specialized bicycles mclaren racing venge aero road bike collaboration

Seems there have been a few motorsports/bicycle collaborations lately, but this one is by far the hottest.

Specialized has teamed up with McLaren to create a sub-950g, aero shaped road bike. Taking advantage of the legendary car racing team’s FEA analysis and, uh, specialized computer programs, they developed new layup schedules and fabrication methods and created a frame that’s 15% lighter than their standard Venge. That included removal of a non-structural internal layer of carbon that’s normally used to easy mandrel removal, saving 40g with no detriment to performance.

Designed to combine the aero benefits of the Shiv with the lightweight, race-proven performance of the Tarmac, the Venge is already a pretty light, stiff bike. This version puts it over the top. It starts with a UCI-legal high modulus FACT IS 11 carbon frame and gives it a seemingly incongruous mix of thin, aero shaping and beefy construction with internal ribbing and reinforced sections.

More pics and specs after the break…

specialized bicycles mclaren racing venge aero road bike collaboration

specialized bicycles mclaren racing venge aero road bike collaboration

The bottom bracket, chainstays and seat tube are constructed as one piece, with continuous carbon fibers running throughout and internal ribbing. This creates a very stiff lower section where the power transfer happens. Not quite shown in this image is the rear derailleur cable exit (scroll down for a pic of this). Where many internally routed cables still pop out at the bottom of the chainstay a few inches ahead of the dropout, the Venge’s is kept out of the wind entirely by exiting straight out of the rear of the seatstay, just above the dropout. Even better: It’s compatible with both mechanical cable actuated shifting systems and electronic ones.

Numbers: Specialized says the stiffness-to-weight ratio (in ((N*m/deg)/kg) of the bottom bracket section is 80.4 for the S-Works Venge and 89.7 for the McLaren Venge. By comparison, they list the 2011 Felt AR1 (aero bike) at 56.4, the 2011 Cervelo S3 at 68.0 and the 2010 Ridley Noah at 77.2.

Specialized says the extreme attention to detail on the layup schedule is how they achieved such stiffness on an aero road bike, tweaking placement and rotation of the carbon fiber sheets by a few millimeters or degrees to achieve the desired result.

specialized bicycles mclaren racing venge aero road bike collaboration

The tapered headtube is 1-1/8″ at the top and 1-3/8″ at the bottom and narrows at the middle. This tapered hourglass design provides the benefits of a tapered steerer (stiffer) but maintains its aerodynamic benefits by not flaring out massively to a 1.5″ lower and keeping the center section thinner. Further streamlining air flow is an integrated top cap that follows the shape of the head- and top tubes (click image to enlarge). Internal cable routing also keeps things clean and smooth.

specialized bicycles mclaren racing venge aero road bike collaboration

The seatstays use a combination of rounded inside shaping and a smooth, flat outside to calm and direct the air before it hits the rear tire.

The seat tube falls within the UCI’s 3:1 rule and is reversible, giving it either a 0º or 20º offset depending on which way you slide it in. Check the seat collar, too, with rear-facing double bolts. The FACT Carbon fork blades mimic the aero 3:1 shaping of the post and run in a straight line from top to bottom.

specialized mclaren venge aero road bike

The Specialized McLaren Venge was in development for 9 months. It’ll be raced for the first time at the 2011 Milan San Remo road race under three riders each on three Specialized sponsored teams, including HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish, who should put the bottom bracket stiffness to the test. In a video, Specialized’s Head of Research and Development Chris D’Aluisio said this frame’s aerodynamics should translate to about a 3m advantage in a 200m sprint. If history is any indication, that should make Cav pretty much untouchable with the proper leadout.

specialized mclaren venge aero road bike

The idea for the Venge came about after D’Aluisio modified their Transition triathlon bike with drop bars and went really fast. That “aha” moment four-plus years ago sparked development of an aero bike that performed like a Pro Tour worthy racing bike.

Once McLaren came on board, the special edition Venge became a whole ‘nother beast. To shed weight, each layer of carbon was specifically shaped and cut to avoid unnecessary overlap. No doubt this is a time intensive process, which helps explain the pricing…

specialized mclaren venge aero road bike

The McLaren Venge will be available as a frameset with fork, fork, seatpost and crankset for a reported price of £5000, which with current exchange rates would be about $7,995. It’ll be available in September. The “module” will weigh in at 2.07kg (2,0171g or 4.56lbs) for the McLaren and 2.18kg (2,179g or 4.8lbs) for the S-Works Venge, below:

specialized s-works venge aero road bike with sram red

Shown here is the S-Works Venge with SRAM Red. It’s decked out with a host of Specialized components and their Roval wheels and retails for $8,800 USD. The Dura-Ace model retails for $9,200 and swaps the black with white on the frame above for a bit more menacing look. An S-Works frameset (frame, fork) will also be available for $3,800 in either color variation. These will be available around the end of April.

The internal cable routing exits just briefly under the BB. Note the hole under the bottle mounts for Di2 wiring.

The S-Works version looks to get all the same frame features and benefits of the McLaren Venge with only a minor weight penalty, though the McLaren one is also reportedly stiffer. Specialized says the Tarmac SL3 is still lighter and stiffer, but the Venge tests faster on the track. It should present a compelling option for road racers more than crit folks.

This frameset shows the Dura-Ace bike colors.


  1. djconnel on

    Clearly Specialized didn’t want to be left behind in the reverse-price-war by Cervelo with their R5-CA ($9000 with crankset). The McClaren Venge certainly is impressive, however, if not as elegant as the Cervelo S3.

  2. Nick on

    Definitely nice looking, but to put things in perspective, Scott managed a sub 950 gram run of the mill production 29er frame.

  3. djconnel on

    For an aero frame 950 is solid, however: the Scott F01 is supposed to check in at 900 but the rest tend to be over 1 kg, for what that’s worth. If you stripped the paint off the standard Verge you’d get rid of most of that 100 gram difference to the McLaren.

  4. Xris on

    R5CA > Specialized Venge.

    Don’t get me wrong. That bike is gorgeous and I want to do sexual things to it but come on, you can’t beat a sub 700g frame.

  5. Avi on

    Aero > Weight. Especially if you’re racing and have to stay over 6.8kilos. With the R5-CA, the hardest part about hitting that number would be finding places to add weight.

  6. bb on

    to AVI:
    thank you for pointing this out….the UCI weight limits. Weight Weenies should seek out a lighter frame, real racers should see the advantage.

    to Wigs:
    C’mon, seriously? What bike(s) are you riding now, lets break down where they’re made….how about the parts on them? What car are you driving? Wanna know where most of the parts in your car are manufactured?

    Folks need to realize that Asia doesn’t equate to sub-quality manufacturing at all levels. What we should really be concerned with is that the average Fred knows how much the price is inflated for bikes and components…it’s disgusting what is being charged for bikes.

  7. Kovas on

    Freakin’ sexy bike!
    I just wish they’d make the “S-Works” label a teeeeeeny bit bigger on that sram red version. I’m having a hard time reading that…

  8. fred on

    Man, that car looks dope.

    bb- you false opinion that bike prices are artificially inflated aside- do you have any idea how much this marketing collaboration cost to spec-ed? i bet after factoring that in they will loose money on every single venge they sell for the next 2 years.

  9. Jeff on

    The comments comparing the R5CA and the Venge are preposterous. Would you compare the R5CA to the S3, F01? Negatory. Why? These are separate categories of bicycles, lightweight road versus aero road.

    Heck, while we’re at it how’s the Venge stack up against a Roubaix, or Giant Defy. If we’re going over categories these might as well be considered as well.

  10. bb on

    I see your logic when viewed micro, but perhaps consider a larger view…the venge will generate revenue via the attention generated to sponsors, the S website and your local S retailer. Many will seek out the new venge, visit the site, see the price point and realized it’s beyond their grasp then start looking at more economical choices, hit the LBS and purchase.
    Simple business module….they’ll continue to profit w/ no losses seen. Past profits cover current ventures, again no losses.
    Now lets go ride!

  11. bb on


    since you asked:

    Madone 6.9 (made in Wisconsin of defense grade carbon made in the US. you can’t get it outside of NATO countries).

    Campy (made in Italy)

    Wheels (all US Made)

    German tires

  12. Fred Astaire on

    bb obviously has no idea. Okay, so one bike is CLAIMED to be made in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Good for Trek.

    To say wheels are all US made…you’re crazy. Out of your mind. None are made in the US. Sure, ENVE makes their rims here…Zipp does too…but Easton, Reynolds, Ritchey, Profile, Bontrager, Roval, Cole, DT, Campy, Fulcrum, Mavic…all made in Asia.

    Get a grip. Get your facts straight. You obviously don’t work in the industry, so don’t make such wild claims if you’ve never sourced product from any of these companies.

    Thank you.

  13. Fred Astaire on

    Also, bb, as a person within the industry here’s a little bit of insight: Asia is where the highest of tech in carbon fiber takes place and likely always will be. Just because it is Asian, doesn’t mean that it’s cheap…in all honesty if it says Taiwan or China on it…that is a denotation of quality. You seem to be a fan of Italian things…Willier, 90% of De Rosa’s line and many other, most in fact, Italian frames are made in Asia.

  14. joseph grimes on

    fred astaire – just to comment: you put “bb obviously has no idea. Okay, so one bike is CLAIMED to be made in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Good for Trek. ” my trek madone 6-series projectONE has the painters signature under the clearcoat. he drew deer antlers into his signature. in all seriousness – how could anything be more midwestern/redneck than that?? i’m curious if bb is running industryNINE wheels built with enve or zipp rims. then he’d be on 99.9% us-made wheels (with the exception of bearings). that would be cool.

    i can assure you that my frame was made in waterloo. although i’m not saying its a ‘better’ frame than those made in asia – its just a better frame for me. in fact, i sell trek and specialized bikes for a living. i do agree that there is a small bit of pride left-over knowing my frame was made here. if i was a crit racer though, i’d be on a specialized tarmac sl3. just saying.

    p.s. my 21.0lbs carbon hardtail is 99% asia made and i love it. yay lets ride!

  15. Waga on

    By made in Asia, there’s a huge difference between good stuff made in Taiwan and crap made in China. Other Asian countries might also make bikes (Fuji in Japan), but they’re not on the radar. Taiwan makes some of the highest quality components in the world for semiconductors, computers, electronics, automotive and aircraft parts–and of course bicycles. My Tarmac SL3 is made in Taiwan.

    Meanwhile, China has virtually no home grown innovation. They copy stuff from others and make second rate goods with cut corner manufacturing process, labor and materials. I would not trust riding a China-made bike if I’m speeding down a mountain going 40 mph; I simply wouldn’t have the confidence that the frame would hold. In its defense, somethings made in China may be fine if there’s proper quality control by the owners (from US, Europe, Japan or Taiwan), or if we’re just talking about your average toaster oven.

    Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, so I wouldn’t dismiss the whole thing just because China is its largest country. Made in Japan is the highest quality; made in Korea or Taiwan are superior quality. If your bike is made in China, it might come from the same factory that molded the rubber dog poop that you used as a gag at your Halloween party.

  16. old fat guy on

    Having ridden a Transition with drop bars in the match sprint at a national championship event, a Venge is incredibly appealing to me for any type of racing, especially crits. It’s so much stiffer than many pure (not aero) road bikes and 21 less watts @ 40 kph is an amazing advantage (vs. a Tarmac SL3). Count me in.

  17. Paul on

    Hey Old Fat Guy
    I just built a 2008 S Works Transition frame with drops and Sram Rival components, fast as hell and handles awesome. Looks and rides great. Thought I invented this idea (HaHa)

  18. wayne on

    Hey! I,m painting an S-Works bike for a guy in Wisconsin and I need a set of S-works decals. In Black.
    So far i,m having no luck. I,m told I cant get then due to fraudulent practices in the industry.
    Well I say BS! I did not steal this bike! I have serial numbers so any one can see if it was stolen. I,m a 45 year veteran in the Custom industry.. Once being Authorized as a Coach Work repairer for Rolls Royce Bentley Motor Car Corporation. I,m now a food farmer.. So.. Can anyone get off a set of decals PLEASE! By the way.. Cool bikes, Sick Cars McClaren!
    Farmer Wayne


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