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 of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.