursSRAM RED eTAP
  • CassetteSRAM Force 11-28
  • CranksetQuarq Dzero Power Meter, 172.5mm
  • Chainrings50/34T
  • ChainSRAM RED
  • Bottom BracketCeramicSpeed
  • PedalsShimano 105
  • SeatpostS-Works Venge, FACT carbon, flippable 20/0mm offset
  • SaddleAstute Italia Skycarb VT
  • ComputerGarmin 820
  • Bottle cagesSpecialized Zee Cage II
  • MountsK-Edge Garmin/GoPro combo mount
  • Handlebar TapeSpecialized S-Wrap Classic
  • Weight7,25 kg all in