Despite the altitude-seeking name, Stevens describe their Ventoux as ‘comfort-optimised’. Some bike builders would have us believe we must choose between pedalling stiffness and ride comfort, but although it’s tricky it is possible to have both.
The Ventoux has great power transfer for its level of comfort, with no tangible flex. It doesn’t have the rock-solid feel of some of its racier peers – something that’s most noticeable when you’re out of the saddle and climbing on a steep gradient in a low gear, when there’s a bit of pedalling stiffness missing – but it’s not at the expense of upwards progress, and this character benefits its endurance capabilities.
The seatstays are skinny, allowing some give and shaving grams, and the chassis features several classy details such as the internal cable routing for the rear derailleur, which emerges just above the dropout, and the seatpost clamp that's partially integrated, smoothly shaped and forward facing so it doesn’t fill with road grime.
The seat tube has an asymmetrical shape flared towards the non-drive side, creating a larger area at the press-fit bottom bracket without increasing the Q-factor (horizontal distance between the pedals). For sharper handling, the head tube tapers from 1-1/8in at the top to a huge 1-1/2in where it meets the full-carbon fork.
To ensure stiffness isn’t wasted, the down tube has the longest possible join with the head tube, coming right up to meet the top tube. The Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels keep weight down (frame and fork are 984g and 360g respectively – impressive numbers) and help the Ventoux climb in a manner befitting its name.
As you’d expect from the beefy front end, steering is very precise and the bike feels rock solid when descending at speed. The head tube isn’t too tall, so while you can still set it up for comfort by raising the stem on spacers, you can also get quite low.
The anatomic bar has deep drops, giving a wide range of positions. The Oxygen saddle is comfortable and is set on a high-quality Ritchey WCS seatpost, chosen for its vibration absorption ability. Lastly, the Ventoux comes in a crisp white colour option too.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.