Ventana El Salt or Ciclon vs. BMC TF02
Looking for an all-mountain type bike for my re-entry to the sport. I'm a fit 6'3" (175) guy who likes to ride up and down. Not into crazy DH stuff. I want something that will be fun to ride on longer XC type rides and that can handle a bit of PNW technical stuff (logs and some drops). I used to ride a ton in the early-late 90s, but got into road after that. Dipped my toe in again when I was in CO two years ago, but made the mistake of buying a race-oriented HT at the time, hated it, and didn't get out much.
Anyway, CompetitiveCyclist has the TF02 at what looks like a great price, but they also have those two Ventana frames for $699/ea in my size. Was thinking I could buy one of those and build it up for $1500 or so using a pricepoint buildkit or ebay stuff...knowing that I'd upgrade some parts as time goes on. I like the idea of starting with a high-end frame/shock and adding on as I figure out what works best for me. TF02 would be easier, but it seems to have pretty low-end stuff on it? I think either would be all over whatever I could get in a shop for $1500...especially the TrailFox at $1250 plus $80 shipping.
Any insight on the ride characteristics of either? I've read that the El Salt is a bit dated in design, but haven't seen many reviews of it when paired with the RP23. Is the Ventana enough of an upgrade for the extra $250-350 I'd put into it?
Last edited by livinlite; 04-09-2011 at 01:11 PM.
Citius. Altius. Fortius.
I ride an older El Salt that I built up, much as what you are planning. The design has been around for a while, but that does not mean that it is outdated. It has been a great ride, and has been absolutely trouble free.
Originally Posted by livinlite
The El Salt is really designed for 4" of travel, but it works for longer travel as well. I have a couple of rockers, and can run it in either 4" or 5" travel mode, with a 100 - 130 mm adjustable fork. Both set up's work really well but the handling changes, as you might expect. Some folks have even set up El Salt's for 6" of travel, but I think that is pushing things a bit much.
The ride is very stable and predictable, with virtually no lateral flex. The workmanship on the frame is top notch, and Ventana service is second to none.
I have never ridden an El Ciclon or the BMC, but I know that the El Ciclon is designed as a 5" travel frame, so you might want to consider that, based upon the trails you ride. Based upon my personal experience, I would highly recommend one of the Ventana frames.
I can only comment on the "outdated" design of the Ventana. I ordered one of the El Rey's, because the price was too stupid to pass up. I have had Maestro, CVA, and TNT frames. I fully expected the ride to be similar to the TNT Turner Sultan and lacking compared to the Maestro and CVA designs. I was VERY pleasantly surprised at the ride quality. I will admit that I use the full feature set of the RP23 shock, but that is what it is there for. It loves techy, rooty trails and the balanced, solid feel is unmatched. I was seriously considering buying an El Ciclon to build up as my All Mt. bike. Just can't swing that without a divorce. As far as the frame quality, all I can say is the build was one of the easiest ever. No facing BB shell or head tube and all lined up perfectly. Decide what travel you want and buy the Ventana for the job, you will not regret it. If by some chance you do, you can sell it for what you paid!
"No good deed goes unpunished"