It’s a really good time to be a triathlete. Companies are coming out with more and more specialized bikes tailored just for our needs, and even going as far as to produce UCI-illegal designs that aren’t likely to get bought by anyone who doesn’t have a USAT membership. We are very likely entering an incredible time in bike design, and with bikes like the Ventum One opening that era, the future is looking very fast indeed.
Our more avid readers will remember that we have already published a talk with founders Jimmy Seear and Diaa Nour late last year, so we won’t be covering the company or the technical merits of the bike here. Instead, we had the opportunity to ride one of their review bikes for a month or so, and evaluate it. There’s a lot to get through, so let’s dig in.
First and foremost, riding a Ventum does not feel like a normal tri bike. The lack of a downtube isn’t really noticeable in the steering – that is, there’s no real side-to-side flex that you’d expect from its exclusion – but you are cognizant of its absence. You can “feel” that it’s not there in your legs somehow, and that takes some getting used to. Part of this is that the top tube is seriously stout, both in depth and in width, and your legs will brush against it for longer than you expect if your form is of the tucked-knees variety. You’ll get used to both of these things, but for the first ride expect to glance down a lot and be a little disconcerted. That feeling goes away the instant you take a corner on a Ventum One.
Jimmy told us when we picked up the bike that “a lot of riders are telling us that it feels like they’re riding a road bike.” Those people were absolutely right. The combination of a very stiff, wide frame and overbuilt head tube means there is very little deflection in the corners, and the short stem lends directness to the initial turn-in of the bike. By placing the weight of your hydration along the top tube, the front no longer has that pulling feeling which can end up making a bike feel sluggish to enter and exit turns, giving it a snappier “road bike” feel. Jimmy, you were right – it corners a lot more like a road bike than a tri bike. Well done, mate.
On the straights is where the bike really shines, however. The Ventum One is one of the most comfortable bikes for long-haul, straight-line riding that we have been on in recent memory. The compliance in the frame for road imperfections is simply marvelous. The front end is comfortable, allows for quite a lot of adjustment, and the arm cups are padded just enough to be comfortable without being overly squishy. Drop into your aero position and the bike will very happily hum along without any sort of drama, no matter how fast you push it.
The big innovation for Ventum, however, is the integrated hydration system—47oz. of liquid, refillable on the fly, sitting on the top tube and completing the aero shape. The straw exits just behind the stem and has a magnet retention system that can be attached to virtually anywhere on the bike you’d like, and will hold securely, even over cobblestones. We put it on our left extension, and found that if we simply dropped it forward after drinking, it would return to the magnet on its own. Your results, of course, may vary, but we all get the same two bottles worth of liquid in storage for free – enough for many people to complete the bike leg of a 70.3 distance on alone. That’s a lot of drag that just got saved from not having to attach a front hydration system and some kind of rear bottle cage to your bike. We found that in the Florida heat (still well into the 80’s and 90’s, even in March), a 40-mile ride was possible, but 56 might be pushing it. Of course, with a SAG station, things might have been different, or perhaps we ought to just ride faster. In either case, we think you might be able to realistically forgo the front hydration system, but a single bottle in a rear configuration might not go amiss.
All of this leads up to the big question, though: is the Ventum One fast? Yes. Yes, it is. The One is every bit the UCI-Illegal superbike we have all been waiting for and then some. The bike isn’t light; there’s a lot of carbon fiber there making sure the lack of a downtube doesn’t compromise the integrity in any way, but once up to speed it stays there and just keeps on trucking. Maintaining pace is effortless, and you will look down and realize you’re going faster than you thought you were. That’s the sign of a superbike done right.
We enjoyed our time with the Ventum One, and were definitely sad to see it go. But thanks to it, we got to ride, for a few short weeks, the future of triathlon bike design. For those lucky enough to be able to purchase one, you’re riding something that is ahead of its time, and will be fast for years to come. If you’re on the market, take a solid look – this superbike might not look like the rest of the pack, but in our eyes that’s not a bad thing.