- Good looking
- Ultegra R8000
- A proper race bike
- Head tube on the tall side
- Miche brakes lack power
- Wheels a little heavy
Price as reviewed:
This dramatically-styled, wind tunnel-tested machine from the Italian-sounding British brand is the aero bike of the elite Spirit Tifosi team. When we tested it earlier this year we were incredibly impressed with its performance and ride quality – we were doing unheard-of 20mph average rides on it in February. But that’s only half the story: at under £2,000 it costs a fraction of what you’d pay for one of the big brands’ aero bikes.
The one we tested sported the iridescent lime green livery the team has been riding; the new silver scheme for 2019 is not the only thing Tifosi has changed: it has also moved the rear brake caliper from its position hidden behind the BB – which we said in our original review below made wheel changes a bit fiddly – up to a more user-friendly, traditional position on the seatstay wishbone.
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So with that last little big of snagging dealt with we can safely say that if you’re after a genuinely fast aero bike but don’t have upwards of £8K to spend, the Tifosi Auriga has got to be the one – hence its well deserved place in Editor’s Choice 2018.
Tifosi has used unidirectional Toray T700 and T800 – good quality carbon – to create a dramatically styled, wind-tunnel-tested aero frame.
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 is the cheaper option, at £1,899.99 priced £100 lower than the 2018 bike, while the top one is equipped with Campagnolo Chorus with upgraded Campagnolo Scirocco C17 wheels at £2,499.
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 calipers are Miche DX2 direct mount.
Our test bike came with Michelin Power Endurance 28mm tyres, which have a nice big volume and no doubt enhance ride quality but didn’t go past the Miche calipers easily, 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.
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.
Sub £2,000 for this bike equipped with Ultegra R8000 is a very good price indeed. Last year we said the Miche Altur wheels were clearly a cost-saving measure; for 2019 the Auriga gets the Vision Team 35, an alloy deep-section wheel with a similar weight and price at the Miches, but the 2019 bike is £100 cheaper.
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. Certainly it's missing carbon deep-section wheels, but when you consider this bike costs under £2K that is most certainly not a deal breaker. As it is, the Tifosi Auriga is fast, light and exciting.
Frame: UD Toray carbon fibre
Fork: UD carbon fibre 1-1/8” to 1-1/5”
Size range: XS, S, M, L, XL
Size tested: L
Weight: Weight 7.8kg
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Gear ratios: 52/36, 11-27
Tyres: Michelin Power Endurance 28mm
Brakes: Miche DX2
Bar: Deda Elementi Zero
Stem: Deda Elementi Zero
Saddle: Selle Italia X1
Seatpost: Tifosi Aero