Just in: Jamis Aurora Elite

Fuly specced steel tourer packs in the value

by Dave Atkinson   January 12, 2011  

Fresh in at road.cc towers is the first of the bikes from the new Jamis range that's coming to you via the nice folks at Evans Cycles. We had our pick and thought we'd go with a nice steel tourer, the Aurora Elite. The bikes in the Jamis range seem to have plenty going for them but one of the most obvious plus points is value: this looks like a lot of bike for the money.

When we first rolled the Aurora out of the box we were put very much in mind of the Salsa Vaya, after all it's a rangy steel-framed, disc-braked long distance iron. And it's brown. But for £1,130 – £220 less than the Vaya – you're getting 10-speed Apex instead of 9-speed Tiagra, BB7 brakes over the Vaya's BB5s, rack and guards as standard and arguably a better tubeset: air hardened Reynolds 631, a touring benchmark.

While you might balk at proper wilderness touring on the 32-spoke wheels there's no denying they're good quality, with Mavic A119 rims laced to Formula hubs with DT Champion spokes. They're tightly made and shod with 32mm Vittoria Randonneur Pro tyres, again good quality spec. The rear rack is painted to match the frame but it's a removable alloy unit, we'll stick our neck out and say it's the disc-ready Tortec one we fist saw at the Zyro show last January.

There's low rider mounts if you want to go fully loaded, although oddly the mudguards are attached to these even though there's double eyelets at the dropout. Talking of mudguards, they're Blade Runner flat alloy units which certainly look nice, whether they'll be as functional as less stylish 'guards remains to be seen.

Up front you get a good quality Ritchey Biomax bar and a clever height-adjustable stem system similar to the ones that Dahon use on their Cadenza bikes; the stem sits on a one-piece grooved sheath and you can move it up or down just by loosening the stem bolts. It's simple and clever. You get touring-standard natural cork tape which matches the Jamis branded saddle. All up our bike tipped the scales at 12.7kg (28lb) for the 59cm model, half a pound over the stated weight on the Jamis site. Given the rack and 'guards, that's not too shabby.

We've already had a run about on the Aurora and first impressions are very positive, but we'll put it through its paces over the next month and let you know how we get on...

16 user comments

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Well i like the look of it, some decent spec'd parts too. My issues tho...

Cables - badly done from the factory? are they long enough to have the bar at full height and still get a decent turning radius? dosnt look like it.
Also, rear brake cable is too long at the caliper, there is a big kink! Obviously that is something a shop should sort out before delivery but i doubt they'd want to fit a full new set at the bars.

Rack - why go for a disc version when the caliper is inside the stays?

Guards - style over substance, plus as you say fitted to the low rider bosses (and prob cut to short form factory to shift them elsewhere?)

Wheels - 32h? now im not overly bothered by this but i know many will discount a touring bike if it doesnt have a 36h rear wheel at the least.

Not major -ve's i know, but things to consider. If was still in the market for a new tourer id deffinatley consider one (bought a Surly LHT last summer, very happy it too)

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
13th January 2011 - 9:10

3 Likes

Looks nice for a tourer, good price and loving those discs. Damn shame they thought it a good idea to fit it with crappy Sram but there you go.

I would love to see it with alloy Campag Athena and different wheels, maybe Ambrosio rims etc. but overall very nice. Like the blatant 'Made in Taiwan' sticker as well, there's balls for yer ....

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
13th January 2011 - 10:04

2 Likes

I don't see how this could be called a tourer in the proper sense. Never mind the 32h wheels - it's got bloody road bike gears on there! Mind you, if it's an 11-32 on the back you could always swap out the crankset for a 26/40 or something.

Having done three months around Europe fully loaded with camping and cooking kit, I'd never go without mtb gears... I used everything right down to the 22-32 granny gear. Surly LHT FTW.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [311 posts]
13th January 2011 - 10:07

3 Likes

The Kona Sutra has very similar kit to this (but deore/xt/fsa mix) and is £300 cheaper!

posted by jonusher [20 posts]
13th January 2011 - 12:31

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The 2011 Sutra is £1000, so £150 cheaper than the Jamis. The Kona frame (while sturdy and comfortable) isnt the same quality as 631 and the P2 fork wont be as comfortable as this one.

Spec wise the Kona is down at Tiagra level (bar the solitary XT mech) and has bar end shifter, which are £50 compared to the Apex Brifters, at least £150. The kona does have a front rack but they can be had for £20.

Overall the Kona is good, infact with the discs, guards and racks its better specced for £1000 than my LHT was. But i dont think it holds well against this Jamis, assuming you can afford the extra £150. Not to mention the fact you can get the Kona on C2W schemes.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
13th January 2011 - 13:19

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It is a 11-32 cassette and a compact crankset, so wouldnt fancy too many hills fully laden as well (or puddles).
Its described as a "town bikes for smart urban speedsters and cyclo-tourists" on their website. Which is what it looks like, a slightly trendy-ed tourer.
Despite that.. I like it, 631 and discs look great to me - but then I am more likely to pack some shopping or a creditcard than a tent and cooker..

posted by jengy [67 posts]
13th January 2011 - 13:31

5 Likes

Karbon Kev wrote:
Looks nice for a tourer, good price and loving those discs. Damn shame they thought it a good idea to fit it with crappy Sram but there you go.

I was under the impression that Avid BB7s are as good as cable operated disc brakes get.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
13th January 2011 - 13:33

3 Likes

Karbon Kev wrote:
Looks nice for a tourer, good price and loving those discs. Damn shame they thought it a good idea to fit it with crappy Sram but there you go.

Ah, sorry, you're talking about the SRAM gears, not the brakes.

Karbon Kev wrote:
I would love to see it with alloy Campag Athena and different wheels, maybe Ambrosio rims etc. but overall very nice. Like the blatant 'Made in Taiwan' sticker as well, there's balls for yer ....

Does anyone make disc + Campagnolo compatible rear hubs? (In fact, does anyone make 135 mm wide Campagnolo compatible rear hubs?)

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
13th January 2011 - 13:38

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cat1commuter wrote:
Does anyone make disc + Campagnolo compatible rear hubs? (In fact, does anyone make 135 mm wide Campagnolo compatible rear hubs?)

You can get the Hope Pro3 hub with a Campy freehub and 135mm axle, i used to run one.

Also, hope have just upgraded the Pro2 MTB hub to the Pro2-EVO which now uses the same bearings and freehub as the Pro3 (road and mtb) hubs, so in theory you can now have a Hope Pro2-EVo with a Pro3 Campy freehub :0)

If anyone wants to send me a Pro2-EVo hub id gladly test it with the spare Pro3 Campy freehub i have sitting at home, obviously a prolonged and thorough test would be best ;0)

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
13th January 2011 - 13:46

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STATO wrote:
.. compared to the Apex Brifters, at least...

brifters?! is that official now, ive noticed a few times over the last few days. does what it says on the tin i spose.. just dont sound right to me though. Big Grin

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1085 posts]
13th January 2011 - 14:21

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Fringe wrote:
STATO wrote:
.. compared to the Apex Brifters, at least...

brifters?! is that official now, ive noticed a few times over the last few days. does what it says on the tin i spose.. just dont sound right to me though. Big Grin

Im just a trend-follower not a trend-setter Confused

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
13th January 2011 - 14:30

3 Likes

I test rode one of these the other day in a 57. I was only allowed 15 minutes and it was unladen, but it was enough to let me know that I wouldn't buy it.

The frame is nice with the ‘springy’ ride quality that you'd expect from decent steel. The handling was good, steady without feeling boring. Excitement *was* forthcoming though in the form of some quite severe toe overlap when setting off from a set of lights on a hill (I’d have fallen off in surprise if I hadn’t nearly come off because of the overlap).

The BB7 disc brakes are OK if a little overhyped. Stopping in the dry was less responsive than the Mini Vs that I'm used to (and despite their reputation as the best cable-operated callipers, I couldn’t discern any difference between them and Shimano's BR 505s).

The main problem that I had with the bike was actually changing gear. I like the idea of Apex, and the wide ranging rear cog certainly made it easy going on the hills, but the shifters are horrible. They felt cheap and plasticky like they’d break within a month or two (nothing like their £200 -odd RRP suggests). Shifting action was spongy at best and I wasn’t able to reliably tell whether I was going to change up or down despite single and double-tapping like crazy. Maybe I’m just too used to Shimano’s precise clicks and instant feedback, but Apex was more like Nadir for me.

On paper (and screen) this looks like a great bike, but in practice it’s let down by flawed frame design and some poorly performing components.

I'll be interested to see what the road.cc folks think of it.

posted by drnolittle [32 posts]
13th January 2011 - 21:29

4 Likes

does anyone know if they sell the frame and fork only?

as a complete bike it looks like they've gone for a niche commuters-who-tour-a-bit. not a bad idea. but they've missed the c2w price point - silly.

it makes me laugh that manufacturers spec BB7's but then don't fit them using full metal jackets as per avid's recommendations. well set up bb7's are as good as it gets but off-the-shelf they won't always impress.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [389 posts]
14th January 2011 - 7:44

4 Likes

a couple of responses:

toeclip overlap: yup, i noticed that too. on a 59cm frame as well. a quick knock about with the tape measure told me that the pedal axle to rim distance was 1cm less than my Genesis and the same as a Marin Toscana that's also knocking about. However, the Aurora has chunky tyres and the 'guards aren't that close to the tyres, so the mudguard is effectively about 5cm closer to the pedal on the Jamis compared to the Genesis. Enough to make a big difference

SRAM apex: full review of this is coming but i've spent a long time on the shifters on three different bikes, and i wouldn't agree that they're less well made than Tiagra ones which are the price equivalent. The shift takes a bit of getting used to but I certainly don't have any problem telling an upshift from a down. Feel-wise it's not really any different to Rival or Force; Red uses different internals and the shift is noticeably quicker and lighter.

If i was going to do any real proper touring on it i'd more than likely do what Salsa have done with the new Fargo and use the Rival shifter to run a SRAM X7 or X9 2x10 MTB chainset, 39/26 would give a decent touring range. But if i was going real proper touring it wouldn't be top of my list anyway...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7504 posts]
14th January 2011 - 17:18

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Chill out about spoke numbers. 32 is a LOT of spokes. I had 24 spokes in my around-the-world bike and never had a spoke snap or needed to true a wheel. Likewise I've got a 20 spoke front wheel which has done 3 cyclo-cross seasons and had several victories without any problems.
The more spokes you have the more holes there are in the rim (weakening it). Spokes tend to snap at the bend by the head - so straight pull spokes/hubs make a lot of sense to me.

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [51 posts]
16th January 2011 - 13:12

4 Likes

STATO wrote:
The 2011 Sutra is £1000, so £150 cheaper than the Jamis. ...

Kona Sutra 2011 is £800smackers at Triton Cycles - that makes the choice difficult Thinking
http://tinyurl.com/6xdr7hq

richdirector's picture

posted by richdirector [55 posts]
19th January 2011 - 10:10

3 Likes