Field Tested: Jamis Aurora Elite

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bt-field-tested-logoThe Aurora series has been part of the Jamis stable of bikes since the late 1990s and has included the Elite build since 2008. The Aurora Elite comes outfitted with all the basic building blocks for a bike that could be used in any number of ways: full aluminum fenders and aluminum rear rack, both painted to color match the Antique Bronze frame. The rear rack even has a bungee strap. There are also braze-ons for a front rack, and extra spoke holders on the chainstay for catastrophic roadside maintenance.

It’s not often that I swing a leg over a bike and feel as though it was crafted just for me. Such is the case with the Aurora Elite from Jamis. I felt like Harry Potter reaching out to grab his phoenix tail-infused wand from Olivander, a light breeze blowing my hair back, an angelic light illuminating my face, inspired, ethereal music reaching a crescendo…

Ride quality

I’ve ridden this bike fully outfitted with fenders, racks and panniers to the store, on long picnic outings, on bike overnights, and fully stripped down, sans fenders and rack, as well. Fully kitted, the Aurora Elite handles weight well. There isn’t any noticeable flex and the bike as a whole feels balanced and capable, whether riding freshly paved tarmac or rough gravel. The bike handles downhill descents with aplomb while loaded as well. Solid and confident, the bike displays a nice composure, allowing you to relax and enjoy yourself.

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Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #31 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.


Unencumbered with the weight of rack, fenders and any other gear I may have strapped to it, the Aurora feels like the teenage version of itself. Agile, quick to accelerate and willing to go for far longer than you might expect. I could see throwing knobbies on this thing and hitting the local cyclocross race for laughs on the weekend.

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I’ve run the amazing Vittoria Randonneur Pro 700c x 32mm stock tires, in addition to the 38mm Challenge Gravel Grinder Race tires that just barely fit under the fenders. If you remove the fenders, you can probably fit even larger tires and tackle some pretty serious off road stuff.

The steel Aurora is made using SST, or size specific tubing, which employs a smaller diameter top tube and down tube on the 55cm and smaller frames, and larger diameter tubing for the 57cm and up sizes. Why is this a big deal? It sheds a bit of weight on smaller bikes that don’t need it and it shows the level of detail the folks at Jamis are willing to put into the bike. Good things.

Extras

Riding long distances is where this bike really shines. Shimano Dura-Ace 30-speed bar-end shifters are mated to Shimano 105 front and rear derailleur, which glide the 10- speed chain smoothly over the Shimano FC-R563 triple, 50/39/30T crankset and 10-speed cassette. This tended to be more gears then I need, but the occasional teeth gritting hill would quickly have me appreciating the range of options.

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The steel frame and fork soak up road chatter well and leave you almost refreshed at the end of a long day in the saddle. Speaking of saddles, that is my one and only complaint about this bike. I’m not a fan of the Jamis Sport Touring saddle; it’s a bit too squishy for me and the cutout I found bothersome.

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Some highlights include Mavic A119 wheelset and Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes. The wheelset is tough as nails and has handled everything from curb drops to railroad ballast without batting an eye. The Avid BB7’s have been more than enough to stop my 200-pound body and well loaded bike, regardless of weather, incline and road surface. They also have outboard adjustability, which is nice.

Parting thoughts

What Jamis has done with the Aurora Elite is make and incredibly affordable bike that will do just about whatever you ask it to for a really long time. The parts spec is such that I can imagine going years without needing anything more than a bit of chain lube. If you’re in the market for a do-it-all-really-really-well bike that costs less than $2,000, then you’d be silly not to include this bike on your short list.

Vital stats

  • Price: $1,600
  • Weight: 27.5 pounds
  • Sizes: 47, 50, 53, 55 (tested), 57, 59, 62cm

 

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