The claims have been big, and with big ads in magazines like ours, the interest is piqued? Who is Ventum?
The Miami-based company, led by Diaa Nour (boyfriend to 2002 ITU World Champ and 2012 Hawaii Ironman World Champ Leanda Cave) and Australian pro triathlete Jimmy Seear, has seemingly sprung up from nowhere. And in a sport where brands like TJ Tollakson’s Dimond are making big waves against bigger brands like Specialized and Trek with their UCI-illegal, non-double-diamond offerings, Ventum’s presence is to be taken seriously. The Ventum team sent out a release a few weeks ago purporting to have created a bike that follows the lines of the famed Lotus Sport 110 design that features an absent downtube and seatstays in the almighty quest for aerodynamic supremacy.
Recently, Ventum announced the signing of LifeTime Fitness series champ Alicia Kaye, and as recently as yesterday, announced the signing of Cave as the first two sponsored pros, with, as Nour tells LAVA “more to come.â€
LAVA recently received three covert images that, in contacting Ventum, Nour confirmed were authentic. Otherwise, he said “we have no comment,â€ saying only that the bike is still well within the prototyping stage.
What kind of inferences can we draw from what we see in these images?
As promised, the Ventum shares the key tenets of the Lotus Sport 110 frame with that downtube-free and seatstay-free design. It’s initial look smacks a bit of the late 1990s BP Stealth with a down-swept top tube that rises again as it reaches the seatpost junction.
But that’s where the similarities end, and re-connects with that Lotus design. A photo of an unpainted prototype from behind (seen below) reveals what looks like an externally-mounted hydration reservoir that affixes to the top tube, leveling it and providing practicality of hydration in a design that, with the absence of a downtube, only leaves a “between the aerobarsâ€ horizontal bottle configuration or rear saddle hydration setup as the only drinking options. This reservoir would keep the athlete in the aerobars, but getting the drinking straw to the rider over the aerobars remains a question.
The same image shows an indent in the driveside chainstay, which may be an electronics battery compartment and even a magnet-mount location for crankset-based power meters, which are typically, and often crudely, cemented to a frame.
All the other spare-no-expense, UCI-illegal integration hallmarks of a tri bike exist within: a center-pull front brake integrated within the front fork with a similar-looking cover to the Trek Speed Concept, and a bottom bracket-mounted rear brake.
It also looks to use its own designed stem and potentially its own designed aerobar (using a tower extension design) with all cables porting out the back of the basebar and stem and into the frame. That design may require the use of their aerobar, or may allow for the use of a consumer’s choice of stem and aerobar configuration if the fork is a bayonet-style design. And of course, if it’s a 1 1/8â€ steerer standard, the consumer may be able to opt to the fork/stem/aerobar configuration of their choosing.
Very reminiscent of the Lotus is the leading edge of the downtube as it maintains a constant radius as it reaches the bottom bracket, then sweeps directly backward into the load-supporting chainstays, which we hope have compatibility with the many wide-width wheels on market. The seattube’s trailing edge comes to a fine point above the rear wheel.
The frames seen here also features horizontal dropouts, though it’s not known whether it will feature replaceable or vertical dropouts.
The final image of the fluid reservoir tells us a lot about the final design look, which, when tied together, looks sharp, much sharper than without. We’ll be interested to see how it fares as a complete construct in the tunnel; how stiff it is at the bottom bracket in the absence of the traditional braces, and how heavy (or light) it is.
We hope to talk to the Ventum principles this coming week at Challenge Dubai to get more details on the bike, as well as potential release date, and will update with news as it’s received.