Ventana El Rey 29er: "The King" It?s time to pay homage to the king of the mountain. Forget the polka-dot jersey?El Rey, Ventana?s 29? dual diamond, double butted suspension frame, rules the off-road, giving riders sovereign power over their kingdom of rock and soil.
Weaknesses: Weight, but rotating weight counts
Stickers, but who cares
I now own the 2012 model, after riding the 2007 rey during 3 years.
It remains an outstanding bike.
Geometry: quite trailisch with 70° head angle, nice in the rough stuff
Material: nice aluminum tubes, upper tube hydroformed stiff lot of space for the rider
Welds: beautiful work, great quality
Paint: see Welds
Color options: 2 custom color levels, there is one for every taste
Features: I own this bike since Sept 2011 and it had tapered headtube and a 142x12mm rear axle already. Innovation was definitely quicker than industrial production.
Customen service: both technical and custoomer services are outstanding. Thanks to Sherwood and Teresa for their commitment! Long live ventana!
Bike Setup: TL28, Reba RLT, XT/X9, 75mm Stem, 740mm Bar, Nobby Nics SnakeSkin 2.25 12.8Kg
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: January 20, 2012
Strengths: The geometry for a 29er is amazing being able to carve hard in corners as if your on a dh bike it makes you forget that you have 29 inch wheels on it. The frame is really light and the welds are the best that I have seen on a bike yet true craftsmanship. The paint is super sexy I have the cosmic orange which on shiny days sparkles when the mud and dirt are off the bike. The bike has gussets reassures the strength and stiffness combined with the geometry it inspires confidence for any AM riding you want to throw at it and high speeds
Weaknesses: I dont really like the small seat post diameter as dropper posts are limited in this size but that is a small drawback as more and more droppers are coming in this size.
If you want a bike that is built for all day long epic rides and is versatile (XC to AM), light, stiff, easy to maintain, looks great and is made with quality craftmanship look no further this is truly it!
Bike Setup: Noir carbon cranks, Easton carbon post, Shimano carbon post, XO carbon shifters, Prologo full titanium Seat, WTB Lazerdisc/XTR 20 mm hub, REBA Ti Team/20mmMaxle RP23 lockout capability front and rear plus upgraded link kit to 5 inch.
MY 29er weighs 29 lbs
a Cross Country Rider
from Boise, ID
Date Reviewed: September 6, 2011
Strengths: Burly, well built, RP23 Boost Valve shock
Weaknesses: Too burly (see above), looooooooooong wheelbase
This bike does pretty much everything well, but does nothing outstanding. Having ridden hardtail 29'ers for the last 5 years, I wanted to try a full suspension 29'er. I found the El Rey very slightly used for pretty cheap on the classifieds. I have it built up more XC-ish in an attempt to account for the extremely heavy frame/shock weight (nearly 8 lbs!!) Having owned a Ventana X-5 for several years, I can say that the El Rey, while far heavier, climbs better, but that's due to the RP23 shock with the Boost Valve, where my X-5 just had a straight Float R. Downhill, it does well on non-technical fast, swoopy trails, and definitely calms the chatter on rough, bumpy sections, but is out of its element when the going gets tight or steep. At this weight (29 or so lbs), 4 inches of travel isn't enough, and the geometry is way too steep to really enjoy the downhills. This is pretty much an overweight XC frame. Knock a pound and a half off the frame, or give it another inch of travel and it would be perfect. But, as is, well, like I said - it does everything adequately, but nothing outstandingly.
Similar Products Used: 1st full suspension 29'er, but have ridden lots and lots of hardtail 29'ers
Bike Setup: 2010 XL El Rey frame, 100mm travel Reba SL fork, X-9 drivetrain, Arch rims
a Cross Country Rider
from Lenexa, KS
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2011
Strengths: Rock solid frame
Weaknesses: Handling on the tight/twisty stuff
Looked around for several months for a XXL/23" frame for a custom build. Settled on the ElRey and have never looked back. Solid in so many aspects. Inspires so much confidence in how I ride. Continually amazes me at what it will plow through/over. Like most 29ers, you wrestle the size of the wheels and bike in slow, twisty maneuvers. If you're looking for a solid clydsdale frame, check out the ElRey.
Bike Setup: C29ssmax, Reba race, rp23. 11.8Kg complete
a Cross Country Rider
from Hong Kong
Date Reviewed: November 15, 2009
Strengths: I have owned this bike for 16 months and ride it 2-3 times a week. I have been riding and racing mountain bikes for over 14 years and I can say that the El Rey is the best all around bike I have ever owned. Normally when something is good at everything it isn't great at anything. But in the case of this bike this doesn't apply. This bike is super fun to ride, stable, can handle decent downhill duties and climbs as a XC bike should. It can be pushed in turns and is rock solid at speed. The bottom line is that it is a really fun bike to ride in a wide variety of terrains. One last thing, the quality of the construction and finish is as nice as you read from other reviews
Weaknesses: None really. Stickers are useless, but head badge is nice. The paint although nice when new, faded or I should say lost it's luster, after a year.
Rock solid, can be pushed hard, Climbs well, can be raced when the terrain is tough and over 3 hours, and most importantly to me it is pure fun to throw the leg over this bike and put it through the paces.
If you are in the market for a FS 29er you absolutely cannot go wrong with this bike.
Similar Products Used: I have had a stable of every bike under the sun.
Bike Setup: the way) the With mostly XTR (XT Cranks & Rear Derailuer) and other top line components to include Stans Arch/Swiss DT (another great product by the way) bike comes in at 27 LB for a large frame.
Similar Products Used: Demo-ed Niner Jet 9 and RIP 9. Both good bikes but i felt that the Jet geometry was a bit too aggressive for the trail riding I do and the RIP a bit too burly. To my mind the El Rey falls nicely between the two and I do think the frame quality and finish is better - but it should be as it is a little more expensive
Bike Setup: Fox F29 with 15TA, Stans ZTR Arch with Ignitors and King hubs, Truvativ Noir with X9/XO, XT discs, Egg beater Ti"s Thomson post and Easton bars
a Cross Country Rider
from Bumpass, VA
Date Reviewed: August 10, 2009
Strengths: Solid frame. No lateral flex.
I've been riding a Santa Cruz Superlight for about 6 years. I loved the bike at first, but the better rider I became, the more I realized how much lateral flex the bike had. Started thinking about getting a Racer X, or El Saltamontes, but everyone kept saying: "try a 29er". I tried, and I liked! The El Rey seems to have the best handling of the bikes I test rode. Tight turns, or sweeping runs, it's like riding on a rail. I've been very surprised how well it climbs. It carries much more speed up hills. Of course long climbs will take more energy with the heavier bike and wheels than a 26 inch bike, but the El Rey more than makes up for it everywhere else on the trail. Although I ride fast cross country, I've always been tentative on downhill rocks and logs. The 29er makes all this a non-issue.
On short steep climbs, the El Rey goes over roots, rocks, and holes with no effort. I can get slowed by another rider, just stand on my pedals, then continue much easier than any other bike I've ridden. The most impressive thing about this bike is how it carves the turns. It's like driving a slot car. Point and shoot. No twist or slide. Most other bikes I've ridden would flex and slide, or you'd have to correct your line. The El Rey handles great!
The RP23 shock has plenty of adjustability and with the larger bike, I have it set quite stiff. Very little bob, and yet the ride is still smoother than my Superlight was on a softer setting.
The only upgrade I would suggest is a lighter wheelset for epic rides in the mountains.
It took me 2 years to decide to finally break down and spend the money on a new bike. I bought the right one! If you're looking to get a FS 29er, try the El Rey.
Similar Products Used: Demoed Titus Racer X 29er, Specialized Stumpjumper FSR. I liked both bikes, but the El Rey handled the best.
Bike Setup: Bought the frame and built with Fox fork. Fox RP23 shock. XTR crank, cassette. X9 shifters and ders. Hayes hyd. brakes. Easton EC90 bar, Thompson post. Mavic 719 rims, XT hubs.
a Cross Country Rider
from Billings, MT
Date Reviewed: May 12, 2009
Strengths: Super stiff even in the larger frame sizes. Great BB height while still maintaining a relatively low CoG. Semi-custom/custom option gets the fit perfect for those of us who aren't "standard" size. Fantastic support/customer service from Ventana. Beautifully made.
Weaknesses: Maybe the weight but I'll give up a pound or two for durability and strength - which the bike appears to have gobs of. Ok, none.
It's not fair to compare this bike to the Xcaliber - especially since the Xcaliber frame busted after 1 year. And that was after other non-stop frame/ mechanical/handling issues with the Xcal. I hated it.
The El Rey has been a revelation. I'm 6'7" (all arms and legs) and weigh 210. I ride single track in the rimrocks around Billings 3-5 days a week and approx. 45-70 miles/week. It's been in snow, ice, mud, sand, loose gravel, hardpack, rock gardens, technical, climbs of all types, and rolling terrain. It handles it all better (way better in some cases) than my '08 Stumpy Expert. It rolls the technical stuff much more easily, sticks on steep climbs great, and absolutely smokes on the flats and downhills. The fact the bike fits me perfectly (for the first time ever) may help, too!
It is definitely a different ride as turns at speed need to be set-up earlier. It will just rail through turns when you do this. Momentum is your friend with this bike and once you figure that out the technical stuff is way easier to deal with. None of that is bad in any way, it's just a different technique than a 26er. I put wider bars on the bike and that has helped with steering in the technical stuff too. The longer Zinn cranks have absolutely no clearance issues and seem to have made the gearing feel equal or even lower than on the Stumpy, which is geared exactly the same. Changing the forks from 120mm to 100mm made a very big difference. The ride was a little less plush but it seriously improved the bike's efficiency. Even with the suspension on full plush, pedal bob is minimal and gone when the RP-23 is locked out.
No matter what your physical size or build is, if you're thinking of a 29er, you can't go wrong with this bike. If you're a taller rider, this really is "The King". Theresa or Sherwood (builder) at Ventana will always answer the phone and any questions you have and are super friendly and helpful. Get Leif Fleming at Wrench Science to help you put a package together and build it. That guy has all the answers and is amazingly patient.
Bike Setup: Semi-custom 23" frame, X-9, Avid CR brakes, Wood BB, King headset, RP-23, RockShox Team 29 (100mm), 4" rocker, Mavic 719 rims, tubeless Spesh Control tires, Zinn 195mm cranks, and so on.
a Cross Country Rider
from North Carolina
Date Reviewed: May 2, 2009
Strengths: Stiff, Handling, Ride, Most important-Absolutely NO BOB
Weaknesses: Nothing Noted
Thinking about a 29er but unsure? This bike will make you sure.
I rode the Pivot and really wanted to like that bike, coming off of a Titus I like Cochalis work, but it was kinda dead feeling to me. I then threw a leg over the V and HUGE difference. Immediatly I started searching for one.
I built it up and really took my time getting it dialled in. Very good climber, handles extremely well.
If you ride a 26 don't be intimidated like I was. This thing steers, turns and rolls much better than 26.
I am 5'8" and went with a Large-perfect fit.
Definately test ride if you can before spending the cash, but you will NOT be disappointed.
One of only 3 bikes I've ridden in last 17 years MTB that I would say is Awesome. The others: C'Dale Raven, Norco Rize and El Rey. I purchase a bike and plan to ride it hard for at least 4-5 years. Cheers
Bike Setup: Bontrager Wheels, XTR and Avid Mix, RS Fork, RP 23 shock
a Cross Country Rider
from jermyn pa
Date Reviewed: February 23, 2009
Strengths: better traction and stability than a 26er....fits me better than all my other bikes...they are all xl...also seems to turn better than my 26ers....definatly will have you climbing technical sections that you can't climb on your 26er...i have a ventana x-5 that has three hard seasons of trail riding on it and the rear suspension bearings (quad option) still don't have any play in them and they are just as smooth as when they were new.....i assume these bearings on the el rey will also last....
Weaknesses: can't think of any but have only had the bike for a couple of weeks.... oh yeh, the price... they are not cheap but you pay for quality...
i thought my x-5 was a great bike till i rode the el rey..maybe because i am tall that the 29er just seems to fit me much better... no more wandering front end when the climbs get really steep...my x-5 desends very good but the el rey is just as good... big wheels definatly roll over roots,logs, rocks, everything much easier...plus the el rey is about 4 lbs lighter coming in at around 30.5 lbs...but if accelerates and feels alot lighter than the x-5...i have to admit though that the 2.2 nevs on the el rey probably turn alot easier than the 2.5 diesel contis on my x-5... its amazing that the thinner 2.2 29er tires absorb trail obsticals just as well as the larger 2.5 26 inch tires...i read where the gearing on a 29er is taller so it should be harder to turn the pedals over in the same gear compaired to a 26 inch bike.... but i find myself actually climbing one gear higher on the el rey compaired to the x-5...i'd say this is a good bike for anyone looking for an all mountain trail bike... probably not heavy duty enough for jumping but well equipt for technical xc riding... even the most technical rock gardens.... and light enough to enter your local xc race....
Similar Products Used: gary fisher sugar in xl size
gary fisher mt tam ...xl
ventana x-5 in xl with 5 inch rockers and also 6 inch
Bike Setup: fox f29 100mm
magura louise brakes
chris king head set
quad bearing option
nevegal 2.2 tires
rp23 rear shock
wtb lasar disc lite wheelset
thomson stem 8 degree rise and thomson straight seat post
carbon 25mm riser handlebar
from Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Date Reviewed: January 21, 2009
Strengths: Balance, stability, climbing and stiffness.
Weaknesses: A bit on the heavy side, and powder coating is hard to repair once it's scratched - but it's a beautiful Cosmic Orange.
Great bike for overall XC racing. 19 inch frame is sweet in it's stiffness and climbing. The Fox RP23 shock is the best I've ever used and the lockout feature is absolutely the best for our rocky and wash burdened trails in Arizona.
I haven't had this bike on Phil's World yet, but will be running it during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde again in May. I can't wait to ride this bike on the Rib Cage!
This is a great bike for the intermediate to expert racer. The price was for the frame, only and did not include the shock upgrade.
Bike Setup: all components from the gf292.thompson laid-back post.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: November 26, 2008
Strengths: Tig welding craftmanship
Weaknesses: Finish, top tube flex, dealership in Sweden, standard Fox RP23 rear damper cannot be adjusted with air pump b/c of rear stay.
A rather nice bike, but it is made for big mountain trails. It is a trail/all mountain bike. It doesn't ride quite as XC-like and agile on the trail as claimed by the mtbr-reviewers. It is quite heavy and not nearly as lively on the trail as a race xc full sus 26" (which was what I was expecting after reading the mtbr.com 29er shootout). The top tube is soft as a well cooked noodle. - But still, I like the bike. It is a comfortable and very cool bike which gets a lot of positive attention in my part of the world. The dealership in Sweden is incompetent, though. I recieved the frame kit after a 2 mths. delay from a (self-admitted in mtbr.com context) crook in Stockholm, Sweden. Reason? He had to pay his bills with my money before he could pay Ventana with new incoming money for my order which consisted of 1 frame plus RP23, Reba shock and CK aheadset. It took me seven calls to Ventana to sort this story out and to get the dealer to confess his crime. When I finally recieved the frame it was dented in the down tube. I called Ventana in the US and talked to Sherman (designer of the bikes and CEO of Ventana). He advised me to ignore the small cosmetic damage which origin could not be identified, he claimed. I should just try and get used to the bike. The seller in Sweden swore he hadn't damaged the frame when mounting the aheadset. He promised me to look into my case and find out if it was the Swedish post that had damaged the frame. He has not given any - online - life signals since July 2007 and I have sent him maybe 20 e-mails ... I have been riding the El Rey a lot for more than a year now and I think I can say that Ventana is a really small scale company with a both weak and incompetent representation in Scandinavia. - Would any of the very honoured native americans accept to pay top dollar for a dented frame? I doubt it very much. As a European, if you are brave enough to order American handmade MTBs, you are likely not to get the full customer warranty.