Can Van Nicholas’s entry-level model retain titanium’s legendary ride quality?
Dutch firm Van Nicholas is doing more than most to make titanium bikes accessible, and the Ventus SE is its best value model.
As it doesn’t rust or corrode, titanium is usually left ‘raw’ on bike frames. While the finish may look sober compared to the paintwork of other models, it has a classy appeal.
The tubes used to form the Ventus SE’s frame are less manipulated than those higher up in Van Nicholas’s range and are of a round cross-section. This gives the frame a traditional, clean look that is only interrupted by the externally routed cables.
There are some high-quality touches, too: the ‘V’ insignia cut into the rear drop-outs are a very nice touch.
The frame decal on the seat tube that reads “Nothing looks rides lasts like Titanium” raised a smile.
Van Nicholas’s online configuration tool means that you can choose your spec prior to ordering. This model came with Shimano 11-speed Ultegra and Mavic Aksium wheels. Ultegra is functionally very close to Shimano’s range-topping Dura-Ace and is one of the slickest working drivetrains on the market.
Mavic’s Aksium wheels are perhaps a rung or two lower than the rest of the bike’s spec, but are still a solid choice.
Elsewhere, own-branded black VN stem, bars, saddle and seatpost are pretty much standard.
The elimination of road buzz gives the Ventus SE a fatigue-free ride, lending itself to longer excursions. The carbon-fibre forks transmitted more from the road than the rear triangle. The feeling of smoothness was complemented by the effortless function of the Ultegra drivetrain.
I wished for a lower 28-tooth gear on the cassette when grinding steeper climbs, but that could be addressed by speccing an 11-28t cassette at source.
I had to check the bike’s price several times! The company’s direct-selling to the consumer effectively reduces the price of titanium to that of other materials: under £1,800 for a ti frame and Ultegra is unheard of.
All the benefits and kudos of titanium, at the same price as carbon-fibre.
Titanium was once the sole preserve of very high-end bikes. A ti frame and fork package could easily have cost the same as the entire Van Nicholas Ventus SE — and still can. Sometimes when you make something to hit a price, it’s at the expense of quality. In the case of the Ventus SE it just doesn’t feel like a bike made with compromise — to the point where you wonder whether Van Nicholas may be doing itself out of selling some of its higher-priced models! The ride quality is remarkably smooth, and at this price a full Shimano Ultegra groupset, including chainset and brakes, is a bonus. The Mavic Aksium wheels may be slightly under-specced, but they are reliable, no-nonsense wheels nonetheless.