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Fast AF on Gravel: Ventum GS1 Review

Ventum Racing is one of the direct-to-consumer (D2C) bicycle brands that have emerged over the last few years. I have admittedly avoided D2C bicycles because my 'formative' years were spent loitering in local bike shops, and, well, look where it got me.

Ventum GS1(Photo/Ventum Racing)
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The bicycle retail landscape significantly changed over the last decade. Most of the iconic, independently owned, multi-line bike shops in my home area of Austin, Texas, have been engulfed by big brands to become single-line, corporate stores.

But I have to evolve with the times, so I agreed to review the updated Ventum Racing GS1 released in February of this year. And my experience with the direct-to-consumer brand and bike were both excellent.

I rode the Ventum GS1 on the gravel over hardpacked terrain near my home for 4 months, occasionally using it for mixed-surface routes. The rocky, dusty terrain here is relentless on bikes and parts and is peppered with short but brutal power climbs that end with choppy descents over bedrock. And the pavement isn’t much better.

In short: The most straightforward descriptor of the Ventum GS1 felt most like my road racing bike. The faster I went on dirt roads, the better it felt. It’s a racer’s bike — light, stiff in the right ways, super-responsive for gravel, and just compliant enough.

Ventum Racing GS1


  • Frame material Carbon
  • Fork material Carbon
  • Sizes XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL


  • Stable at speed but responsive to steering inputs
  • Laterally stiff
  • Light
  • Numerous mounting bosses
  • A little less expensive than the comparable retail models


  • Still pricey
  • Direct-to-consumer model, so cannot test ride at a shop
  • Not as compliant as adventure-oriented gravel bikes

Ventum Racing GS1: Review

Spec Sheet

Ventum GS1 rear triangle
The Ventum GS1 has clearance for tires up to 48c; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

The 2023 GS1 is an update of an already well-received 2020 GS1. That gravel bike was already stellar; our sister publication BikeRumor awarded the 2020 version an Editor’s Choice award.

Like other recent gravel bike updates, the new GS1 frame got longer, more tire clearance, and internal hose/wire/cable routing. At 10 mm longer, the bike immediately felt like my road bike. The frame will now clear up to 700 x 48c tires. The GS1 is compatible with 1x and 2x drivetrains with interchangeable seat tube cover plates.

Semi-integrated front end hose routing on the Ventum GS1
I prefer this kind of “semi-integrated” front-end routing, as it makes packing the bike for travel so much easier; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

Ventum Racing retained its unique dual-offset, flip-chip fork and added a Universal Derailleur Hanger. It also has multiple water bottle cage mounts and bento box mounts. Finally, there are five muted, matte color schemes, which all look great to me. It was hard to choose.

Ventum's fork flip chip
The Ventum fork flip-chip offers offsets of 45 or 50mm; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

Per the usual Ventum Racing experience, each GS1 is custom-built to order. An impressive number of components, wheels, and cockpit options grace its site. SRAM, Shimano, carbon, and aluminum are all represented well, with framesets starting at $2,599 and complete builds going to $10,499.

Our Ventum GS1 Test Rig

Ventum GS! front cockpit
ENVE supplied the front cockpit of the Ventum GS1; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

I received an M/L frameset (I’m 6 feet tall with a 32-inch inseam) from Ventum, which includes a frame, fork, seat post, thru-axles, headset, and headset spacers. I hemmed and hawed but eventually went with the Moss color scheme.

SRAM RED XPLOR eTap AXS drivetrain on a Ventum GS1
SRAM supplied a RED XPLOR eTap AXS drivetrain for the Ventum GS1; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

SRAM graciously donated a RED XPLOR eTap AXS groupset and Zipp 101 XPLOR wheels. ENVE handled the cockpit with its Aero Handlebar and Carbon Stem, while Donnelly sent tubeless Strada USH tires. I rounded the buildout with Crank Bros Eggbeater 3 pedals and a Specialized Power Pro with Mirror saddle.

ENVE also supplied two C.I.M. Bottle Cages and Road Stem Computer Mount. With tire sealant, the complete bike hit the scale at 19.1 pounds. Although this exact build is unavailable on the Ventum Racing site, a customer can configure many comparable builds.

Racy Ride

Ventum added 10mm to the GS1 wheelbase, improving stability, but maintaining responsiveness
Kamm tail-esque tubing shapes, slick dropped seat stay/seat tube junction, 10mm longer wheelbase; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

On true gravel surfaces (not an MTB trail, not paved), the Ventum GS1 felt like an aero road racing bike turned gravel racer. It was stable at speed, but still quick to respond to steering inputs and changes in body position. These attributes improved as the effort rose and felt best at speeds above 20 mph.

Of course, this was only possible when the riding surface and terrain allowed road-like velocity. And on these surfaces, the vertical compliance was just enough to keep comfort appropriate for hard and fast gravel riding while keeping enough road feel intact. Much of this compliance was due to the diminutive D-shaped seat post.

The Ventum GS1 still felt like a proper gravel bike when the gravel was rough and speeds were lower. But, the characteristics that made it such a joy at speed made it feel, well, like a race bike, not racing. It felt a little harsh compared to more adventuresome gravel bikes, and I had to make more deliberate steering and weight-shifting inputs to keep it moving forward efficiently. The bike begged me to ride faster when my talent ran out in the tricker sections.

One place where the Ventum GS1 excelled was high-speed, wide-radius turns on the loose stuff. My regular haunts have hard-packed road base hiding under a talcum powder dust littered with marble-sized gravel. I must precisely steer bikes into the clear lines and avoid as much dust and gravel as possible. A misstep turns into an instant low-side slide on my hip, and I have scars to prove it.

The tires I had were not that aggressive, but the GS1 sliced, diced, and delivered precision that guided me through these turns at full gas. It was so much fun — fun enough to make jet engine noises mid-turn.

The D-shaped seat post on the Ventum GS1 delivered just enough compliance
The diminutive D-shaped seat post delivered just enough compliance; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

On road sections between the gravel areas, again, the Ventum GS1 felt the closest to my road racing machines. It felt efficient for a gravel bike while climbing and churning the big gears on the flats. I noticed that the front-end steering felt slightly sluggish, but I feel that on all my gravel bikes on the tarmac.

For the record, all these impressions were with the fork at the larger 50mm offset (versus 45mm). I tried both but quickly realized I preferred the more agile feeling of having less trail.

And finally, this bike is a stunner. For a gravel bike, I thought it looked fast, standing still. I credit this to the kamm-tail-esque tube shaping and slick dropped seat stay connection to the seat tube.

Final Thoughts on the Ventum GS1

Ventum GS1 Gravel Bike
(Photo/Seiji Ishii)

If I sign up for a gravel race, this is the bike I’m grabbing. The feeling at speed is just right, and it served up the confidence to push the limits of tire adhesion, handling skills, and fitness. It’s like putting a lift kit on a Porsche with BF Goodrich ATs and punching the gas on gravel. It’s an excellent bike for shorter, day-to-day gravel rides for people who need speed.

And for the hardcore gravel racer, it’s a clear choice. The bike’s geometry, lateral stiffness, and aero tubing beg for hard-charging efforts. And the bike’s multiple mounting bosses offer no excuses for the long distances of the premier gravel events.

Also, in closing, I admit that my direct-to-customer experience was excellent. I know that my treatment was different because I’m media, but everyone I contacted via phone or email responded quickly, professionally, and in a friendly, local bike shop manner.

I double-checked with friends that purchased a Ventum bike, and they all concurred. My friends also commented that the way Ventum shipped the bikes was incredible, both in terms of packing and the quality and completeness of the factory assembly.

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