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Updated Ventum GS1 Review: A Ready, Set, Gravel Race Machine

Ventum trail date RothmeyerPhoto: Brett Rothmeyer
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Ventum is quickly becoming a household name for those in the drop bar scene. The brand started with slick, aerodynamic road bikes and, in 2020, moved towards the gravel side of life with its first gravel offering, the impressive GS1. 

Ventum GS1 beauty Rothmeyer
Photo: Brett Rothmeyer

We loved the first iteration of the Ventum GS1, so much so that it received our Editors Choice award for 2020. It was not without its shortcomings, though, and the world of gravel and gravel racing has changed rapidly in the past three years. What seemed like an ample amount of tire clearance then is now equal to a cyclocross bike. The same is said for trends in gravel geometry. It seems that Ventum was listening, gathering ideas, and prototyping. 

Ventum GS1 Logo

After much feedback from their gravel racing athletes and the riding world at large, Ventum quickly updated its flagship gravel machine. In pursuit of creating a fast gravel race bike, Ventum opted for larger tire clearance, a longer wheelbase, and tweaked the geometry for better handling off the pavement.

What’s new — Ventum GS1 2023

Ventum GS1 review side shot

At first glace, the GS1 has a very different look from the previous model. The previous model shared more characteristics of a cyclocross bike, while the new version looks like an aero-gravel design. The most notable being the swooped seat stays, a beefed up front end, and a longer wheelbase. 

Ventum GS1 2023 Frame Details

SRAM shifters on ENVE gravel bars

For this iteration of the GS1, Ventum pivoted from high gloss paint to matte but stuck with the earth (gravel) tones. The matte paint hides scratches and dust better than the gloss finish in my option but lacks some of the pop of the previous offering.

Ventum GS1 colorway 2023

The new GS1 is available in four colorways; Sage, Moss, MOAB, and Storm. 

Ventum GS1 seatstays

More Room for Fun

The GS1 now clears up to 700c x 48mm and 650b x 2.1″ with some room to spare. The geometry is tweaked slightly with an additional 10mm of reach and wheelbase. The updated front end neatly stores cable in a slightly different headtube design recessed into the frame. 

Ventum GS1 shifter detail

Ventum rethought the front derailleur treatment on the GS1, still accommodating for those that would like to run a 2X but optimizing for single-ring use. For those looking to run a 2X system, the updated GS1 is direct mount ready, with an easy-to-use cable feeder port. 

Ventum GS1 Chainset

Some carryovers are a T47 threaded bottom bracket, internal cable routing, Ventum dual offset fork, and top tube accessory mounting. 

Ventum GS1 fork daul dropout

The GS1 is slightly updated but carries over the design where the user can change the offset slightly. It’s very easy to use and changes up the handling making the bike more responsive without much leg work.

Ventum GS1 XPLR cassette

Ventum GS1 — Build and Specs

Our Ventum GS1 arrived with a solid gravel race build, topped off with Zipp 303s and an Enve cockpit. The build is purposeful; go fast, and be comfortable. The complete weight checked in at 18lbs 04oz (8.28kg) with Arundel bottle cages, sealant in the tires, and Shimano XT 8000 pedals.

  • Frame: Ventum GS1 Medium 
  • Fork: Ventum dual position full carbon
  • Shifters: SRAM Force AXS 1X 
  • Crankset: SRAM Force 42T 172.5
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force EXPLR
  • Chain: SRAM 12 SPD Flattop
  • Cassette: SRAM 10-44T
  • Rotors: 160 F/R
  • Wheels: Zipp 303s 
  • Tires: IRC BOKEN Double Cross 700 x 42c
  • Stem: ENVE 80mm
  • Bars: ENVE Gravel 44cm
  • Saddle: Fizik Arrgo 
  • Weight: 18lbs 04oz (8.28kg) (with Arundel bottle cages, sealant in the tires, and Shimano XT 8000 pedals)
Ventum Snow falling Rothmeyer
Photo: Brett Rothmeyer

Initial impressions

Ventum is direct to consumer, and the bikes arrive to the purchaser in tip-top shape for assembly. I was taken aback by my last review of the care taken in the pre-build process, and this time was no different. I’ve seen all manner of pre-built bikes, and most of the time, you want to check every single bolt with a torque wrench or rebuild completely.

Ventum GS1 XPLR rear

The Ventum GS1 arrived fully dialed, shifters paired, and brakes bed in. The only thing I needed to do was install the stem and dial in the fit. I still checked it over with a torque wrench, but the build quality and attention to detail are superb. 

Enve cockpit for gravel

The longer reach meant running a shorter-than-usual stem to get my fit right. The bike arrived with an 80mm stem, which turned out right on the money. Coming from the previous model, the new GS1 has an aggressive feel. After doing the headset spacer dance, I landed on a comfortable fit. The Enve Gravel bars are wider than the 42cm traditional bars I ride meaning the setup and flare can take a bit to get used to, especially for those coming from a more traditional setup. 

Ventum GS1 riders eye view

The updated GS1 headset and cable management system took some time to perfect, but I find this a headache on most bikes. It sits very flat on the frame and gives a super clean look, and it’s a nice update. Notably, you can change the stem and spacer position without having to mess with the cables. Though like many modern bikes with internal routing through the headset, changing the headset bearings is far more complicated.

Jordan gravel Ventum GS1 Rothmeyer
Photo: Brett Rothmeyer

Ride impressions

The GS1 arrived just as we were experiencing a winter heat wave in Pittsburgh. The once frozen solid gravel roads turned to power-zapping slogs. I took the Ventum GS1 out for its inaugural rides on these roads, not only testing my winter shape but the power transfer in the updated gravel race machine. 

Ventum GS1 bike profile less for

On the pavement, the GS1 rides like an aggressive road bike with all the response you’d expect from a performance-focused frame. The steering is a departure from the road feel, rolling down sweeping descents and tight roads. The GS1 is more of a slow and steady driver. I was still getting used to the ride, but it was clear this bike excels more chugging on the flats and less slicing/dicing on the turns. 

Ventum GS1 seatstays

When I finally hit the gravel, the GS1 came into its own. The chatter I expected on the blown-out gravel roads was more of a hum. While descending, the GS1 feels planted, even on light, loose gravel. The long and low feeling soaks up small bumps, and the steady steering is an asset on sketchy gravel descents. 

SRAM crank in T47 bottom bracket

Where the GS1 outperforms other bikes is on flat or rolling gravel. The updated geometry put the rider in a slightly more aggressive position, but not out of the comfort zone. The position feels like a mix of a road and cyclocross fit, more concentrated on power production, and the bike plows forward. 

Ventum GS1 seat stay

Most of my review rides were a mix of gravel, road, and some single track. The GS1 does well on all terrains but is most at home on gravel. The bike quickly responds to power on the pedals, and the reconfigured rear triangle soaks up bumps without a loss of feeling. 

Ventum GS1 bottle mount

The wider tire clearance is a welcome update, but I felt comfortable on the 38mm tires of the previous version. My local gravel isn’t very crazy, but I felt the frame of the GS1 did most of the heavy lifting for smoothing out the ride. 

Ventum GS1 ENVE logo

Final thoughts 

The more I accumulated miles on the updated Ventum GS1, the more I liked it. The frame is responsive and can hold its own on the flats and climbs. The weight alone will attract some gravel weight-weenies. But its most outstanding feature would be the comfortable ride the GS1 supplies at a race pace. 

Ventum GS1 SRAM rear

Rolling hard on gravel, I wasn’t holding the bars for dear life; I was in control, driving the bike and looking ahead. We take these things for granted on a ride, but when race day comes, all the fatigue that comes from being jackhammered by gravel roads takes a bite out of your overall performance. 

If anything, the GS1 is best described as a dedicated gravel race bike. It performs well on the road and trails, but gravel is where it’s home. 

ventumracing.com

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Buddy
Buddy
1 year ago

My only wish is they had slightly shorter seat tubes per size to get a little more post showing for flex. For a bike not being shouldered, seems kinda high. maybe I just have short legs…

mud
mud
1 year ago
Reply to  Buddy

I would second that. Why the level top tube? This is the second race-oriented gravel bike I’ve seen like that. These will still be ridden on uneven terrain, so better standover and a longer post are a plus.

Destroyer666
Destroyer666
1 year ago
Reply to  mud

Framebags I think. Tougher to get a bottle out with a sloping tube and a frame bag.

Jay Ess
Jay Ess
1 year ago
Reply to  Buddy

Actually came here to say this and saw your post. I had a very nice carbon frame that had a relatively tall seat tube that beat the crap out of me. Switched to a Giant Revolt and the difference was surprising. You can actually see it flex riding behind me offroad.

farfenugen
farfenugen
1 year ago

@Jordan, How could you tell it was the frame doing the “heavy lifting” rather than the tire spec?
Was your review ride the same as when the snowy pictures were taken?

craig
1 year ago

And the weight is? Or does the blank spot after weight mean this is the ultimate for weightweenies? A bike that weighs nothing. I’d kill for a ‘cross bike like that.

Zach Overholt
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  craig

It’s there above, just didn’t make it into the chart (adding it now). 18lb 4oz with cages, tire sealant, and XT pedals.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach Overholt

What was the price, as tested? Did I overlook that?

Pat
Pat
1 year ago

I stopped reading when I got to the bit that said the cables go through the headset…

Caleb Thompson
Caleb Thompson
3 months ago

Jordan, How tall are you and what size road bike do you ride for comparison?

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