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Specialized S-Works Mclaren Venge (2012)

Editor's Review

The only bad part of the test was having to hand the bike back


Stiff race ready frame with exceptional handling


Not a Sunday cruiser


It is hard to imagine a bicycle manufacture spending 5 years working on a new frame design. Considering the idea of having a frame look modern in the now time starting 5 years ago is hard for me to get my head around. When you look back to the models 5 years ago to current there is a big difference in the look.

But that is how long Specialized have had the Venge in the works. And it looks as modern as any 2011 bike on the market, if not a bit futuristic.

The Specialized Venge is the newest addition to their road range. The S-Works Venge, the bike that inspired their collaboration with Formula One constructors McLaren, is being claimed as an aero road bike that’s ‘more road than aero.’ Incorporating several design features from elsewhere in their stable; the aerodynamics of the Shiv and the low weight/high stiffness of the Tarmac SL3 are at the core of a bike.

This is purely a race bike and not an everyday bike. Specialized at this stage are only using the Venge for certain races, racers and conditions. So it’s very much a niche bike.

Ride and handling:

HTC-Highroad’s Matthew Goss’s used the McLaren Venge to win at San Remo; we put the S-Works model through its paces on some pretty harsh roads similar to the ones in the San Remo. This is a pure thoroughbred that wouldn’t look out of place lining up at the Melbourne Cup carnival. The only bad part of the test was having to hand the bike back.

From the outset you could feel this bike wanted to go. No power loss was felt through the pedals particularly when the road started to go ascend. Where you can feel the flex in a lesser frame it was apparent that Specialized have used the past 5 years well to create a ride that is aimed at the high-end racer. The back end of the bike tends to skip when out- of -the seat efforts were applied, something I haven’t experienced since the days of the Alloy Klein’s. On the steep descents the Venge tracking was direct and never wavered giving me the confidence to push it a little further with no signs of washing out. A combination of good tyres and a well-designed frame. The only down side to this stiffness is that it isn’t the comfiest ride out there, but its design is to win races and to go very fast. Vibration was largely offset by the S-Works SL carbon handlebars and FACT seatpost, and made for a smooth ride on the downslopes.

Depending on which country you live in will depend on the specifications. The model we tested came with the Sram Red groupset and performed without a hitch, as to be expected with the high end set. The Roval Rapide SL45 carbon wheels rolled gracefully and really compliment the Venge.

The stiffness of the full-carbon frame, which comes from the one-piece oversized bottom bracket shell and chainstays, is what makes this more of a racing bike than a Sunday cruiser... Tipping the scales at 2.18kg for the complete module (frame, fork, seatpost and crankset), its 108g heavier than the McLaren Venge.

All you need now is a tall leggy model with an umbrella standing next to you at the starting line of your next club race to complete the picture of racing this pure race machine.


Super lightweight becomes even lighter and stiff becomes stiffer due to a cutting edge technology that resulted from an unprecedented collaboration with McLaren Technology Centre. The S-Works Mclaren Venge has an aerodynamic sub 950-gram frame, 1-piece bottom bracket/chainstay, and tapered head tube, integrated top cap, cambered airfoil X-section seatstays, and many other impressive details that are almost reserved for a different kind of racing.

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Name:S-Works Mclaren Venge
Brand: Specialized
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