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Specialized McLaren Venge

Road Bike 27 2171

What can I say about the new Specialized S-Works + McLaren Venge that has not already been said? If you opened your web browser at all yesterday, it was hard to miss at least one mention of this new road bike, which Specialized developed in collaboration with the McLaren Group. In the five years since I started this blog, I really can’t remember a single bike release that generated so much attention on the internet so quickly.  Richard at Cyclelicious was the first bike blogger to mention it to me, but I also saw posts at VeloNews, CyclingNews, Bike198, Bike Rumor, Road Bike Action, BikeRadar, Bike Hugger, and Bike World News (just to name a few).

It is not hard to see why this bike immediately started spreading around the web. For one thing, it looks great. The matte black and red graphics on the special McLaren version really do compliment the lines of the frame nicely (there is also a regular S-Works version that can be seen here). McLaren’s involvement in the development process also helps to generate much of the initial interest in this project. Check out this video of Duncan Bradley from McLaren’s Applied Technologies group explaining just how they were involved.

Of course, the interest in this bike goes beyond the nice aesthetics and the association with a company known for F1 cars. I don’t necessarily believe that Specialized “reinvented the road bike” with the Venge, as this Adventure Journal post claims, but we all know that “reinventing” a racing bike is impossible while working within the UCI’s narrow equipment guidelines. It is obvious that much design and engineering thought went into the UCI legal Venge though. I won’t get into all of the technical details about the frameset;  Bike Rumor and other sites have already done a good job with that. I do want to briefly pass along the story behind the design and development process though.

Specialized’s head of research and development Chris D’Aluisio first had the idea that led to the development of this bike in 2006, after riding a modified Transition. A couple years later in 2008, D’Aluisio and Specialized industrial design director Robert Egger built a bondo model of the bike known by the working name SR10. Development continued on the SR10 as the Shiv project got underway that same year. Building on the lessons from the Shiv, CAD work resumed on the bike that would become the Venge in early 2009, just before McLlaren contacted Specialized about a possible future collaboration. The first Venge frames were completed and presented to the UCI in August of ’09.  The design was rejected by the UCI at that time (no surprise there), so the team quickly got to work on a redesign. In January of 2010, D’Aluisio presented the latest version of the Venge to Saxo Bank. The design was refined further a month later when a wind tunnel test resulted in a “eureka moment for cambered airfoil x-section seatstays”. It wasn’t until July of 2010 that McLlaren began to collaborate with the Specialized designers on the Venge project. A few months later, in November, the refined design was tested on the track in Milan. A month after that, Mark Cavendish rode the bike for the first time and declared that he loved it.

We will find out soon if Cav’s love for the Venge will last. Cavendish will be one a few riders from Specialized sponsored teams racing Milan-San Remo on the new bike tomorrow…and we know that he can be fickle about his equipment. You may remember that he initially gave the new Scott F01 his thumbs up, but ended up going back to his familiar Scott Addict after only one day on the new bike in the 2010 Tour. Milan-San Remo is only a one-day race (albeit a long one), but it will still be interesting to hear what Cav is still singing the bike’s praises after the race. Either way, I would love to try this bike out. Maybe I am just buying into the hype, but this new flagship model from Specialized is definitely on my wish list.

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  1. Ted Lewandowski March 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm -  Reply

    I’ll pass at $9,200 – rather be riding an old Eddy Merckx steel bike frame that I can buy on eBay for around $500 and has more character than this albatross!

  2. Sleeping_menace March 19, 2011 at 5:10 am -  Reply

    Agreed.. It’s going to sell only because of the two brand names associated with it, and possibly because of the picture of the race car in the background 🙂 – but I don’t see it having much real appeal of its’ own merit. It’s ugly, has an idiotic price point, and really doesn’t break any new ground.
    I’ll not bother pointing out how fundamentally flawed the little aerodynamics illustration is..
    But really, none of that matters. There are enough Spec fans out there who’ll drop money on it, regardless of what it is or isn’t …

  3. RBT March 19, 2011 at 5:28 am -  Reply

    mhh aero is back ? thank god i still have 1984 norta AX ..

  4. Ross Nicholson March 19, 2011 at 10:22 am -  Reply

    There is nothing marvelous about this bicycle, nothing novel, nothing nothing. Sometimes we see extensive coverage of nothing because extensive coverage was bought. Speaking of nothing, the UCI sings luddite paeans for mediocrity and is therefore as much a menace to humanity as sirens of yore luring ships into shallows. Here in Tampa we ignore Cuba as a mere communist menace to navigation, sacrificing ourselves and binding our families into poverty for 50 years in solidarity with those seeking peaceful democratic change in that Caribbean island fortress. Cuban communism has cut our city’s GDP contribution in half. How much would it cost Bicycle Design to ignore the UCI?

  5. Johann Rissik March 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm -  Reply

    If the word politics has it’s roots in the “ability to lie without shame”, what are the roots of marketing? This bike even featured in BSNYC’s weekly quiz, albeit from a different perspective 😉

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Mick Allan March 21, 2011 at 9:25 am -  Reply

    Specialized will be grateful for the extra ‘credibility’ which comes from associating themselves with a front-of-the-grid F1 team but why are McLaren involved? They certainly don’t need the few thousand dollars the collaboration will generate. It’s obvious that this is nothing more than another ‘greenwash’. Hitching a bicycle to the McLaren brand by putting their sticker on it will make it easier for Ron to sleep at night, knowing that he’s done ‘all that he possibly could’ to offset the damage his car company does the environment.

    • Ross Nicholson March 21, 2011 at 11:59 am -  Reply

      So what are we doing here? Are we trying to set up a successful (though stinky) enterprise for “greenwashing” and “green mailing”? I’m just glad they’re showing an interest.

    • James Thomas March 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm -  Reply

      I don’t know. If it was an attempt at greenwashing on McLaren’s part, it was not a very good one since no one considers bicycle racing, with the team buses, caravan vehicles, etc., to be very friendly to the environment. I suspect that they approached Specialized because someone there was actually interested in the sport of cycling.

      • Mick Allan March 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

        Big tour cycle racing might not be very environmentally friendly with, as you say all the support vehicles and helicopters etc, but I don’t think people consider all that when the they look at a bike on the shop floor. Specialized want to sell their high end bikes to the kind of deep pocketted people that McLaren sell cars to. If it’s not to improve their green credentials then what’s in it for McLaren? It ain’t the money….

        • Rob March 22, 2011 at 12:45 am -  Reply

          Agreed! Not like they’re the first to do it either. GMC, Lambo, and a bunch of other auto companies have done the same thing.

          But I gotta say, this is definitely one of the best attempts! Pretty awesome bike.

          • Mick Allan March 22, 2011 at 8:10 am -  Reply

            It cannot be denied – it’s a very desirable bike. I think i’d feel a bit uneasy riding it though. I mean, I’m happy to wear Calvin Klien and Converse but what does the McLaren corporate logo say about me as a consumer?
            I’ll stick with my crappy old Colnago!


            • Sleeping_menace March 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm - 

              I have to admit.. I fail to see the desirability… it breaks no new ground, isn’t particularly good looking…. I don’t see who it will appeal to except for the mindless brand-whore who wants to ride a McLaren co-branded bicycle and with more-money-than-brains, is happy to dump 9k$ on it.
              For that price point, you could have a bike (or two) which was truly special.. but this isn’t it. Take off the brand stickers, and a day spent hunting around could replicate 99% of what’s there for what? 1200$?

  7. Mark March 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm -  Reply

    Churnalism at its finest.

    • James Thomas March 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm -  Reply

      How so? Only one paragraph in this post contains any info from the press release.

      • Mark March 22, 2011 at 11:36 am -  Reply

        I regretted my post as soon as I made it, but there isn’t a way to retract that I can see.

        I wonder if Vodafone has anything to do with this. They are a major sponsor of the Global Biking Initiative and of the McLaran F1 team.

        • James Thomas March 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm -  Reply

          No problem about the comment. I was just curious what sparked it.

          I don’t know about the Vodaphone connection, but it sounds plausible

        • damien walder December 4, 2011 at 3:05 am -  Reply

          Churnalism. I love that word and will spread it as much as I can. It’s Specialized, after all. More Marketing than actual R&D.

  8. mommus March 23, 2011 at 6:03 am -  Reply

    How do McLaren always manage to create such dullness from such exciting possibilities. If you approached them with the concept of naked mud-wrestling, they’d come back with gardening. $9000 – seriously… who buys this stuff?

    • James Thomas March 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm -  Reply

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for a pure racing machine I really love the aesthetics of this bike. I am just not seeing what is dull about it at all. That said, I can’t personally imagine paying 10 grand for any bike, but there are plenty of people (mainly dentists) who will be lining up to buy these after Goss’ win at Milan-San Remo on Saturday.

  9. Mommus March 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm -  Reply

    I think it’s great, and about time someone exhibited a concept bike that was grounded, more or less in reality. As for the comment above, just read about the winner of the Seoul cycle design comp to answer the question you have about losing the chain. Have you any idea of the power transmission losses you’d encounter by replacing the chain with a generator and motor?

  10. Eric March 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm -  Reply

    It always amazes how little the world’s finest automotive engineers have to add to the bicycle. Ferrari, Mercedes, Porsche. Who else has tried? As a UK company they clearly ripped off the Boardman paint scheme, just in red. And like a few others noted in their posts the rest reads like a bunch of marketing hocus-pocus. I would be surprised if it performs any better than the last Specialized.

  11. Levendi April 14, 2011 at 4:16 am -  Reply

    maybe if Fabian was riding a specialized the outcome would be different

  12. Wim November 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm -  Reply

    I feel this bike is a copy cat of the Original 600 Gramers. With twist of the M on it to make this over rated commercially infused setup but in all actuality its not that fast.

    • James Thomas November 7, 2011 at 9:33 am -  Reply

      I don’t see it Wim. Exactly what frames are you referring to when you say the “original 600 gramers”? Also, though I have not personally ridden a Venge, I have doubts about you assertion that they are actually “not that fast.” Cav, Goss, and others certainly don’t seem to have trouble going fast on those bikes.

  13. Wim November 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm -  Reply

    And others don’t seem to have problem going fast on either Bikes not just on the Venge /w the M. Quite lit… the M does not make bike eng. designs but Auto Hi. Designs. And I have ridden One mind you.

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