Bike Test: Specialized S-Works ViAS Venge (2015) RIDE70
One of the more funky bike designs in recent years, the ViAS Venge certainly got people talking… and it continues its evolution in 2018 – although, these days, it’s sold with disc brakes.
There’s surely a quote from The Simpsons to suit any situation in modern life. Not too many have been used for bike reviews but the Specialized ViAS Venge of 2015 prompted a line from Homer and the episode in which he helps his brother design a car…
Specialized Review excerpt
“This is a tall bike at the front and the aesthetic aspect alone delayed my ride time. It’s too big, at least that’s what I thought. But it’s hard to ignore.
“I’d pass it in the office, squeeze the brakes, and keep on walking. I did this a lot before finally conceding that the time to ride had come. By then commentary in the office had referenced several fictional characters and possible associations with the ViAS. The bike Batman might ride… that sort of thing. It wasn’t always so kind. “Remember ‘The Homer’?” Oooh, that’s harsh! (But it did raise a few giggles – and the obligatory visit to YouTube to remind us of the scene when Homer Simpson revealed his car design to a packed auditorium in Springfield. “All my life I’ve searched for a car that feels a certain way: powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball…”)
“That fictional car was an experiment in industrial design that went awry. The Homer didn’t work out but the thinking behind the ViAS has a lot of merit.
“If you don’t try something different, you’ll be stuck with the status quo. If you do open your mind to new ideas, you may find things about them you like.”
Build Report in brief
The front is virtually incomprehensible unless it’s completely stripped and rebuilt.
Where do all the cables go?
Can the handlebars turn?
Do the brakes work?
There could be plenty of questions and, until seen inside and out, it is a tough ask for the mind’s eye to recreate what Specialized’s engineers spent almost five years developing.
A key to the ViAS’ integration is the stem and top of the headset. There is a large cut-out in the centre of the carbon handlebars so cables can easily be routed into the stem. The purpose-built a-head stem is largely hollow, allowing all cables (brakes and gears, Di2 or mechanical) to fit inside.
Three E-Tube wires connect into a four-port junction box inside the stem; the j-box is usually inside the frame to distribute cables to derailleurs and the battery.
In the stem, these three cables are two shift wires and the main wire one which spans the length of the down tube to connect to the main j-box housed under the bottom bracket.
Click the image above to see the review as it appeared in #RIDE70 (November 2015).
- The cable routing through the large handlebar holes is fantastic but after that things get a little tricky. This ViAS Venge has a very specific order and does not allow much variation to the procedure. A concern is that, when it is required, replacing inner and outer cables means a virtual strip and rebuild.
- Smart bike shops will charge more for a full service on this premium Specialized.
- It retains a three-star rating because the order is clearly spelled out in an instruction booklet provided with the bike. Special tools are also provided which makes the job easier.
- Tight tolerances in cable routing and hardware fitting mean Specialized must be near perfect with its manufacturing process or else there would be no bike.
- The shapes are not to everyone’s tastes but must be admired. Up close, the seatpost is particularly beautiful.
- Half a star is removed because the external paint scheme is fairly uninspiring.
- And, as far as quality is concerned, how good can it get? Carbon everything, Dura-Ace Di2 and a top-class power meter make the Venge the best of the best. SRAM eTap you say? We might have to add in another star when that arrives.