In all things of importance in this world, perhaps owning a nice bike isn’t the top priority. But while researching my next bike after crunching my Felt 4C while pulling into the garage following a long, tired ride in which I felt sick the whole way, I looked at a lot of options and decided to invest in a Specialized Venge Expert.
I picked the bike up yesterday and it is leaning against the wall 10 feet from my writing desk in the living room. On Instagram yesterday I posted a photo of the bike having its KEO pedals installed, and shared it on Facebook. A young man that is a pretty good athlete had one of the first comments: “The bike doesn’t make you fast, you make you fast!”
I asked him what he rides.
“I’ve got a $1000 Tomasso internet special. I pass people on bikes that cost 5x. Hell, on my old $250 Performance Bikes hybrid, I’d pass people on bikes that cost 10-20x as much. And then there’s the guy that did Madison faster than me on a fat tire bike. It’s not the bike, it’s the motor pedaling it…”
I understand all that. And I wrote back; “I guess the entire bike industry is wrong then. But I agree with you on the motor. Mine is just average. Glad you’re fast.”
The grey area in all this is about riding comfort and enjoying what you do.
So I chose a bike after much consultation that fit the goals of my riding.
1. Do more of it.
2. Race in duathlons and triathlons.
3. Race criteriums.
4. Ride with my friends.
5. Have some adventures.
I also own a nice Waterford given to me by my brother-in-law. That’s the bike I’ve been using on the trainer these last few weeks. I’ve never had a bike fit done with that nice frame, but it is a pleasure to ride on the road because it is so smooth. It’s also a bike built for racing, for sure. My brother-in-law rode was a much faster rider than me. So the bike is not as fast as it used to be. He had a better engine. I get that.
The advice one receives about all this bike stuff can be conflicting. Some of the bike experts with whom I discussed my purchase, including the CAT 2 guy who leads our CT sessions and rides a top-grade Specialized Venge, conferred on the efficiencies of the Venge over other models I might choose. Many others confirmed this as well. The Venge is simply a good bike to own for a variety of reasons.
The motivation to buy the Venge was severalfold. It can be set up for aero, a distinct advantage while riding solo in triathlons and duathlons. There’s a demonstrated efficiency to being in an aero position. No matter what your “engine” is like, if you cut down wind resistance you’ll go faster. That’s a known fact. So to leverage your own cycling abilities, and to perform to the best of your capabilities, it makes sense to own a bike that allows you to do that.
When I started out riding a decade ago, I was perched on a steel frame Trek 400 with shifters on the down tube. I trained like crazy at the start, and was proud at last to average 18 mph for a 30 mile ride. But when I rode with guys on much better bikes, I could not keep up. But when I purchased the Felt, the ride was lighter and more responsive. And I kept up. Then I raced it in crits and did some long riding events. It performed well. And I regret crunching it.
The Venge is essentially a road bike and tri-bike rolled into one. The frame is narrow and aero. Yet the top bar has that distinct Specialized arc that its top road bikes have, such as the Robaix, which is known for its comfort on long rides. The Venge already has a sister in my garage. My Specialized Rock Hopper mountain bike is 15 years old and still a joy to ride.
I have not ridden the Venge Expert yet, except for a 100 foot tool around the parking lot before putting it in the car. This weekend we’re having bike fits done, and from that point on, I’m more concerned with having a beautiful way to ride. If it makes me faster, so be it. If it makes me fitter, all for it. And if it makes me happy, that’s what it’s all about. Nothing complex or technical about that.
TRAIN HARD • COMPETE WELL