Dutch bicycle company Van Nicholas began in 2006 and its strong growth attracted attention of the Accell Group, which bought Van Nicholas in 2011. Accell, one of the largest bicycle companies in the world, also owns brands you may have heard of like Raleigh, Koga, Diamond Back, Ghost, Lapierre and Redline along with many others you may not have. Members of Van Nicholas’ founding Sintnicolaas family still work in the business today, continuing to manage the business and assemble their bikes in Holland.
Van Nicholas’ Ventus SE (Special Edition) entry level offering is a good looking bike with a slightly sloping top tube and classic narrow gauge tubing. The notoriously difficult titanium tubes are welded in China the joins consistently tidy and polished but not buffed completely away. Its brushed alloy finish and the black and white features of the Easton fork and wheels combine well with SRAM levers to create quite a striking look. Discreet etching on the seat tube justifiably boasts, “Nothing looks, rides, lasts like titanium” and final touches of the brands signature ‘V’ are embossed on the lightly shaped head tube, and also neatly CNC machined into the rear drop-outs.
Stirred, not Shaken
Ventus is the Latin word for wind, inferring the bike is light as a breeze or may go like the wind; both fine aspirations. Van Nicholas VNT house brand components married with SRAM’s Apex groupset and alloy Easton Aero wheels get the job done without complaint, though wouldn’t be the lightest or ‘fastest’ choices available. In relative terms the Ventus’ performance in the speed stakes is hampered by its weight and lack of stiffness.
However this natural capacity of titanium to tolerate flex without failure is the key among the material’s vaunted benefits. The 3AL/2.5V variant, with straight gauge tubes delivers a comfortable ride and positions this frame as a stayer more than a sprinter; qualities that are borne out on the road. Climbing on the Ventus isn’t surprisingly fast, and if you pay close attention you might notice some flex while sprinting, but the capacity of titanium to take the edge off a rough road is revealed when you finish a long ride feeling upbeat, not beaten.
At just under $3,000 the Ventus SE is good value, although without much trouble you can buy lower priced carbon or aluminium bikes with higher spec components. Having said that, price is not the main driver for those considering a titanium frame. The Ventus SE will last a lifetime, is distinctly different from most bikes on the market and delivers the kind of ride you’ll come to appreciate. The frame could easily justify the extra cost of a higher spec build than was attached to this test bike, and would keep its owner happy for many years. You can view and modify spec of the Ventus model (and see weight and price differences) online at the Van Nicholas website. After delving into the life of ti, you may never want to go back.
Ventus SE 56cm as tested.
Frame: 3AL-2.5V titanium
Fork: Easton EC70
Handlebar: Van Nicholas
Stem: VNT 110mm
Seatpost: VNT forged alloy 27.2mm
Saddle: VNT Leather cover, Ti rails
Groupset: SRAM Apex
Cassette: SRAM PG1050 12-28
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP
Wheels: Easton Aero
Tyres: Schwalbe Lugarno
Weight: 8.34 kilos
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