The Surprise Ironman & Quick Fit
It all started with the idea that having a race on the calendar would motivate me. Little did I know that I would lose track of time and wake up with only eight weeks until race day in a total panic. While this might sound normal to you, I personally spend more than six months preparing for most of my races. But coming off of an injury that didn’t let me race in 2016, I had let a lot fall to the wayside. I knew I needed a race, but I had forgotten about almost everything else… especially my race bike. This is where the team at Ventum not only saved my ass, but made me faster.
My initial plan was to resurrect my P5, but it turns out that two years of inactivity doesn’t do a bike good. While I physically needed the rest, my bike was basically condemned. Fortunately Endurance Nation has a fantastic relationship with Ventum, and they stepped up just when I needed them to help me secure a new bike. I went with the Ventum One, Di2, stock bars on the front, entrance for the rotor Q XL rings over from my former ride.
Working with good friend and bike fit guru Todd Kenyon of TT Bike Fit, he let me know that the Ventum actually sizes down versus my standard bike. While I ride a 58, this is a 56 and it fits me like a glove. Todd spent a few hours in the TT Bike Fit Lab making sure I was all dialed in and 100% comfortable. His attention to detail is immaculate, and he made several of the upgrades suggestions you will read about on my bike in this post. While I felt good in the lab, I felt even better riding 50 miles the next day… The true sign of an excellent fit.
Now the only problem was that I hadn’t ridden a triathlon bike in 18 months, so I had a lot of work to catch up on!
Background on Partnership
For many years Endurance Nation did not have a bike partnership. This wasn’t because we were picky about bikes, it was because we are super picky about the people we work with. After all, we are bringing these brands and products to people on our team who are essentially friends and family.
We knew from the beginning that the folks at Ventum were different. Their level of responsiveness and attention to detail went well beyond our relationship to every single athlete they worked with. In doing our research, testimonial after testimonial came back from athletes who not only loved the Ventum and were impressed by them, but were happy to promote them. In our small endurance world, reputation is everything. And the folks at Ventum knew that to be successful as the start up in our space, they had to differentiate themselves from the competition, not only in attention to bike detail but customer service. By choosing customer service as their core value, they have created an incredible win win relationship between the amazing end product and the customer.
Working together over the last two years, Ventum has helped outfit a large percentage of our members with their dream bike. Just as important for me, is to hear how happy every single one of them is with their choice.
You Are Buying A Relationship, Not A Hunk of Carbon (aka Customer Service)
I keep harping on this point because a lot of athletes miss it. If you’re going to buy the equivalent of a Formula One race car, you need to have a pit crew that is going to help you through everything. The Ventum team does just that at the point-of-sale, with ongoing support, and with their network of dealers across the globe.
Since most triathletes are price-sensitive, Ventum has found several creative ways to help you get the bike of your dreams without having to mortgage your house. To me this shows just how much they understand their customer and the market. And bottom line is the customer wins.
Not only can you customize your bike, you can trade in your old bike to offset the cost and even have the option of setting up a payment plan. A payment plan makes total sense. Besides, you might actually take care of your bike every once in a while!
What Sets Ventum Apart — A Bike Built by Athletes
Right out of the gate the bike meets most peoples top criteria–the damn thing looks sexy. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on a bike you not only want it to BE fast you wanted to LOOK fast. You get all that and then some with a Ventum.
But there’s no copyright on”sexy” when it comes to bikes, what I prefer is how simple and clean it is. The new generation of superbikes seem to be overengineered and more like hot rods and bicycles. This is evidenced in the fact that you likely need a PhD to pack your bike in a case!
The Bike Is Simple
As dynamic as the frame is, they made no compromises on keeping things as simple as possible for the end-user.
The brakes are easily accessible and adjustable with not only set screws but also a great Torx screwdriver set up. The seat post is simple and clean, and the stock bars are very adjustable. About the only thing you need to be sure of is where you cut the stem as you really can’t go back. Without a doubt, the hardest thing about having the bike is finding out how to put it on your car–those rear hitch racks won’t work anymore!
The Bike is Built to Race
Right out of the gate the bike is fast. From how the cockpit is set up, to the cover over the front brake, to the aerodynamic contours of the frame, to the integrated hydration system with bite valve, it all adds up. True speed on race day is the aggregation of many marginal games and the Ventum leaves you with a chance to capture all of these benefits to aggregate.
Just as important, the bike is a great for long course as well. The frame is sturdy and can easily handle additional nutrition and resources to help you go the distance. Some of the changes I made were personal ones, but they all happen on the stock Ventum frame which means you can replicate them too!
I’m Not An Engineer, But Let’s Talk About the Aero Question
Don’t let me mislead you — I am a customer not an expert engineer! I understand how the bike feels and operates, not so the science behind it. But comparing my Cervelo P5 to this ride it’s clear to me that there are several advantages to the Ventum.
The Hydration Solution
The first place I feel the benefit is the integrated hydration system. I can have the equivalent of two bottles on the frame in the integrated system. Combined with an industrial strength magnet and a bite valve, which remains blissfully out-of-the-way as you get technical on the bike.
Adjusting the Front End
To help boost the Aero quotient, I put another water bottle and straw on the front of the bike to feel that dead space and to give me another reservoir from which I can drink. This has a mount for my computer in the small space where I can keep a spare tire– winning!
Dealing With Crosswinds
I have found the frame to be incredibly stable. I don’t fully understand the dynamics of how wind affects a bike as unique as a Ventum, but anecdotally I can tell you it feels much smoother. I have ridden both training and racing wheels, and when training I felt no effects on those wheels from the wind. Moving to the race wheels has increase the effect but it’s far less them when I felt on my P5. Again, it’s not like everyone races their bike on the lava fields of Kona but I have no problem pushing into the wind on my Ventum.
The Surprise Bottom Bracket
While everybody wants to talk about the aerodynamics, we may very well likely be at “peak” aerodynamics right now — Name a new bike on the market that isn’t super fast. What jumped out to me right away was just how stiff the bottom bracket is. In my initial rides around town, I was very surprised to find out just how much power was directly transferred from the pedals to the drivetrain.
Getting out of the saddle makes me feel stronger and not uncoordinated. This is backed up by just how well I have ridden on all of my favorite routes. I have been able to ride them better than in the past, claiming quite a few Strava KOMs by virtue of that bottom bracket.
The Equipment Upgrades:
While Ventum gives you a wide variety of choice at checkout, and I did my best take advantage of it.
- DI2 because, well, DI2. Once you’ve had it you can never go back!
- I went with a White Hydration set up. I feel like it’s better for the fluids over time, plus it’s pretty easy to clean!
- Varia Bike Radar from Garmin. Now I am notified of overtaking cars right on the screen of my Garmin 810. Bonus that the rear light flashes to warn cars and will dynamically change as drivers approach. Never ridden this much aerobar time, ever.
- Front Strobe Light the Cygolite Dash Pro 650 to give oncoming drivers something to think about before they pull out in front of me…or try to pass a car coming towards me. Bonus that it’s rechargeable.
- CeeGees pads on the aerobars….gotta be plush up there to ride long, and CeeGees is the best, bar none (see what I did there?).
My Personal Edits to the Ventum Set Up
- Profile Design FC35 Hydration Drink System – You need something up front to be faster, and this fits the bill by being aero and nice and big. The baffle at the top prevents spillage and is easy to refill on the fly (and clean when you are done). There is a small pocket area at the back With elastic “X” to hold stuff in…but most food bounces out. I use this for my rear spare tire (don’t want to confuse it with the front one with the much longer stem).
Xlab Stealth Pocket 500c – This holds most of my tools and the front spare tire for race day. It’s velcroed to the hydration system and really out of the way, yet accessible when I need it.
FuelBelt Stretch Race Belt – This hold all of my race day nutrition. It’s snug, easy to access and can hold a ton of stuff. Can’t get enough of these belts.
Single Cage + CO2 Holder – I like having a cage in case I want to hold a water bottle or need to rack a bottle of race fluids in a quick aid station stop. This allows me to not only hold CO2, but to also keep that bottle as out of sight of the wind as possible.
Rotor Q Rings QXL – Todd from TTBikeFit told me about these a few years ago and I never looked back. I just like them, although the science is out as to whether or not there is a real benefit. These larger ovalized rings will range during the rotation from a 53T to a 57T big ring…so there’s plenty of speed to be had on the flats and downhills.
While anyone can shop a Ventum — and you should because they have a great customization process you walk through, and can save! — members of Endurance Nation get extra special treatment. Let’s just leave it at that.
If you are on the Team and you are reading this post, head over to the Team Partnership page and sort through the 50+ deals to find the Ventum details and get to it…you’ll be joining more than 25 athletes who have made the leap to the Radical Results that a Ventum can provide.
Everyone else…well, make the obvious choice!
P.S. Want to read about how Coach Patrick raced his comeback race on his Ventum? Check it out!