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Aurum Magma review

3 Mar 2021
Verdict:

It's a racer's dream, but that may mean it appeals more to the few than to the many in the modern climate

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Very light, with an impressive stiffness-to-weight ratio • Excellent finishing kit • Neat semi-integrated cabling solution • Elegant looks
Against 
Maybe too stiff for the majority • Costs a packet

Since retiring from pro racing, Alberto Contador hasn’t been sitting around eating paella. If proof were needed that El Pistolero is still in peak shape, earlier this year he smashed the Everesting record – the challenge to accumulate 8,848m of ascent by repeating a single climb – setting a new mark of 7h 27min 20sec.

That record has since been beaten, first by Irish rider Ronan McLaughlin with a time of 7h 04min 51sec, then by American Sean Gardner who dipped 22 seconds under the magical seven-hour mark on 3rd October. But there was something else about Contador’s Everesting exploits that caught the eye of the global media: his bike.

Intriguingly Contador rode a prototype of his own new brand, a joint venture with another ex-pro, two-time Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso. The bike was this, the Aurum Magma, which was duly launched a few months later.

Golden ticket

The brand name, as Basso himself explained to Cyclist (on Zoom) at the bike’s launch in September, was chosen because aurum is the Latin word for gold.

‘It’s the metal of the winner, the maximum reward an athlete can receive,’ he told us. Furthermore the name of this first model, Magma, is a nod towards the vast number of kilometres the pair of ex-pros are said to have ridden in testing on the slopes of Mount Teide, a volcano in Tenerife, during the bike’s two-year development.

Climbing is clearly in the Magma’s DNA, and that is confirmed by a frame weight of just 805g (claimed, size 54cm), but the message from Iñigo Gisbert, design director at Aurum, is that this bike was created to be an all-rounder rather than a specialist.

Buy the Aurum Magma now

‘We strived to perfectly balance weight with aerodynamics, stiffness and comfort. No one thing should be a priority,’ he says. As Contador also points out, in an Everesting attempt the bike must be as adept at descending as climbing, as there are as many downs as there are ups, in his case 78 repetitions of a section of the Navapelegrín climb in Spain.

 

I hear you, Bertie, but at 6.78kg and with the resolute frame stiffness the Magma possesses, this bike goes uphill like the proverbial rodent up a drainpipe, so I think it’s safe to slot the Magma into the category marked ‘climber’s bike’. It certainly helped keep me in touch with some of my best ever KoM times, even during a period of pandemic power slump.

Racer’s heart

It’s easy to feel the racing pedigree behind the Magma (and not just because it came fitted with tubulars).

From my very first pedal revolutions it had an electrifying liveliness about it. As well as climbing superbly, the stiffness and light weight pay equal dividends when accelerating on the flat, and the bike holds onto speed pleasingly well considering its modest aero pretensions.

It had a way of goading me into racing mode, as if I had a directeur sportif shouting at me from the car window, ‘Don’t ease up! Full gas now! Go! Go! Go!’

 

Buy the Aurum Magma now

The handling is equally lively, with the agility of a housefly. For the first few rides I actually wondered if it was a touch too jittery, but I soon got used to it.

I wish I’d had this bike 10 years ago, when I was still racing seriously. But that’s all in the past, and in truth I found myself returning from my rides on the Magma feeling a little more battered than I prefer these days. It is a beast that needs taming, which can be fun but is also a touch wearing after a while.

A switch of wheels and tyres from the supplied 25mm tubulars to 28mm tubeless did wonders, but I would still stop short of calling this bike comfortable. Maybe I’m just getting soft in my encroaching old age, but I feel Messrs Contador and Basso might have missed a trick.

 

It’s hardly surprising, considering their background, that they have delivered a bike so fit for racing, but most of us don’t race so I can’t help feeling Aurum has created a bike for the few, not the many.

That may have been intentional, but bikes such as the Cervélo Caledonia and Specialized Tarmac SL7 prove that it is possible to build a top-level race machine without compromising on comfort.

Not to end on a negative, I must applaud Aurum for having retained a simple seatpost and cockpit arrangement with a neat internal cabling solution to ensure that adjustments and maintenance are kept hassle-free. The Magma strikes an elegant pose too: wonderfully clean, modern, yet also somehow classic-looking.

Sunday cruiser it is not, but KoM smasher it surely is – if you’ve got the legs for it.

Buy the Aurum Magma here

Pick of the kit

Castelli Pioggia 3 shoe covers, £60, saddleback.co.uk

Autumn presents a footwear conundrum. It’s mild enough to ride without overshoes, but wet and grimy roads mean shoes and socks need protection.

Castelli’s Pioggia 3 overshoes have become my go-to. They’re waterproof yet extremely light (108g per pair) and flexible, such that they take on a sleek and likely quite aero form.

The high cuff with adjustable closure ensures good coverage and a snug fit, and they are even comfy against the skin. Their thin fleece lining will keep toes toasty into early winter too.

Buy the Castelli Pioggia 3 shoe covers from Tredz now

Alternatively…

Italian stallion

If your heart is set on Euro flair and race pedigree, but you’re not sure about the Aurum, how about the Colnago V3Rs (£3,599 frameset), as ridden to victory at this year’s Tour de France by Tadej Pogačar?

Buy the Colnago V3Rs now

Out of the mainstream

Factor’s O2 VAM is another WorldTour-proven bike that boasts a high stiffness-to-weight ratio while retaining fairly classic looks. A Sram Red eTap AXS version costs around £9,000.

Buy the Factor O2 VAM now

Spec

Frame Aurum Magma
Groupset Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Brakes Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Chainset Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Cassette Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Bars Zipp SL70 Ergo
Stem Zipp SL Speed
Seatpost Zipp SL Speed
Saddle Prologo Scratch M5 Nack
Wheels Zipp 303 Firecrest, Schwalbe Pro One 25mm tubular tyres 
Weight 6.78kg (size 56cm)
Contact aurumbikes.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
€9,999 (UK price TBC)

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