No. 22 Aurora

A dream ma­chine that started in Canada

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Philippe Trem­blay

Ti­ta­nium bikes are lauded for the com­fort­able and com­pli­ant ride qual­ity de­sign­ers can achieve with the metal. When I took my first first pedal strokes on the No.22 Aurora, I no­ticed the ti­ta­nium, and the car­bon fi­bre that is also there, make for a frame that is fast, stiff in the right ar­eas and re­spon­sive.

Two Cana­di­ans, Mike Smith and Bryce Gracey, founded No.22, ti’s atomic num­ber, in 2012. Since 2014, the com­pany’s frames have been built in Smith and Gracey’s John­stown, N.Y., fa­cil­ity. The Aurora, best de­scribed as an all-road per­for­mance bike, is named af­ter a Neil Young & the Squires song from 1963. In fact, the names of all No. 22 frames have a con­nec­tion to the iconic Cana­dian singer-song­writer.

Ti­ta­nium’s low-den­sity, high-strength, dura­bil­ity and cor­ro­sion-re­sis­tance make it an ex­cel­lent ma­te­rial for con­struct­ing bikes. Its lively feel un­der the weight of a rider makes it es­pe­cially de­sir­able. The Aurora, how­ever, also has a more con­tem­po­rary sub­stance. There’s a car­bon seat­mast, which, es­thet­i­cally is a nice con­trast to the raw ti­ta­nium. The com­pos­ite ma­te­rial helps the bike achieve a lighter weight while of­fer­ing a com­fort­able ride, which the frame’s thin seat­stays en­hance even fur­ther.

The over­size, butted tub­ing, ta­pered head tube and T47 threaded bot­tom bracket all work to chan­nel power put into the ped­als. The bike is very stiff where it needs to be. Each time I would get in the sad­dle, it felt like the bike bounded to life while still pro­vid­ing sub­tle but wel­come road feed­back.

The lower bot­tom bracket (75 mm of drop on a size 54), long head tube, wide wheel­base and care­fully con­sid­ered an­gles on the Aurora pro­vide con­fi­dent han­dling and ex­cep­tional sta­bil­ity in and out of the sad­dle. The steer­ing is tame and pre­dictable pro­vid­ing me with the con­fi­dence to push my lim­its on tight switch­backs, through rough cor­ners and on un­even gravel roads.

The 54 frame I tested was stock ge­om­e­try but still felt like it was tuned just for my rid­ing style, mak­ing beau­ti­ful long days on the bike all the more en­joy­able. Gain­ing speed when I put in a ef­fort, whether headed up­hill or down­hill, was al­way a thrill. When I just wanted to cruise to the cof­fee shop, the bike was into that, too. It likes to go fast, yet it’s more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling ad­ven­ture rides, mak­ing any two-wheeled ex­cur­sion a lit­tle bit bet­ter. The Aurora ex­pertly rides the line be­tween ad­ven­ture rig and speed ma­chine.

As for the bike’s looks, the raw ti­ta­nium is ir­re­sistible. The qual­ity of each weld is plain to see as its free from any paint. Pol­ished No. 22 graph­ics on blasted ti­ta­nium tub­ing have enough con­trast to catch the eye, giv­ing the fin­ish a mod­ern, yet clean, classy look. The sun bursts on the top tube and on the right seat­stay keep the ce­les­tial theme of the Aurora, fur­ther dis­tin­guish­ing it from the com­pany’s other frames. The Aurora, like all No. 22 frames, is made to or­der. Cus­tom op­tions in­clude ge­om­e­try, an­odized colours and in­ter­nal elec­tronic ca­ble rout­ing.

I kit­ted out the Aurora with Cam­pag­nolo’s H11 me­chan­i­cal Su­per Record groupset, Bora One 35 DB wheels, an Easton cock­pit, 30-mmwide Chal­lenge Strada Bianca tires and a Fab­ric Scoop sad­dle. The frame and No.22 fork have in­ter­nal ca­ble rout­ing for the hy­draulic disc brakes. Shifter ca­bles run ex­ter­nally through threaded ca­ble stops. The op­tions are al­most end­less when it comes to build­ing a dream ma­chine. The 12-mm thru-axles and flat-mount disc brakes should prove to be stan­dard when the dust set­tles on the rel­a­tively new tech­nol­ogy on road bikes. At a shade lighter than 8 kg, this Aurora may not make weight wee­nies giddy, but it of­fers so much more in other ar­eas.

If you are not al­ready a fan of ti, the Aurora can con­vert you. If you ever get a chance to ride one, just for a bit, the dan­ger is that you’ll be dream­ing of your for­ever bike for nights on end.

“The Aurora ex­pertly rides the line be­tween ad­ven­ture rig and speed ma­chine.”

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