I'll admit to being surprised by the Auric LT on the climbs, but there's no doubting that its intentions are all about pointing it in the other direction. This is a rolling excuse-eraser of a bike, be it down a pucker-worthy chute or at speed over a load of pointy chunder. It's also a 33.46-pound reminder that geometry comes before all else, including weight and price.
You'll be reminded of exactly that anytime you drop into a fast, rough trail, with the Fuji happy to act as a plow if that's how you want to get things done. In that sort of heels down, committed mindset, the Auric LT doesn't seem to get flustered about much at all. At 30-percent sag out back and a slightly stiffer than recommended Lyrik up front, the Fuji holds a line in a nearly downhill bike-like way that you usually don't see unless you have another 40mm of travel and burlier tires. It's also built like a tank; this might be, along with the Process 29, one of the most torsionally rigid bikes that I can remember riding. That said, it doesn't deliver that choppy, on/off traction type of ride that some stiff bikes seem to have, although tires, wheels, and pressures have a lot to do with that as well.
The Auric LT far prefers speed over trundling along a janky bit of trail, and it's no surprise to see the steering come alive when you get going fast enough to make the eyes water. That's where this bike should live, after all, and it's precisely where the roomy front-end and 63.5-degree head angle, along with the 170mm-travel fork, all come together to make an easy to ride, easy to corner package when the trail is rough and fast. Because it can track the ground well, you can toss the Auric LT into a choppy, beat up turn and pop out the other end still on your chosen line; it takes a lot to upset this bike.
You will need some commitment to the front of the Fuji, though, and especially if it's wet or dusty and you're pushing hard. I came off a much shorter bike than the Auric LT and it took a few rides until I really trusted the Fuji in those conditions, but there's no doubt in my mind that longer equals faster in a lot of situations. This crow tastes a little bitter, but I'll get it down eventually.
Unlike a lot of slack, long-travel bikes, I didn't find myself using the rear brake to change direction as much as I have on other rigs of similar intention, which probably speaks to the Auric LT's surprising versatility and balance.
When it comes to the bike's suspension, the new Auric LT is in another league compared to the previous MLink system.
The Super Deluxe RT3's tune feels spot-on, and while I did manage to hit the end of the stroke when I deserved to, the back of the Fuji was essentially invisible otherwise. That might not sound great, but it's actually the highest of praise when talking about a bike's suspension: It just works well, period, whether you're on the brakes or on the gas.
There's a good amount of sensitivity at the top of the stroke and everywhere else, and while it's not quite coil-like, it's as supple as anything else out there running on air. At the other end of the travel, there's enough ramp-up to keep my donut-filled, off-season body from finding the end of the stroke more often than I should, but it's in the middle where the Auric LT impressed me most. With 170mm up front and 160mm out back, race-focused geometry, and slightly hefty fighting weight, I wasn't counting on the Fuji to be all that fun in places where that travel and those angles hurt more than help... But here I am, shoveling crow into my mouth yet again.
The rougher the corner, the better the Auric LT seems to do.
At that 30-percent sag number, it's a surprisingly easy bike to pick up off the ground when you're going slow and need to put it on the other side of something. That makes the Auric LT much more well-rounded than you might think, or at least than I thought. Yes, you can go straight through that field of jagged rocks if you want, but you can also go over it, too. I think the correct term is "supportive,'' but if you asked me in person I'd probably just tell you it doesn't come across as a mushy, uninspiring bike at any point.
No, it isn't a trail bike by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm conflicted about even calling it an all-mountain rig, but I will say that it's still an easy machine to have fun on when the terrain isn't worthy of its travel or angles.
The four-piston Code R brakes make a lot of sense on the Auric LT, but depending on how and where you ride, the EXO-casing rubber might not. Expect the bike to go over 34lb with dual-ply tires installed, too.