Verenti sounds like a boutique Italian brand that you should have heard of… but haven't. You wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that they had a string of Giro d'Italia victories to their name back in the 1950s… but they didn’t. Verenti is actually the new in-house bike brand from online retail maestros Wiggle – and they’re based in Portsmouth, which is nowhere near the Med.
There are initially five bikes in the Verenti range and they’re all designed with sportive riding in mind – we hear that other genres are coming. The current crop share the same back-friendly geometry – which means a longer than normal head tube and a slightly foreshortened top tube resulting in quite an upright ride position. And they all come with compact gearing to keep you spinning up the climbs even at the end of a long, tough day in the saddle.
The Verenti range kicks off with the £900 alloy Kilmeston, then comes the £1200 Millook, which is alloy with carbon seatstays, and then you get the three carbon Rhigos starting with our Rhigos.03. The other two share the same frame and fork package but get equipment upgrades. The £1800 02 features a SRAM Rival groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels while the range-topping 01 is equipped with SRAM Red and Ksyrium SLs and it’ll set you back £2900. That might sound like a lot of money but you get a whole lot of spec for your cash with each bike.
The Rhigos’ frame is made from high modulus 3K SL carbon tubes that are joined using carbon lugs. The down tube is teardrop shaped in profile and bows inward slightly along its length, while the top tube starts out as a flat bottomed triangle at the front before flipping over so the point is facing down by the time it reaches the seat tube junction.
The head tube houses a standard 1 1/8in headset bearing up top but flares out massively as it descends and holds a 1 1/2in bearing at the bottom for a considerable hike in rigidity. The wishbone seatstays and chainstays weave about all over the place before hooking up together at the rear dropouts, while up front you get a full-carbon monocoque fork that blends almost seamlessly into the frame.
The cable stops are pop riveted in place securely enough while the graphics are classy and understated rather than loud and loutish, although we wish they were a little more durable – ours started to look a bit tatty fairly early on. While we’re on the decals, the figures on the top tube are the map reference of the Rhigos climb which, if you haven’t been schooled in such things, is in South Wales and is included in the Verenti-sponsored Dragon Ride sportive. See, it all makes sense.
Okay, when it comes to naming bikes after climbs, Mid-Glamorgan lacks the glamour of the Madone outside Monte Carlo or the Ghisallo near Milan, but it’s good to see a bit of recognition for British riding for a change. Oh, and the weird squiggle on the down tube: that’s an outline of the Dragon Ride route. Quirky. We like that.
Ride: Think marathon not sprint
Right, on to the ride. Things didn’t start out particularly well, to be honest, because the Verenti’s gears were out when we got it and we had to adjust both mechs – a lot – to get them running smoothly. Fine, it’s a 10-minute job if you know what you’re doing, but it’s a pain if you’ve just bought a bike online and you don’t have much experience in the old bike fettling game.
The gears being out on a test bike is not such a biggie, the the reason we mention it here though is that it's never happened on a bike from Wiggle before, they pride themselves on how well they prep their bikes before sending them out to customers and review bikes go through the same process… we're guessing that they were just so eager to get their new bike to us that the usual checks got accidently missed. Verenti have assured us that this was a one-off so minor gripe over! Anyway, things soon started looking up…
Verenti have set out to produce a great value sportive bike and that’s exactly what they’ve achieved here. For a start, the ride position is spot on for racking up the big miles. Slightly shorter than a full-on race bike and quite a bit higher at the front, you can sit aboard the Rhigos for hours without your back screaming for you to pack it in for the day. You’re not so upright that the wind catches you full in the chest, though – it’s a good compromise position, and you can always lower the bars slightly if you like; we had 4cm of headset spacers to play with.
It’s also a smooth ride, the carbon at both ends damping out the vast majority of the buzz from the road and gel pads under the tape around the top section of the bars doing a great job of keeping your palms from going numb. It’s a small detail but it makes such a difference to the ride quality. Verenti’s own cromo-railed saddle isn’t going to give Fizik’s designers sleepless nights but it’s a decent shape and it’s well-cushioned without being squidgy – it’s certainly a useable choice to be going on with.
Hitting the scales at 8.1kg (17.8lb) without pedals (for the XL model), the Verenti comes at a weight that’s easy enough to coax up the hills. Although none of the bikes in the range come equipped with a triple chainset, with a compact (50/34-tooth) double chainset from Truvativ matched up to a 12-27 cassette, you’ve probably got all the gears you need for climbing here. We did stay seated more than usual on the Rhigos, though, because when you get out of the saddle you can’t get over that tall head tube to muscle it around as easily as you can on a standard road bike – so we found ourselves adapting our riding-style slightly. But that makes sense; this is a bike designed for riding all day – you’re better off saving your energy by sitting and spinning.
What goes up must come down, and the Rhigos proves itself to be a confident descender. The head-up riding position certainly helps here, giving you a good view of what’s coming up ahead. Even if you’re down on the bottom of the shallow drop bars, you still get decent visibility, while the 6061 alloy cockpit components from Verenti’s own Me range keep the steering reasonably firm and steady through the tight stuff. The compact chainset means you can run out of gears on the fastest descents but at least you can take a rest in the knowledge that the Me-branded, we'll have a wild stab and say Tektro manufactured, dual pivot brakes are perfectly competent performers.
SRAM Rival levers and mechs take you though the gears swiftly and reliably once you adapt to the Double Tap shift mechanism – a short push to move the chain down the cassette, a longer sweep to move it up a maximum of three sprockets at a time. It functions well as a system, rarely needs adjusting once set up correctly, and it’s lightweight too.
We like the Mavic Aksium wheels as well. They might be the entry level model in the range – but there’s entry level and there’s entry level. The Aksiums don’t have the performance of Mavic’s more expensive offerings, obviously, but they’re still reasonably light and stiff, and they’re tough enough to put up with daily riding without the need for constant TLC.
If we were being hyper-critical, we’d say that the Rhigos doesn’t set the old ticker racing as fast as some similarly priced race-bred machines. It’s a little bit more level-headed than that, a little more sensible, a little bit less seat-of-the-pants exhilarating. But, really, that misses the point. This bike is a marathon runner, not a sprinter. It’s designed to get you round big rides swiftly and comfortably and it does that incredibly well, packing in a whole lot of value in the process.
Lightweight and comfortable sportive machine with an excellent spec for the cash – excellent value.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Verenti Rhigos 03
Size tested: XL
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Verenti high modulus 3K SL carbon frame, black carbon fibre lugs
Fork: Verenti full high modulus carbon, integrated monocoque
Handlebar: Verenti Me3 6061 T6 alloy, gloss
Stem: Verenti Me3 6061 T6 alloy, gloss
Bar tape: Verenti Me cork with shock absorbing layer
Gel pads: Verenti Me 4
Headset: Verenti Me T6 alloy
Spacers: Verenti Me, alloy
Bottom bracket: Truvativ Elita, 68mm BSA
Chainset: Truvativ Elita compact 50/34
Front Mech: SRAM Rival, braze-on
Rear Mech: SRAM Rival
Levers/shifters: SRAM Rival
Cassette: SRAM 12-27T
Brakes: Verenti Me2 dual pivot
Wheelset: Mavic Askium
Tyres: Vittoria Diamante ProTech
Saddle: Verenti Me3 black microfibre with cro-mo rails
Seatpost: Verenti Me3 6061 T6 alloy, gloss black, 31.6mm
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Verenti say, "Verenti Rhigos.03 has been designed to give you an outstanding high quality, comfortable performance frameset with all the riding essentials needed for those long days in the saddle."
They describe it as having a, "sportive comfort-orientated geometry."
Everything about the design makes it obvious that long-ride comfort is what this bike is focussing on, from the frame features to the gel padding underneath the handlebar tape.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality is good and the finish is fine although the bike name logo on the top tube started to scratch away quite quickly. All of the decals could do with some extra protection to maintain the bike's looks.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from high modulus 3K SL carbon tubes that are bonded into carbon lugs. Essentially, the head tube is a large lug for the top tube and down tube.
The fork is a full high-modulus carbon monocoque.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The key feature is the Rhigos's tall head tube: 21.5cm on our XL model, which comes with a 58cm seat tube (centre to top) and a 57cm virtual top tube. That's gives you a front end that's a similar height to a Specialized Roubaix. It's not a 'sit up and beg' by any means, but you're certainly not bent double either.
The 73.5/73° head and seat angles are pretty standard fare for a bike of this size.
The largest size available is a XXL, which comes with a 60.5cm seat tube, 58.5cm virtual top tube, and a 23.5cm head tube.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The reach is a touch shorter than you'll find on a typical road bike of this size – we're talking about 1-2cm here.
The head tube is about 2-4cm higher than a typical road bike and you get a generous stack of spacers too.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, see the full review. The designers have clearly focussed on long-ride comfort and that's what you get.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Reasonably stiff, but not mega-stiff.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
None - there hardly ever is on an XL sized bike.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Comfortable, stable, planted... Long-ride comfort is the name of the game here.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Okay, it's about the cheapest bit of kit on the bike but the gel strips under the handlebar tape make a massive difference to your comfort. It's not bulky but it really damps out road buzz so your hands don't get achy towards the end of a long ride. Good choice.
The saddle is okay but it's basic. There's a fair bit of shock-absorbing give in the centre of the hull but not much up front on the nose, so that would probably be our first upgrade.
It's light enough, but sprinting ability isn't really relevant here
No worries here. Upright position, stiff bars and good damping keep you feeling in control
It's one of the bike's strengths
Light enough to climb well but the geometry isn't the best for out-of-the-saddle efforts
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It all works well although the Truvativ Elita chainset is a cost-saver and looks clunky next to the SRAM Rival kit. The rear mech rarely needs adjustment in our experience.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
We've used Mavic Aksiums quite a bit in the past and we've always found them to be strong and durable. They're reasonably light and stiff too.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The levers are comfortable and easy to use – it just depends whether you like the SRAM Double Tap shifting system.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Verenti's own-brand Me kit – labelled Me, Me2 and Me3 – is plain-looking but it's all matching gloss black. It's not especially lightweight but it puts in a sound performance and clearly helps keep the overall cost down.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, actually. I was a bit dubious to begin with because of the high front end, but it won me over.
Would you consider buying the bike? No, but that's because I'm too much of a Tour de France wannabe. If I was sensible, I'd say yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yep, if someone is after a more relaxed ride position, they won't do much better on value.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
This bike will prove very popular – we reckon you're going to see a lot of these at UK sportives this year.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 184cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.