Ceepo Venom (frameset) £1799.99

Wind-slicing ride

BikeRadar score 2/5

The Ceepo is quick in a comfortable, coax-and-cruise way. The high price this frame and fork could command at their introduction no longer reflects the fact that their performance is now commonplace, though.

Ride & handling: What it lacks in precision it makes up for in cruising comfort

While the Ceepo looks slightly short in terms of top tube length compared to other medium frames, the overall fit is in line with the competition. It’s light enough to pick up speed well away from slow-speed corners or on climbs but it's noticeably softer underfoot – and certainly between bar and pedals – when you really stamp the power down.

There’s also tangible wind-up in the super-thin spokes before your power actually gets to the road. That means acceleration is definitely more of a steady surge than a sharp snap. This is totally in line with Ceepo’s refreshingly honest statement that the Venom is much better suited to higher cadence, medium power riders than slow rev wrestlers. Once up to speed, the slim frame slices into headwinds and holds speed really well.

It’s not as convincing aerodynamically in cross-wind situations though. The noticeable twist between each wheel that you can feel through corners also becomes obvious in side winds with deeper section wheels installed. The stumble that's caused by flex in the rear wheel also gave us a shock through the first couple of roundabouts, to the point where we even stopped just to check if we’d picked up a puncture.

If you don’t push it too hard, overall handling is balanced and easily biddable, and what it lacks in precision it certainly makes up for in smooth-cruising comfort. Despite a relatively firm saddle and bars, we found it offered a relatively soft ride over asphalt acne, and it’ll even suck up unavoidable potholes without putting you into a hedge. The damped feel also reduces all-round fatigue levels on longer rides.

At the end of the day, when it’s going to leave you £2,400 lighter for a frame and fork, you’d be forgiven for expecting something that's significantly more special than the comfortable, but ultimately rather average, ride that you get from  the Venom.

Chassis: Super-skinny tubes and low front end make for easy straightline speed

The shapes of the Ceepo are so extreme that it doesn’t pass UCI aero restrictions. You won’t get it past scrutinising at a national or international time trial event, but that’s not a problem in triathlon or local time trials, and will give you valuable extra speed. The main reason is the number of ultra-thin, ultra-deep tube sections that push their aspect ratios the wrong side of the UCI 3:1 rule.

The pronounced beak on the head tube is definitely a fairing rather than a structural element, although the CP head badge makes a nice set of eyes to continue the bird effect. The super-narrow, deep down tube is definitely more of a wing than a tube too, and the wheelhugging curved seat tube is also about as razor-sharp as you’ll get on a bike.

A convex kite-section top tube completes the mainframe, blended into the other tubes at both ends with long joining webs to keep airflow as smooth as possible. A conventional bottom bracket leads into deep but narrow chainstays, with conventional vertical dropout slots. The seat stays are also relatively chunky compared to the razor-thin sections elsewhere.

A full-carbon clamp holds the single-position aero seatpost and the deep-bladed aero fork is full-carbon too. Front and rear brakes are conventionally positioned, with an alloy tab to mount the latter brake on to the frame. The brake cable uses full outer routing inside the top tube, which also adds a bit of weight and softness to the feel. The internally routed gear cables just use a lightweight sheath, and overall chassis weight is acceptable, if not aspirational.

The Venom is sold as a frame, fork, headset and seatpost set for £2,400 so how you build your bike is obviously up to you. Our sample came complete with a Shimano 105 stop/go setup, which performed fine, but you could certainly go lighter. The PRO alloy cockpit is similarly workmanlike rather than weight-watching, although UK distributors TCL Sports had fitted carbon extensions.

TCL also distribute the £1,000 RAAD 38 wheelset. We’ve not seen it before, but the 38mm carbon-and-alloy hybrid rim is a decent compromise between aerodynamic gain, easy handling and reasonable weight (1,170g front, 1,580g rear). There’s a lot of sideways flex if you push them hard through corners though.

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