FEATURES: EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: THE 2012 SPECIALIZED VENGE
March 17, 2011


On Thursday morning, Specialized Bicycles will be conducting a press conference at the headquarters of the world championship winning McLaren Formula One team in England. The purpose is to unveil their new road bike that was designed in conjunction with the latest in F1 technology - the Venge. While the boys from Specialized were napping on the plane ride over, we had the stewardess grab a thumb drive and secretly download the presentation.

The power point starts off with a forward from Specialized R&D man Chris D'Lusio (profiled in the Feb. '11 issue of RBA) before he goes on to highlight the details of the radical new aero road frame. As usual, you can expect to see more on the Venge in a future issue of Road Bike Action.

A NOTE FROM CHRIS

"THIS STORY BEGAN ALMOST FIVE YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS TEST-RIDING A MODIFIED TRANSITION: I WAS JUST TESTING BRAKES ON THE TRANSITION—BUILT WITH DROP BARS LIKE A ROAD BIKE—AND WAS BLOWN AWAY BY THE SPEED. THAT’S WHEN I REALIZED HOW FAST A ROAD BIKE COULD BE. WE KNEW WITH OUR EXPERTISE MAKING THE WORLD’S FASTEST ROAD, TT, AND TRI BIKES, WE COULD ACHIEVE THE WINNING FORMULA OF LIGHT WEIGHT, TORSIONAL STIFFNESS, AND STEALTHY AERODYNAMICS.

WE BEGAN WORK ON A PROTOTYPE, AND IN AUGUST 2009 OUR FIRST TEST FRAMES WERE READY. FOLLOWING ATHLETE AND WIND TUNNEL TESTING, WE CONTINUED TO LEARN, INNOVATE, AND REDESIGN. OVER A YEAR LATER WE FINALLY HAD A FRAME THAT DID IT ALL: THE VENGE IS TRULY A NO-COMPROMISE ROAD BIKE. TRADITIONAL AERO ROAD BIKES SACRIFICE SIGNIFICANTLY IN WEIGHT AND STIFFNESS, BUT WE REFUSED TO COMPROMISE. IT’S LIKE OUR APPROACH WHEN WE CREATED THE ROUBAIX: WE UNDERSTOOD THAT RIDERS NEEDED INCREASED COMPLIANCE WITHOUT SACRIFICING HIGH PERFORMANCE IN SPECIFIC CONDITIONS AND RACES. THREE CONSECUTIVE WINS AT PARIS-ROUBAIX PROVES WE NAILED IT. VENGE’S WEIGHT NUMBERS AND STIFFNESS AND WATTAGE TESTING ALL CONFIRM THAT WE HAVE ONCE AGAIN ACHIEVED SOMETHING THAT HAD NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE—A UCI-LEGAL MACHINE THAT’S MORE BIKE THAN AERO. THIS NEW PLATFORM NEATLY FILLS A NICHE IN OUR LINE OF ROAD BIKES. TARMAC REMAINS THE MAINSTAY OF OUR ROAD RACING COLLECTION—NOTHING IS LIGHTER AND STIFFER. VENGE IS A NEW PREMIUM OPTION, IDEAL FOR CERTAIN RACES AND CERTAIN RACERS, BASED ON RACE-DAY CONDITIONS AND RIDER PREFERENCES.

WELCOME TO VENGE



THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE VENGE ALSO AWARDED US THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO PURSUE A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE LEGENDARY TEAM BASED AT THE McLAREN TECHNOLOGY CENTRE—HOME OF McLAREN F1 RACING AND THE NEW MP4-12C SUPERCAR. WITH THEIR 30 YEARS OF EXPERTISE IN COMPOSITE TECHNOLOGY, WE COULD PUSH THE EXISTING BOUNDARIES OF DESIGN AND ENGINEERING. WHILE THE S-WORKS VENGE HAD ALREADY EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS (AND SURPASSED THE COMPETITION IN TESTING), TOGETHER WE COULD IMPROVE THE STIFFNESS-TO-WEIGHT RATIO, WHILE LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER ALONG THE WAY. OVER THE PAST YEAR, SPECIALIZED AND McLAREN ENGINEERS EMPLOYED MATERIALS, FABRICATION PROCESSES, AND EXHAUSTIVE LAYUP SCHEDULES NEVER BEFORE USED IN THE CYCLING WORLD. THE RESULTS ARE SIMPLY STUNNING."

WEIGHT
AFTER 45 YEARS OF DEVELOPING THE WORLD’S FASTEST FORMULA 1™ CARS AND SUPERCARS LIKE THE NEW MP4-12C, WE ASKED McLAREN IF THEY COULD TAKE OUR S-WORKS VENGE — ALREADY IN A CLASS BY ITSELF — TO WEIGHT AND STIFFNESS NUMBERS PREVIOUSLY UNIMAGINABLE FOR A HIGHLY AERODYNAMIC FRAME. THROUGH FEA OPTIMIZATION, AND CUSTOM SOFTWARE NORMALLY EMPLOYED IN
F1 DEVELOPMENT, THEY WERE ABLE TO DESIGN LAYUP SCHEDULES AND FABRICATION METHODS RESULTING IN 15% BETTER OPTIMIZED TUBE SETS THAN ANYTHING PREVIOUSLY SEEN IN CYCLING. INDIVIDUAL PLY PATTERNS WERE DESIGNED TO ELIMINATE OVERLAP, SHAVING GRAMS WITH EVERY PLY. THESE PLIES
WERE THEN CUT USING COMPUTERIZED CNC FABRIC CUTTERS TO FURTHER MINIMIZE EXCESS MATERIAL.

ANOTHER McLAREN ADVANCEMENT BORROWED FROM F1 ALLOWED US TO ELIMINATE AN ENTIRE PLY OF NON-STRUCTURAL LAMINATE, WHICH USUALLY COATS THE INSIDE THE FRAME TO FACILITATE MANDREL REMOVAL AFTER LAYUP. WITH THIS LAYER NO LONGER NECESSARY, McLAREN WAS ABLE TO SAVE APPROXIMATELY 40 GRAMS MORE.

AERO
TO OPTIMIZE THE CROSSWIND AERODYNAMICS OF THE SEATSTAYS WITHOUT
SACRIFICING STIFFNESS, WE DEVELOPED THE CAMBERED AIRFOIL X-SECTION
SEATSTAYS. THESE AIRPLANE WING-SHAPED STAYS FEATURE A FLAT OUTER
SURFACE AND A SMOOTH, ROUNDED INNER SURFACE TO CALM CROSSWIND AIRFLOW BEFORE IT PASSES BY THE WHEELS. PLUS, SINCE CYCLISTS MOST OFTEN FACE CROSSWINDS (APPROXIMATELY 15% YAW ON AVERAGE), WE’VE SLIGHTLY CAMBERED THE STAYS TO ALLOW WIND TO HIT DIRECTLY ON THE LEADING EDGE OF THE UPWIND STAY. THIS MINIMIZES AIR DISTURBANCE AND WRAPS AIRFLOW AROUND THE STAY AND SMOOTHLY OUT THE BACK.


Mark Cavendish (here aboard the Tarmac SL3) tested the new Venge at the HTC camp in December and he had three words for Chris, "I love it!" Expect to see "Cav" aboard the radical new bike later in the year. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

STIFFNESS
THE TARGET NUMBERS FOR TORSIONAL STIFFNESS — EQUIVALENT TO THE SL3 — WERE EXTRAORDINARY CONSIDERING THE BIKE’S AERO PROFILE. THE EXTREMELY PRECISE PLIES CREATED BY McLAREN’S ENGINEERS ALLOWED US TO REALIZE THESE GOALS VIA AN EXHAUSTIVE LAYUP SCHEDULE. AS THEY PUT IT, “THE MORE ACCURATELY CUT PLIES COULD BE PLACED MORE PRECISELY.” A POSITIONING OR DIRECTIONAL TWEAK OF A FEW MILLIMETERS ON ANY GIVEN PLY DIRECTLY RELATES TO IMPROVED STIFFNESS, ALLOWING EACH PLY TO BE METICULOUSLY PINPOINTED ACCORDING TO THEORETICAL WEIGHT AND STIFFNESS COMPUTER MODELS.

REVERSIBLE / ADJUSTABLE CARBON SEATPOST
THE BLADED CARBON SEATPOST OPTIMIZES AERODYNAMICS AND IS COMPLETELY UCI-LEGAL. A 10MM SETBACK IS BUILT IN—WHEN COMBINED WITH ANGLE OF THE SEAT TUBE, THIS BECOMES EITHER A 20MM TOTAL SETBACK OR 0MM, DEPENDING ON MOUNTING DIRECTION. THIS ALLOWS RIDERS TO DIAL THEIR POSITION DEPENDING ON THE DAY’S EVENT. PLUS, UNLIKE SEATMAST-STYLE POSTS, OURS ALLOWS A WIDE RANGE OF VERTICAL ADJUSTABILITY WITHOUT NEEDING TO CUT IT DOWN.

FACT CARBON AIRFOIL FORK

LIKE MOST AERO BIKES, OUR 4TH GENERATION, UCI-LEGAL, X-SECTION AIRFOIL CARBON FORK USES 3:1 SHAPING. BUT WHAT SETS OURS APART IS THE STRAIGHT PROFILE. THE X-SECTION FORK BLADES PRESENT A NARROW EDGE TO THE WIND, AND RUN IN A STRAIGHT LINE FROM CROWN TO DROPOUTS, OPTIMIZING LATERAL STIFFNESS OVER TRADITIONAL CURVED FORKS FOR IMPROVED HANDLING. AN ULTRALIGHT CARBON LAYUP KEEPS THE WEIGHT TO A MINIMUM ON THE HOLLOW DROPOUTS AND BLADES. THE DROPOUTS ARE CO-MOLDED WITH STEEL INSERTS FOR DURABILITY.

STEERER
OUR STRATEGICALLY DESIGNED HEAD TUBE/STEERER ASSEMBLY TAPERS FROM 1-1/8” TO 1-3/8” AT THE CROWN FOR MAXIMUM TORSIONAL STIFFNESS, AND CURVES IN AT THE WAIST FOR A NARROW PROFILE TO MINIMIZE DRAG. A GRADUAL TRANSITION OF CARBON FIBER FROM TOP TO BOTTOM FROM TOP TO BOTTOM ELIMINATES THE POTENTIAL FOR WEAK SPOTS DUE TO SHARP ANGLES (CARBON IS AT ITS BEST WHEN IT KEEPS A SMOOTH LINE).

BOTTOM BRACKET

OUR CHAINSTAYS, BOTTOM BRACKET, AND SEAT TUBE ARE CONSTRUCTED AS ONE PIECE, WITH CONTINUOUS FIBER ALIGNMENT AND INTERNAL RIBBING IN CRITICAL AREAS. THIS PROPRIETARY DESIGN MAXIMIZES STIFFNESS TO RESIST DEFLECTION UNDER EXTREME PEDAL LOADS, IMPROVING POWER TRANSFER. PLUS, THE FULL-CARBON BB ELIMINATES EXTRA MATERIALS FOR THE STIFFEST, LIGHTEST INTERFACE WITH THE CRANKSET.

INTERNAL CABLE ROUTING

FULL INTERNAL CABLE ROUTING FOR BRAKE AND SHIFTER CABLES ON ALL FRAMES MAINTAINS THE CLEANEST LINES FOR OPTIMAL AERODYNAMICS, WHILE ALSO KEEPING GRIT AND GRIME FROM AFFECTING SHIFTING AND BRAKING PERFORMANCE. CABLES ARE ROUTED FROM THE HANDLEBARS THROUGH THE FRAME AND EXIT AT THE TOP TUBE, BB, AND CHAINSTAY, AND ROUTING IS COMPATIBLE WITH STANDARD AND ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS.


For more, go to Specialized Venge.

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