I had an interesting opportunity recently to do a direct comparison between the bike I now own, the Specialized Venge Expert, and the Specialized Robaix, the bikes we rode on our training rides in Arizona this past week.
To my shocked delight, the Robaix fit the minute I sat on the bike. We had obviously sent our heights and inseams out to Arizona Outback Adventures, the company doing the outfitting. Yet hardly did I expect to sit on the Robaix and have it be instantly comfortable. Not only that, the bike was smooth. Road vibration was almost absent during the rides.
Even the handlebar width felt great. At the end of the second day, I asked them to provide the bar width and it was 42cm. On my Felt 4C I’d been riding a 40cm bar. My new Venge has a 44cm bar. The bike fitter recently recommended a 40. So that middle ground was an interesting test. I had very little shoulder fatigue with the 42cm bar. In fact the only real adjustment made during 110 miles of riding over two days was to tip the seat down a touch to take pressure off my groinage. After that, things were perfect.
My companion Sue also rode a Robaix. This was her first extended effort on a pure road bike in some time. She rides a Specialized TT Shiv for her triathlons. The new bike was a necessary graduation given the demise of her Scott TT bike last summer after a woman stopped her car on a downhill in Sue’s lane while searching for the entrance to the prison facilities outside St. Charles, Illinois. That move forced Sue to ditch the precious Scott. It cracked the rear struts and ruined the bike. The well-dressed woman with the gold-plated cellphone in her bigass white Escalade with premiere trim didn’t have to pay a dime for blocking the cyclists in the opposite lane…because Sue hadn’t actually made contact with her vehicle. There is no justice in some aspects of life.
But all that is now behind us, to some degree. We were happy to be pedaling through the desert with the pleasant sensations a Robaix under our butts. The experience was somewhat revelatory. “I want this bike,” she mused at the top of one long climb.
And as it turns out, Arizona Outback Adventures sells their bikes after each season. So we might buy them. Seriously, I would add that bike to the stable because it is simple so comfortable.
That does not mean the Venge is not. I have only ridden that bike six or eight times now. It is twitchier than the Robaix, but nearly as smooth. It is designed for speed, not plush long rides. Yet the 30 miles I rode last Saturday felt effortless. The next twitch I need to do is turning the hoods in slightly. My bike fitter noted the angle of my wrists. It’s just the way I’m built.
So I’m excited about riding the Venge some more. It was fascinating to compare these two excellent Specialized bikes. Back when I bought the Felt 4C in 2007 I had originally gone in to purchase a Specialized Allez. I got sold on the Felt and don’t regret it. But this new passage is quite fun and rewarding. And worth the money.