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Reviewed: Ventum NS1 Road Bike

Though Ventum has made a name for itself as an unconventional tri bike brand, their new, seemingly traditional road bike rides like they’ve been in the drop-bar game for years.

Basics

A killer value for a race-ready road bike option that hits the middle ground for comfort and acceleration, but gets big marks for value, sharp handling, and direct-to-consumer readiness. Tested with 105 Mechanical Build components and Enve Foundation 45 Carbon Wheels.


Pros

Easy to build

Good spec for the $$$

Slices and dices corners

Lightweight

Cons

A little squirrelly for a newer triathlete looking to add clip-ons

Super unclear about how aero this frame is


Size Reviewed

M/L

Weight

18lbs. 12oz.

Price

$4,000

Brand

Ventum


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We’ve been huge fans of Ventum for their boldness in reviving the non-double-diamond frame design that triathletes loved, but the UCI hated. Now, Ventum is sending an “I’m Sorry” Hallmark card to France in the form of a UCI-legal road frameset with characteristically aerodynamic-looking lines, hidden cables, an effortless assembly, and more road cred than we’d expect. While the Ventum NS1 is not at all built ready to rock for tri like a few other brands have done (Trek, for instance with their Madone Speed, this is an aggressive road machine that could be a good choice as a second bike or something for tri that might require a few modifications, clip-on bars, and an experienced rider. 

Related: Triathlete’s 2020 Road Bike Buyer’s Guide

Ventum NS1: The Build

One of the first thighs we noticed on this bike was that Ventum did an excellent job spec’ing parts for the NS1—hats off to their product manager here. While on the outside you might be thinking “105, well, that’s not that great for $4k,” when other brands are at Ultegra or knocking on Di2’s door for only a little bit more, but as someone who has ridden Ultegra mechanical and 105 mechanical head to head, I can’t say I feel much of a difference while out riding. So then the next argument would be the weight one, but here you’re already looking at an 18-pound bike for right at $4k—that’s something to be proud of and no shifting component spec is going to change that too much. Elsewhere, you’re looking at hydraulic disc brakes and a shockingly excellent OEM Foundation 45 wheelset from Ventum’s Utah neighbors, Enve. (Bear in mind this is Enve’s new budget wheelset, but still.) Unless you’re trying to build up a sub 18-pound road bike for some reason, this has everything you’d need, and nothing you don’t.

Ventum NS1: The Ride

Here, we were a little surprised, but not in a bad way. I would have assumed that a tri bike company would make a road bike that was on the softer/more comfortable side to appeal to more of the century/road-bike-as-tri-bike crowd. I also would have expected something that didn’t necessarily accelerate super well, given that this is their first stab at a road frame. On both accounts, I was wrong. While it’s not a harsh ride, this bike is definitely nowhere near a Roubaix or the new QR road bike. You won’t lose any fillings, but you may want to go with an even wider tire than the TK tires that came with it. That’s ok, because you can run tires up to 30mm with the clearance afforded on this frame. In that same vein, this bike also accelerates much faster than I would have thought, which of course is always a good thing. A few modifications of the ride itself can help with its smoothness, but the good news is that the stiffness is there as a baseline.

Ventum NS1: The Good

Obviously we loved the component build on this—not necessarily because it gives you the absolute BEST parts for the price, but because the parts were intelligently chosen. Similarly, there are people who want a road bike with excellent acceleration but who don’t care so much about a buttery smooth ride. Aside from those two bits of good news, we also like the tight handling on this bike—it cut corners like a ginsu knife, which was great for descending, especially with the hydraulic disc brakes. We also really loved how easy this bike was to assemble, and we can confidently say there is no need to take this to a shop (unless you need a fit, particularly if you’re going to try to mount clip-ons). For sure this is a bike you race the same day you received it—especially with those Enve carbon wheels.

Ventum NS1: The Tricky

Aside from the slightly rough ride on the road—again something that could be remedied with different tires or softer training wheels—we did find the stability a little tricky on flats, on long descents, and in dicey crosswinds. The same characteristics that make this a very accurate descender and cornerer (is that a word?) also make it a little twitchy, as far as road bikes go. This wouldn’t be a big deal, unless you were hoping to get onto a beginner-friendly road bike that would work well with clip-ons right out of the box. While you can mount clip-ons onto the bars without any tricky swapping, you’ll definitely want to play with the position (or have a fitter help you) to make sure it’s stable enough to sit comfortably and plug and chug.

Ventum NS1: Conclude, I Do

This is a great road bike at a great value, and it’s the one I reached for more often than not when figuring out what to ride if I wanted something aggressive, fast, and exciting. That said, I would also have used this for my days as an ITU athlete—slap on some clip-on aerobars, slam the seat up on the rails, play with the position a little bit, and go—but I wouldn’t pick it if I were going to try to race a 70.3 on a road/tri combo. I would choose this for a group ride (if I went on those this summer), but I wouldn’t choose it for a century (if they had those this summer). In other words, this is a great, surprising bike from Ventum, just make sure it’s the bike you need and not just the one you want.