Strengths: Made by Ventana. American craftmanship is engineering genius and artistic deftness rolled into one. Stiff frame. Ready to bomb. Slightly bigger wheels help on the climbs and on the descents. Your friends will notice the edge it gives you. No reason to be on a 26er or a 29er if you are a hard-charging trail rider. This is where its at. When you try it for yourself, you'll know its not just all hype.
Weaknesses: Cost a lot of money, but worth it to have an advantage over your buddies, and to be an early adopter of 650b
Worth the money!
a Weekend Warrior
from Mission Viejo CA USA
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2011
Strengths: Looks good, feels solid, has balanced feel, great rollover capability of bigger wheels without sacrificing the agility and placeability of a 26er, plush full suspension on descents, tracks very well, esp on bumpy corners, downhills, is a single track weapon, fairly light for an all-mountain bike, feels compact and responsive, yet solid and well-made.
Weaknesses: Price, availability of fork/ wheel/ tire options due to 650b, some pedal bob on climb if pro-pedal not engaged (but climbs just fine with pro-pedal engaged).
I love this bike. It can keep up with any all-mountain machine and with 5.5 inches of rear travel, it has more than enough to ride anything that I should be thinking of riding. It tracks like nothing else, even over rough turns while descending, and has a solid feel - like it is carved of billet. It also has an agile feel, like it can be thrown around, and it encourages me to ride it harder than I did my old Ibis. Climbs decent with pro-pedal engaged, is very plush with it off. People who sit on it immediately comment on its "balanced" feel and some say it "rides itself."
My riding friends say this thing made a 50% improvement in my riding. I push or run away from friends who I used to trail on the local paths. There is something awesome about 650b for an all-mountain bike that exceeds the sum of the parts, and the Ventana ride is great.
Bike Setup: XTR 980 2x10, Velocity Blunt Rims, Hope Hubs, Kenda Nevegal 2.35 tires (Stan's tubeless), Xfusion Velvet fork, eggbeaters, Truvative Noir handlebar, lock on grips, XFusion HiLo dropper seat post, WTB Rocket V w/ Titanium rails, Hope Stem, Chris King headset, Fox RP23 rear shock
a Cross Country Rider
from Bay Area, CA
Date Reviewed: October 21, 2010
Strengths: Plush 5.5 inches of travel, ground clearance is awesome, high quality welds, HAND MADE IN THE USA! Let's support our own economy. Handling is awesome. Gotta love the name (I tried to spell it out, but MTBR flagged it as profanity)
Weaknesses: 27.2 seat tube. I would like a thicker seat tube for more adjustable seatpost options. The seatpost tube is plenty strong and is supported by a diagonal brace.
Ventana has been making great bikes for decades now. Handmade in California. I love the quality, durability, and appearance. Considering they are handmade, the pricing is a great value as well. Ventana is one of the few manufacturers makingn full suspension 650Bs. I have been beating the piss out of this frame since I bought it. I am 6-2 and weigh 240lbs. Downieville, Mr. Toads, The Crack (in Pacifica), Skeggs. It takes the technical hits well. The handling is awesome.
I have rode 26ers most of my life like everyone else. I decided to go with 650B after reading everything I could find in magazines and online. 29ers are great but there are some trade offs. It takes more energy to move those 29 inch wheels uphill. A 29er does not corner as well. The 650B climbs like a 26er, and handles like a 26er. But it offers more tire contact with the ground, more clearance.
It is a great balance between 26 and 29. I have no regrets.
A key feature of my build is the Velocity P35 rims designed by Pacenti. Most rims are 21-25mm wide. These babies are 35mm wide. So your tire is is not rounded out as much. It make more contact with the ground across it's width. So you get more contact with the diamter of the wheel as well as across the width of the wheel.
I have never been so happy with bike. It will be even better when I upgrade to a 8inch front rotor and the White Bros Fluid with 20mm thru. I absolutely love El Best-Tardo ! Good Job Ventana.