The first generation Specialized Venge is no more. Up until two years ago (2018) you could buy the first gen. Venge as an entry-level “Elite” that went for $2,500. I paid $3,100 for my Specialized Venge “Comp” back at the end of 2013 and that was Specialized’s end-of-season sale price – the full MSRP was a whopping $3,700 and the “Comp” (changed to the “Elite” in ’15) was the lowest class of Venge. It came with Shimano 105 ten speed components and brakes with a cheap chain and a Tiagra 10 speed cassette. The Axis 2.0 wheels that came on the bike were spectacularly heavy for a $4,000 bike and they rolled like ass. A $300 set of Vuelta Corsa SLR wheels later and I saved a full pound. The upgrade was worth about about 1-1/2-mph in improved roll, too.
On the other hand, the paint job was stunning.
My 2013 Venge Comp with the Vuelta Corsa SLR wheel upgrade
There was a reason the Venge commanded such a premium early on. New in 2012, the Specialized Venge was one of the very first “aero” road bikes to hit the market. Rather than simply tapering off the fork and easing some leading edges, the Venge reinvented the game in leading edges. Even the seat stays were turned into blades to better cut through the wind along with the down tube, the seat tube and seat post, even the head and top tubes were modified to channel or better cut through the air. Specialized consulted with McLaren (the hyper-car manufacturer) to come up with the carbon lay-up innovations needed to manipulate the frame shapes.
The Venge exploded in popularity. All of a sudden it was in the top of the heap in tour wins (or just behind the perennial first place Specialized Tarmac) and they began popping up in everything from local crits and road races to club rides. We have six regular 1st Gen. Venge riders on our Tuesday night club ride (and one 2nd Gen. Venge ViAS), no other make/model comes close.
In 2016, Venge ViAS came out taking aero to the next level, times two. Two things happened when the ViAS came out: 1. The price went up. Big time. 2. The weight went up by four pounds over the 1st Gen. Venge. Nowadays, you’ll have to part with a cool $8,000 to sit atop a new Venge. And the new rigs come with a stiff penalty. Just a couple of years ago, a top-of-the-line ViAS would run you more than $12,000 and weighed in at a bulky 18-1/2 pounds. Today, it’s my understanding that the T-o-L ViAS has been slimmed down to the 16 pound neighborhood (possibly as low as 15.8 pounds).
Where this gets interesting is in the 1st Gen comparison. My $3,000 Venge comp was 18-1/2 pounds out of the box. I upgraded the wheels, stem, handlebar (S-Works), crankset (S-Works), brakes, and drivetrain (from mechanical 105 to mechanical Ultegra) and dropped three pounds.
…And that’s where the 1st Gen Venge buries new bikes; weight. If you look at newer aero bikes, they’re generally heavy. The Madone SLR 9 with all of the bells and whistles comes in at 17.3 pounds ($12,300). If memory serves, the ViAS is 16-ish ($12,500). The Scott Foil (top end $9,000) is comes in at 16.6 pounds. The Giant Advanced SL 1 is 16.4 pounds ($12,200). You can see where this is going, I hope. I’ve got decent components on my 1st Gen. Venge, but I’m a far cry from Dura Ace and I come in a pound under the $12,000 monsters. Throw Dura Ace components on my bike and one more upgrade in wheels, with better brakes and I know for a fact I can get my bike down to a slender 14-1/2 pounds. I’ve seen one on the scale.
The point is, at a svelte 14-1/2 to 15-1/2 pounds, the 1st Gen Venge is aero and light by today’s standards. We 1st Gen owners get the best of both worlds, an aero bike that’s light enough for extended climbing. In my case, I’ve got $3,100 into the purchase of the bike, new, and another $3,000 into upgrades. For $6,000 I’ve got a legit aero race bike I can climb with.
They say aero trumps weight everywhere but in the mountains… but First Gen. Venge owners can have their cake and climb a mountain pass, too.