Tifosi Auriga

It may sound Ital­ian, but this bike is ac­tu­ally a solid, Uk-de­signed racer

Cyclist - - Bike Reviews - Words STU BOW­ERS

For Ital­ians, cy­cle rac­ing is more than just a sport. The word tifosi trans­lates sim­ply as ‘fans’, but that is to com­pletely un­der­es­ti­mate the pas­sion of the de­vout Ital­ian fol­low­ers. You can be a cy­cling ‘fan’ from the com­fort of your liv­ing room, glued to a flatscreen, but a true tifoso would only ever be truly happy stand­ing by the road­side, star­ing into the pain-glazed eyes of the riders – will­ing on their he­roes in the flesh.

The bike brand Tifosi (not to be con­fused with Tifosi the sun­glasses brand, which is an en­tirely sep­a­rate com­pany, and is Ital­ian) takes its name from this fer­vently pas­sion­ate band of cy­cling fans. But that is where the Ital­ian her­itage ends. Rather less ro­man­ti­cally, the com­pany ac­tu­ally has its roots in Leighton Buz­zard, Bed­ford­shire.

How­ever that’s not by any means an ob­ser­va­tion made in a neg­a­tive man­ner. Tifosi’s mid­dle-eng­land set­ting makes it no less an ex­cit­ing bike brand. The com­pany has been steadily mak­ing con­sid­er­able headway, with a very de­cent range of Uk-de­signed bikes, since its launch back in 2000.

In­ter­est­ingly, the brand’s fo­cus has al­ways been on what it terms ‘af­ford­able ex­cel­lence’ and it has had some no­table suc­cesses on this front – par­tic­u­larly in its CK7 win­ter bike. How­ever, the bike we are test­ing in this is­sue

‘We re­designed it com­pletely for 2018, par­ing back some of its aero virtues’

is its speed ma­chine, the Auriga. A pacy num­ber, the Auriga has al­ready been around the rac­ing block, but we hopped on the up­dated 2018 model to see what the fu­ture looks like for ‘af­ford­able ex­cel­lence’ at speed.

Racy num­ber

Since 2016, Tifosi has been the ti­tle spon­sor of the UK Elite rac­ing team, Spirit Tifosi Bikes, and the part­ner­ship has spurred the brand on to re­de­velop its race-level ma­chines.

‘Al­though the orig­i­nal Auriga proved a hit with team mem­bers, land­ing a to­tal of 40 vic­to­ries in 2017, the feed­back from rac­ers sug­gested it was a lit­tle on the harsh side,’ says Josh Lam­bert, Tifosi’s tech­ni­cal spe­cial­ist and prod­uct de­vel­oper. ‘We re­designed it com­pletely for 2018, par­ing back some of its aero virtues in or­der to achieve a bike that was a lit­tle more ca­pa­ble all round – adding more com­fort, par­tic­u­larly at the rear.’

Hav­ing rid­den the Auriga, I would agree. As far as aero bikes go – and es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing it costs less than some big name brands charge for a frame alone – I was pleas­antly sur­prised by how well the bike dealt with harsh, rut­ted road sur­faces as I took to my lo­cal lanes. Some of that credit must be given to the Deda Ele­menti SL38C wheelset, shod in 28mm tube­less Sch­walbe Pro One tyres (which I typ­i­cally ran be­tween 75 and 85psi). It did a great job of ab­sorb­ing the road buzz, while the frame it­self – and par­tic­u­larly the seat­post – seemed to of­fer am­ple flex to take the pain out of big­ger im­pacts.

Yet it’s not gooey – the Auriga frame has a re­as­sur­ingly well-built feel and I didn’t de­tect any un­de­sir­able flex. No mat­ter how hard I pulled on the bars, or shoved the front end into a turn, or stomped on the ped­als, I was al­ways met with res­o­lute firm­ness. This was pleas­ing in terms of power de­liv­ery, but also in pro­vid­ing the sta­bil­ity and han­dling that gives you the con­fi­dence to sit up and slip on a jacket at speed on a de­scent.

Neat fea­tures on the 2018 Auriga in­clude dropped seat­stays, aero tube pro­files, a hid­den seat clamp and fork in­te­gra­tion at the top and bot­tom of the head tube. The up­per head­set cap is also a sleekly mod­elled ad­di­tion, which is avail­able in three heights to al­low po­si­tional ad­just­ment with­out in­ter­rupt­ing the aero aes­thetic.

As I rode ad­ja­cent to Poole har­bour on one ride, watch­ing kitesurfers skim across the wa­ter like mis­siles in a fierce wind, I wouldn’t have been sur­prised to find an aero bike wrig­gling in my hands like a live salmon. But not so the Auriga – the Tifosi was well be­haved in the gusty cross­winds. It sug­gests its Cfd-de­vel­oped tube pro­files (and those of the Deda wheel rims) are well con­sid­ered and trans­late into real world ben­e­fits.

Rubbed up the wrong way

An­other modern aero fea­ture, the rear cal­liper brake – hid­den away be­hind the bot­tom bracket – is a less de­sir­able at­tribute. Rid­ing out of the sad­dle on a climb, the rear brake pads would in­ces­santly rub the rim each time I swayed the bike left to right. Only with the pads ad­justed – so far from the brak­ing sur­face that the lever would al­most come back to the bar tape be­fore contact was made – could I dis­pense with the ir­ri­tat­ing tsshh-tssh­htsshh-tsshh noise as I climbed or sprinted.

It’s a crit­i­cism I have lev­elled at al­most every one of the bikes I’ve tested with the rear brake in this po­si­tion. I have no idea why man­u­fac­tur­ers haven’t long since given it up as a bad idea. The sim­ple so­lu­tion, to avoid re­con­fig­ur­ing the frame com­pletely, is a move to disc brakes, but cur­rently there is no disc op­tion of the Auriga in the off­ing.

Tifosi is the in-house brand of UK dis­trib­u­tor Chicken Cy­cles, which also looks af­ter Deda Ele­menti and Cam­pag­nolo. So it’s no sur­prise to see both fea­tur­ing heav­ily here – and they cer­tainly help to give the bike the Ital­ian feel the name sug­gests. The wheels, as I’ve men­tioned, were hard to fault, plus the fin­ish­ing kit is classy.

Whether you get on with Cam­pag­nolo groupsets is al­most as per­sonal as sad­dle choice and, for me, the fit of the shift levers is just not as well-suited as its US and Ja­panese com­peti­tors’ prod­ucts. Plus, I can’t help find­ing its me­chan­i­cal shift­ing a bit clumsy (I’d bet­ter be care­ful what I say or the tifosi will be out to get me). Over­all it’s a small gripe, and the Auriga re­mains a very ca­pa­ble bike at a price that won’t break the bank.

Whether you get on with Cam­pag­nolo groupsets is al­most as per­sonal as sad­dle choice

THE SPEC Model Tifosi Auriga Groupset Cam­pag­nolo Cho­rus De­vi­a­tions Cam­pag­nolo di­rect mount brakes Wheels Deda Ele­menti SL38C Fin­ish­ing kit Deda Ele­menti RHM 02 han­dle­bar, Deda Ele­menti Zero 2 stem, Tifosi aero car­bon seat­post, Prol­ogo Kappa RS sad­dle,...

REAR BRAKE It has never been a good idea to put the rear brake un­der the chain­stays be­hind the bot­tom bracket. It is a faff for me­chan­ics and can rub with the side-to-side move­ment of climb­ing out of the sad­dle or sprint­ing.

HEAD­SET COVER The sculpted aero cover for the top head­set bear­ing is avail­able in three heights (15, 20 & 30mm) to al­low front end po­si­tional ad­just­ments with­out ru­in­ing the aes­thet­ics or aero per­for­mance.

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