First ride: KTM Aera 27.5 (2014)

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At the KTM 2014 Press Camp we had the opportunity to encounter one of the Austrian brand’s most important models of next season’s range, the Aera, in the 27.5 inch wheels version. The bike is all about an attempt of the manufacturer to offer a quality carbon frame at a very competitive price.

For now, there are 2 versions of Aera, namely the Comp (11,15 kg), with a recommended retail price of 1.699 euros, and the Pro (10,9 kg), that has a recommended pricing set at 1.999 euros. If the prices will vary, that will be a matter that is up to the dealers, but at the recommended value, the Aera Pro is about 100-200 euros cheaper than similar equipped aluminum models of various competitors.

First impressions

A 27.5 inch mountain bike stands for more responsive handling compared to 29ers, and a higher rolling speed compared to 26ers. If this was already obvious, the smooth and accurate control of the bike comes into play shortly only after you start riding it.

The head tube angle measures 70 degress, while, surprisingly, the seat tube 75. Put into common language, climbing becomes more easy to do, given the fact that a regular cross-country model would have featured a 72-73 degree angle. Aside form this efficient angle, the tapered (conical) shape of the seat tube increases stiffness. This very shape that is larger in the bottom bracket area, and thinner at the seat clamp also allowed mounting a smaller diameter seat post, of 27.2 mm, which is more flexible, enhancing comfort. Although this mention was left out of the presentation flyer, once on the trail, you can feel it for yourself.

The sit on the bike has to do more with racing than a sporty style, eventhough the manufacturer didn’t mount a long stem. Of course, the seat tube angle contributes to a more stretched position, but it’s kind of far from becoming a back ache. We mustn’t forget about the brake caliper mount, found on the chainstay, that allows installing an 180mm rotor, and sets the maximum width of the tires that can be used on the Aera 27.5: 2.25 inches.

Finally, KTM used most of its current technologies to produce a stiff frame: PressFit bottom bracket, a very solid bottom bracket shell, tapered head tube, oval seat- and chainstays. In addition, cable routing runs inside the frame, but a QR 142x12mm thru axle mounting is missing.

Who does this mountain bike suit best?

Basicly, if you’re looking for a light hardtail (frameweight is of 1.1 kilograms) that you can race on in competition, Aera fits this picture. Although the model doesn’t feature top specification, with Shimano SLX components included in the drivetrain, the parts mounted do their job just fine, being quite reliable. Anyway, the upgrade list is opened, and one thing is sure: Aera’s frame is top notch, and only 10 grams heavier than the top end model Myroon’s one.

Conclusions

The Aera 27.5 Pro left me with a good impression, yet I wasn’t too surprised by this, as I took into account its weight and components. It tops its competitors by several features, such as the very light carbon frame, 75 degree seat tube, high stiffness, and, above all, the price. In this price segment, other manufacturers go for aluminum frames, but KTM opted not only for carbon, but for quality carbon.

 

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