If the picture of the above bike looks shocking to you, it’s probably because you’ve never seen a non-double-diamond bike before. The long and short of the NDD design is that it’s non-UCI legal (which doesn’t mean anything to triathletes) frame design that is aerodynamically optimized at all costs. Zipp made one back in the day, as did a brand called Lotus, now it’s pretty much Dimond, the Cervelo P5X, and Ventum—in terms of the major NDD players.
Previously, Ventum offered a wider range of bikes, from the obscene $29,000 blinged-out Ventum One to the extremely capable, sub-$4k Ventum Z. (For anyone asking, yes I did get to ride the Z, no, I didn’t t get to ride the nearly $30k One.) Starting in the last year, they’ve consolidated their tri line into just the Ventum One, offered in a few different builds that range from the $5k frameset, to an Ultegra Di2 build at $7,500 and up to a $9,500 SRAM Red AXS spec.
In this review, we’ll take a look at the features, the fit, what’s new, and give our on-road impressions of one of the last unconventional, super tri-focused bikes in the game.
Ventum One: The Features Rundown
At the bottom of this review, we’ll give you the geometry of this bike, details on the fit, and how it rides, but first, we’ll go through its most tri-relevant features, from the most significant to the least.
The Frame Design – It goes without saying that the biggest feature on this bike is the non-double-diamond design that’s claimed to be the most aerodynamic possible. While we didn’t get a chance to put it to the test in the wind tunnel, it’s worth noting that the frame’s design truly trumps all other considerations when you compare this bike with others. Yes, the weight is on the high end (23lbs. 15oz. for our size 56 with all hydration removed), no, it won’t win you a town-line sprint or a KOM on a steep climb, but it is very very fast in the wind—and almost more importantly that includes crosswinds, which we’ll talk about in later sections.
Hydration – The Ventum One isn’t the only bike with 1.4L (or 1.2L for smaller sizes) of integrated hydration (that list includes the new Scott Plasma 6 and the Canyon Speedmax), but it’s the only bike that uses the built-in hydration as a part of the frame’s aero benefits. The hose and fill port are both easy to use, and it’s by far the easiest to remove to fill and clean, and there’s a mount on the top for additional nutrition via a compatible Bento box.
Front End Though this technically falls in the aerodynamics category, the front end of the new Ventum is not only super sleek and fully integrated, but it also boasts an easy-to-use monopost riser (like the Orbea Ordu, for instance) with 7.5cm of vertical adjustment that allows for simple adjustment as well as space for a between-the-arms hydration system if needed. The stem is also reversible and telescoping for an effective range of 47mm-127mm.
Ultrawide Fork – The fork on this redesigned Ventum is literally one of the widest we’ve seen. The upside, practically speaking, is that you can easily accommodate tires up to 28c without even the finetest clearance issues.
Storage – Beneath the easy-to-remove hydration is a storage compartment for emergency supplies like tire repair, CO2, a spare tube, and more. While you’d certainly have to stop to remove the hydration system and access the storage, you don’t need any tools. Also: Be sure to pack the tools in with something soft and pliable as it can rattle if not properly secured.
In terms of fit, the Ventum has a shockingly wide range of sizings—especially for such an unconventional frame mold. This means that Ventum spent some serious money producing each carbon mold to go from size 46 to 58. While this may feel like it skews on the much smaller end, the sizing is slightly deceptive, as the 56 I rode was for sure on the larger side of the spectrum. Of course check the stack and reach numbers for the most accurate fit, but know that you may end up with a bike that has a different size number than you’re used to.
RELATED: Understand Geometry Before You Buy Your Next Bike
With six sizes, Ventum is squarely in the realm of brands with the most fit options, alongside Quintana Roo for example—where many tri brands are doing four or five. (Though it should be noted that the size jump from 48 to 51 is oddly minimal, making the two sizes nearly superfluous.)
RELATED: What Size Tri Bike Should I Get?
The front end is similarly quite adjustable for an integrated setup with 7.5cm of vertical adjustment and arm pad width (center to center) can go from 21cm to 10cm, but offer only a scant 5cm of fore-aft adjustment. The good news is the telescoping front end gives an additional 5cm of adjustment forward and back. Also, the base bars can be flipped in an up or down position for more flexibility. (They can also be detached for travel.)
As unique as the Ventum frame style is, it’s no surprise that the ride is just as singular. First, it goes without saying that stability while in the aerobars is nearly unparalleled. Not only because of the wheelbase, carbon layup, and construction—things that take care of handling and ride quality—but also because of the frame design itself, the fact that this bike handles crosswinds literally better than anything else (aerodynamic) we’ve ridden. But, like everything, there is a price.
While high- and mid-frequency bumps are sucked up pretty well by the design and carbon layup, the frame’s design has a funny “bouncing” feel when hitting big bumps. It’s not something that feels dangerous, but it does take some getting used to after riding a standard diamond frame design.
Likewise, it should be no surprise that big accelerations up climbs or out of corners feel sluggish—between the downtube-less frame design and the frame’s weight. But this is where triathletes need to do a little self real talk: If you’re looking at buying a bike to get faster at a half- or full-iron distance, you want something fast at constant power, that won’t beat you up for the run; you don’t need to worry about attacking a group ride or sprinting up a steep hill.
As such, the One shines brighter than most when it comes to plugging into the aerobars and simply grinding away. The excellent crosswind handling allows you to be more relaxed in breezy conditions, using less energy to keep yourself on the road. The aerodynamics excel at holding and maintaining speed—particularly on rolling or flat courses. Handling-wise, stability is obviously key, so while the One won’t destroy sharp corners at speed, it’s at least predictable and steady, so you won’t need to change course around turns.
It’s important to understand what this bike and what it is not. It’s probably one of the fastest, most stable straight-line bikes on flat or rolling long-course events. It’s not particularly light, and it’s not particularly snappy, but that’s not the point. The fact that Ventum consolidated its line isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing—it’s likely a fact of life in the bike business right now. What’s left with the new One is something that’s properly priced for a superbike (in fact it’s a pretty good deal for a superbike), especially given how fast it is.
It’s unfortunate that the Z no longer exists, but sadly it’s also unlikely that it was selling a ton. For better or for worse, this is a very specific bike that takes a very specific rider—typically someone in long-course racing, typically someone who has been in the sport a while, and typically someone who’s ready to spend over $5k on a bike.
The good news is that the new version of the Ventum One checks all of the real-world boxes that actually matter for triathletes—nutrition, fit, aerodynamics, handling, and comfort—while leaving some things that really don’t, like weight and printing capabilities. If you’re serious about long-course, this is One of the best options.
RELATED: The Best Triathlon Bikes, Updated for 2022