Bike

Ventum Z Triathlon Bike Review

The Ventum Z will get triathletes onto a race-ready non-double-diamond bike for far less than $4K—proving itself to be the budget long-course heir apparent for unconventional thinkers.

Basics

This comfy and aero full carbon non-double-diamond frameset paired with carbon Enve wheels is shockingly well-built for its price. (Tested with 105 Mechanical components and Enve Foundation carbon wheels.)


Pros

Price

Enve carbon wheels (Foundation series, but still…)

Crazy smooth ride and laser-straight handling, even in aero

Cons

Not the greatest at accelerating

Weight


Weight

22lbs. 5oz. (without hydration)

Price

$3,500

Brand

Ventum


If you’ve always been interested in the concept of a non-double-diamond bike—aero at all costs, UCI-be-damned—but you thought they were out of your price range, the Ventum Z is your gateway to the NDD underworld. For as much as a standard carbon frame (or even less than one), Ventum has put together a respectable build on a frameset that will take some time to outgrow. This is the bike for long-course triathletes who value speed into a headwind, stability, and comfort—add on these new budget Enve wheels, and you could literally race any 140.6 distance race the day this bike arrived at your door.

Related: Triathlete’s 2020 Bike Buyer’s Guide

Ventum Z Review: Direct-To-Race Morning

Along with Quintana Roo and Canyon, Ventum is one of a few major tri bike brands (who offer more than one model) to sell and ship directly to their customers. They’re one of two who do a flawless job of prebuilding their bikes. Arriving in an oversized box that will probably make your UPS guy want to kill you, this bike can be assembled in less than an hour, with few tools, and almost no technical knowledge at all. Literally, if you got your packages early enough in the morning, you could conceivably ride it in a tri on the same day. They’re checked that thoroughly. While that might seem like a neat perk, with bike shops either being closed or fully inundated right now, knowing that your direct-to-you bike has been assembled by a pro and checked over before you ride it is actually a pretty big deal. If you were to set aside $100 or so to budget for a fitter, you’d be ready to go, even if you’ve never ridden a tri bike before. 

Ventum Z Review: The Ride

Right off the bat, if you’re someone who wants to win a townline sprint or take a steep local KOM, this is not your bike. We’ll get to why more below, but this is an exceptionally soft riding bike that eats up bumps of all kinds and tracks super well, even in crosswinds or on descents. This may not sound like a big deal, but these are exactly the first things a long-course triathlete should ask about when looking at a new bike. I won’t even get into the aerodynamics of Ventum’s design (they’re very good, but outside the scope of this review), but in terms of predictable long-course riding—which includes swoopy, laid-back cornering, for better or for worse—there’s not much that beats Ventum’s design.

Ventum Z Review: The Good

Since we’ve already talked about how well the Ventum rides (for long-course triathletes, of course), other more minor benefits to this bike include the price (which is a killer), the build, and the fact that this is a Triathlete’s Bike. What does that mean? Well, it includes a pretty big 1.4L hydration “box” that fits very nicely into the top tube—an unusual spot for hydration, but a great one because it leaves space in your aero bars for anything else you might want, like more hydration or a clean-looking computer cockpit. It’s also slightly self-serving because the frame’s design seemingly prevents mounting anything on the seat tube (and no down tube even exists). 

Ventum Z: The Ok

Yes, this bike is a beast, weight-wise, but that shouldn’t really be a big deal to triathletes—though for those who race on super hilly courses, it might be. In that same vein, this bike has a decent amount of side-to-side movement when really torquing the pedals from low watts suddenly to high watts (in case you needed a rough definition of torque). That said, it’s not the noodliest bike we’ve ever tested, and I wouldn’t worry about losing any power at consistent wattage—it’s just an odd feeling when you power out of corners or try to blast over the crest of a hill. Certainly the NDD design presents some unusual obstacles as well—fitting on some bike racks or stands, for instance—so be sure you really think through the practical side of having such an unusually-shaped frame. Picture yourself walking it into transition: Do you feel proud or weird? That’s how you know a NDD bike is for you.

Ventum Z Review: Conclusions

This is an exciting bike because it finally helps bring NDD bikes to the masses of long-course triathletes who could really benefit from one. It has loads of built-in hydration (you need this) and a super smooth, straight ride that will save you for the run (you need this even more). It also has some unbeatable aerodynamics that will most likely negate any of the effects of such a heavy frame. However, the Ventum Z probably won’t be the bike of choice for the Alpe D’Huez Tri, and if the thought of simply chugging out a good bike and run split without any of the fun of slamming through corners or attacking your group ride doesn’t do it for you, then you might look elsewhere. But for anyone who wants a no-holds-barred Tri Bike with a capital “T” and “B,” this is your ride, and you can race this thing out of the box for under $4K.