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Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team Specialized S-Works Venge

Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team Specialized S-Works Venge

Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team Specialized S-Works Venge
Pieter Van Pietersen

OPQS is using a Specialized S-Works frames, Zipp 808 Tubular wheels and SRAM Red 22 components.

The Venge frame is used for fast, flat circuits, the Tarmac SL4 may be used for cobbled or hillier circuits.

Some riders on the team have custom geometry - a lower front end - than is provided to the mass market.

The bike components used by Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team are listed below.

S-Works Venge

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Specialized S-Works Venge Complete Bike

A comparatively heavy frame at 1501g for frame and forks.

It is also quite uncomfortable to ride. On smooth roads it isn't an issue, but if the surface becomes lumpy it tends to buzz you around a bit. This can get tiring on long rides.

The beauty of this bike is in the aerodynamics, being designed in conjunction with Mclaren. The differences are marginal, but compared to the Specialized Tarmac SL4 (a non-aero frame), you'd be a minute slower after a hilly 100km. As the Tarmac is more comfortable, you might spend more time in the drops, so end up gaining your minute back.

Put another way, to ride at 30mph, you need 14W less on the Venge compared to the Tarmac. That could win you a World Championship sprint.

In the wind tunnel, the frame also performs worse than the Cervelo S5, Merida Reacto EVO CF, BMC Timemachine TMR01 and Giant Propel Advanced SL0. You've got plenty of choice in that case.

The Venge is a great racing bike. I'd be happy to buy one.

Weight: 6800g

RRP in USD: $10300 with Roval Rapide wheels

808 Firecrest tubular

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Zipp 808 Firecrest tubular Wheels

These wheels were used by Fabian Cancellara to win Milan-Sanremo in 2008, but they are used in mainly flat races due to their weight. Perhaps they are just too heavy to spin up, and you need to be a 500W guy like Fabian to do that.

Zipp 808 wheels are perfect for time trials and triathlons. Weight is not massive as this is a tubular wheel. Remember, there are big aero gains to be bought with this wheels. Roues artisanales did an aero test and found the Zipp 808 absorbed 16.7W at 50kph. Compare this to the Mavic Kysrium which takes 35W. 20W is a big difference - it could take 2 years' training to raise your threshold power by that amount.

Weight: 1630g

RRP in USD: $2900

You can buy a Zipp 808 tubular wheelset here for $1800 which is a fantastic deal. Or you can get them here for $2817.

Specialized 130 FACT

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Quarq Specialized 130 FACT Power meter

The Specialized Quarq power meter is compatible with Specialized's S-Works crankset and replaces the factory spider. Quarq offers a spider removal and installation tool so the power meter can be installed at your your local bike shop. The alternative is to ship the cranks to the Quarq factory for installation, which is a free charge, plus shipping.

Quarq is owned by SRAM so has substantial backing. As of 2014 the models are the Riken $1938 and the Elsa $2385. The Riken is the SRAM branded crank and the Elsa is Quarq branded for Shimano and Campagnolo users. It works in a similar way to the SRM, in that it has strain gauges in the crank.

It appears to be a reliable solid performer, cheaper and lighter than the SRM.

Pros: moderate price (about half that of SRM's top model), reliable, easy to swap between bikes.

Cons: Heavy, although lighter than SRM. (823g v 858g), won't work with Shimano Hollowtech II bottom brackets, lack of crank length availability.

Weight: 138g (spider only)

RRP in USD: $1795 � spider only (no crank arms or chainrings)

Red 22

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SRAM Red 22 Levers

A bit heaver than the Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS shift levers, but the derailleurs will be much lighter as they won't have the servos. This is the lightest groupset.

The double tap action to change gears is easy to learn, but I feel that the future is electronic shifting.

These were also available in a hydraulic braking type, but was recalled at the end of 2013 due to a problem in the cold.

Weight: 280g pair

RRP in USD: $625 / 499.99

Edge 810

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Garmin Edge 810 GPS

It costs 50% more than the Edge 510 but for that you get a larger screen which shows routes. That's very useful if you're in a new area and you just want to keep riding. Stopping to look at your phone map every 5 minutes is a pain. However, it doesn't come with the GLONASS chip (the Russian GPS system), so it is less accurate than the 510.

Apart from the price, there's an 18g weight penalty and battery life is 17 hours compared to 20 hours.

The main reason to get an 810 over a 510 is for the maps feature. You can see a map of where you are and where you need to go. Be careful to buy the version with maps installed (Garmin City Navigator), although you can download free maps from the Open Street Maps Project.

There isn't a huge amount of difference between the 810 and the 800. The case is the same, screen is the same, functionality is the same. Only the Bluetooth tracking feature is new.

Otherwise, another excellent Garmin device that is waterproof, has long-lasting batteries, shock proof, light and small enough to look good on your handlebars. A must have for Strava enthusiasts.

Weight: 98g

RRP in USD: $500

The Edge 810 sells for $500 although if you need the bundle (HR strap and cadence sensor) it is $700 or $566 here.

The Edge 800 now represents excellent value, since it is essentially the same. You can get it for $280.

Keo Blade 2 Ti

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Look Keo Blade 2 Ti Pedals

I've used look pedals since 1988, but in the last few years I changed to Shimano. I found that the Look cleats tended to fall apart very quickly (the non slip grip tore off followed by rapid wear of the plastic) and the bearings got crunchy after some wet rides.

The slightly worn cleats would also rock from side to side (i.e. pitch introduced) which may have caused some knee niggles. The Shimano platform is more solid. Perhaps this has been solved with Look's new pedal body shape. Let me know if it has.

I've also seen issues with the carbon blade delaminating or snapping, so check yours regularly. Perhaps the issue is solved with this wider blade. Note that the blades come in different spring strengths, with blue as the highest.

There have been complaints about an aggressive seal on the pedals, which adds friction.

Having said that, these pedals look fantastic, and if you have a Campagnolo group set, you can't be putting Shimano pedals on, can you?

The price is high, so consider the Keo 2 Cromo steel axle version which is 20g heavier per pedal but 40% cheaper.

Weight: 90g per pedal, 34g cleat

RRP in USD: $400

Look Blade 2 with Cr-Mo axles sell for $164 here or $393 for the Ti version.

Red 22 Short Cage

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SRAM Red 22 Short Cage Rear Derailleur

Features ceramic pulley bearings. Over standard 2013 Ultegra this will save you .6W. Over Campagnolo Chorus 2013 this will save you 1.2W. That might start adding up over serveral hours and days of riding.

I have heard reports from mechanics that the springs tend to wear out after 6 months or so. This becomes most apparent when trying to shift into the 11. Limit screws may be properly adjusted, and cables well lubricated and tensioned, but the derailleur isn't able to pull the chain across any further.

Possible evidence of this: Stage 5 2014 Tour de France, Alberto Contador (Using SRAM Red) is unable to shift to his small sprockets because of mud.

Weight: 144g short cage / 163g long cage

RRP in USD: $375 &GBP;299.99

The short cage rear derailleur is selling for $313.

Red Aero Link Front and Rear

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SRAM Red Aero Link Front and Rear Brakes

A little lighter than Shimano Dura-Ace and Campgnolo Super Record brakes (39g and 18g), this may come at the cost of reliability. I know of two riders whose SRAM Red brakes failed at the quick release. That was the 2011 model, so perhaps the issue has been resolved now.

I recommend getting Shimano or Campagnolo if you possibly can as they work just that bit better.

Weight: 254g pair

RRP in USD: $368

Red 22 XG-1190

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SRAM Red 22 XG-1190 Cassette

About the same weight as Shimano Dura-Ace, although slightly more expensive.

Two unknowns remain: longevity and shift quality.

Weight: 160g 11-25

RRP in USD: $351 / 285

Selling for $326 here.


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Specialized Romin Saddle

As used by pro riders Tony Martin and Sylvain Chavanel. Tom Boonen also used this at Flanders 2014, although he has a signature Chincane saddle.

Nice saddle with a wide, flat nose and cut-out.

If you prefer a narrower saddle nose then try the Romin Evo. I've got the Romin Evo and do find that it stops any numbness, but perhaps the saddle is a little bit hard as after 4 hours my backside starts to feel it.

One problem with this and a lot of saddles is that the edge gets damaged very easily if you crash or even lean the bike up against walls. This could be intentional so you'll end up buying a new saddle every 18 months.

Weight: 165g for 155mm (medium width)

RRP in USD: $300

SL Sprint

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ZIPP SL Sprint Stem

First of all, it looks great and will match your Zipp wheels, bars and seat post.

However, it is a bit heavy and also expensive. The marketing material suggests that this is a very stiff stem. I've not noticed the difference between cheap 2001 aluminium stems and expensive 2014 carbon stems. If there is any advantage, it is indiscernible.

The bolts are titanium, and need a torx screwdriver, which is thankfully supplied.

Weight: 159g

RRP in USD: $249.95

The SL Sprint stem is selling for $250 here and here.

Red 22 (chain spotter included)

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SRAM Red 22 (chain spotter included) Front Derailleur

This front derailleur rotates from side-to-side (i.e. in the yaw plane) to eliminate chain rub. This is a very good engineering solution to the problem.

It comes with an integrated chain catcher which is very handy.

Weight: 74g

RRP in USD: $144

The SRAM Red front derailleur is selling for $110 here.

Service Course SL-88

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Zipp Service Course SL-88 Handlebars

A 120mm drop and 88mm reach is fairly compact. The bar is not particularly light at 275g; you could spend more and save around a third of the weight.
This bar is in use by pro riders who want a stiff, reliable bar and who are not too worried about weight due to the 6.8kg UCI limit. Looks very smart, and nicely proportioned.

Weight: 275g

RRP in USD: $110

The SL-88 sells for $110 here and here.

Turbo Tubular

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Specialized Turbo Tubular Tires

A reasonable price for a top-level tubular tire. This one has tread - no riders use slicks on the cobbled classics. The inner tube is latex, for that supple feeling, and there is a strip of anti-puncture compound.

Weight: 265g

RRP in USD: $100


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Gore Ride-on Cables

These are awesome cables. Your rear brakes will work beautifully and will continue to do so, even through a winter.

The cable outer is specially designed with straight wires and kevlar to avoid stretch. This translates to a crisp feel when your brakes contact the rim. There's no sponginess.

$65 may seem like a lot for cables, but it is a small percentage of the overall price. Well worth the outlay.

Weight: same as normal cables

RRP in USD: $64.99

You can buy these as an SRAM Brake Cable System by Gore Ride-On for $42.04 with free shipping.

PC Red 22

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SRAM PC Red 22 Chain

This SRAM 11 speed chain comes with a silver PowerLock quick connect link. (Gold for 9 or 10 speed chains). You may want to spend $10-$15 on a tool that helps to open quick links, although needle-nosed pliers will work almost as well.

Weight: 246g

RRP in USD: $63 / £49.99

Selling for $50 here SRAM PC XX1 Hollow Pin 11 Speed Chain 118 Links with Power Link Connector


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Tacx Tao Bottle Cage

The Tacx Tao bottle cage holds bottles securely (500ml - 750ml used). Some brands of bottles won't fit as they are too wide, so do check carefully before buying. The bottles are easy to insert and retrieve and the design means that the bottles don't get marked. (Aluminium cages tend to tattoo the bottles).

Despite being made of aluminium rather than carbon, it is still light at 37g (8g heavier than the carbon version). It was seen on plenty of pro bikes at the Tour of Flanders 2014.

However there's a major flaw. The plastic tab at the bottom of the cage snaps after a few months of usage. It isn't strong enough for the job. This has happened on three Taos that I've owned, so I've given up and moved to Elite. On that basis, I do not recommend this bottle cage.

Weight: 37g

RRP in USD: $25

The Tao aluminium is selling for $17 here or $13 here.

You can buy separate plastic tabs here for $7.99.


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