Jamis Ventura Comp review£629.99

Short and sharp

BikeRadar score4/5

The Ventura Comp comes really well equipped for the money. It's an enthusiastic and enjoyable ride with an upright position that offsets a bumpy ride. Carbon fibre and colour co-ordination highlights make this good-looking mid-range American bike look very tempting for the money.

Ride & handling: Enthusiastic, responsive ride feel in a back-friendly sit-up-and-beg format

It’s a sign of the advances that have been made in alloy frame technology that we expect to enjoy rides on bikes of this price, rather than endure them, as we used to. Once we’d tweaked the position, the Jamis happily dropped into our training regime without any obvious compromise.

The wheels are a little bit leaden when it comes to picking up speed and responding to pace changes, so something lighter is an obvious upgrade. The extra strength of the Mavic hoops meant we could ride rough back roads or crappy city streets with less stress though, and once rolling they maintained speed nicely.

There’s no obvious loss of power or handling connection in the frame, crank or cockpit either. Press the pedals and it responds with an enthusiastic sharpness that’ll keep you keen through interval sessions. Turn the bars or lean into corners and it follows obediently, even if you’re going fast downhill and the bike naturally wants to stay straight.

If you’ve got big feet, you need to be wary of the front tyre clipping your toes when turning tightly and pedaling, but that’s very rare. The bonus of the short front end and tall head tube is a more comfortable, upright position that places less strain on the hands and backs of beginner riders. It’s common to a lot of sportive-style bikes designed for longer rides.

That said, the Jamis has less natural shock absorption than some other bikes at this price, rattling and clattering more across rough roads and with a more jarring response to bigger potholes. The keen ride makes it feel inspiringly quick for the price though, and fitting larger volume tyres will soften the ride relatively cheaply.

Frame: Heavy and rigid chassis reduces upgrade and unkept road appeal

We know a lot of ears will have pricked up when we said ‘carbon highlights’, but you’ll never notice the all-carbon fork steerer unless you take off the stem. It’s a significant upgrade over the conventional carbon-leg, alloy-top forks of most bikes under £1,000 though, and the rest of the frame is also nicely detailed.

The head tube uses internal steering bearings for a clean look, with gear adjusters just behind it for taking up slack in the cables when they stretch after the first few rides. The down tube is squeezed vertically at the front end and flatter at the bottom end for steering and pedaling stiffness, and the top tube gets a teardrop profile.

There are bolts for two bottle cages and the rear stays get bolts, ready to take a rear rack if you’ll be using it for commuting. There’s not enough clearance for full-size mudguards however, so you’ll have to use clip-ons if you want to stay dry in wet weather. It’s also a relatively – if not ridiculously – heavy frame (1,730g), although the light fork (540g) offsets this slightly.

Equipment: Good value gear specification; tough wheels and aero friendly saddle

The wheels aren’t light, but the Mavic CXP-22 rims are very well-proven, tough hoops that can handle more than their fair share of potholes and training miles. The white Vittoria Zaffiro tyres look great when new, but one ride will make them grubby.

The mixture of Shimano Tiagra and Sora gears isn’t shabby at this price. While it uses a cheaper internal rather than external bottom bracket, the FSA crank changes gear and handles a stomping okay, with smaller compact chainrings giving hill- and beginner-friendly gear ratios.

Tektro brakes could benefit from an upgrade to sharper-feeling metal-backed cartridge pads when the all-rubber originals wear out, but they’re par for the price. The full Ritchey cockpit and seatpost keep weight low, and comfort levels from the bars and the recessed-centre San Marco saddle are good.

The deeper and softer than usual nose on the saddle makes it comfier than most if you upgrade to aero bars. If you buy the bike in the UK, Evans Cycles include a multi-tool and pedal spanner, which is really useful for fine-tuning your ride position or fitting clipless pedals.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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