Bicycle Review: Mondraker Ventura Sport(2013)

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This is Mondraker’s entry-level 29er mountain bike: Ventura Sport. The bike’s targeted at those of you who wish to buy a 29er of a premium brand, but for a lower price. But even so, the Ventura Sport doesn’t save you too much money and neither does it offer a valuable price/specifications ratio. Therefore, why should buy it?

Frame/On the trail

Although a recreational model by nature, the Ventura Sport borrows the geometry of racing bikes, but this is where similarities stop, as its weight and specifications have nothing to do with performance. All in all, it’s the kind of bike that offers a comfortable fit, has a small negative rise of the stem which helps you keep the front wheel under pressure when the situation requires it and also provides an efficient position for climbing. Though you’ll not exactly get to enjoy this too much as the weight figure of about 15 kilograms will prove itself a burden in many scenarios.

In terms of maneuverability, the bike performs well, an outcome enhanced by the short stem, but which could have been further improved by a handlebar wider than the 640mm one fitted on the bike, which is also a category standard.

As far as stiffness is concerned, the 85.3 Nm/degrees do persons with weights of up to 90 kilograms justice, like the STW ratio of 45.8 Nm/degree/kg does as well. Ventura Sport comes from a premium producer and this can be seen very clearly in the quality of the welds and of the paint, although the colour scheme didn’t blow our minds. Further add-ons include a single water bottle cage mount and luggage rack mounts too.

Specifications

For the price it has, we dare say that Ventura’s specification list disappoints. For example, the Suntour XCM fork can be found on most entry-level models, bikes that usually have a significantly lower price than the Ventura, and the 100mm of travel and 2.7kg that it has it’s really quite modest. Well, at least it has a remote lock-out…

The drivetrain is, from many points of view, an exotic mix given that it has a SR Suntour front derailleur, which does its job, but in a less than smooth manner. SRAM provides the crankset and bottom bracket by its S600 model, the two parts adding an irrefutable weight of 1.250 grams to the entire bike, but more intriguing we find the decision to mix the SRAM, Suntour and Shimano components. Ok, we admit that the whole weight of the drivetrain is slightly lower, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for mismatches. Finally, to remind everyone to which category does this test subject belong to, a Shimano Alivio rear derailleur takes care of shifting across the 9 sprockets of the cassette, in a decent way we might say.

For stopping you’ll have to rely on the Tektro HDC300 disc brakes, equipped with 160mm rotors, which, quite honestly, find difficult situations overwhelming, an 180mm rotor for the front brake being more than welcomed in this case.

Mondraker built in-house Ventura’s wheelset and they managed to obtain a strong pair of wheels which don’t mind rough roads or trails. CST’s Critter tires, size 29×2.10, offer a good rolling speed, but aren’t too allowing in corners. Yet, even for these perks, it’s quite hard to justify the 5.88 kilograms that the entire wheel ensemble puts on the scale and, in the same time, on the bike. Just for the record, Ventura Sports counts as one of the heaviest bikes we’ve tested this season, alongside Cube AIM 29er, Cross BigFoot 29er or the Impulse Challenger 29er.

Conclusion

Judging by its price, the Ventura Sport doesn’t do as well as its competitors and it has, in some respects, a lower specifications chart. Maybe the season sales can bring it down to the proper pricing, but this won’t solve the braking or transmission problem, a classical situation with premium brands’ entry-level models.

However, the sit on the bike and the short stem deserve some applause, while the quality of the frame is nothing less than what we expected from the manufacturer. Also, it’s not as stiff as the competition, but it’s 300 grams lighter. So, Ventura Sport is a bike for recreational riding, suited to riders of few wants, but which also plan to upgrade it in the future. The good news is the 2014 version will be improved!

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