Updated Ventum GS1 Review: A Ready, Set, Gravel Race Machine
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The new GS1 is available in four colorways; Sage, Moss, MOAB, and Storm.
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 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.
Some carryovers are a T47 threaded bottom bracket, internal cable routing, Ventum dual offset fork, and top tube accessory mounting.
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 — 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.