The Tifosi Auriga is the aero bike of the Spirit Tifosi elite race team, but its geometry and price in this Ultegra option give it a much broader appeal
Chicken has for the last two seasons sponsored the Spirit Tifosi UK elite race team, which last year notched up 34 victories on the first-generation Tifosi Auriga. We have the new second-generation version, reengineered based on the team’s feedback and launched for 2018.
Tifosi has used unidirectional Toray T700 and T800 – good quality carbon – to create a dramatically styled, wind-tunnel-tested aero frame that comes in a fittingly flash shade of fluoro lime green with Aztec-inspired detailing.
Based around an enormous down tube with a flat-backed Kamm tail profile, the Tifosi Auriga is packed with wind-cheating features such as dropped seatstays, a rear brake hidden behind the bottom bracket and a clever little headset cover that smoothes the airflow over the top tube. There’s a proprietary aero seatpost with a down tube-mounted hidden clamp.
To further amp up the stiffness the monster down tube attaches to a tapered head tube, which has extra gusseting behind it, and plenty of material enclosing the bottom bracket shell.
However, for a race bike claimed to be based on a race team’s feedback, the geometry is very endurance, suggesting that Tifosi wants to widen the Auriga’s appeal. The size L we tested needed its stem slamming to achieve a racy position and a picture of a team Auriga on the Spirit Tifosi Facebook page shows its front end significantly lowered with a negative-rise stem.
The Ultegra R8000 build (photographed here with an FSA PowerBox Carbon power meter we’re testing instead of the original Ultegra chainset) is the middle option: the cheapest is Campagnolo Potenza at £1,899.99 and the top one is Campagnolo Chorus with upgraded Miche Revox wheels at £3,299.
The latest Ultegra shifts well but isn’t as easy to index as past versions of Ultegra due to a redesigned barrel adjuster that is now much less positive.
The brake callipers are Miche DX2 direct mount and considering the wheels are by Miche too, stopping power could be a little better.
Our test bike came with Michelin Power Endurance 28mm tyres on the Miche Altur wheels, which have a nice big volume and no doubt enhance ride quality but don’t go past the Miche calipers easily – the rear is especially tricky – meaning you ideally deflate the tyre if you want to take the wheel out. The Tifosi website states that it comes with Michelin Dynamic Sport 25mm tyres but the point is there’s plenty of clearance for 28mm tyres, which is great as long as you don’t want to keep taking the wheels in and out to transport it in a car.
The wheels themselves, aluminium deep-sections, are a few notches below the rest of the Auriga’s spec and are on the heavy side at over 1,700g. It’s here that the savings have been made to bring the Auriga in sub £2K, but with the size large coming in under 8kg you really can’t complain.
Riding the Tifosi Auriga
The geometry of the Tifosi Auriga frame might be more relaxed than a pure race bike’s, but that’s not to say it doesn’t take its job seriously. The riding position with the stem slammed is aggressive enough, and the seat and head angles at near 73° parallel give handling that, while not as fast as a WorldTour pro might be accustomed to, is traditional, predictable and weekend-warrior friendly.
As for stiffness, with a down tube that has such a large diameter and a reinforced head tube the Auriga was never going to noodle. The small rear triangle also helps keeps the back end tight for climbing and accelerations. The result is a responsive, fast, fun ride.
The Auriga undoubtedly owes some of its comfort to the 28mm tyres, but for an aero bike it’s not harsh, with vibration absorbed well so that it doesn’t rattle but still feels connected to the road.
Strava data seemed to suggest that the Auriga really is aerodynamic: it’s fairly unusual to see 20mph averages at this time of year, but they came relatively easily – pleasantly, even.
Even with the cost-saving wheels – which actually ride well and have stayed totally in true but just add a bit of extra weight – £2,000 for this bike equipped with Ultegra is a very good price indeed.
The Auriga is capable of being raced at elite level – as the Spirit Tifosi team demonstrates – but is equally at home on longer, slower-paced training or endurance rides. We had a couple of niggles with the spec but when you consider this bike costs under £2K they are certainly not deal breakers. This bike is fast, light and exciting: with upgraded wheels it would really fly.