Titanium specialists Van Nicholas have updated their flagship Astraeus for 2013, and unveiled the entry-level Ventus.
Let’s look at the Astraeus first. Van Nicholas’ thoroughbred racing machine has been part of the company’s range since 2008 and was the world’s first production bike to be built around a hydroformed titanium frame, a process which allows the manufacturer to increase strength without adding weight and common in the production of aluminium bikes.
Van Nicholas reckon the Astraeus is already the best titanium racing bike out there – they would say that – but they’ve looked to improve it further by optimising front-end rigidity without compromising on weight, and making the bold aesthetics of the frame even more pronounced.
The result is the introduction of a tapered headtube, a given on a carbon fibre machine these days but titanium manufacturers have often preferred a traditional, skinny headtube. Van Nicholas say front-end stability and resistance to torsion has been improved, while the larger surface area allows for improved weld quality. As for aesthetics, the headtube sports a more angular, aggressive look which is undeniably striking.
Otherwise, Van Nicholas have used Finite Element Analysis to refine their H-Bridge (the bridge which sits between the chainstays) and make it lighter and stiffer, while further weight savings have been achieved with the addition of a Press-Fit bottom bracket, and internal cable routing now makes the Astraeus compatible with both electronic and mechanical groupsets. Two other bikes in the Van Nicholas range, the Aquilo and the Zephyr, also get a Press-Fit BB and internal cable routing.
The Astraeus is a top-of-the-range machine with a price tag to match (€2,395 for the frame alone) but Van Nicholas have also been busy at the other end of the market and have unveiled the Ventus, aimed at riders who want to take their first step onto the titanium ladder.
The Ventus is the most affordable bike in the Van Nicholas range and is offered as a complete machine with a SRAM Apex groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels and an Easton Aero fork for €1,899, putting it in direct competition with similarly specced carbon machines, as well as Genesis Bikes’ all-new Shimano 105-equipped Equilibrium Ti, which we showed you last month.
Otherwise, like all Van Nicholas bikes, you can spec the Ventus, which has carved dropouts, external cable routing and Van Nic’s trademark engraved head tube, as you wish through their website once it’s available later this year.