Ventana El Ciclon: "The Cyclone" Designed for more aggressive trail riding, El Saltamontes? bigger brother, El Cicl?n, is a force to be reckoned with. With its 5? of rear travel, this burly XC/all-mountain bike makes the conditions just right for blowing through singletrack...
Strengths: Frame strength, lower BB height, better tire clearance,significant improvement over older suspension design. Able to change the rear travel with a flip of a bit in the rocker. Uses more standard sizes (30.9 seatpost, tapered headtube). Can run either 135mm or 142mm rear. Semi-custom options (taller fork and slacker HA and ISCG tabs). Paint color options are better, and Ventana CS is still top notch.
Weaknesses: PF30 BB. Most run BB30 or X-type. Very minor and fixable with adapters.
This review is for the 2012 El Ciclon, not the older design.
I had an X-5 for years. Thought it was great, until I was running into issues because the BB height was so high and it made the bike not feel right to me. So, I ended up on getting a semi-custom Ciclon that I couldn't be happier with. It's built more AM than XC (160mm Van 36 in the front, big tires, heavy duty parts, slacker HA) and it's weighty with my build, but I've seen people get them sub-30 lbs.
The Ciclon is very lively and snappy for a 150mm travel bike, and it climbs extremely well. There's very little need to run the rear shock with more low speed compression or Propedal on it like you would need with the older suspension design.
What amazes me still is how nimble this bike is, even with such long travel. I ride it in tight and twisty turns where I would think only an XC bike would shine, and it's helping me build my confidence on downhill sections that I would find scary in the past.
The lower BB helps the cornering, but it's taken some getting used to so I don't clip the pedals. At least ratcheting helps with clearing those pedal catcher areas.
Even with the 650B craze starting to hit some momentum now, I'm not in a rush to get rid of this bike. It's built in a way that makes the bike fun, and is completely enjoyable on everything from tight and twisty technical sections to flow trails or longer downhills. And climbs, my nemesis, aren't as painful as they used to be on this bike. Definitely a worthwhile consideration for anyone considering a 26er AM/trail bike these days.
Strengths: Beautiful American made frame. Incredible workmanship, welds, etc. Incredibly stiff front and rear. Relatively light.
Weaknesses: Very expensive. Old school design bobs tremendously when pedaling, worse than my 1999 Specialized FSR
2011 frame. Pretty sweet ride, does great on the downhills. Rear suspension design bobs terribly like a late 90's 4 bar link under pedaling unless you firm up the shock so much that it rides like a 3" travel cross country bike (and that's with a Fox RP23 set at firmest setting). Other than the pedaling, this suspension design is plush and stiff; it really rails in the rough stuff. I really wanted to love this bike, but the terribly inefficient pedaling was a deal breaker for me after a year. There are many other more efficient frames out there that are better all around performers. Ventana, like Ellsworth, have stuck with old designs without much refining to keep up with everyone else and it shows. Maybe the 2012 frame is better? I don't know
a Weekend Warrior
from Redwood City, CA
Date Reviewed: October 13, 2011
Strengths: Super solid frame, absolutely no flex in the rear end. Beautiful paint, CNC'd details on swingarm & rocker. Great attention to detail on Ventana's part, almost too pretty to ride. The people at Ventana couldn't be easier to deal with when you have a question.
Like I said, extremely sturdy frame. Climbs pretty well with pro-pedal on and even better with the fork travel cranked down. Easy to feel confident going downhill on a bike that feels this plush. Looking forward to seeing what they do with the 2012 redesign!
Strengths: Beautifully stiff, light & strong. Looks right. Balanced handling.
Weaknesses: Slight pedal bob.
I don't trust reviews from people who have only owned a product for a month or two. Human nature is to always be in love with something new & shiny especially if you've just spent a lot of dosh on it. I've had this as my one & only mountain bike in everyday use for a year and a half now, so the honeymoon is over (I'm still in love, though!)
Most of the parts fitted to it were swapped from my old Commencal Meta. I didn't get on with that one at all. In comparison, the Ventana is about a pound and a half lighter but much stiffer, especially noticeable at the back end. I weigh 225lb kitted up, so can expose weaknesses in flimsy components. It does everyday XC and can take a beating on rock garden descents without ever needing a service.
Bottom line is: even with so many superb frames on the market, I'd buy another Ventana because it works for me (plus I like people not knowing the Ventana brand!). Good value for a handbuilt frame compared to Turner etc.
Bike Setup: Fox DHX5 rear shock, Fox 32 RL 140mm forks, Hope pro 2 wheelset with DT500 rims, Hope Tech M4 brakes, Gravity dropper seatpost, XT drive.
Date Reviewed: August 31, 2010
Strengths: Deceivingly innovative, quality of craftsmanship, and overall ride
Weaknesses: Little on the spendy side, but you get what you pay for
The more I ride this bike the more I like it! Which usually isn't the case. The bike does everything that it is asked to do. The harder it is pushed the better the bike handles. Truely a jack of all trades for a bike. XC to Enduro to All Mountain riding. Although it definitely isn't a park bike. Two negative aspect to the bike: The headtube could be taller/longer IMO, but is easily worked around. And the frame could be made a little more modern; ie.. tapered HT, maxle rear dropout ect...
Strengths: Frame is simple, strong, stiff and fairly light. Nice welds and paint job. RP23 with quad bearings is smooth and supple.
Weaknesses: None so far
This bike is exactly as advertised. It is a Freeride/Trail bike and is more fun every time I ride it. Great fit and comfortable geometry. Not cramped like a steep XC bike and yet more responsive than a DH rig. I am trusting it more and more, and make noticeable improvement on every ride. Climbs really well for fairly slack geometry. I keep the propedal on. Lower the seat and turn off the propedal and it will absorb everything. I haven't jumped it, but I'm getting more and more air with every ride.
Similar Products Used: Kona The King, Specialized Stumpjumper FSR comp, Felt Virtue
Bike Setup: X-9 RD, XT FD and Cranks, Magura Laurin fork, RP23 Shock, Magura Louise brakes, Mavic Crossride wheels
a Cross Country Rider
from Boise, ID
Date Reviewed: December 22, 2009
Strengths: Ventana quality and customer service. Nice paint job. Decent climber for a 5" travel frame.
Weaknesses: Ill fitting. Subpar, downright scary and sketchy downhill handling.
I just can't love or even much like this frame, after repeated attempts to do so. I had an '04 Ventana X-5 for over 4 years and LOVED it. It was comfortable, fit well, had stable handling, and was a more than capable bike/frame in nearly all conditions. It was my trusty steed for many years - I went through SEVERAL other frames/bikes, but never parted with my X-5. Until the frame cracked. Bought the front triangle of the El Ciclon as a replacement.
A night and day difference from the X-5, with the identical components swapped over from one bike to the other, and identical frame sizes (19"). The El Ciclon geometry feels really, really steep - like riding an XC-race frame. But, at the same time, the top tube feels way too short. And with the recommended 140mm fork, the handling felt slow and ponderous. I tried narrower bars, wider bars, shorter stems, longer stems, different saddles, different seatposts, and nothing ever made this thing comfortable. Any ride over 1.5 hours would just kill my back, when I had never once had any back pain on the X-5. Any trail with technical or steep sections gave my that "I'm going over the bars" sensation. Even with 35mm of spacers under the stem and the fork dialed out all the way to its 140mm max, and my saddle at the same height it always was on the X-5, the bar height on the Ciclon would be lower than the saddle height, lending to that "racy" positioning. From what I can piece together, the head tube is too short for the head angle geometry, and the seat tube angle is too steep, both of which combine to make the top tube feel short and give that OTB feeling.
Basically, after 4 months and probably 25 rides of trying anything to make the frame work, I ended up leaving it just sitting, gathering dust in my garage. It's too bad, because it looks very nice, and I really like Teresa and Sherwood at Ventana. But, that's about all I can say as a positive about the El Ciclon.
Bike Setup: Revelation 426 U-turn dual air fork, King/ZTR wheelset, SRAM drivetrain, various other AM-level components.
a Weekend Warrior
from Victoria, B.C. Canada
Date Reviewed: July 31, 2009
Strengths: Looks, welds, strenght, firmness at the rear triangle, pivots, bearings, cable routing...oh boy!!
beautiful all mountain bike, everything you want to do can be done. Up, down, steep, rolling and all around versatile bike. Nothing is wrong with this bike, the blue has a beautiful metalic and shines in the sun. The pivots are super ridgid for this frame, rear has NO flex, (and i ride it hard).I know it is a short review as in time, but i have owned or own 7 different bikes and rate this one at the top.IF U ARE IN CANADA AND LOOKING FOR A VENTANA DEALER>>>GO TO "FHR TRADING" IN ONTARIO AND FRED WILL HOOK U UP WITH AWESOME PRICES AND SERVICE...I LIVE IN BC AND LOOKED TO HIM FOR A FRAME AND BUILD UP..!! :)
a Cross Country Rider
from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Date Reviewed: September 3, 2008
Strengths: Superb climber, rails switchbacks, stout build, well balanced on descents
Weaknesses: None so far.
This bike replaced an older model El Saltamontes that I ran for over 4 years. I had tried the Salty in 5 inch travel mode and did not care for the way it handled. The El Ciclon is made for 5 inch travel and you can tell in the way it handles. I have had the bike for just over 2 months and I am 100% satisfied with the purchase. Initially I was nervous at how it would handle steeper climbs and I have to say it climbs better than XC bikes I have owned, including hard tails. It sticks to the trail and feels so balanced where I find myself able to almost completely stop on a techy section, change a line if needed, and pedal right through while hanging on a rock. I have become obsessed with climbing because this bike gets me through rocky switchbacks and sections I have never cleaned before. Stiff, stiff, stiff. Enough about the climb...down rocks! So smooth, so fast. You will think you are riding a 6-7 inch travel bike when you hit the ruff stuff only to feel the beauty of the stiffness when you rail a corner leaving your friends with bigger travel bikes to wonder.
Sure, I have only had the bike for 2 months but I ride it almost everyday. Having come off the El Saltamontes I was already familiar with the Ventana "feel". The El Ciclon is a step up and will add confidence to any rider. If you want a bike that is stout, climbs well and descends like a dream, this is it. This is not the bike for weight conscious riders. This is a bike that you will have for many years to come because it is built to last. Oh, and the paint job is spectacular! Super Dust will get notice.
Weaknesses: Welds Suck, they break under normal use. Warrenty is 2yrs at best. Its a gimic get you in and keep replacing parts at a fraction of new bike replacement. O.K.If you like walking out of the ride carrying your bike. Welds Fail regularly.
Do not waste your money. Buy a Trek or something with a real warrenty. My buddy & I have broken the frame at the same location more than once. No Quality control to the welds. Welds should be the last place to break, if welded properly. This is not the case with Ventanas. Sherwood should stand behind his product, not his warrenty fine print.
a Weekend Warrior
from Eugene, Oregon USA
Date Reviewed: June 11, 2008
Strengths: Aggressive, plush ride. Nice cornering and climbs like a cog railcar.
Weaknesses: Decals suck. Were already peeling/tearing off the first day i put on a rack. Seems slightly heavy for all around freeriding uses.
The el ciclon handles real nice..no complaints really to speak of. I have had the bike one year and have had to replace the headset, hanger, and lower swingarm. I cracked the weld at the swingarm/drop-out connection. I think it was due to braking forces on a bad weld. Ventana was very responsive to my warranty request and had a new lower swingarm component in the mail to me in less than a day. Thankfully this occurred within the two year warrany period...i have approx. 1 year remaining. This $3500.00 purchase was huge for me in my progression of mtn bike purchases, which started with a 1988 LL Bean release and than a Giant Butte!! Besides supporting a small faction i.e., ventana HQ, I wonder if the consumer is really getting the overall best hand in the small bike manufacturing world. Warranty periods seem too short and the overall "personal" dealings have not been felt in this purchase.
Not a True Believer in Ventana yet, I will have to see if the El ciclon can perform for season #2 in the wet, rooty, twiggy PNW.
Bike Setup: Full Suspension with Manitou Black and Fox rear shock. Bicycle took an overall beating on Southwest / Rocky mtn Trails. I would buy again
a Cross Country Rider
from Murray, Utah
Date Reviewed: March 27, 2008
Strengths: Perfect geometry and size for me (5'10" with a 34" inseam). Excellent customer service from Ventana. Traditional front triangle. Quality CNC machined parts and beautiful welds. Good standover.
The Ciclon is perfectly balanced with a FOX 32 fork. I feel centered sitting on the bike. Steep climbs are easier than they were on my Pantera because the suspension remains active under pedal load. It's also more active under braking than the high-forward single pivot was.
The rear triangle with quad bearings feels just as solid as the Pantera did with a super link. Because my only two full suspension bikes have been from Ventana, I don't have any comparison to other designs in terms of flex.
There is more compression damping on the RP23 than I would like. My riding weight is 175lbs and I'm fairly smooth. The shock will be going to PUSH soon for tuning.
I ride trails that vary from smooth single track to chunky technical climbs and descents. The Ciclon is well place in the middle of the current mountain bike spectrum as a versatile trail bike. Anyone who wants one bike to use for everything from climbing canyon roads to high speed trail runs with small drops and jumps will find the Ciclon perfectly suited for the job.
The Ciclon has completely met my expectations of what it should be. I rode the Pantera for 3 years and it was a great bike. After it was stolen last year I decided to move up to 5 inches of travel. The candidates were the Ciclon, 5 spot or Yeti 575. My experience with the Pantera and the interactions with Teresa and Sherwood on the phone were enough to keep my loyalty. I also liked the fact that they had sub-assemblies ready to go at the time Chad placed my order. Rather than wait for complete fabrication they were able to put the frame together in the configuration I wanted and have it to my door in less than 2 weeks.
Bike Setup: Medium frame with quad bearings and high volume RP23, Fox 32 Vanilla RLC, XT cranks and f-der, X9 shifters, XO r-der, Thompson post and stem (410mm and 90mm respectively), King headset, XT hubs and 717 rims, Nevegal 2.35 tires, Avid bb7 mechanicals with 160mm rotors, Dangerboy levers, ODI lockons, Easton EA30 high rise bar, WTB Pure V Team saddle.
a Cross Country Rider
from Provo, UT
Date Reviewed: September 29, 2007
Strengths: Intelligent suspension design, superior materials and workmanship yield a bike that is incredibly efficient on the TRAIL, whereas many other bikes are efficient primarily on paper, or in a one-dimensional way. Well thought-out geometry; stabilty and agility in one package. Absolutely gorgeous in electric blue - really stands apart from other high-end bikes, even really nice ones. Everybody asks me about this bike.
Weaknesses: Relative to every design and material technology applied to cycling - including carbon and ti and and any design patent you could mention - absolutely none.
I really love bikes, one of the few things in life over which I tend to be obsessive, and I was very obsessive and analytical about the selection of this bike. I'm 6'2"/220lbs. and I wanted a bike that enhanced every aspect of my riding experience. I ride primarily in the Wasatch Front, so any five mile stretch is likely to include climbs, descents; smooth, tight, rooty, rocky - you name it. I wanted to climb better and longer, descend and corner faster, with more confidence. I wanted to clean sections that had previously defeated me. I expected the El Ciclon to be good, but not this good. You really can't fathom it in a parking lot test-ride. The El Ciclon is plush, but so are lots of bikes in this category. There's alot more going on with this bike than that. How can a bike that climbs this well descend this well? How can a bike this stable be this agile? Answer: Sherwood Gibson of Ventana rides, knows his craft and doesn't follow fads. This bike is the outcome of experience, thought and skill. Truly a masterpiece. This bike is really, really, laterally stiff. It's intuitive that a stiff bike will corner and descend better, but at my weight, it climbs better than other designs I've ridden because it goes where I point it - no wandering. And I don't waste watts using core strength to keep the bike on the line I want. Strong, stiff and plush at 27.1 lbs. I could keep going but I think you get it. Also, Todd at Uinta Bicycles did a great job. This was an important project for me and he listened to my input but also gave me sound guidance. Built me a fantastic wheelset. My next Ventana project will definitely go to Todd at Uinta Bicycles in Kamas, UT. I'm thinking an El Patron(29er) in Cosmic Orange......
Similar Products Used: Specialized Stumpjupmer, Ellsworth Moment, Intense Tracer, Titus Racer-X,Moto-Lite.
Bike Setup: XL frame in Electric Blue with quad bearings and Fox RP23 shock. Fox Talas 32mm 140mm travel; Full XTR Disc/XTR cranks; Crank Bros. Eggbeater Candy SLs; Thompson Elite Seatpost and stem; Chris King headset; WTB Devo saddle; Mavic 819 rims/Chris King hubs; Specialized "Captain 2.0" rear - Specialized Eskar 2.3 front. This build comes in at precisely 27.1 lbs. ready to ride.
a Cross Country Rider
from Bend, OR
This is a great bike. This was my third Ventana, and was every bit as good as I had expected. The Ciclon retains a bit bigger feel than the X-5 that it replaced, while shaving a bit of weight. The handling is more deliberate, the bike feels a little taller and more confident on the real rough stuff. To be honest, it feels almost like my 2006 RFX, but with a little less travel. The X-5 felt a bit quicker and more nimble (steeper HTA) and the Salty felt a bit quicker still (definitely these are all do-everything bikes, though). In comparison to the RFX, I would take the Ciclon as an all-day bike with the occasional visit to a freeride park, and the RFX as the really burly all-mountain bike still capable of long rides.
The frame and shock came in at 6.2 lbs in a medium. The build is very beefy with quad bearings, with no flex to speak of. This bike can handle the roughest terrain and goes where the rider puts it. It could handle a day of freeride, especially with the 6" rocker on there, and feels right at home in rough terrain. I have done 4-5 hour rides with lots of climbing, and this bike really shines and pretty much anything a rider can throw at it, from carvy singletrack to 5-foot drops. And technical climbing is a dream on this bike. Perhaps the only place where it lags a bit is on smooth, fast climbing, non-technical singletrack, or riding to the trailhead (basically areas when a 24lb FS or a hardtail would be desired). Then again, nobody needs a 5" bike for those conditions. The more technical the terrain, the more this bike comes alive. Those who ride primarily smoother singletrack will find the Salty a faster, more exciting ride, especially under a skilled rider.
I would suggest a thru-axle fork. It really makes a big difference, and with the Pike on the market, there isn't a weight penalty associated. The AM1 SL or Lyrik is as much fork as I would put on this bike, and for the bulk of riding on technical trails, the Pike is a great choice. Also, I sometimes run the 5" only rockers, and the 5/6 rockers also on occasion. The 5" rockers felt funny at first, but result in a snappier ride and better for long rides. The 6" setting (with longer stroke shock) is very plush, climbs well, but is a little sluggish.
In summary, this bike is probably the best example of a true do-anything 5" bike on the market. It isn't a flimsy lightweight 5" bike, but more of a stout build that still comes in at a reasonable weight, with the option of 6" of travel.. I have yet to see a bike at 6.2lbs frame/shock weight that it as laterally stiff as this. Not to mention it is extremely balanaced and sharp-handling. You get what you pay for, and in Ventana's case, that means you are paying for arguably the best all-mountain frame that money can buy.
Similar Products Used: Ventana Salty, X-5, Turner 5-spot, RFX, Cannondale Rush Carbon, Stumpjumper 120, many others demoed
Bike Setup: Marzocchi AM1 SL 2007 fork, Fox Float R shock, 5/6 rockers, EX 5.1/DT 240 wheels, XT cranks, XTR shifters/derailleurs, Nevegal 2.1's, RF NEXT bars, Thomson post and saddle, Formula Puro 7" front/6" rear brakes, 28.7lbs.
a Weekend Warrior
from North Carolina
Date Reviewed: June 12, 2007
Strengths: Quality like nothing you will ever get from another company....it's all done in house by the brand owner. Amazing build, amazing paintjob, Ventana's signature SEX welds! Build strong enough to take all-mountain abuse yet not overdone so it's still a light frame.
Weaknesses: Ahh let me think........none
This is the nicest frame I have ever owned and I am pretty sure that Ventana will be my brand for life. The workmanship is awesome; the owner (Sherwood) is a true artist. Enough with how purty it is though...this frame rides like a dream! Also have no reservations about whether the Ciclon can handle all-mountain/freeride environments. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to the RP23 and the quad bearings to make the ride even that much more unbelievable. Sure $2-grand is a lot for a frame but this truly is a case where you get what you pay for. I have no regret whatsoever about dumping some major coin on the table to get this frame. Beyond that it's very rewarding to know I am supporting an American company that in turn supports American companies. Ventana uses Worth aluminum tubing...the same Worth that makes the best aluminum bats and they are also a Made in the USA company. I also want to suggest buying thru Black Sheep Cycles (http://www.blacksheepcycles.com). Ethan and Toni at Black Sheep are extremely knowledable and will do their part to make sure you are 100% happy with your purchase. They're great to work with and if they weren't my local shop I'd still buy through them and pay shipping.