It looks th e part, but can th e aura turn in more th an st raight -line speed?
aleigh is making a bold statement with deep-section wheels as standard on their Aura Team at a price where most bikes are still on training sets. But are the frame and wheels proper performance items or compromised to hit a cost target?
Frame and fork
The Aura frame and fork certainly aren’t short on features starting with the flared-leg aero forks. These start with full carbon tips then swerve and swell through different profiles before expanding to form a Boardman style ‘garage’ in the crown for the front V-brake. Again, it’s a pain to get the wheel out unless the tyre is deflated but it does completely remove the brake from the aerodynamic equation. The down-tube drops low from the head-tube for a very close fit on the front tyre before slimming dramatically and then swelling again to the Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Deep rectangular chainstays mount the rear brake underneath and then kink upwards and outwards in front of the rear cassette to short single position rear dropouts. The seatstays are also deep rectangles with a pronounced S-bend to bring them up to the top of the short wheel-hugger section on the seat-tube. The seatpost gets a heavy but functional two-position seat clamp and secures with a simple twin-bolt back plate. The tapering top-tube closes the mainframe circuit with a suitably short tapered headtube for a low cockpit position. Cables are routed internally into the down-tube which leaves a relatively large amount of exposed plumbing. The whole bike is coated in a soft rubberised finish that’s certainly distinctive but needs regular grooming to reduce white scuff marks.
To capitalise on the oversized BB30 bottom bracket, Raleigh has chosen SRAM’s Force 22 groupset complete with the excellent wide-lever R2C tip shifters. You also get a top quality Fizik saddle and carbon Vision cockpit with its springy composite arm-rest wings. The obvious headline grabbers though are the 85mm deep Cole wheels which certainly look like a steal on paper at this price. While the barrel style spoke receivers in the hubs and ultra tight spoking make them impressively stiff, the deep rims are old-school slab-sided pieces.
This makes them the dominating aspect of the ride straight away and not always in a positive way in many conditions. The big flat sides make them a sidewind-twitchy handful on more blustery days. Even on calm rides their tendency to ‘tramline’ straight ahead means you have to really pilot the front wheel through corners. This also highlights twist through the centre of the frame which leads to a slightly dislocated and unsettling handling feel. The flexible noodle and curious sprung bridge piece on the front brake leaves it feeling really mushy compared to the otherwise similar Boardman brake and the rear brake feels soft and low on control too. This all combined to bring us up off the extensions and onto the wing bars and brakes earlier than normal on descents or corner sections and definitely undermines the potential gains of the deeper wheels on more technical courses. Despite stiff wheels there’s enough flex in the back end to get the aptly named Cole Pink Pads scuffing the rims out of the saddle unless you leave plenty of clearance which reduces braking response even further. The
Size tested: 56cm
SRAM’s excellent R2C levers head up the Raleigh’s impressive carbon cockpit specification
The full carbon frame gets a distinctive rubberised coating that syncs well with the soft overall ride