SETUP | My time on board the Aeris AM was not extensive at just under 2 weeks, but I managed to get it onto a variety of terrain in this time across Scotland to get a good feel for it and play with the setup a touch to get it feeling about right. Pulling it out of the box, its low weight was immediately apparent, and confirmation of this fact when reading that 32.14lbs number on the scale – after I’d added a burly tire combo and alloy wheelset – had me very impressed. This number comes with a realistic, usable build, and though there are definitely areas where it loses in ultimate hard charging capability to a burlier build, it proved to be well up to the task for some aggressive riding.
Sag markers on the RockShox suspension made it easy to get air pressures dialed in, and the only concern I was left with was the height of the front end. A relatively low stack height combined with the low Race Face Next bars meant my front end height was on the uncomfortable side, but it was easily remedied by a higher bar. Suspension feel out of the box was on the fairly heavily damped side, which is typically my preference but did lead to some mild fatigue from a high level of feedback on the first descents, so I backed off the damper settings a touch and ended up in a comfortable spot.
CLIMBING | Seated position on the Aeris AM is comfortable, if a little more relaxed than some if you’re a long-legged rider like me due to the slacker actual seat tube angle. Even so, it took some very steep terrain before this caused any issue, and otherwise left me in a fairly happy spot, with the short-to-mid length rear end keeping just enough weight through that front wheel without actively having to lean all my weight through the bars. The pedaling platform is firm but not extreme, erring on the more efficient side than the traction-rich, but it still proved to offer ample comfort and purchase on slippery and rough terrain when combined with some relatively sticky rubber out back. The geometry strikes a nice blend that retains a healthy amount of agility to navigate tight uphill switchbacks, and when combined with its low weight the overall notions are very much that of a long-legged trail bike as opposed to a burly enduro bike when you’re on your way up the hill.
DESCENDING | With the firmly damped initial suspension setup, there was a considerable amount of trail feedback coming through which carried on the long-legged trail bike notions from the way up. However, upon playing with the setup to increase off-the-top compliance without reducing end-of-stroke support, I got the Aeris AM into a happy place where it simply felt like a light and tight enduro bike, and a dialed one at that. Between the effective cable management and healthy levels of chain slap protection, the Aeris AM was very quiet and free from vibration, which translates into a more comfortable and reassuring ride when you’re pushing hard through rough and rugged terrain.
The agility from the way up the hill is still somewhat present on the way down, making the Aeris AM a well-managed bike for less aggressive descents and flow trails. The weight reduction compared with many of the bikes I’ve been testing recently makes a notable difference to its manners through the tighter terrain or when popping and playing, with an extra notch of fun factor and reduction in energy expenditure all round. When things get a little gnarlier, it’s still a healthily capable bike, but it tends towards the slightly livelier side of things instead of being the most planted and stable machine that begs you to point it in a straight line through the gnar and hold on. The Bird Aeris AM instead benefits from a slightly more delicate and deliberate touch, but will still support through hard compressions and tire ripping berms without flinching all too often.
FINISH AND VALUE | Straight away the Aeris AM looks like a step up in quality and refinement over previous Bird bikes, with some killer lines in the carbon frame and a neat finish all round. This carried onto its on-trail performance, where it was tight and quiet, and aside from the downtube guard beginning to peel a little, there were no issues or loose bolts to complain about throughout testing. With the frame coming in at sub-£2k with a high quality shock, it represents impressive value compared with the vast majority of bikes these days, and I imagine the full builds will continue to set somewhat of a benchmark for value for money as this is where Bird has scored very highly in the past.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The new Bird Aeris AM is a great all rounder that offers a high quality finish at a reasonable price. It’s not a pointed machine that’ll excel in any one particular area, but strikes a nice balance of low weight and climbing efficiency with reasonable capabilities to tackle enduro terrain without flinching. Consider me impressed overall.
Price: £1,995 (Frame / Shock only)
Weight: 32.14lbs / 14.6kg (as built)