In the spring of 2012 I finally got a proper touring bike and I would exclaim to anyone who would listen, “I Got A Bike!” It was the seed concept for this website, its name, and our Ohio to Erie Trail Guide.
I purchased a new, old stock, 2010 Jamis Aurora. It is a steel frame, drop bar, STI shifted, 27 speed beauty in “Benzegreen.” When I was shopping for the right bike I thought for sure that I would end up with a Surly Long Haul Trucker. Mike at Broadway Cycle in Bedford, Ohio built a LHT in my size so I could do a proper road test. I liked the bike but even though it was my size it felt big, especially the handlebars. Plus, I was unsure of the bar end shifters. I thought the bar end shifters may be troublesome in the urban areas that I frequent and did not feel comfortable moving my hands off the stable brake-ready hand position to shift gears.
When I rode the Jamis I had a Jedi moment. The bike fit me perfectly. I liked the STI shifters and interupter / cross brake levers. Being an artist I could not help being influenced by the spectacular newly sprouted field of corn green color. I instantly loved the feel of the steel frame. Previously I had been riding aluminum, both a comfort bike and a road bike, forcing them into touring that they were never intended to do. The steel frame reduced friction and fatigue in the saddle, the bars and the pedals. It was an easy decision. The only thing I didn’t like was the flat aluminum fenders. The price was right, $900 for the Jamis vs $1300 for the Surly.
The Jamis Aurora is advertised as a load it up and go touring bike and that is exactly what I did. Guy installed racks on the front and back, a head light, a tail light, computer, mirror, bell and fenders. After owning the bike for less than a month we loaded it up with front and rear panniers carrying camping gear and everything needed to be on tour for two weeks. We walked out the front door and pedaled south on the Ohio to Erie Trail.
The bike was great, I was happy, then I started to break spokes in the rear wheel. The first one broke after 300 miles just as we were arriving in Cincinnati. It seemed like it could have been an anomaly until I broke 2 more only 150 miles later. The bicycle was still under warranty and Jamis paid for the wheel to be retrofitted with better, thicker single butted spokes. That solved the problem. By the time we returned we had accumulated 800 miles. I rode the rest of the season without incident and totaled 2000 miles.
In the spring of 2013 we again went round-trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail plus a little side trip into Indiana.
This time we were gone closer to 3 weeks and accumulated about 1000 miles. On the second day I had an unfortunate crash that instigated the breaking down and wearing out of my bike.
I hit a big bump at the threshold of a bridge and it caused the front pannier to depart from the bike and the front fender to fold in half. I was not hurt, just bruised, but the fender was trash and I broke the mount to my headlight.
On day four, I got my first flat tire since owning the bike. There was not an obvious puncture so we guessed it was a pinch flat. About a week later I got another flat and we started to speculate that my tires were wearing out.
I had another bump that resulted in the loss of the bell. It was attached by a small plastic clip on the STI shifter which broke. I missed the bell, it is an important piece of gear for passing safely on the bike trails.
By the time we returned home I had no fender, no headlight, no bell, no computer, and the tires were visibly worn out. Then the brakes started to make a bad noise. Then the plastic toe clip on the right pedal cracked in half. Then the mirror fell off, same connection and problem as the bell.
Wow my “new” bike was broken! I was delighted to have worn it out. I knew Guy would fix it and make it better. The problem was not dry rot and rust or neglect. The bike simply got used up at around 4000 miles.
Now I Got A Fixed Up Bike! I have spectacular Velo Orange Fenders, brand new Victorio tires, giant new brake pads, new chrome and leather toe clips, a new mirror, a new computer, a new mount for the headlight and the bell. Guy did other touch ups and tweeks and the bike is humming. Looking forward to the next big ride and the next 4000 miles.
I know many of you will be looking for more information on the gear and components so we will work on that.
Many items have already been reviewed…
Jandd Low Rider Rack Review
A couple quick things to note:
I was wrong about the STI shifters. On long tours my hands get so fatigued the STI levers are hard to push, especially the front. I might switch them out to bar end shifters.
A touring bike typically has a stretched out frame. The Jamis is compact and I have to turn a certain way so my toe won’t hit the wheel.
The Jamis frame is narrow limiting options and complicating the install of fenders.
I swapped out the smallest chain ring for one that was smaller and allowed me to climb hills with a full load.