Specialized Mclaren Venge Test Ride

Mclaren Venge: In Monterey side

I stopped on Sunset Drive in Monterey, got my iPhone out, started riding again, and recorded an audio note. The Mclaren Venge test ride was such a complexity of emotions, I wanted to make sure I captured what I was thinking before riding other bikes at the Specialized Global Launch.

I was blown, elated, and amazed. Indicating my state of mind, at the end of the recording I thanked myself – I think for the bike attack I made (on myself) up Carmel Hill. Between loud breaths and the drivetrain, you can hear me blabbering. Also cursing.

Note: This version is bleeped. The unedited version contains NSFW language.

The transcript

I’ve experienced religion just a few times on the bike. DFL at Nationals (CX), riding in India, China, medaling and riding the Mclaren Venge. It feels like what millions of dollars spent in an F1 lab does. It’s dialed. The bike feels literally glued to the road. It feels like there’s ground effects going on and just propels you. Could’nt have been a better test experience to hop from group to group that were dealers testing. I just (bleep) railed it and uh, went so hard I blew up. So I needed more fuel. More horsepower for that ride. It’s one of the best bikes I’ve ridden. (Thanks).

Ground Effects

I’m a 44 yr-old, Cat 2 Masters Racer. I can drive a line, bridge a gap and finish mid pack. I looked down at the speedo while jumping between groups and I was going 31.5 mph with a slight sidewind and not at full effort. 15k? Really for that sensation and speed, I’d pay more. That go-fast rush is what we train, ride, and watch the Tour for on TV. It’s those moments when we feel like we’re Thor bridging gaps and going onto win. The test ride was perfect because Specialized dealers were on 17-mile drive riding bikes and I bridged between them. The bike jumps well and when you get it up to speed, the magic happens. Just like aero wheels that produce lift, this bike goes from 24 on up very quickly. It’s noticeable. I think aerodynamically, that’s known as being slippery. If I actually owned this bike, I’d call it the Salmon because it’s out there fighting the currents and is very determined to get to where it wants to go.

Mclaren Venge: In Monterey Downtube

Stock Venge

Is the Mclaren Venge attainable? Not for most and Specialized has a stock version of the Venge. I rode that too. It retails for $8800 with SRAM Red. The Venge is not your best, overall, everyday race bike. I’d ride my Davidson Hotspur for that and Specialized has their SL4. I also rode the Tarmac and will review it later.

This bike is for the roleur, as Chris D’Aluisio, head of Specialized Road R&D tells us in this video.

You want the Venge for the circuits, flats, and rolling terrain. I’ll need to ride the stock Venge again in a crit to double check on how it’d do flying out of twisty, bumpy turns. It may buck you off the saddle like a bronco or dive and turn like a Seabird in Puget Sound.

Using a famous Sinyard quote, “you feel every cigarette butt in the road.” Bandaids too. Even the spit and sweat the guy in front left on the road. Be careful, cause you’ll come up on him fast. The ground effects are real. In the various groups I rode with, before punching out of them, I’d roll up on the wheel in front of me without pedaling.

The difference between the two Venges? It’s like a Glenfiddich Scotch Single Malt 30 Year Old v. the 12. Both are quite good. The 12 is outstanding, but the 30 is wow, smooth, refined, and much more expensive. You save that bottle or bike, if you can afford it, for the special occasions.

Mclaren Venge: In Monterey Steerer wedge

Double the Venge

Specialized’s engineers told me there’s a 100 gram difference between the two Venges; that and a paint job, but there’s much more going on. Mclaren’s computers crunched the numbers, looked at each filament of the layup, and futher refined the bike. Much of the weight came out of the seat mast. More importantly, they replaced those grams with high-performance, racing pixie dust. Between the two Venges, the stock was a bit sluggish to go and waned slightly on the climb. Replace the Rovals with faster wheels to resolve that slight issue.


The Mclaren Venge I rode is one of 8 preproduction bikes in the world. The kit:

  • Zipp 404 Carbon Clincher Firecrest
  • Rotor rings.

MSRP is $15,000 and they’ll ship this Fall.

See the details of stock Venge on Specialized’s site.

In the next few weeks, I’ll write follow-up technical posts with more on the Venge, why it looks so good, and goes so fast. Also see my initial thoughts on the bike posted to G+.

Elevator chat version of this review:

It’s not for everyone, roleurs and bigger guys. It’s fast because of all the shaping in the downtube. Slips through the wind, at speed. A bit sluggish to go, but when it does, it’s fast. Very fast.

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