courtesy Specialized, photos by BrakeThrough Media

This weekend, that venerable stalwart of the cobbles Tom Boonen will line up for the first hint of northern Spring Classics in his final season. Fifteen years ago he began his professional career aboard a white bike, so when Specialized approached him about a custom bike for his farewell season, he knew exactly what color to start with. Click past the break to explore what makes this disc brake bike custom for Tom…

While Boonen’s new whip is quickly identifiable as an S-Works Venge ViAS Disc, his bike eschews the extensive stealth internal routing characteristic of other Venges. Boonen runs what appears to be a blacked out Zipp Sprint SL stem with a Di2 junction box mounted to the underside.  The bike’s custom white and gold livery has a lot of symbolism ingrained, with the 4-feathered wings said to represent his 4 Roubaix wins.  The wings themselves refer to his guardian angel, whom he hopes will guide him to a 5th victory.

Mounted to that Zipp stem are a set of FSA shallow drop bars, wrapped in sticky black Supacaz tape. Tom is running hydraulic disc brakes and Di2, which means his hands will rest on a pair of the RS-785 hydro/electronic brake/shift levers until the newer Dura-Ace is more readily available. It appears he will be perched atop an S-works Romin saddle.

The drivetrain on the bike is made up of all Dura-Ace 9000/9070 pieces. With the limited global availability of the new R9100 Dura-Ace, many riders are still using the outgoing 9000 based groups, especially riders using disc brakes. Boonen’s gearset is a standard 53/39 chainring combo mated with an 11-28 cassette. The drivetrain is all Shimano, right down to the pedals and chain. Interestingly, Tom like most pros are opting for a 160mm rotor on both the front and rear, while most other road disc bikes are using 140mm versions.

The bike is clearly identifiable as Tom’s, with his name appearing on the seatstay, in addition to the many custom touches. For Omloop het Nieuwsblad, the bike is shod in Roval 64 disc tubulars with S-works Turbo tires glued on. No word on width, but likely towards the larger end of the spectrum given the course. A pair of Tacx carbon cages finish off the accessories on the bike.

The seat tube is emblazoned with the stirring words, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Tom Boonen is certainly a legend of the current peloton, and one of the winningest riders ever. Given his impressive career, a custom bike is fitting. Specialized will be offering this paint scheme in very limited numbers to select dealers, similar to the Nibali edition bikes and the Sagan edition bikes. Look for this one to debut on the starting grid at Omloop this weekend, then maybe on the podium? Given some of the recent incidents involving disc brakes in the pro peloton, a custom bike is probably safer than a custom pair of shoes, hehe


  1. mudrock on

    Such a stiff frame and wheels for the cobbles. While many racing brands are trying to build vertical compliance into their frames, Tom opts for a very stiff set-up. I’m confused.

    • Gareth on

      I was thinking the same thing? The roubaix comes as a disk and is lighter which should glide over the cobbles a bit better? Horses for courses i guess.

    • Tomi on

      It is all about tire volume / casing / pressure.

      “vertical” compliance/stiffness sells bikes but it is hardly a relevant value. All else being equal, a 7psi difference makes a whole lot more difference in the ride comfort than switching from the aero frame to the endurance frame from the same brand.

      • neologisticzand on

        Granted, in this case the endurance frame from the same brand has a headset with a suspension cartridge in it, so the difference may be a bit more noticeable.

      • CarlostheRacer on

        I disagree. All else is not equal. Dropping 7psi on the Venge will not make it magically feel like a Roubaix. No doubt the Venge is a rocket but it’s not compliant in any way, just seeing it pictured on the cobbles makes my vision blurry. Plenty of difference in geometry numbers and frame layup between the two.
        Not saying the new headshock Roubaix is the better choice just that there are plenty other differences than just tire pressure. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone actually uses the new Roubaix successfully. Can’t see many racers taking that approach without being forced to by Specialized.

        • Mike on

          I also don’t get the bike selection. Then again, Boonen has just a tiny bit more experience in the cobbled classics than I do, so I’m going to assume he knows something I don’t.

        • Tomi on

          7psi won’t make it feel like a Roubaix if you insist on riding gardenhose (i.e. vulcanized clinchers instead of tubulars and/or clinchers with a cotton carcass). On supple racing tubulars (i.e. not continental ones) it makes a whole lot of difference.

          Geometry diffferences change the handling, not the comfort. You are mixing things that are unrelated.

          Besides, specialized had to build custom Roubaix for Tom Boonen in the past because back in the days the Tarmac wouldn’t allow 28mm tires and the standard Roubaix geometry is not suited to most pro riders. Now they have the venge with discs, there is no need to build a frankenbike again. Rider is happy, manufacturer is happy.

    • Marko on

      Hayman win Paris roubaix 2016 on aero frame.. it is only 50km of cobbles. on the other 210km the aero frame is faster.. And venge is best aero frame on the market..

      • AK_Ben on

        Exactly, I was thinking the same thing. Put some low profile rimsign and 28-30mm tires on it, maybe an extra layer of Barta people, and it will be what the pros want for Roubaix. “Comfort” is secondary to speed for the guys going for the win there.

  2. Kernel Flickitov on

    Gah! Isn’t it always the tire spec to be omitted in these teasers! Boonen is a long time user of custom FMB tubulars made just for him, and this bike will easily fit 30c tires. I wouldn’t be surprised.

  3. Dale C on

    “Interestingly, Tom like most pros are opting for a 160mm rotor on both the front and rear, while most other road disc bikes are using 140mm versions”

    Clearly he wants a higher rotor edge speed to cut into his opponents more efficiently.


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