Sleek, stiff, and supple are a few words to describe El Chamuco, Ventana’s latest freeride hucker. With six inches of rut-gobbling rear wheel travel, our quad bearing single pivot swingarm, x-frame front triangle, and new “super-link” rocker assembly, this devil can handle the toughest trails you can find with nary a whimper.
El Chamuco comes in our rich shot peened-anodized finish, which showcases all of Ventana’s legendary machining and welding skills in fiendish detail. Features like “V” logo side plates and shock tabs, six bearing “super-link”, Romic rear coil shock, and true rising- rate, low compression ratio geometry make it a runaway hit in the single pivot freeride world.
a Weekend Warrior
from Oakland, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: April 9, 2007
I went from a non-suspension Fat Chance I had been riding since 1987 to the El Chamuco. About two months in, I crashed and cracked the frame. I contacted Ventana and was able to work out a great deal where I returned the rear triangle and Romic shock, and for a minimal charge, they constructed me a completely new frame. Not only did they allow mw to choose the color, but they included HEAVY DUTY welds with extra support gussets, redesigned cable stays and a new spring for the Romic. I weigh a lot, so this was perfect for me. I want to make sure that I get it out there how great their customer service is and how much they set me up with a super tricked out, esentially new, bike.
a Weekend Warrior
from b/w SF and LA, CA
Date Reviewed: November 6, 2006
Strengths: outstanding craftsmanship--weld quality, machining, tolerances, and alignment. made in USA. excellent company & support. extreme lateral stiffness w/ 'superlink'. rising rate shock linkage. 2.6:1 leverage ratio (lower than RFX). low c of g and abundant standover height. full length seat tube. 7.8 lb frame wt w/ coil shock (1/2 lb lighter than bullit w/ coil). slightly longer & slacker geo than heckler.
Weaknesses: none, if ridden as intended ("all mountain"/"trail" bike, not designed for dual crown forks or heavy duty freeriding).
this is a very, very nice 6" travel single pivot bike. production quality is as good as it gets. attentive and personalized service from this small, boutique maker in Nor Cal is equally topnotch.
bike performance is as expected for a 6" travel high-forward single pivot design with longer/slacker geo and excellent rear-end lateral stiffness. i just got back from 8 days of riding in Fruita, Moab, Gooseberry, and Bootleg Canyon, and had a ball on the chamuco. loved the way it ate up everything in its path while pedaling down the upper part of porcupine rim, and couldn't imagine a better match of bike & trail.
there are currently a ton of great 5" & 6" rear travel bikes to choose from, and the chamuco sits at the burly, stiff, long, & slack end of the spectrum (as opposed to light, flexy, short & steep XC-ish end). its in its element when going down rough, technical trails. but its NOT too heavy or slack to make climbing suck. slap on a lighter set of wheels +/or tires and a 6" fork w/ adjustable a2c height, and be prepared to spend all day in the saddle, climbing up anything w/ riders on shorter travel bikes.
single pivots aren't as sexy as the current crop of 'virtual' pivot designs, but well designed & executed sp's perform very well nonetheless. IMHO, frame quality, frame geometry, suspension quality (ie fork's/shock's spring rate, compression, & rebound damping), and lateral stiffness all combine to affect overall ride quality on the trail at least as much if not more than rear end suspension design/rear axle path.
CB0 (no relations) is blowing out the last few frames for $800. that is a steal, considering that the chamuco's msrp was $1500 in 2003.
if you're looking for a 6" travel "all mountain/trail" bike with excellent lateral stiffness, super stable geometry, and aren't intimated to ride a 30-35lb bike up hills (NOT that heavy by todays standards), but don't need a frame designed for a dual crown fork, then buy a chamuco while you still can.
a Weekend Warrior
from Denver, CO. USA
Date Reviewed: August 14, 2006
Strengths: Simple "Clydesdale Friendly" design. Masterful Craftsmanship, Great Trailbike geometry.
Weaknesses: 27.2 Seatpost on a FR bike? At this price, should have laser etched logos... not stickers. Stretches chains quickly.
I've owned this bike for a little over a year now, and it is great. I rode an Intense Uzzi for two years prior, and my 285lb weight kept snapping the main pivot bolt. I decided that the ruggedness of a single pivot was in order. The Bullit and new Heckler were too heavy, and the rear end of the Marin was too flexy. I wanted something as light as the Marin, but as stiff as the Heckler. After much searching... the El Chamuco had the best traits of both competitors. This bike is the ultimate Jack of all trades. It is light enough to trailride, yet still rugged enough to downhill recreationaly a couple times per year. My biggest gripe, is the 27.2 post. Considering that this bike is often the choice of big or aggressive riders... the 27.2 roadbike seatpost, would not have been my first choice. Granted,its never broken yet... but I can feel it flex (even with a Thomson). I can't help but wonder in the back of my mind, if it isn't going to snap at any minute?
Similar Products Used: Marin Wildcat FS, Santa Cruz Bullit, Intense Uzzi, Giant XTC, (new) Santa Cruz Heckler
Bike Setup: Mavic F519's on Hope FR 20mm Hubs, 135mm Marzocchi Z1, SRAM XO Grip shifts & rear derailleur, XTR Frnt Der, Race Face North Shore cranks on Truvativ DH bottom bracket, Syncros headset, Thomson post, Easton EA 70 2' riser, Control Tech Newton stem, Hope CNC'd 2 piston discs with 7.5 rotors. OURY lock-on grips, WTB Ti railed Laser V saddle.
a Weekend Warrior
from Pompano Beach, Florida USA
Date Reviewed: February 5, 2006
Strengths: Extremely well made. Awesome ride.
This bike is fabulous. It's so much fun, I can hardly wait to ride. WHatever you throw at it, it can handle with ease. Dress her up for anything, she's ready. It's almost scary...
Bike Setup: BLING BLING Marzocchi All Mountain ETA/TAS, Magura Louise, FSA, Truvativ, Thompson, SRAM, Bombshell switchits, etc
a Weekend Warrior
from Irwin, Pa. USA
Date Reviewed: April 11, 2005
Strengths: Stiff, relatively light, Romic shock does what it says it does! Great trailriding head angle! Goes up as well as down with complete ease and confidence!! Simple, yet elegant design. Love the high chainstays and plentiful mus clearance.
Weaknesses: Cable routing is not the greatest but is functional. Shot peened finish doesn't clean up from mud the best BUT does seem durable, plus it's a MTN bike, get it dirty!
I had really wanted a single pivot beffy bike for a long time. I loved how my Enduro felt and rode but wanted something stouter since I am a biggun at 6'2" 225 Lbs. I really liked the idea of a Bullit but wanted something different. Saw the El Chamuco on line and really researched it over the last year or so. Finally got a line on one for a great price (Thanks Mark). What a great bike! I am totally impressed w/quality of bike and love the fact that Sherwood at Ventana answered every one of my silly questions and made me feel like I was joining a large family! Bike is absolutely rock solid going up, down and sideways. Great product at a great price. I wish Ventana would keep making them, they have a product that really kics a$$ as an awesome trailbike!!
Similar Products Used: Specialized Enduros and Specialized 4 bar bikes over last 6 years.
Bike Setup: CK Headset, 03 Sherman Firefly w/HD spring, Synchros Hardcore seatpost, ODI Lock On grips, WTB-saddle, Easton EA-50 Monkeylite bars, Race Face Turbine cranks (Sq taper) and Eggbeater Mallets, Shimano mix and match for the rest of the items and 2.5 MotoRaptor rear, 2.5 Weirwolf up front.
Date Reviewed: April 8, 2005
Strengths: Incredible welding and overall craftsmanship,Geometry,Frame Weight,Climbing Ability,Descending Ability, Overall handling ,Romic Shock, Great Looking Frame,Price.
Weaknesses: Great choice by Ventana ,but,only One color available.
This is an Outstanding bicycle Frame and value. Real Strength for just about any kind of aggressive XC or FR riding ,6 inches of silky travel, Great Geometry for those killer drops and chutes but still climbs incredibly well - really really well, just kills over the roots and rocks, stable platform suspension ( with the Z150 up front this bike just rocks), builds up FR ready at 32Lbs with pedals.
Come on ! All this for around $1300 from a longstanding acknowledged high end boutique US frame builder who really cares about the customer. Get it while it lasts!!!!
Bike Setup: Marzocchi Z150 FR, Romic Shock w/RCN Ti coil Thomson post and stem, Chris Kind HS, Hope Hubs , Ritchey OCR rims, Truvativ Cranks & BB , Truvativ 34/22 front rings and bashguard,Sram XO RD and shifters, Shimano XT FD,XTR Cassette, Hope Mono Mini's 180MM rotors, Panaracer 2.4 FR up front and Conti Vertical Pro 2.3 rear,Shimano 545's.
a Cross Country Rider
from San Diego
Weaknesses: The 'Ventana' and 'El Chamuco' stickers. The v-brake posts on the rear swingarm... just cosmetics.
Every time I ride this bike, I am amazed at what it can do. It climbs great - although you do have to do some weight shifting, decends wonderfully and is comfortable on the longer rides. It also looks great. It inspires confidence and sometimes it makes up for my lack of skill. :-) Overall, this is a great frame that can be set up for several styles of riding -- which is really cool for riders whose interests and skills evolve over time. 5 flamin' chili's all the way!
Bike Setup: Trail riding... 5" travel in the front, 6" in the back. A mix of quality components (Marzocchi, Thompson, Chris King, Easton SRAM, Shimano, Race Face, etc.).
from San Carlos, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: October 12, 2004
Strengths: Gorgeous welds and great finish. Very light frame considering how durable it is (previous reviewer must be a gorilla or have gotten a lemon). Very progressive shock that never bottoms under "normal" riding. I'm 170lbs using a 500 pound spring and it doesn't bottom on a 6 foot drop to flat. Bike rides best with a Marzocchi Z1, but also performs admirably with a 170mm Super T. Chain tension pulls rear wheel into the ground giving outstanding traction on smooth trails (slickrock in Moab), while the suspension remains active enough to climb very well through rocky sections.
Weaknesses: If you ride hard and regularly do drops to flat be ready to buy a new chain every other month (Shimano, SRAM, Wipperman, it kills them all) -> the chain is heavily loaded when the shock compresses. Braking reduces the performance of the shock quite alot. Very inefficient out the saddle. If you like plowing through rock gardens you'll need a chain retention device -> the single pivot gives the chain all it needs to slide into the granny gear. I recommend a two ring compatible model from MRP. Decals don't look so great on anodized finish.
An affordable, light, beautifully put together frame that is the definition of a good all-around bike. Very smooth ride, extremely predictable handling. Can be used for epic rides, but strap on a 170mm fork and you have a bike that is very competitive in collegiate downhill racing. Light and decently fast so not bad for dual slalom and dirt jumping. Jack of all trades, master of none: not a cross-country racer or a downhill maven, but this baby is a ton of fun.