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Jamis Aurora or Jamis Coda Elite?

Old 06-06-16, 08:33 PM
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summerdeepa
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Jamis Aurora or Jamis Coda Elite?

Hi everyone, I would appreciate your advice on buying a bike. I am choosing between the Jamis Coda Elite and the Jamis Aurora (regular, not elite). They are roughly the same price (just under $1000, which is the limit of my budget). I will be using the bike to commute to work a few days a week. It's about a 16 mile round trip on bumpy Boston roads and multi-use paths. The trip is mostly flat, but there is a monster hill at the very end of the trip coming home. I do have the option of driving on days with really bad weather.

It has been a long process trying to find a bike. At first I bought the Giant Liv Thrive 1 -- a very nice aluminum flat-bar road bike, but it was awful on the bumps. My bones were totally rattled after my first commute on the Thrive and I returned it.

Since then, I have been able to test-ride the Aurora and Coda Elite at a local LBS. Both are steel bikes and I loved the smooth ride of both. The Aurora was unbelievably comfortable; my hands felt great in any position on the handlebars and the whole bike felt really solid and sure. I've never had a bike with drop bars and I enjoyed the ones on the Aurora. My only reservation was that it's on the heavy side -- you definitely feel like you're pushing along a heavier machine, and I wonder if that will get pretty old over time. I don't plan on touring anytime soon and the heaviest thing I'm going to be hauling is my 1-year-old son. So I don't necessarily need the touring function of the bike.

Meanwhile, I really enjoyed the zippiness of the Coda Elite. It felt extremely responsive, fast, and efficient, while still smoothing out the road. It's not as comfortable as the Aurora, but it is still a very comfortable bike. Part of me feels it's the more logical choice. But I'm not sure I want the flat bar. My hands aren't going to go numb or anything -- my commute isn't long enough for that. But I've ridden a crappy flat-bar steel bike for years (an ancient repurposed Schwinn LeTour) and part of me wants a change.

I know these are both very nice bikes and I can't really go wrong. The Code Elite feels safe and like a known quantity; the Aurora feels like something different and therefore interesting but a little risky. So basically, I'm wondering: have you owned or ridden these bikes? How have they held up over time? Which have you preferred for commuting?
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Old 06-06-16, 09:03 PM
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The Coda seems nice, but maybe you'll be playing "what if" since it's sort of similar to what you're riding. The Aurora looks like a great touring bike, but it looks overbuilt and heavy for your needs.

What about a curveball? The Renegade Expat. It's not much more, and looks pretty nicely specced for the price. It's lighter than both the Aurora and the Coda and works well on paved and unpaved roads. I've got the carbon Renegade Expert on order, but I also tested the steel Renegade Exploit and I capital L LOVED it. I think it's a wonderful bike that's a jack of all trades without feeling like a serious compromise in any one area. You get the versatility of drop bars along with a ride that is smooth and stable while still being responsive. It can also accommodate a rack and fenders.
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Old 06-07-16, 07:42 AM
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I have a Coda sport (and probably the worst version of it, steel fork and 8 speed groupset) that has been my commuter/back up bike for a couple of years now. I love the ride, I put in a suspension seatpost and it's kind of like riding a sofa down the road compared to my full on road bike. The two downsides are the weight and the lack of aerodynamics. I can maintain a 17mph pace pretty easy until I hit a headwind or a hill (I've contributed to both of these problems with a wider set of handlebars and a rack on the back). Very comfortable, confident ride.
I was looking for an upgrade, and steel frame with disc brakes were a requirement. The Aurora got knocked out early for it's weight and bar end shifters. You'll never break a bar end shifter, but there are enough rolling hills where I live to make them sound like a pain to me.
I'll second the Renegade Expat. I test rode the Renegade Exile (aluminum version) and it had me rethinking aluminum for a few weeks.
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Old 06-07-16, 07:57 AM
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A touring bike is a great option for a commuter, despite the weight. I might have bought an Aurora myself if Jamis sold the frames separately, but they only sell complete bikes -- at least when I checked. The Aurora at that time was made with Reynolds 631, which is very nice tubing, and I assume that it still is. My Bob Jackson World Tour (which I got instead of an Aurora) is also made of Reynolds 631, and it provides a nice ride.

Although you may not have immediate plans for touring, I personally think it's a real plus to have that option available. I got my Bob Jackson for commuting, but it motivated me to try to some loaded touring and now I'm hooked. I rode it all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington DC on the GAP and C&O Canal trails, and it performed great. The same features that make a bike good for touring also make it good for commuting -- namely, clearance for larger tires and fenders, longer wheel base, and mounts for fenders and racks. The ability to run larger tires also makes a touring bike useful for riding on unpaved roads and trails (such as the GAP-C&O).
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Old 06-07-16, 08:32 AM
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I bought the Aurora this spring and have really enjoyed riding it. I commute 22 miles round trip and have started doing some touring with it. Smooth, easy to ride, gearing is perfect for me on hills. Fully loaded touring this past weekend the bigger hills were surprisingly easy. Geared down and just spun with little effort, which is something I'm trying to get used to doing instead of powering my way up. The fenders and back rack are a big bonus too. Not going to set any speed records with the Aurora but when I am feeling a need for speed I ride my Anyroad. I did swap the Aurora's seat for a brooks.
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Old 06-07-16, 09:24 AM
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Thanks for weighing in, everyone. I checked out the Renegade Expat online and it does indeed look great. Unfortunately, it costs $1200 and that's enough over my budget that I have to rule it out. (That's why I ruled out the Surly Crosscheck as well.) Meanwhile, the Exile is aluminum, as Podagrower noted, and after my experience with the Thrive I'd prefer to stick with steel for the nasty Boston roads.

The tough thing is that I only have the budget for one bike. I know there's no bike that can do it all. But I'm still looking for a bike that is fun to ride, smooth, comfortable, and reasonably fast for the 16-mile round trip. It sounds like either the Coda or Aurora would be fine but neither would be perfect. Alas.
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Old 06-07-16, 09:37 AM
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Both those bikes are great choices and Jamis is a good company so you can't go wrong with either. What I like about the Aurora is it will have long chainstays and that keeps the panniers far back and doesn't create heel strike. If you are not using panniers that point is moot. I also like that most touring bikes have low bottom bracket height which means a little easier to mount the bike and lower center of gravity (if you believe in those things). It comes with a rack so you don't have to buy it and fenders. Those days where it is sunny in the morning and it rains in the afternoon, you will be glad you you had fenders. No nonsense bar end shifters that can take a beating.

Birru's suggestion of the Renegade is also one I would think about. In commuter mode it has really nice fenders (option). Notice the front strut for the fender to keep it stabilized. Never seen that before and I like it.
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Old 06-07-16, 09:38 AM
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Not to confuse you with more models to consider, but if you don't need a full touring bike, a cyclocross bike might be a good option. The Bianchi Volpe and Lupo are nice, reasonably priced models that could be considered cyclocross, commuters, light touring or "gravel grinders." Bianchi bikes are widely available in most cities.
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Old 06-07-16, 10:09 AM
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The 2017 Renegades are due in a couple of months with some upgrades, so perhaps as that time approaches you could use that to negotiate the price of the Renegade Expat.

Another option might be the Raleigh Clubman Disc. Steel, $999, Shimano Tiagra, 28c tires, standard fenders. I've read folks can fit 32c tires under the fenders too. Geometry looks relaxed so it should be stable and won't beat you up.

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Old 06-07-16, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by summerdeepa View Post
Hi everyone, I would appreciate your advice on buying a bike. I am choosing between the Jamis Coda Elite and the Jamis Aurora (regular, not elite). They are roughly the same price (just under $1000, which is the limit of my budget). I will be using the bike to commute to work a few days a week. It's about a 16 mile round trip on bumpy Boston roads and multi-use paths. The trip is mostly flat, but there is a monster hill at the very end of the trip coming home. I do have the option of driving on days with really bad weather.

It has been a long process trying to find a bike. At first I bought the Giant Liv Thrive 1 -- a very nice aluminum flat-bar road bike, but it was awful on the bumps. My bones were totally rattled after my first commute on the Thrive and I returned it.

Since then, I have been able to test-ride the Aurora and Coda Elite at a local LBS. Both are steel bikes and I loved the smooth ride of both. The Aurora was unbelievably comfortable; my hands felt great in any position on the handlebars and the whole bike felt really solid and sure. I've never had a bike with drop bars and I enjoyed the ones on the Aurora. My only reservation was that it's on the heavy side -- you definitely feel like you're pushing along a heavier machine, and I wonder if that will get pretty old over time. I don't plan on touring anytime soon and the heaviest thing I'm going to be hauling is my 1-year-old son. So I don't necessarily need the touring function of the bike.

Meanwhile, I really enjoyed the zippiness of the Coda Elite. It felt extremely responsive, fast, and efficient, while still smoothing out the road. It's not as comfortable as the Aurora, but it is still a very comfortable bike. Part of me feels it's the more logical choice. But I'm not sure I want the flat bar. My hands aren't going to go numb or anything -- my commute isn't long enough for that. But I've ridden a crappy flat-bar steel bike for years (an ancient repurposed Schwinn LeTour) and part of me wants a change.

I know these are both very nice bikes and I can't really go wrong. The Code Elite feels safe and like a known quantity; the Aurora feels like something different and therefore interesting but a little risky. So basically, I'm wondering: have you owned or ridden these bikes? How have they held up over time? Which have you preferred for commuting?
I commute on an Aurora in MA. Love it. You'll come to appreciate the rear rack for mounting panniers or to strap your U lock onto. You'll also appreciate the drops when the wind picks up.

You're talking about a couple pounds difference - likely due to the fenders and rack. Too me, comfort trumps everything. Once you start getting into mincing pounds, you're stepping onto a slippery slope. There will always be something lighter.
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Old 06-07-16, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by summerdeepa View Post
I know these are both very nice bikes and I can't really go wrong. The Code Elite feels safe and like a known quantity; the Aurora feels like something different and therefore interesting but a little risky.
This is the right answer. Others may have experience with one or both bikes, but if they prefer one or the other, it may well be because they prioritize speed vs comfort. Personally I would prioritize comfort, but in the end you have to figure out your own priorities. Try to visualize a what-if -- what if you submit to a coin-flip, and you have to buy bike X because of it. Will you be worried or relieved? What if the coin-flip says bike Y?

Also personally I would go Aurora for four reasons (in order of importance): drop bars, matching rack, matching fenders, $20. The only advantage (to me) of the Coda Elite is disc brakes. But then drop down to the Coda Comp, and the price drop of $220 makes it look a lot more attractive (to me). Or even the bottom level Coda Sport, another $220 savings and you still have all chromoly (instead of 520/carbon). $440 buys a lot of accessories...

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Old 06-07-16, 03:26 PM
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Here's something to consider. If you order a past year Jamis, they'll knock like 40% off of the price.

I got a 2010 Jamis Aurora Elite in 2013. I'm not a fan of bar-end shifters, so I ordered from before they made that switch.
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Old 06-07-16, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by MMACH 5 View Post
Here's something to consider. If you order a past year Jamis, they'll knock like 40% off of the price.

I got a 2010 Jamis Aurora Elite in 2013. I'm not a fan of bar-end shifters, so I ordered from before they made that switch.
That sounds like a great option, but I'm not easily seeing how to browse available old-stock inventory and order from their website. Link?
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Old 06-07-16, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
That sounds like a great option, but I'm not easily seeing how to browse available old-stock inventory and order from their website. Link?
I didn't have a link to what they have in stock. I just looked up specs to the older models.

When I emailed them about ordering a past year model, they said my local Jamis dealer could tap into what is available. For example, the red 2010 Aurora in my size was sold out, so I ordered the blue one.
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Old 06-07-16, 03:53 PM
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Nice. Renegate Expat $1199 - 40% = $719.40, seems like a fantastic option, also the Exile is well within your budget even before 40% for old stock if you get it.
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Old 06-07-16, 05:28 PM
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Well, I did it! I bought the Aurora. I was VERY interested in the Renegade Expat, but I think my family will actually kill me if I waffle over this decision anymore. And I think the guys at the local bike shop might faint/die if I ask to see yet another bike. At some point you've got to just make a decision and you all helped me a lot. I was glad to hear that so many folks had been happy with the Aurora as a commuter. And while I thought I was looking for a speedy bike, I think I actually prefer a very comfortable one. Thank you all again for being so generous and sharing your experiences!
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Old 06-07-16, 05:33 PM
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Congrats! I think you couldn't have made a wrong choice among the options you were looking at.

(I also think you made the right choice )
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Old 06-07-16, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by summerdeepa View Post
And while I thought I was looking for a speedy bike, I think I actually prefer a very comfortable one.
I identify with this sentiment a lot, and in my case the Renegade Expert was my comfortable bike pic.

Congrats! New bike time is always exciting. The Aurora is a classy looking bike for sure.
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Old 06-14-16, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by summerdeepa View Post
Well, I did it! I bought the Aurora. I was VERY interested in the Renegade Expat, but I think my family will actually kill me if I waffle over this decision anymore. And I think the guys at the local bike shop might faint/die if I ask to see yet another bike. At some point you've got to just make a decision and you all helped me a lot. I was glad to hear that so many folks had been happy with the Aurora as a commuter. And while I thought I was looking for a speedy bike, I think I actually prefer a very comfortable one. Thank you all again for being so generous and sharing your experiences!
It's been a week. I'm interested in hearing your post purchase thoughts after a few rides.
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Old 06-17-16, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Wolfhaven View Post
It's been a week. I'm interested in hearing your post purchase thoughts after a few rides.
I've now done the commute on the Aurora a few times. Here are my thoughts. At first I was quite disheartened by how heavy and slow the bike was. I had secured a pannier bag and a 5-lb lock to the rack, and honestly, the bike was monstrously heavy to ride. The next day I changed things up and carried everything in my backpack -- nothing on the rack. The bike was much more fun that way. It is an extremely smooth ride. I like the bar-end shifters. My hands and arms get kind of sore for some reason during the ride, but I assume that is just a matter of adjusting the bike so it fits me better. In the end, I do think the zippier Coda Elite would have been better for my purposes -- I did not need a touring bike and the weight is a little much for me -- but the upside (I keep telling myself) is that I'll improve my fitness level faster by powering the Aurora along.
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Old 06-22-16, 06:18 AM
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Great choice!

Yeah, I hate putting weight on my bike. I use a messanger bag to put the weight down low on my pelvis (keeping my back sweat free compared to a back pack). I do have some frame bags that I use sometimes too.

I like the Jamis Quest because it is light and zipppy and still smoooth (and I like 28mm tires for commuting). Reynolds 520 steel is great for commuting!

I don't think the weight hurts much, unless you are hill climbing or doing a lot of start/stop.
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