I just dropped 6 minutes off my Ironman bike split – Thanks Ventum!

This post has been a fairly long time coming – I’ve actually been thinking about it for several months.  Consider it a bit of a intro to my new Ventum One and my first stab at writing something that discusses aerodynamics.    

I’ll start off with a disclaimer – everything I say about how fast this bike is applies to me and my setup.  While I can say with confidence that the bike will make most people faster, aerodynamics is very individual and extremely nuanced.  Furthermore, getting a bike fit is absolutely critical.  If you aren’t going to dial in your fit, don’t bother with a new bike.  

I am not an engineer, and I have not (yet) taken this to the wind tunnel so my conclusions are close to accurate, but still not perfect.    But before I get too deep in the weeds, I want to first talk about my experience with Ventum and how honored I am to be working with this company.

Ventum first reached out to me after my IM Maryland win, asking if I’d be interested in riding one of their bikes in 2019.  At first, I was extremely hesitant.  Buying a new bike – especially a triathlon bike with all the gadgets and gizmos (power meter, hydration, aerobars etc..) – is a fairly involved process.   Although my Felt frame was from 2013, I had upgraded almost all of the components in the past year so I was hard pressed to go with an entirely new setup.  After doing quite a bit of research, inclduing talking to several existing Ventum owners, reading through all the critical stuff on Slowtwitch, and talking to a few others, I decided I’d give it a go.  Rachel and Mallory at Ventum were pretty awesome from start to finish (well, I’d love to eventually get my hands on their new road bike so maybe we aren’t finished yet) – they were super responsive to my questions and helped move the process along pretty quickly.  I’ve worked with a few other bike companies before and Ventum is hands down the best.

It took a few months to get things built up, fitted, and dialed in,  and it was time to test it out: Would it be any faster?   My Felt had gotten me some pretty outstanding results, so I knew it was a tall order.  

Cutting to the chase, the answer is yes, the Ventum is faster.  About .3mph to .4mph faster at the same power output which would be approximately 6 minutes faster over the course of an Ironman.   I know folks really like to know what sort of wattage the new bike “saves, and I predict its about 10-12 watts “faster”.   So here is how I ran my test to arrive at this:

Both the Ventum and Felt were set up as close to the same measurements as possible.  My Felt has aerobar extensions that are angled up just slightly more, but otherwise, both bikes were very similar in terms of fit.    Both bikes have Quarq power meters.  I rode each bike on my Wahoo Kicker to compare the power meters and found that the Felt Quarq was about 5 watts lower than the Ventum Quarq so this was taken into consideration with my outdoor tests.

I took both bikes to a car-free loop at Hains Point – just three stop signs which I could safely roll through without touching the brakes.   The loops are 3.3 miles each.  I picked a day where the wind was absolutely calm (which is really hard to do when you are right by the water!) and rode at a time when there would be little car or bike traffic.  I rode a warmup lap on the Felt, and then two laps at 210 watts with an average speed of 22.9.   I made sure to keep my hands and head in a relaxed but not overly agressive position and that my NP and Avg power were identical so that I had no surges.   I then swapped over the same wheels to my Ventum, did a warmup lap and then two laps at 215 watts with an average speed of 23.3.    Being that I was .4 mph faster at the same power (keep in mind my Ventum Quarq reads slightly higher), I wanted to check my data again so I rode 2 more laps on my Ventum, averaging 22.9 mph.  My power checked out at 206 which confirmed what I had originally found.    Just to check things some more, I did a few laps on the Felt and then on the Ventum with the Rudy Wingspan helmet and found the same differnces between the bikes – the Ventum was .3-.4mph faster.  I confirmed what I had heard from others – that my Rudy Boost helmet was faster than my Rudy Wingspan which was a welcome surprise – the Winspan looks faster – but for me, the Boost is much cooler and more comfortable.  

I was obviously super happy to learn that the Ventum was faster – but I was sort of hoping/expecting this – why else would someone get a new bike if they didn’t think it was faster?!  But what I wasn’t really planning on was how well the Ventum handles:  like a stiff, responsive, yet comfortable road bike.  Riding on the base bar and taking some sharp corners felt like riding on the drops of my road bike – maybe even better!   And later on in the day when I was presented with some crosswinds, the bike was unphaesd – removing the downtube and seatstay really makes a huge difference!

So is there anything about the Ventum I don’t like?   So far, the thing that I dont’ like is the lack of a spot to store a repair kit  (most new super bikes have something integrated) and I’ve had some issues with the front brake cover fairing – the screws don’t easily go back in which makes getting at the front brake and junction box a bit tricky.  Other than that, no complaints.  In fact, I ended up finding that the Xlab Aero Pouch works really well around a rear bottle and that with a crafty bike mechanic, the faring issue wasn’t too difficult to figure out (Thanks Andy!).    Other than those two small issues, I have been super happy with the bike and can’t wait to get some more outdoor rides on it as the weather improves.

As always,  for taking the time to read this over – I’d love if folks sent me any questions they may have about the bike or just upgrades in general…. talking bikes and new gadgets is always fun!