Vento, an international company headquartered in San Diego, California, began producing motorcycles and scooters in 1996; it had design and development teams based in China, Italy, and Australia, as well as California. The V-Thunder XL was designed in China by the Qianjiang Group. While the parts were made in China, the V-Thunder was assembled at the company’s plant in Laredo, Texas, allowing Vento to point out that the cruiser was not, strictly speaking, Chinese-made.
New to the cruiser market in 2005 and carried over for the next three years essentially unchanged, the 2007 V-Thunder features a fuel injected, air-cooled, 249cc V-twin engine with 24.1 horsepower and 11.6 lb. ft. of torque—not actually a lot of power for a cruiser, especially since the machine weighs close to 400 pounds. It will hit 70 miles per hour, but only with a struggle. The steel-framed bike was designed as a low-end entry-level cruiser, so perhaps it was never intended to provide a zippy ride, just an easy-going road experience. Still, it would be nice to know that your cruiser could get out of the way of an 18-wheeler if it had to, and no one seems sure that the V-Thunder can do that. The chain-driven, five-speed transmission, with a standard heel-toe shifter, does not win admirers. Riders have described the shifting as clunky and the clutch as lifeless.
The front suspension is a telescopic fork—no dampening—and a twin-sided swing arm and an adjustable spring preloaded shock—again, no dampening—on the rear.
One rider has mentioned that the ride is so stiff, a bump in the road knocked him out of the seat. Anti-lock hydraulic disc front and rear brakes are standard. The cruiser rides on 16-inch wheels. The gas tank holds 3.4 gallons, and the estimated mileage was around 65 miles per gallon.
Like most cruisers, the instrument panel features the minimum: a speedometer, an odometer, and a fuel gauge. It also has a standard alarm system. The V-Thunder has absolutely no standard storage and no optional storage—no saddlebags, and no top box. As a matter of fact, the only options are the colors the bike comes in: black, orange, purple, silver and black, and titanium and black. There are no accessories.
The seat height, 27.8 inches, is typical of the cruiser style, designed to let the rider sit low and relaxed in the scoop seat—although apparently not this particular seat. A passenger rides higher on the two-piece seat, and, interestingly, it comes with a fixed backrest—the kind of feature that is generally an add-on with other makes. The windshield is also standard, not optional, as are the crash bars—both of which are nice features.
Although the bike is nice looking, ergonomically it leaves something to be desired: riders complain that the angle of the bars is awkward, the shape of the clutch is odd, and the seat is too hard. And then there are the mechanical issues, including the inadequate engine, the clumsy transmission, and the sticky throttle. One reviewer said succinctly that quality and engineering were not Vento’s strong points.