Review: Ventana El Ciclón

By Maurice Tierney

I’ve ridden a bunch of Ventanas over the years. I enjoy them for their simplicity, durability, and ride quality. And also because they’re the real deal—these guys make bikes and deliver them one at a time, just in time. And the lack of marketing hype is quite refreshing. Ventana makes a full line of mountain bikes—hardtails to tandems—in all three wheel sizes and with varying lengths of travel. Ventana still uses the tried and true linkage-driven, single pivot suspension design. It is a design not falling by the wayside, but in a state of resurgence with the advent of 2x drivetrains. With only two front chainrings, it is much easier to optimize the pivot location to minimize the pedal-induced motion that has been the bane of suspension designers since the beginning of time.

The bike

The Ciclón is Ventana’s 26-inch trail bike. “Trail” meaning 140mm or 150mm of travel, depending on how you flip the convenient F3P travel washer—an offset washer that adjusts the position of the upper shock mount, altering the bike’s geometry and rear suspension travel.

The Ciclón also represents a small company doing their best to keep up with the latest standards put forth by the “powers that be.” Namely, bigger diameters for bottom brackets, headsets, and even axles. Ventana now uses tapered head tubes to bolster front-end stiffness and steering precision. Another addition is the incorporation of Press-Fit 30 bottom bracket shells on their frames. Both of these larger tubes provide increased welding area, so a larger diameter downtube can be used, resulting in increased in frame strength. Other new features include gorgeous asymmetric chainstays for increased strength; a new rocker link, which provides travel adjustability and weight savings; and a 142×12 rear thru-axle option.

Internal cable routing is also new for Ventana. The Ciclón has three cable housing-sized tubes welded inside the down tube for a clean look. Clean and pretty it is, but the real benefit is that this routing eliminates cable-rub.

Like many other bikes in this category, 30.9mm is now the seatpost diameter of choice (bye bye 27.2mm), allowing riders to run any dropper seatpost they want.

Parts pick was a full SRAM XO drivetrain with Avid brakes. Good stuff. I was a’scared that the 2×10 would not provide enough gearing for the steepest climbs, but was I proven wrong every time. There are fewer gears, yes, but the selections are all good, usable gears.

The ride

I hopped on the bike, rode it, and it was good. I immediately noticed how the Ciclón strikes a balance between burliness and light- weight. Not too heavy, not too light, and just enough metal in all the right places to instill confidence. Despite all the changes, it still rides like a Ventana.

Fact of the matter is there is so little flex that you wonder how you managed on that last noodlebike you rode. The Ciclón just feels solid. The stiffness of the whole package, from the front thru-axle, tapered steerer, asymmetric chainstays, and rear thru-axle made for supreme confidence when the going got rocky and technical. This could be felt the most during slow speed muscle moves, trying to “ooof” my way over a big rock or around a tight switchback.

My Ciclón came set up in the 140mm mode. The sweet Fox TALAS RLC up front providing the same. Five and five, yea, that’s a mountain bike to me. The angles, sizing, and fit meshed with my riding style. Long cockpit for sustained climbing, slack head angle for stable descending, tall headtube for fit, short stays for climbing—it’s all there. And if the given numbers don’t suit your fancy, Ventana offers three levels of customization for all your wildest dreams.

The functionality of the linkage-driven single pivot is just fine, especially in the format of the 2×10 setup. Any detected pedal bob is quickly minimized with a throw of the ProPedal switch on the Fox RP23 rear shock. I usually ran the ProPedal on full, and then tried to remember to turn it off on the downside of the hills. I sure like the feel of the bike when it’s turned off, smooth, flowy, active, and springy through the dips and pumps, mucho fun. Yes, the suspension stiffens a bit under braking, which can lead to a little rear wheel skidding—the price of simplicity.

Nits. Well, the internal cable routing sure is pretty, and it solves cable rub issues quite well, but it can be a bit difficult to set up, as the cable lengths and positions must be spot-on where the cables go under the bottom bracket. I also feel that it can increase friction in the system.

Final thoughts

I rode the Ciclón all over Ventana’s home territory of northern California, and it did not disappoint. The Ciclón is a capable trail bike. But there are other factors to guide one’s purchase: craftsmanship you can see, paint that will blow your mind, customizability when you need it, and a friendly voice picking up the phone. These are the things that make Ventana stand out. We’ve pointed these attributes out before but they bear repeating, as these qualities are often hard to find these days.

Vital stats

  • Wheelbase: 46.5-inches, 1,181mm
  • Head Angle: 67.8 degrees
  • Seat Tube Angle: 74 degrees
  • Bottom Bracket height: 13.3-inches, 338mm
  • Chainstay Length: 16.7-inches, 424mm
  • Weight: 28.5lbs., 12.9kg
  • Sizes: 15", 17", 19", 21" (tested)
  • Specs based on size tested
  • Price $2,145 with 135mm QR rear, $2,295 with 142×12 rear thru-axle United States
  • Made in USA