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Ventum NS1 aero road bike review

Direct-to-consumer American triathlon brand makes the jump to road bikes with Ventum NS1, but is it a successful one?

Ventum NS1
(Image: © Justin Diamond)

Our Verdict

The Ventum NS1 is a perfect all-day companion. It's aero optimised but not at the expense of a compromised ride

For

  • - Choose all the parts to match your preferred sizing
  • - 30mm tyre clearance
  • - Aero optimization
  • - Competitive pricing

Against

  • - Not everyone loves an integrated front end
  • - paint is subdued

It's a common misconception that aero road bikes are only for the fastest sprinters on race day. They've also got a reputation for being harsh and bad climbers. For the most part, all of those beliefs people hold onto are relics of history. If you look at our list of the best aero road bikes you can see the wide range of options and read about those that are great climbers and have plenty of compliance. Many of them are still designed around race day though but there is another good reason to choose an aero road bike. 

For those that prioritise long days and long adventures, an aero bike means a little less work. The Ventum NS1 comes from a direct-to-consumer brand that started with a triathlon bike - a small group of passionate people who like to ride bikes and like to do it fast. The marketing touts it as ready for long days and also race days so we spent time assessing these claims in detail. 

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Ventum NS1 headtube and front end

The front end of the NS1 is beautifully clean and very comfortable (Image credit: Justin Diamond)
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Ventum NS1 flattened rear of the bike

Just about every tube uses this truncated airfoil design and the creases of the carbon are impressive (Image credit: Justin Diamond)

Design and aesthetics

The Ventum NS1 is available in three matte colour options and a fourth that costs a bit extra. The base level offers a soft, matte finish that is nice but not visually arresting. Even if you spring for a bit more pizazz with the carbon option and the oil slick branding that goes with it, you get nice but not beautiful. The branding itself is also a bit generic. It's not unusual to have a large wordmark on the downtube and a painted headtube badge but the logo on the back of the seatpost is a nice touch.

Many modern aero road bikes use massive downtubes and bulky frame shapes at every opportunity but Ventum does things a little differently to the norm. The team started with the experience gained from the first bike the company brought to market. That bike was a radical triathlon bike that used extensive aero shaping to be as fast as possible. The NS1 brings things back to UCI legal but they've still allowed the wind to sculpt it. Every tube uses a truncated airfoil design that's gone through both CFD and wind tunnel verification. 

There are undoubtedly more aero bikes on the market. We covered the Orbea Orca Aero recently and it's one of the most aero optimised bikes available today - in fact, it's one small step away from a TT bike. The Ventum NS1 has a different design brief though. You'll notice details such as a sloping top tube and chainstays, as well as thinner front forks, that help make this an all-day bike. The slope in the top tube helps allow flex in the seatpost and, the smaller fork tubing and 30mm tyre clearance, allows for enough flex to keep things comfortable. According to Ventum, "It's not hard to make a bike very stiff. It's also not hard to make a bike very soft or cushy - but to do both well is difficult." At key points such as the bottom bracket, head tube, and fork, the design team has dialled back the stiffness and modulated the aero focus, to try and strike the right balance. 

One of the key points that has helped achieve these design goals are manufacturing partners. Instead of a traditional carbon mould process, Ventum, and its partners, use Silicon EPS moulding. This isn't something Ventum is pioneering but it is a better process that yields high-quality frames. A silicone EPS internal bladder makes what acts like a positive mould during the curing process. It helps keep the internal walls of the frame as precise as the outer. Brands such as Felt also use this technique, however, Ventum credits it as "one of the key ingredients to balancing weight, handling, and aerodynamics."

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Ventum NS1 tyre clearance detail

Clearance for 30mm helps keep the ride comfortable even over broken pavement (Image credit: Justin Diamond)
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Ventum NS1 showing spacers stacked under the stem

There's no external cabling but split spacers make adjustments easier (Image credit: Justin Diamond)
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Ventum NS1 rear of integrated front end

The integrated bar and stem is incredibly comfortable (Image credit: Justin Diamond)

Specifications and build

One of the key differentiators for Ventum as a brand is the customisation options. Start with the colour and choose what works for you. From here, you can pick the frame size and move on to the groupset. Shimano Ultegra or Dura-Ace 12-speed are both available as is SRAM AXS Rival all the way up to Red. You choose your crank length next and after you've selected from the base Vision or Enve wheel builds, you can customise the bar and stem lengths. The bar and stem are one piece so you'll want to choose carefully but it does mean the front end is completely free of cable faff. There's a computer mounting point under the bar that allows for a standard out-front mount but otherwise there's nothing to disrupt the wind. 

Pricing starts in frameset guise, which includes the seatpost and cockpit. From there the primary drivers of additional costs are groupset and wheel choices. There is only one level of frame so whatever pricing you land at, you get the same quality of carbon. 

Ventum NS1 being ridden in southern california

The Ventum NS1 is a fast aero bike but it's also a wonderful companion for long rides and less than perfect pavement (Image credit: Ventum)

Ride, handling and performance

My experience with the Ventum NS1 started within 10 minutes of arriving at my hotel after flying in to spend time with the bike. The build was a SRAM AXS Force and lightweight Enve climbing wheels. 

Although I started off this review talking about the lack of visual clout when it comes to the paintwork, the performance and ride experience more than makes up for things. The first ride started out with the group riding through the city on pavement before leading into a 30-minute climb. I always use the first ride to get a feel for the bike but I gelled immediately with the geometry - everything just works and feels instinctual. The hill led to a lengthy descent and, at this point, I started getting more feedback from the bike. I'm always a nervous descender and I was riding with a group that was vastly overmatching my skill. To my surprise, I descended faster than usual, but the bike felt controlled and precise underneath me - even through abrupt mid-corner line changes and tight corners. 

The next day started early and there were over 100 miles on the docket. During this ride I spent time looking for problems. Was there anything off in the setup or was it overly stiff? Even through rough, chip-seal pavement, it remained composed and comfortable. I wasn't able to find anything that bothered me. 

The rest of that week I rode every day. I took the Ventum NS1 up both short, steep climbs and long climbs. The Enve wheels certainly help it in a hilly setting. I also had the opportunity to test it in wind so strong that it required a steady lean to ride straight. Those were miles through Pebble Beach with the wind whipping off the ocean and across the exposed road. Any bike would have required correction but it's notable that the Ventum NS1 exhibited a steady push as opposed to any abrupt movements. Turning away from the coast, and grabbing a tailwind, immediately stopped the push which is an improvement on other aero road bikes which can move around even with a tailwind. 

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Ventum NS1 detail showing seatpost adjustment

Adjusting the saddle height isn't a difficult job despite the hidden screw (Image credit: Justin Diamond)
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Ventum NS1 front of seatpost detail

From the top the seatpost and top tube junction is totally smooth (Image credit: Justin Diamond)

Verdict

How we test

For information on Cyclingnews' testing protocol and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

I mentioned it in the performance section but it's worth noting again. - when I have to start looking at the paintwork to find faults, it's a sign  of a great bike. The negatives are more about preference than design issues. Overall, this is a bike that fits my riding. I like to ride long distances and the Ventum NS1 is comfortable, capable and fast. It's stable when descending and climbs really well thanks to the low weight (16lbs / 7.3kg). One of things that holds it back a little is its all-rounder attitude: there are faster aero bikes but these do come with a host of caveats.

The Ventum NS1 also does pretty well on the value-for-the-money scale. Similar bikes from brands such as Felt and Cannondale offer a little savings but haven't made the switch to the new generation of Shimano groupsets. Brands such as Specialized come in with a big price premium. An added bonus is that Ventum has stock available right now so you won't have to worry about the current state of bike shortages plaguing the market.

Testing scorecard and notes
AttributesNotesRating
Design and aesthetics The paint is available in beautiful hues but the matte finish and lack of depth doesn't do the bike justice6/10
Components It's built as requested, so what you choose is what you pay for, which helps affordability to a certain extent, especially during the cost of living crisis we're all currently facing10/10
Performance, handling and geometryStable and comfortable. Despite the aero bike tag it's more of a modern all-around bike.10/10
WeightLight for an aero bike but in line with other aero optimised all-around bikes8/10
Value for moneyIt's not a standout but it measures favourably against the more popular brands8/10
Overall rating84%

Logbook: Ventum NS1 aero road bike

  • Temperature: 15-26 C / 60-80 F
  • Weather: Windy, sunny
  • Road surface: Tarmac ranging from glass smooth to broken chip seal
  • Route: Flat windy rides along the coast, short rides with long climbs, short rides with steep climbs, Fast long distance
  • Rides: 7
  • Mileage: 450km / 280 miles

Tech Specs: Ventum NS1 aero road bike 

  • Price: $8,599 as ridden (pricing will differ from build to build)
  • Frame: Ventum NS1
  • Size: Medium
  • Weight: 7.3kg (actual without pedals)
  • Groupset: SRAM AXS Force 
  • Crankset: SRAM AXS Force 46/33
  • Cassette: SRAM AXS Force 10-33T
  • Wheels: Enve 3.4AR
  • Tyres: Enve SES road 29c
  • Brakes: SRAM Force AXS Hydraulic Disc
  • Bar/stem: One piece carbon from Ventum 
  • Seatpost: Ventum D shaped post
  • Saddle: Fizik Vento Argo

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx