TwentyNine is too big, twentysix is not big enough – could TwentySeven-and-a-half is the Goldilocks wheelsize? My KTM race bike for 2014 landed in England on Friday and Fli Distribution had been kind enough to allow me to try out a couple of bikes before making my mind up. Built in Austria, the Aera Pro 27.5 features a full carbon frame, SLX/XT group, SLX/DT wheels and a Rockshox Reba up front…
But all of that is boring magazine testride stuff which no one really cares about – the question is does it shred? I decided to give the stock bike a decent crack before changing anything so I headed up to my normal testing/training/playing-with-bikes-in-the-woods place. 13km of singletrack at Bedgebury should push the bike fairly hard and I’d definitely get a chance to see if the two of us will get on this year.
After borrowing a KTM Myroon 29 last week for the Official Team Launch in Wales the immediate thing I noticed about the Aera 27.5 was how traditional it felt – the 29er was a world away from the 26 inch wheels I’ve been riding for so long. The 27.5 meanwhile was quick to accelerate and seemed to blast through tight switchbacks just like my old bike. On top of that, all of the things I loved about the 29er were present in the 27.5 too – It climbed like a skinny Frenchman and rolled over stuff like an Eskimo.
Bedgebury is badly beaten up at the moment, but the Aera was taking everything in its stride – at times it felt like one of its 450 four stroke cousins in the deep rutted sandy Sussex clay. One particularly deep pothole caught me off-guard, which made me thankful for the longer top-tube, but once I’d recovered from the shock of nearly losing my manhood I went back to it!
The bike behaved impeccably the whole time and once I’d smashed up the singletrack I rode a lap of the fireroad too – the SLX triple seemed to have everything covered. I may change to an XT double as the season goes on, but there’s no really need to. Likewise the brakes left me wanting for nothing. Last week’s Continental Tyres inspired so much confidence that I’ll be swapping the existing ones within the week and the bar and stem combo needs some attention, but actually the stock bike is mustard.
Photos by Glen Whittington and Pip Jenkins. Header Image by Pip Jenkins.
Glen races a KTM Aera Pro 27.5 hardtail in the UK National Points Series, the Eastern XC Series and the Southern XC Series. He receives personal sponsorship from Helly Hansen and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY. The KTM team is sponsored by Continental Tyres, Torq Fitness and Four4th Lights.