Titanium bikes are lauded for the comfortable and compliant ride quality designers can achieve with the metal. When I took my first pedal strokes on the No.22 Aurora, I noticed the titanium, and the carbon fibre that is also there, make for a frame that is fast, stiff in the right areas and responsive.
Two Canadians, Mike Smith and Bryce Gracey, founded No.22, ti’s atomic number, in 2012. Since 2014, the company’s frames have been built in Smith and Gracey’s Johnstown, N.Y., facility. The Aurora, best described as an all-road performance bike, is named after a Neil Young & the Squires song from 1963. In fact, the names of all
No. 22 frames have a connection to the iconic Canadian singer-songwriter.
Titanium’s low-density, high-strength, durability and corrosion-resistance make it an excellent material for constructing bikes. Its lively feel under the weight of a rider makes it especially desirable. The Aurora, however, also has a more contemporary substance. There’s a carbon seatmast, which, esthetically is a nice contrast to the raw titanium. The composite material helps the bike achieve a lighter weight while offering a comfortable ride, which the frame’s thin seatstays enhance even further.
No. 22 Aurora
Components Campagnolo H11 Super Record 11, Easton EA 90 stem, Easton EC 90 bar, Fabric Scoop Race Flat with titanium rails
Wheels Campagnolo Bora One 35 DB
Sizes (cm) 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, as well as custom
Price US$4,299 (frame only)
The oversize, butted tubing, tapered head tube and T47 threaded bottom bracket all work to channel power put into the pedals. The bike is very stiff where it needs to be. Each time I would get in the saddle, it felt like the bike bounded to life while still providing subtle but welcome road feedback.
The lower bottom bracket (75 mm of drop on a size 54), long head tube, wide wheelbase and carefully considered angles on the Aurora provide confident handling and exceptional stability in and out of the saddle. The steering is tame and predictable providing me with the confidence to push my limits on tight switchbacks, through rough corners and on uneven gravel roads.
The 54 frame I tested was stock geometry but still felt like it was tuned just for my riding style, making beautiful long days on the bike all the more enjoyable. Gaining speed when I put in an effort, whether headed uphill or downhill, was always a thrill. When I just wanted to cruise to the coffee shop, the bike was into that, too. It likes to go fast, yet it’s more than capable of handling adventure rides, making any two-wheeled excursion a little bit better. The Aurora expertly rides the line between adventure rig and speed machine.
As for the bike’s looks, the raw titanium is irresistible. The quality of each weld is plain to see as its free from any paint. Polished No. 22 graphics on blasted titanium tubing have enough contrast to catch the eye, giving the finish a modern, yet clean, classy look. The sun bursts on the top tube and on the right seatstay keep the celestial theme of the Aurora, further distinguishing it from the company’s other frames. The Aurora, like all No. 22 frames, is made to order. Custom options include geometry, anodized colours and internal electronic cable routing.
I kitted out the Aurora with Campagnolo’s H11 mechanical Super Record groupset, Bora One 35 DB wheels, an Easton cockpit, 30-mm wide Challenge Strada Bianca tires and a Fabric Scoop saddle. The frame and No.22 fork have internal cable routing for the hydraulic disc brakes. Shifter cables run externally through threaded cable stops. The options are almost endless when it comes to building a dream machine. The 12-mm thru-axles and flat-mount disc brakes should prove to be standard when the dust settles on the relatively new technology on road bikes. At a shade lighter than 8 kg, this Aurora may not make weight weenies giddy, but it offers so much more in other areas.
If you are not already a fan of ti, the Aurora can convert you. If you ever get a chance to ride one, just for a bit, the danger is that you’ll be dreaming of your forever bike for nights on end.