Raleigh’s Aura Comp TT/triathlon bike tested, rated and reviewed
Raleigh Aura Comp
Let’s be frank here, Raleigh’s Aura isn’t the prettiest machine you will ever see. But it’s a pretty quick, well equipped and a surprisingly comfortable triathlon bike once you’re cruising the asphalt.
Raleigh Aura Comp – Frame and Fork
The Raleigh Aura frame is certainly distinctive to look at, due mainly to the skinny, super-curved wheel-hugger seat-tube bending right back round the rear wheel. The fact half the tube is teardrop shaped means it feeds air onto a lot of the wheel rather than shrouding it.
Despite Raleigh’s claimed seat-tube geometry, the effective seat angle is very slack unless you run the saddle high. There’s very little vertical seatpost adjustment without chopping the bottom off it too.
It’s also a conventional bottom bracket – rather than the press-fit 30mm bottom bracket on Raleigh’s stats sheet.
The semi-internal front-mech cable routing wraps round the back of the tubes like ivy and sprouts out of the mainframe at a conspicuously un-aero angle. However, this seat-tube arrangement does let Raleigh bring the rear wheel in right into the bottom bracket. The curve is also echoed in the arching tapered top-tube and down-tube, which contrast dramatically with the dead-straight, teardrop section carbon fork legs.
The 150mm head-tube is also tall for an aero bike, so you’re going to have to think about losing the steerer spacers if you want a more aggressive tuck position. The rubberised matt paint finish got a lot of admiring looks (as well as a few strokes), even if it’s not the easiest coating to clean spilt gel or energy drink off after a long ride.
Raleigh Aura Comp – The Kit
Raleigh is one of the few brands using SRAM rather than Shimano on lower price point tri bikes. The S350 cranks and Apex gears give encouragingly positive pedalling and gear changing respectively. They also keep weight lower than their Shimano counterparts.
A lot of that is squandered though with the choice of Vision tri-bars, with their super heavy, solid end plugged, cut-to-length extensions. The saddle and thick-walled seatpost weigh over 600g in stock format too, and we had to saw a big chunk off it to get the right saddle height – not something novices should have to deal with.
The Selle Royal saddle needs careful angling to find comfort as well. The Cole Rollen Lite wheels are lively enough though and while Durano S tyres might not be as fast as fully fledged race rubber, but they’re super tough and proven to be trustworthy in all weathers.
Raleigh Aura Comp – The Ride
We always try not to pre judge a bike purely from its looks, but we’ll admit we weren’t exactly expecting great things from the curiously curvy-looking Aura Comp. The radically back curved seat-tube translated into a really slack seat angle in our 75cm BB to saddle top setting with the nose of the saddle over an inch behind the bottom bracket vertically.
There’s a lot of rattle and chatter from the road through the fork and frame at slow speeds too. So our first impressions weren’t very encouraging.
Thanks to decent cranks and relatively low weight the Aura can lever itself up to speed relatively well though and once we got onto open roads and hit cruising speeds things started to make a lot more sense. Firstly we naturally slid right forward onto the nose of the saddle, which opened up our torso for easier breathing and less back stretch. From here the foot-long extensions help offset the backward bias and very short top-tube, again bringing us forward on the Raleigh.
This means less shoulder strain and more weight relaxing down through the comfortably plump Vision arm pads, rather than tiring triceps. The more the speed picked up, the better the S-bend seat-tube of the frame started to skim off the sharper edges of potholes and rough roads too, making it a pleasant place to be most of the time. All the same, a softer nosed saddle is definitely worth putting on the upgrade list though.
While the tall head-tube and a seat-tube design that feeds air onto some of the rear wheel, rather than round it, shouldn’t work aerodynamically, the whole bike felt clean and efficient to ride. Importantly for novice aero riders, the handling of the Raleigh is extremely stable, even in cross winds. We were soon casually resting our hands lightly on the extensions rather than gripping them tightly, again helping to relax our shoulders and decrease overall fatigue on longer outings.
While the steering isn’t particularly precise, the brakes are powerful and communicative enough to add confidence. This left Raleigh’s ugly duckling feeling a lot more swan-like than we expected on most of our team feedback reports by the end of testing.
+ Relaxed handling and surprisingly comfortable at cruising speed
+ Relatively light and enthusiastic pick-up, and cleanly efficient feel
– Not the neatest frame and adequate rather than amazing kit
– Seat angle and short top-tube make careful sizing essential