By Shannon Mominee. Photos by Adam Newman.
The name Joe Breeze is most often associated with mountain biking, where he’s considered one of the founding fathers of the sport. Most folks don’t realize that before pioneering mountain bikes, Breeze enjoyed success at road racing. The Venturi celebrates Joe’s 35 years of cycling inspiration.
This bike is designed for riders who want racing geometry, but prefer the supple ride quality of steel to the stiffness of aluminum or carbon fiber. The Venturi features the first hydroformed, heat-treated chromoly steel frame. (Hydroforming has previously only been used on aluminum frames.) Tubes transition from D-shaped to round in various places, and the wall thickness changes as well, to create a stiff yet supple ride.
Joe Breeze’s geometry philosophy is that weight can be shaved from the front of the frame by lowering the height of the head tube and shortening the corresponding tubes, while gaining stiffness and compliance. What’s lost in the head tube height is regained by using a 12 degree rise stem, placing the rider in the same flat position as a traditional racing frame.
My size large tester has a 570mm top tube and 540mm seat tube, so I feel like my upper body is fairly flattened out, or even in an aggressively sloping position. The head tube is also rather steep at 74 degrees, paired with a relatively normal 73.5 degree seat tube. This places the rider over the bottom bracket for stability and delivers quick handling.
Breezer’s 40mm offset carbon fiber fork adds to both of those characteristics, while saving weight over a steel fork and promoting front-end stiffness. Personally, I’d like a taller head tube. I’m comfortable on the bike for a couple of hours before the forward position tires my shoulders. Road racers and more aggressive riders would feel right at home with the positioning.
There’s also a lot going on in the rear of the frame. The arced seatstays bow upward instead of downward, as is typical of aluminum frames. The arc ads compliance, absorbs road vibration, and braces against braking force. Asymmetrical chainstays and a press-fit BB86 bottom bracket help keep the rear stiff and short to match the handling of the front.
Altogether, the short wheelbase and steep head tube make a lively feeling bike that descends with stability, tracks superbly through curves, and handles quickly. It’s just plain fun to ride. Swerving around road debris takes only a slight movement of the bar, or just a little body English. Cruising at speed, the bike feels solid and remains so when pushing through turns and curves.
I like the way the Venturi hugs the road with its low center of gravity, and the steel absorbs shock from road imperfections. The frame and carbon fork do a nice job of providing feedback and deliver a livelier feel than carbon fiber and a softer ride than aluminum. Yet, it’s stiff in the right places and efficient at transferring power.
One of my favorite times to ride this bike is when there’s climbing ahead. The Venturi accelerates smoothly, or at least maintains speed, until the hill is crested. The same is true of accelerating on flats or from a stop. No energy feels lost to material or design flexing. The Venturi is a machine that wants to move forward. I think Breezer found a near-perfect shape in hydroforming the steel tubes. The frame doesn’t feel overbuilt, heavy, or teeth- rattling, but it’s not flexy, either.
The Ultegra 10-speed group and matching tubeless road wheels are a solid parts package. I had plenty of gear options with the compact double crankset (50- and 34-tooth chainrings). I found the right-hand shifter to be a little sensitive to error; if I inadvertently pushed both shift levers a few millimeters when initiating an up or down shift, the chosen lever would move all the way in without a shift. The more I ride the bike though, the less it happens, as I’ve become careful with my fingers.
Riding road tubeless is new to me, and although the bike came stock with tubes, Hutchinson offered a pair of tubeless Fusion 3 tires to take full advantage of the Ultegra wheelset. The wheels have remained true through the test and feel light and fast in use.
I like the Venturi’s quick handling and subtle ride characteristics, and think it’s awesome that Breezer is using modern manufacturing techniques with an old ma- terial. If I could change one more thing, it would be to raise the bottle cage mount on the seat tube just a bit, so it’s not blocked by the front derailleur clamp. Other than that, the Venturi delivers an awesome ride. It’s available as a complete bike or frameset.
- Country of origin: Taiwan
- Price: $2,879
- Weight: 20.06lbs.
- Sizes available: XS-XXL, large tested.
- Online: www.breezerbikes.com