-Legendary Ventana "Electric Sex" TIG welds
-Easton Elite 60 double-butted tubing
-Double seal, oversized cartridge bearings
-Optional quad sets for increased lateral stiffness and longer life
-Rebuildable 7075 anodized aluminum bearing axles at upper bearing pivot points
-10mm bearing axles at minor pivots
-15mm bearing axles at main and tower pivots
-Low compression ratio suspension geometry yields 4" rear travel using a 2" stroke Fox Float R Air shock
-High aspect ratio rocker for increased cornering stiffness
-Vertical dropouts with replaceable derailleur hanger
-International Standard disc brake mount
-Internally butted head tube
-1-1/8" steerer tube
-Fits 34.9mm top pull front derailleur
-27.2mm seat post diameter
-73mm, internally butted, one piece, CNC machined BB shell and main pivot
a Weekend Warrior
from El Dorado Hills
Date Reviewed: August 17, 2007
Strengths: Bomber lateral stiffness. Solid contruction. Craftmanship throughout in terms of materials, welds, etc. Also, wonderful customer service support. Sherwood and company are dedicated to the sport and ensuring that their customers are very happy.
Weaknesses: Frame is a bit heavy than a normal XC FS bike but the tracking and stability on the single track is worth the additional weight.
Bought it used from Ebay. Built the bike up from used parts. I've taken it out three times now and I was impressed with its lateral stiffness and how well it tracks and stays in the pocket during fast downhills. Rocks, holes, ruts, etc, it just rides eats up with solid stability as compared to my Blur. Climbs like a goat. Plan to take it for a spin at Downieville and Mammoth in the next few months. If your looking for a bomber frameset that will endure anything you throw at it except being run over by a Mack truck, this frame will do the trick. One should buy this frame if they plan to never buy another one. It reminds me of the same quality as the early Yeti's Pro Fro's made in Durango, CO. Solid all mountain FR machine.
Bike Setup: Five inch rockers, Manitou Radium RL, DUC 32, Juicy fives
a Cross Country Rider
from victoria bc
Date Reviewed: March 24, 2006
Strengths: Craftsmanship is superbe. Very stable and stiff. Great climber and desender. Durable. Beautiful.
Weaknesses: None so far.
The El Saltamontes is a great all rounder. I ordered it with the 5" kit & quad bearings(quad option is a must). It is a little burley for xcountry racing but is perfectly at home in tight singletrack and on long epic rides. I find it hard to leave at home...it's just so much fun to ride! If you are new to the sport you will be getting a machine that you will grow with for years to come. As a seasoned rider,you will have found a new friend that you barely notice...no surprises or handling quirks,super fast and fun...plows through rocks,roots,and stays planted. I have been riding mtbs for 18 years and it is the best bike I have owned. I ride aggressive xcountry,3 times a week,in coastal conditions and recomend this bike to anyone wanting a truly reliable and capable machine.
It swallows rough trials, rocks & stairs, very fast on single trek, makes the mountain a fun park, real all-mountain weapon that can be pedaled for more than 3 hours. '05 model may be improved over mine. Get the X-5 if you want to use a 6" fork. I used a Marzocchi Z-1 SL and Fox Float RL (a 5 inches setup) before swiching to Romic Coil and the Fox 36 (6 inches setup). I got more fun and less XC feel.
Bike Setup: Fox 36RC, Romic D Ti, Mavic Crossmax XL Disc, Avid Juicy 7 (203mm/185mm), SRAM X-0/XTR transmission, Race Face Deus crankset, Crank Bros Candy Ti pedals, Easton Monkeylite bar, Thomson Elite stem and Masterpiece setback seatpost, King headset, WTB Rocket Stealth Ti saddle, WTB Weirwolf 2.5 front tire and Nokian NBX 2.3 rear, anodized silver custom color, quad bearings and 6" rocker factory options.
from ABQ, NM
Date Reviewed: April 13, 2004
Strengths: Great bike.
Weaknesses: Great bike makes me ditch work to go ride it.
This is a 6 month up date. I have had some minor problems. 1st, several weeks after I got my hands on this wicked ride I began to notice a small amount of ticking when I picked up the bike. It seems like there is a small amount of play in the upper bushing mount that secures the Romic coil to the frame. The odd thing is that the amount of play is not getting any worse with time. Perhaps it is just a loose fit. I just hear it tick slightly every time I pick it up and this is annoying. I have been working with Wrench Science to try and resolve the issue and I have some new bushing parts and a bolt on the way. Hopefully this will resolve the issue.
As for the travel, this bike with the Romic coil is indeed a 3-4-5" travel bike. I was misinformed by the sales rep and we have both been schooled by Sherwood Gibson since. There are actually 4 positions on the rocker: 3, 3.5, 4, and 5 inches. Regardless of the shock you run, on this frame with this rocker you get this much travel.
My 04 zoch Z1 FR SL let me down. I saw no other postings that made me think that any one else has had these problems. In the middle of a big ride about a month ago the left fork leg positive air chamber just quit holding air and I realized quickly that I was riding along with a very short travel fork. I tried pumping it up but I just heard the air rushing out along the top seals. To get out, I pumped up the right leg to twice the pressure. Ride was harsh but the travel was at least close to what it should be. Local shop replaced all the o-rings and some little valve things but then the negative air chamber started leaking slowly enough that I would have to pump it up every 30 minutes or so during a ride. This is not right so I sent it back to Marzocchi. We'll see what happens next. In the mean time I put a FOX TALUS with 125mm of travel on the bike and I have to say that this is a sweet fork. Many have reported problems with their seals and what not. I have been running the same 100mm FOX Float on another bike for about 2 years and I havent had to pump it up since I installed it. Hope this one is as good. Ride is sweet, did I mention that? Maybe not as plush as the zoch but definately more precise.
All bearings on the frame are solid.
Bike is still beautiful but the cable and break housing was starting to rub the paint so I went out and got me some cool smiley face felt dot thingies to save the paint. Works great.
Hayes HFX Mag plus breaks are weak and still seem to fade on longer descents. I gotta find something a little stronger. Any ideas?
As for maximum tire size, I asked Sherwood Gibson about this as the stated max size is a 2.4. I was running a 2.5 WTB Timber Wolf for a few weeks. Sherwood said if there was even the slightest bit of rubbing on the brakestays then there is the possibility of the tire riping right through the tubing. I did notice a tiny amount of blemishing on the tubes so I took it off and replaced it with a Conti Gravity 2.3. This tire seems pretty nice so far. It is far rounder than other Conti's I have tried and does not break loose when you lean it way over like the Survival Pro does. Climbs pretty well on loose sandy granite trails.
And for those of you who are just thinking about Ventana, pleae note that I was able to contact the maker of this bike on several occasions and ask questions directly. He even called me at work! You ain't gonna get that from any of those other companies out there. BUY VENTANA.
This bike excels in every aspect. It is plush, durable, the perfect size, and a work of art.
Sherwood is one of the very few, if not the only one, who would build a custom "long" travel, trail worthy frame for a short rider. At 5' 3/4" I do not have a lot of standover for long travel bikes. This bike fits perfect and gives me more plushness and travel than my Racer-X.
I have both the Fox Float air rear shock and the Romic coil over. The lowest spring rate for the steel coil Romic is 300 lbs. Because I'm "too small" for this spring rate at 115 lbs, the Romic was deemed as not optimal for me. So far I don't have as much time in the saddle with the Romic as I do with the air shock. However, the bottom line is the ride is smoother and far plusher on the Romic than on the air rear shock.
If you are after plushness, save your money and go straight for the Romic rear shock. Air shocks allow for a more efficient, responsive ride, but the steel coil does what I bought this bike for - it flattens the trails.
I will post again when I get more seat time with the Romic.
Bike Setup: Fox Float and Romic Coil shocks to swap between, Fox Vanilla 100 fork, Avid mechanical discs, Schwalbe Fat Albert tires, lots of other cool stuff.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: February 5, 2004
Strengths: It holds up to the abuse that this 200lb rider gives it. Lateral stiffness, quality of engineering and manufacture. The Romic option gives an awesome ride, quad bearings are almost (but don't ignore them) maintenance-free. Plus it's darned pretty (Electric Red Powder Coat)
Weaknesses: Non that I've ever experienced.
A sweet XC / trail bike. Takes everything that the Pacific NW can throw at it. I'm 200 lbs and the bike performed like a dream on anything Moab could throw at it this fall (or anything that I could ride !) Laterally stiff, plush suspension. super efficient pedaling, goes where you put it (even if it's sometimes the wrong place.....) Ventana's support / commitment to their product continues to be awesome. Sherwood's engineering and manufacturing impresses this particular engineer - a lot ! I traded it in for a Fuego (I'm too heavy for a Fuego) using Ventana's customer trade in program and haven't looked back. One small problem. I recently bought a Bruja - now I have to choose which / where to ride. Tough choices.....
a Cross Country Rider
from Everson Wa.
Date Reviewed: January 10, 2004
Strengths: Unsurpassed quality of workmanship, super strong, and the feeling of confidence when you ride.
Weaknesses: None. Well, you can't have just one Ventana I just finished a Chamuco, but I guess that's not a weakness.
A+ This bike never lets you down; all my other bikes have sooner or later. I have ridden from Moab to Whistler, 1hr funsters to 10 hr epics and every ride ends the same way; I think I have the best bike on the planet. It climbs so easy you forget about the pain and have fun going up. The flats become race tracks, point it down, let the talas out to 125 and no one can catch you. I live in the Pacfic N.W.ride year round in a hard charging cross country style that breaks frames but the Salty looks as good today as the day I brought it home. Also, I can't say enough good about Sherwood and the people at Ventana. I had them help me with frame choice, custom paint, and spacers for different shocks and every time I am left with the feeling that this is the only bike company for me. A1 service!
Similar Products Used: Rocky Mt., Specialized, Ellesworth.
Bike Setup: The Bomb! Race face std. 36-24-bash guard, Chris King, XTR dual control, Romic ti spring, Fox Talas Easten sl bars seat post, 2.3 vertical pros, 5.5inch travel, quad bearings. 27.5lbs
Date Reviewed: December 26, 2003
Strengths: smooth, strong, precise
Weaknesses: maybe weight, price (here in austria us-rides are about plus 30% of the us-price 'cause of taxes and delivery...)
yep, this is it - the best mtb i've ever ridden, perfect for really long rides (5-6 hrs) not as direct as a racebike, but much more comfortable, real funny to slam this ding downhill, and pedals good upwards, too (tough it's about (28 to 29 lbs.) - this is the REAL enduro!!
Similar Products Used: some of the full susser out there, too much to name them
Bike Setup: black super air, hope m4, race face next lp, x.o.,thomson...
a Cross Country Rider
from Albuquerque, NM
Date Reviewed: November 3, 2003
Strengths: Solid. Plush. Razor sharp. Wicked. Beautiful. Lots of bearings.
Weaknesses: No motor.
5 rides so far. All different terrain.
5 inch mode.
1. Cedro; 3 miles up a rocky fire road and 5 miles back down twisty turny rocky single track with lots of tight turns and sudden maneuvers. Ride was plush all the way up and back down. Fork pressure was a little off so the rebound top out was pretty harsh and the fork tended to push and slide out some. Handling was quick and VERY responsive. This bike is definately "flickable" in true weazel fashion. 2. White Mesa; 12 mile loop of swoopty super fast single track followed by two track climbs and more single track. Previously super smooth trail had been cut up by horse tracks but this bike glided right over without much sense of the bumps. Fork rebound was harsh and most noticeable over fast small bumps. Basically I was going way faster than ever before. This bikes relatively low weight (~28#)allowed for better handling in fast turns in tricky terrain, as compared to my Stinky (same travel, 37#). Brakes got soft as they got very hot on a moderate downhill section. (Perhaps just break in???) Climbing back on loose rocky two track was a pleasure.
changed fork pressure to 25(pos) 85(neg) - still got rebound slamming.
3. Otero; 15 mile loop with nice single track climb up a dried up stream bed followed by a fast descent down dry loose rocky ridge line trail. Bike could be ridden a lot faster than I wanted to go. This bike eats bumps and goes where it is pointed. I kept looking for the rails I was riding on.
changed fork pressure to 30 (pos) 120 (neg). This seems to work for me. (I am ~170# and wear a huge pack.)
4. Paliza canyon; 10 mile gradual two track climb. I climbed in the 5 inch mode then changed to 5.6 inches for the return trip. The long slow extended climb was relaxing and smooth even over some minor loose rocky sections. Flying back down 4 wheeler two track with woops and berms was a total blast. Honestly, this bike was as plush as my KX250. Fork pressures right on.
5. Dead Airplane loop @ Cochiti; Viscious sick vertical climb up several thousand feet in about a mile to a ridge line followed by much hiking and some riding. (Rear end set to 4.? inch mode for the climb.) On the climb up I cleaned more of this super steep off camber ancient minning road than ever before. I thought my Stinky climbed well but loosing ten pounds with this bike makes the El Saltamontes climb even better. This bike climbs even better than my late Kona Hot steel bike did. On the way back down at the end of the day this bike gobbled up ruts, rocks, bumps and forgave far many mistakes that would have killed me on the Kikapu. I am gonna need an 8 inch rotor up front.
These XTR cranks are even nicer than the previous ones. I prefer the Zoch Z1 FR SL(air sprung) to the coil spring version Z1 FR as it is a hair lighter and seems to be more tunable. Perhaps for big hits the coil spring version is better, but hey, thats why I have a Stinky. Brakes seem to be working better now but they do start screaming on longer descents.
Bottom line: Nice ride. Ok, great ride! I am in love. My other rides will be collecting dust for a while.
Similar Products Used: Kona Stinky, Kona King Kikapu
Bike Setup: El Salt with 3-4-5 rocker using a Romic coil which gives more travel. How much??? 04 Z1 FR SL, XTR crank, CrossMax Wheels, Hayes brakes w/ 6inch rotors, Conti's.
a Cross Country Rider
from Los Gatos
Date Reviewed: October 5, 2003
Strengths: Beautiful craftsmanship. A well designed, strong frame for all around trail use. 3-4-5 Quad Bearing Pivot option is an absolute must to make this your trail/epic/xc/race bike....you know, if you could only have one bike.
The Marble Peak was my into to full suspension. Ventana exceeded all my expectations and hence the purchase of the El Salt. I was able to purchase from the man himself (Sherwood). If you are a Ventana owner, they have a very nice trade in program...take advantage of it. Opted for the 3-4-5 Quad Bearing Pivot option making this bike quite versatile. A few of my buddies have Blurs...which seem to...uh...not be holding up so well... I've had zero issues with the El Salt after 6+ months of hard riding. The only thing that happened was a bearing lost a seal...one phone call to Theresa (steller customer service!) and a new bearing was in my mailbox a day later. Set in the new seal...done deal. But I don't think that really counts for anything. Truth of the matter is: A+ Product, A+ customer service.
Bike Setup: All XTR, Thomson post, stem, Monkey Lite riser, dumpy wheelset (for now), Psylo Race (was a SID 100 but I'm learing).
a Cross Country Rider
from Ilchester, Somerset, England
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2003
Strengths: Adjustable travel that suits the fox TALAS, superb finishing, welds, looks, pretty much everything. The frame isn't the greatest on tarmac but thankfully as soon as you go onto the trails it really does impress, the handling in 4" mode is great and the fact you can shift upto 5" front and rear helps on the tougher trails. I got it in red and it looks very nice, it seems to be built to take a good amount of punishment and the rear shock setup makes it a very comfortable ride for all dayers. Also i love the BB height and the geometry seems to be made for me with a medium frame, 90mm stem and layback post.
Weaknesses: I know people tend to never slate their products but i can honestly say i haven't found anything yet, i would probably say that over here in England the weather (rain, rain and rain) will probably kill the quad bearings but thats hypothetical just now, that was the reason for getting the upgraded bearings. Theres a small amount of bob, but this doesn't really matter on the trails where it tends to help soak up the smaller hits.
The bottom line is that this bike is made to be a pleasure on the trails, but if you're into XC racing then i'd have to say look at the El Fuego instead, this is definitely an all day bike which will suit the epic rider more. The way you can turn this bike into several types is great as well, with a different rear rocker and shock you get a 6" travel bike and with the adjustable travel rocker you can set it up for whatever trail you're doing that day. I also have to say that over here the price of the ventana is better than other frames such as the Rocky Mountain ETS, Ellsworth ID/Truth, etc so it really is an all round excellent purchase for me.
Similar Products Used: Ellsworth ID, Rocky Mountain Element, GT I-Drive.
Bike Setup: 17" El Saltamontes frame, Chris King ISO disc hubs on X3.1 rims, XTR front and rear deraileurs, Raceface Turbine ISIS crankset, Raceface Signature FR BB, Thomson post and stem, King headset, SRAM 9.0 cassette, Magura Marta brakes, Fox TALAS RLC forks, WTB rocket V saddle, XT shifters. Its pretty much been built to take a hard knock or two (the martas sound lightweight but you have to try them to see how powerful they are!!!).
a Cross Country Rider
from San Jose, CA USA
Date Reviewed: July 8, 2003
Strengths: Electric Sex Welds, quad bearings, 3-5" adjustable travel, beautiful paint job, stiff but plush...is that possible?
Weaknesses: Not the lightest bike, but will last forever. Oh yeah.not the most inexpensive bike either..
A little expensive, but WOW.. The bike truly does climb like a hardtail, maybe even a little better...i don't even really notice any rear bob unless i am standing on the pedals. I have tested the bike at the 4" and 5" rear travel setting, and now i just leave it at 5" because you lose very little on the uphill, but the downhill......"BUTTER" I will probably kill myself soon because i don't even realize how fast i am really flying downhill. Tim and the guys at Wrench Science really know their stuff and did a great job building the bike and the shock setup was balls on too. Take it from me, get it done right and buy it from them.
Similar Products Used: Specialized Epic, Santa Cruz Superlight, FSR, Ellworth Truth
Bike Setup: Quad Bearings, 3-5" adjustable travel, Fox Talas RLC, Crossmax Wheels, XTR, CT2 bar, EC70 Seatpost, Panaracer FireXCpro tires
a Weekend Warrior
from San Francisco
Date Reviewed: June 25, 2003
Strengths: Extremely rigid frame (in the way it is supposed to be, i.e. laterally). Supple, don't even think about it ride. Beautiful finish on an overall good looking frame
Weaknesses: $$$ This is definitely a luxury frame. By the time you add up the base cost, extras like the double bearings, variable travel setup, custom or semi-custom sizing, you are at the very high end for a trail bike.
After extensive searching for a trailbike for a real Clydesdale, I am thrilled with the El Saltamontes. It is soft and flexy where it should be (up and down - this is a problem with a lot of air sprung rides, when the rider weight gets up near design limits), rigid and strong where and when it should be (lateral, when climbing).
I tried a range of production and custom bike setups trying to find something that would stand up to a big rider without being an over-the-top dh/fr bike. The Ventana has fit the bill nicely. While some of the bikes I test rode made me worry about breaking them just on the demo circuit (No I don't beat on bikes, just RIDE them on actual trails with rocks, gullies and the like), the 'salt' has never given me a moment's pause.
Handling is really point and shoot benign - responsive and stable. Once I got used to my first FS ride, it has felt very natural.
Some might worry about the 'not real 4 bar' setup in the back. Don't. With the Romic setup, I've never once wanted to find the knob and lock it out. It does move a bit, but it's supposed to. Even coming from hardtails it feels right. As a race bike, it might give something away at the beginning of a sprint, but what 4" rig doesn't.
Oh, and it is just gorgeous. First ride out and strangers commented as they went by (the other way )
On the business side, I am also quite pleased with both Ventana and Wrenchscience. Sherwood Gibson runs a real professional shop and was gracious enough to take a fair piece of time to show me around and discuss the options when I visited the shop. He delivered ahead of schedule on what was effectively a custom order. This brings us to Wrenchscience. In addition to the really cool website where you can fantasize to your heart’s content, they went the extra mile to make sure I was happy on this bike. After another frame vendor completely choked and failed to deliver on time, Tim Medina stepped up and made a deal to get me onto my second choice (it was only second because of the price) El Saltamontes in short order.
Similar Products Used: Previous MTBs were Trek full rigid and later hardtail. Test rode, Titus Switchblade, Id, Trek Fuel, Trek Liquid, Klein Palomino, Turner XCE, Specialized Epic, Fisher Sugar+
Bike Setup: 21" Frame 3/4/5 link, double bearing upgrade Fox Vanilla 100RLC Romic D Shock upgrade AVID BB Disc Brake/Speed Dial 7 Levers XT Shifters and Derailleurs RaceFace Turbine ISIS 22-32-44 FSA Ultimax Extreme Pro BB Chris King headset Thomson stem and post Race Face Riser Bar WTB Laser V Stealth Ti Panaracer Fire XC Pro 2.1 XT 36h/Mavic 317 Wheelset Final weight right at 30lbs (big frame, extra bearings and parts chosen for strength don't make a flyweight, but not bad.)