AC family member and sponsored rider Skyler Taylor has been wearing the orange and blue since he was a kid on the Above Category Junior Racing Team. Back then, his lycra was loose, and his style even looser, a pure talent who could keep a tight line on the singletrack and bring his skinny tires to the edge of adhesion on Marin's most demanding switchbacks.
Today, Little Skyler's all grown up, but he's still just as versatile. And with his new custom No. 22 Aurora beneath him, never far from the top of the timesheets wherever he points his wheels.
After a few centuries aboard his No. 22, we asked Skyler how his new ride is shaping up. Here’s his report.
This season, I raced the same bike on the road and the trail. From the chaos of Unbound (let’s not talk about that), to the pristine State Road Race Championships, I’ve been a rolling ambassador for the idea that one bike can do it all. But no matter how well I managed to adapt one bike to every surface, I was definitely looking forward to getting a pure road bike this year.
I do most of my training on the road these days. So far, I’ve not only ridden the Aurora on just about every inch of pavement in West Marin, but also the high mountains of Park City, UT and Leadville, CO.
When I first saw the Aurora, I was stunned. There are so many great-looking bikes out there, but I have yet to see one quite as unique as No. 22’s Aurora. I really like the seat tube and the stem in particular. I'm also a big fan of the internal cable routing. It makes the front end look so clean.
As far as road bikes go, I haven't ridden anything like it. I've spent most of my time on name-brand carbon road bikes, so titanium is a big change for me. As is the bike’s custom geometry. I have pretty lengthy proportions and don't fit that well on stock sizes. I didn't realize how much a custom bike can improve the riding experience until now.
I've ridden the Aurora almost exclusively since Unbound and have about 1400 miles on it. The ride quality is genuinely sublime. It's aggressive, compliant and responsive all at once. How do No. 22 do that? The biggest difference I've felt from my gravel bike is how well the Aurora climbs. It feels faster, and it is faster. I'm also pleasantly surprised by how it sprints. A lot of the lightweight road bikes I've been on have noticeable flex during a full sprint, but the Aurora is rock solid. This bike really does feel like it can do it all.
This summer finds me living and riding at altitude in Leadville, Colorado. It’s an interesting place for road riding because while it’s got some epic mountain passes close to town (like Independence Pass), the highways leading to them are a tough proposition. Often, I find myself taking gravel roads to circumvent the worst sections of the highway. The Aurora is right at home on these "all-road" style rides. With 32mm tire clearance and impressive vertical compliance, I've had no issues so far.
I'm currently running the Aurora with my Enve SES 3.4 rims, 30mm Victoria Corsa N.EXT tires, SRAM RED AXS groupset (48/35 chainring and 10/33 cassette) and an ENVE SES AR bar. I’ve also spent a lot of time on the Partington R Series wheels, which added a whole other level to the Aurora’s lightweight climbing feel. I haven't pushed the limits on tire sizes yet, but I've been thinking about trying some Challenge Strada Bianca Pro HTLR tires in 33mm for a true all-road capability.
As every cyclist knows, no bike remains stock for long. We’re always changing something, be it stems, saddles or pedals. But, touch titanium, so far I haven’t wanted to change a thing on the Aurora. It’s perfect for me, and its looks never fail to thrill. I sometimes joke that it's too perfect because I get stopped so often by people who want to know what I'm riding on my training rides. If I had a croissant for every time I’m stopped, I’d be wearing a beret by now.