Though Onix describe the Aurious as a sportive bike, when we first put it through its paces last year we found it was more than just a comfortable cruiser. Yes, there's a nod to sportive riding in its shape, with a 74° seat angle and 73° head tube, but its performance and handling were much racier than we'd expected. For the Bike of the Year test we requested a higher specification, including a more race-orientated Shimano 105 drivetrain and great quality Shimano RS80 carbon clincher wheels.
The Aurious chassis is highly sculpted, with a triangular-profile down tube and a head tube junction that's so substantial that despite its standard 1-1/8in top and bottom cups, there's no tangible loss of stiffness compared to the tapered designs favoured by many of Onix's rivals. At 156mm, the head tube is slightly taller than an out-and-out race bike but still offers ample scope to get a low position in the drops for fast efforts while cheating the wind.
The overall ride impression is one of solidity. For a sportive bike, that's not necessarily a good thing, but those who value speed over comfort will revel in the Onix's point-and-shoot handling. Putting the Aurious into the twistiest fast descent on our test route was an absolute joy. Even in cold icy conditions it held its line, with no tremors to unbalance our progress, and this added bags of confidence to push that little bit harder.
The upgraded wheels give the Aurious a lighter touch, too. This is felt most on sharp out-of-the-saddle efforts on climbs, where pickup through the drivetrain is more immediate and the ride is far more rewarding. The Fizik Arione saddle, another upgrade, gives more scope to move around: you can get up on the nose for prolonged climbing efforts and slide back to get lower for descents. Having more rear end real estate also helps temper the rigid nature of the ride; the Onix isn't the smoothest bike over coarse road surfaces but in this guise with lighter wheels and more comfortable saddle it's a vast improvement over the previous model we tested.
After our first experience with the Aurious, we'd have looked elsewhere for a 'big ride' bike. But over our 85-mile test loop this uprated version proved much more usable, with better all-round potential. Onix may be a new brand but they've proved they can make exciting and great quality bikes; with their recent team-up with Rob Hayles, we can't wait to give their new signature range a try. If they can successfully combine the excitement of the Aurious with the input of a seasoned pro, they could have a real contender for 2013's Bike of the Year.
This bike was tested as part ofCycling Plusmagazine's 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.
Origin: BikeRadar.com Road Bikes & Gear