I recently tested the Ritchey WCS Evo Max bar, which I really liked, and next up is this WCS VentureMax, which I also really like. It's a bit of a different beast, but the flared shape is really good for a range of applications.
Ritchey says that 'The VentureMax is just as applicable on a cross country tour as on cross country singletrack', and that's sort of true: it's a versatile bar for a range of bikes, the range really starting at touring, heading through cyclo-cross and monster cross and ending up at bikepacking.
The VentureMax has double the flare of the Evo Max, 24° instead of 12°. That means the loop down to the drop is at quite an angle and the levers end up on the squiff too. That doesn't really affect the feel when you're riding on the hoods or the availability of the levers from the drops. What it does mean is the gear shift is much more of a downward push than a twist inwards, which I found preferable on longer rides.
The levers are a bit more exposed than on a standard drop, so take care squeezing through the gaps. You wouldn't want to catch one on a gatepost and nearly go over the bar. Not that I'd know.
This bar has an 'ergo bio bend', which means it's a fairly shallow drop, and the dropped part is kinked up before dropping back at the end, giving you a sort of platform for your hand when you're on the drops. It's a pretty good shape and shallow enough that on an adventure bike, which is likely to be quite tall, it's a comfortable position for long stints. There's enough give in the triple butted alloy tubing to make it a pretty comfortable position too, so long as you're happy with the width: it's a wide bar for its stated size, and that's reflected in the weight too; there's a lot of metal in it.
So who'd benefit from the VentureMax? Well, it offers a comfortable position in the drops that's also good for a bit of extra control, so if you're apt to venture off on stuff that's a bit more technical than tarmac, it's a good choice. Maybe not for cyclo-cross racing unless you're sure they're not making you do any tight turns in the wooded bit, but general gravel/trail/mixed riding up to bikepacking or touring. There's plenty of room in there for a bar roll too. Hoods and tops are fine, and there's plenty of real estate for computers, lights and such.
It's a good quality wide alternative for alternative bikes, but it is a bit expensive. The Comp version gives you the same shape for half the money (£39), and the difference in weight is unlikely to be an issue on the sort of bike you’d fit it to – though we haven't tested it so don’t know how it compares in terms of comfort.
Good adventure-ready flared bar with a comfy drop position
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ritchey WCS VentureMax Road Bar
Size tested: 44cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From Ritchey distributor Paligap's website: "It's all in the name – Ritchey's newest addition to their rich handlebar lineup is made for adventure. The VentureMax is just as applicable on a cross country tour as on cross country singletrack. Intended to ride wider than typical drop bars, the VentureMax is measured at the initial bend rather than at the hood. While it boasts a number of attributes including multiple hand positions, it's the return of the Bio-bend in the drop that adds to the signature look and feel of this bar."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Evo sweep of 6 degrees
24 degrees of flare
Compatible with all hood types
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Shape, drop position, comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A bit expensive.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a good performer and probably worth the money, even though it's a bit expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.