A few months ago I got set up on my new race rig and I wanted to share my recent decisions on equipment for my bike and why I chose what I did. My bike splits have not only been better than ever now, but I’ve felt better and fresher for my runs after as well. And don’t worry, I’m not being paid off or told what to say for any part of this post. These are 100% my (only slightly biased) opinions.
Around July of this year I was still on my Trek Speed Concept which served me extremely well for many years. There’s no doubt that the Speed Concept is one of the quickest designs out there and a popular choice among top triathletes and time trialists. After a few years of heavy use though, it was time for me to consider a new bike as it was definitely getting worn.
My first consideration was of course to simply get a new frameset of the same bike! There were a few things that weren’t quite perfect for me about the Speed Concept though. First thing being comfort and fit. While I had become very good at handling on the Speed Concept, the comfort factor was never 100%. Particularly I was frequently getting low back and hamstring tightness at the end of longer rides and races. While I tinkered with fit a decent amount, I never could get this to resolve all the way.
The second consideration was my hydration. At the beginning of this season I became more aware of the amount of fluids I really needed to hydrate well during racing. It’s a lot. Many tri bikes are lacking in good solutions to conveniently and aerodynamically store hydration on the bike without just constantly juggling bottles. While I managed to semi-successfully handle this at a warm IRONMAN Canada this year, I definitely bled time frequently having to grab bottles on a congested course.
The final main consideration was travel/portability. While better than it’s previous version, the Speed Concept was still no simple bike to pack and travel with. With the amount of racing and travelling I do, the convenience of an easy to build bike is of huge importance.
I reached out to multiple bike brands initially to see what would be the best fit for me. As you likely know, I eventually settled on the Ventum One triathlon bike. This is their top of the line model above their Ventum Z bike which has less integration than the One. It not only checked every box I had, but working with the Ventum employees (especially Rachel Blechman!) has been amazing. They are passionate not only about their bikes, but the athletes that ride them. They took the time to speak to me multiple times before I made my final decision and showed that they really cared. I had no major performances to my name as a Pro, but they instead put knowing who I was as a person at the top of their list.
But back to the bike itself. It’s comfortable. I will admit to having ridden this bike outside less than 10 times so far in the past few months that I’ve owned it. I actually only rode it inside in the 7 weeks between IRONMAN Louisville and IRONMAN Arizona. Yet, getting off the bike in every race I’ve done with it, I’ve felt fresher than I ever have with no tightness to speak of. It is smooth, climbs well, and time trials even better. It is definitely a far departure from the geometry and feel of any triathlon bike I’ve had before it.
Ventum by far had the best hydration solution of any triathlon bike I looked at. Right where the top tube would be for a traditional bike, the Ventum has a 1.4L integrated bottle. This bottle has a straw with a magnetic securing device running straight to the aero bars. This has made being able to drink frequently much easier without having to break from my position. Refilling has also been pretty easy on the go with a covered opening right on the top of the bottle. You can see me refilling it on the fly for the first time if you watch the IRONMAN Now coverage from Chattanooga. (I mean, why practice anything before race day?)
The Ventum also checked the travel/portability box as well. While it is still a very integrated bike, getting things apart hasn’t been as much of a hassle as before. Most everything needed for packing and unpacking just needs a few different sizes of allen wrenches.
So now for the negative part of the review. When I first received my Ventum frameset and had it built, I had issues with the steering. I eventually realized that the stem had been rubbing against the front of the frameset causing me to not be able to fully turn without forcing it. After messaging with Ventum, Co-Founder Jimmy Seear personally came to our apartment and switched the stem over himself! Since then it has been a non-issue as the clearance of the previous stem had been the cause. It was also a great time to get to meet and speak with Jimmy which only furthered my trust in the brand.
So what else have I built this bike up with? I also used that time to reevaluate some of my other equipment choices. The next obvious place was wheels. My previous wheels were also getting a lot of miles on them and it was starting to show. After searching the seemingly endless choices of wheels I got pretty jaded after reading so many ridiculous marketing claims made by many wheel companies. I ended up going with the Alto Cycling CC86 front wheel and CC311 rear disc wheel. I made this choice based on reviews I’d received from other athletes I know, the obvious care and quality of their work, and how easy they were to work with.
They came through with an amazing set of wheels that ride great and look amazing! They even added some personal touches including some design work I sent them, including a cross and my personal “AF” symbol. So far they have been smooth, fast, and super reliable. I currently have them set up tubeless with the Vittoria Corsa Speed tires which I had no issues getting on the rims or sealing.
My components consist of Ultegra Di2 which has been reliable since my IRONMAN Canada shifting debacle. The crankset I’m using is the Infocrank Classic with 167.5mm crankarms and 55/42 chainrings with an Ice Friction chain. I have been using the Infocrank for the past couple of years and it pretty much just works. I can trust that my power numbers are going to be right for training and racing and it’s just one less thing to think about with no requirement for calibrating and just switching batteries every few thousand miles.
I threw a TriRig Beta 45 bottle carrier on the rear with the Kappa cage which is super firm. I have literally driven thousands of miles with a bottle in the cage behind our van and it hasn’t budged. My butt has been sitting on a Cobb Max saddle for awhile and while it’s not perfect, it’s been the most comfortable saddle I’ve tried so far. I also made the switch to Speedplay Zero Aero pedals recently and have liked the difference in feel over my prior Shimano Ultegra pedals.
One thing that the Ventum is lacking is a dedicated bento for food/nutrition storage if you want to use any gels or solid foods as of writing this post. Luckily, my friend Joe Nagy has designed a bento specifically for the Ventum! It fits the profile perfectly sitting right on top of the Ventum bottle. He has a couple different tops for the bento, but I prefer just to leave it open and velcro a gel flask for easy access into it. I just had him do a solid black color for mine but he can apparently 3d print in just about any color! If you want his info just let me know and I’ll get you hooked up.
That’s about it for now! I have some exciting things planned for the off season with regards to some additional equipment changes and even some aero testing that I’m really excited about. I hope you enjoyed a view into my slight obsession with bike equipment and if you have any questions just shoot me a message anytime!