We believe it's important to test our bikes in real-world conditions. Jochem is currently using the Aurum Manto. You can read about his experience below.
What were your considerations prior to choosing this bike?
For me personally, when choosing a new gravel bike it must always meet a few characteristics to make sure I like it: Sporty geometry, nimble handling, and a bit of a lightweight feel.
The Aurum Manto suits these characteristics very well and it was just launched. It had to be tested. Especially coming from the Factor LS that had sort of the same setup, I was very curious to see how they compare. I’ve used the Factor on the road (Strade Bianchi) and for serious gravel riding, and it actually felt more like a road bike with space for wide tires. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing since I really like the feel of a road bike. The Factor LS could only take up to 40mm tires, didn’t have integrated cable routing, and the frameset has already been on the market for a few years. The Aurum Manto removes all of these drawbacks.
What mix of components on the bike makes the difference for you?
The groupset needed to be SRAM Force AXS XPLR. Coming from Shimano GRX Di2 2x11 on the Factor LS, I quickly realized the 2x drivetrain is too old school and not necessary for my use. I’ve thought about SRAM RED, but to be honest, I don’t think those few grams will make a difference in the riding feel on a gravel bike. Let’s keep the RED groupset in the box for a new road bike build…
The Force AXS has a 40t chainring with a 10-44 XPLR cassette. The chainring could have been 42 or 44 for local use, but I actually enjoyed having a few extra gears when climbing some mountains in Switzerland and France. The new Aurum cockpit is also very nice and it definitely gives a racier feel to the bike. The integration is very good and it looks clean. I’ve chosen the Princeton Carbon Works DUAL 5550 with an ERE Research Tenaci CC as a wheel/tire combination. These tires performed very well on the Strade Bianchi, so I thought they would be a good fit for some light gravel and road use. The Princeton wheelset is very stable and stiff, while the Industry Nine hubs spin like nothing else. You could argue this setup is a bit of nothing, but actually, I just enjoyed the simplicity of the setup to ride everywhere.
What are your experiences with the bike after the first few rides?
The first thing I did with the bike was taking it for a 2-day bikepacking trip to Winterberg. It handled very well, although I had 2 relatively big bags mounted to the frame. The bike felt super stable and rolled fast. On descents, I had the confidence to go pretty fast without pushing.
After that, I took the Manto on holiday to Switzerland and France, where I mostly rode on the road. In Switzerland, the roads were very good, and I could have used road tires instead of the 38mm gravel tires. But even with these tires, I could maintain a very good pace and it still felt like a fast pedaling bike, even when climbing out of the saddle a bit faster.
Most impressive is the balance between its sharp handling and still very stable ride on flat roads and descents. Combined with the crisp shifting of the SRAM Groupset and its road geometry, I think this is one of the best options for riders who love a sporty do-it-all bike. Looks-wise, I appreciate that it's not taking the full aero approach like some other brands do. It still maintains classic looks and a round seatpost, which also adds some more comfort. I didn’t mention that it also has a T47 bottom bracket and UDH hanger from SRAM, both of which are very nice to have.