Author Topic: New to Audax, which bike would be best?  (Read 15652 times)

brownster

New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« on: April 20, 2010, 09:04:34 am »
Hi all, my first post to the forums, I've been reading for some time and decided to take the plunge and do my first audax, I'm doing the Hop Garden 100km audax that starts at Meopham in a few weeks time.
I'm after a bit of advice as I have three bikes and all probably not ideal so would like the benefit of all you experienced Audaxers! Firstly I should say I'm fairly fit, I ride a bit, doing 30 mile rides easily but rarely do more, though in the past I have done the occasional ride of 50 miles so doing a 100km will be a new challange for me!

My 'best' bike is a modern mid-price racer by BH, the deep narrow rims,not many spokes and only a double chainset, 9spd rear, light of course but the ride position is well canted forward, I've done a 50 mile ride on it before and found my back ached afterwards.
Next there is an old racer I was given which I duly painted bright yellow :-) , 27" wheels a double chainset and a 5 speed rear block, old leather 'Wrights' saddle but you know, this is a comfy bike so I'm tempted to use this.
Lastly a mountain bike, Specialized rock hopper, about 5 years old, fairly comfy, but I would need to buy some road tyres for it, the thought of 100km on knobblies is enough to make me wince . It has a triple front ring, 9spd rear which is a plus and reasonably comfortable too.
Whichever I choose I need to sort out some luggage carrying and I do have a rack and some clip on panniers that would fit straight onto the MTB or if I fashion some clips I could get onto the old racer (which has mudguard lugs).

What do you think?

Thanks,
Wayne.

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2010, 09:21:14 am »
It may help to have a read through this thread: Bike Requirements for Audax
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PaulF

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2010, 09:24:29 am »
The comfy one!

vorsprung

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2010, 09:39:23 am »
If you are happy the yellow bike is reliable, if you think that is the most comfortable, that's the one to use.

ISTR that when I started audaxing and 100km seemed like a long way that having low gears to use when the legs are shot is quite a good thing.
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Charlotte

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2010, 09:54:32 am »
I'd be tempted to either ride the comfy old bike and make sure it's reliable or to have a look at why the more modern road bike wasn't so comfortable.

Is it the right size?  If it is, is the saddle at the right height?  Are the 'bars at the right distance from the saddle?  How high are they relative to the saddle?

All these things can be sorted out by a professional bike fit session, but there are some good "rule of thumb" guidelines that you can try first; just have a search around online or look on here.

Luggage-wise, for a summer 100k you really don't need much kit.  A camel-back or small saddle bag will be fine.  Don't take big panniers because you'll fill them with things you don't need!
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hellymedic

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2010, 10:14:52 am »
The comfy one!


+1

Anything reliable and comfortable will do.
A bike used for utility and commuting purposes is most likely to have any little faults corrected quickly while one that mostly stays in a shed may have surprises in store.
Make sure you're happy with any saddle you use.

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2010, 10:29:18 am »
Use whichever bike you think will make you enjoy the event the most. When I first started riding audaxes I didn't have a choice of bikes but I did used to flip the stem for audaxes to raise the bars slightly and give a more upright position. If you have chance before the event it might be worth trying that and seeing if it helps, assuming yours is currently in the 'down' position that is.

I wouldn't worry about a rack and luggage for a 100km event, in fact I'd avoid it - if you have space you'll end up taking much more than you need. You should be able to carry what you need in your jersey pockets and a decent sized saddle wedge. Another alternative to carry a light waterproof jacket is scrunched up into a tool bottle in a 2nd bottle cage - just take one bottle and top up at controls if necessary.

Enjoy the event!

brownster

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2010, 11:06:43 am »
It may help to have a read through this thread: Bike Requirements for Audax
Thanks I did, I had a good look around too for general advice, I can't remember now but I did read a lot on the Audax uk site which was very helpful too :-)

Thanks for all the quick replies, it seems comfort is the main thing which is unsurprising, what I should have said was my concern for the gearing, the old yellow bike being a 10 speed has no granny ring or a lovely 'mega 9 cog that's almost as big as the wheel' thing going on, so although I have good legs for climbing I'm thinking what will they be like at the end when I have to do Holly Hill  :-\
Reliability wise it's had a fair overhaul by me when I got it, new rear wheel, good drive train. Tyres are cheap 27 x 1.25 schwalbe with some puncture protection but as they are their cheap ones I don't know how good they will prove to be, talking of tyres I read a lot of ppl go for marathon or marathon plus here, any recommendations for tyres that fit a 27 inch rim? I guess not many people use them these days... [edit I just found I can get Marathons from SJS so that's a bonus]

Luggage wise I'll take the advice given and forget the rack/pannier then, and concentrate on a largish saddle bag.

Is it the right size?  If it is, is the saddle at the right height?  Are the 'bars at the right distance from the saddle?  How high are they relative to the saddle?

Yes I believe it is, correct saddle height for good stroke, even found a comfy saddle (Charge Spoon work really well for me) but the narrow deep section rims are unforgiving as you'd expect on a racer, the reach is fine it's just fairly low, but you know how it is, it's an out and out racer, when I bought it I was thinking time trialling etc. and so went for this instead of a more sane bike which I'm regretting now.

I was wondering do many people use MTB's ? They are on the heavy side I know but I thought would roll quite well with the right tyres.

For that matter do many people use racers as I described with the aero rims and all?

Use whichever bike you think will make you enjoy the event the most. When I first started riding audaxes I didn't have a choice of bikes but I did used to flip the stem for audaxes to raise the bars slightly and give a more upright position. If you have chance before the event it might be worth trying that and seeing if it helps, assuming yours is currently in the 'down' position that is.

I hadn't thought / heard of doing that, we are talking about the short stem on a 'A head' type front fork, what a good idea I might have to give that a try!

Cheers,
Wayne.

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2010, 11:42:23 am »
I hadn't thought / heard of doing that, we are talking about the short stem on a 'A head' type front fork, what a good idea I might have to give that a try!

That's right, they are often reversible with something like +6 or -6 degree angle. You might also be able to achieve something in between the extremes by (for eg) swapping the stem from 'down' to 'up' but moving a space from below the stem to above it. All depend on what stem / spacers you have and the current configuration - post a photo if you like.

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2010, 12:57:21 pm »
I should have said was my concern for the gearing, the old yellow bike being a 10 speed has no granny ring or a lovely 'mega 9 cog that's almost as big as the wheel' thing going on, so although I have good legs for climbing I'm thinking what will they be like at the end when I have to do Holly Hill  :-\

Well, there is always the 24" gear...

Quote
Reliability wise it's had a fair overhaul by me when I got it, new rear wheel, good drive train. Tyres are cheap 27 x 1.25 schwalbe with some puncture protection but as they are their cheap ones I don't know how good they will prove to be, talking of tyres I read a lot of ppl go for marathon or marathon plus here, any recommendations for tyres that fit a 27 inch rim?

Generally people don't use marathon or marathon+ as they are too heavy. There are big threads about tyre choices, out of those two I'd go for normal marathon now - they are plenty good enough puncture wise, but are still a heavy, fairly slow tyre. The Panaracer Pasella TG are available in 27 inch, much lighter and used by several AUKers (I used one on front for LEL, and am riding them front and rear at the moment).
Having said that, I did a back-to-back pair of 400km rides from Hampshire through Wales up to Anglesey this January using Marathon+ as I really, really didn't want to be fixing punctures in the middle of the night in sub zero conditions.

Quote
I was wondering do many people use MTB's ? They are on the heavy side I know but I thought would roll quite well with the right tyres.

For that matter do many people use racers as I described with the aero rims and all?

MTBs do get used on shorter rides, or by people doing their own personal challenges (like aiming for a 200km ride per month on a full suss bike). One Italian lady rode LEL on a MTB. They really aren't common though.

Aero rims tend to be avoided, as they aren't comfortable for long distances - you end up numb and sore, but that does depend a lot upon the roads. Note the threads here where people are talking about using bigger tyres due to the current poor state of the road surfaces.

But, to be honest, for a 100km ride I'd use whichever bike you feel most comfortable with (either from a physical comfort, or a mental "I know this bike will get me round" perspective). You've done a 50 mile ride, you find 30 miles easy, so you'll be fine. I personally wouldn't use the mountain bike, but either of the others would work - and if you have to walk up a hill this time, then it gives you something to aim for improvement wise next year!

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2010, 01:17:39 pm »
FWIW I did my first Audax 100k last weekend.
Used my 22 y. old Dawes Galaxy, which I've modified with modern handbuilt wheels, & triple 9 gearing.
Very comfortable, my legs a little tired towards the end due to inadequate training.   
There were a few other steel tourers, but most people seemed to be on aluminium frames/carbon forks. 
I found I was keeping up easily with most "bunches" on the flat & the downhills - but got so dropped on every hill that I was riding solo much of the time.

Big lesson learned - don't take so much kit.  Most seemed to manage with seat wedgepack and pockets.

I had full barbag, and later as day warmed up, jacket and then L/S jersey strapped to back of saddle.
I'm sure it was the weight that got me dropped, not the feebleness of the legs  ;D

Karla

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2010, 01:32:16 pm »
I'm going to be contrary, you should use the best bike.  Audax is just a bike ride, it's nothing scary.  You've done 50 miles so 62 is no problem it's just a little bit extra tagged on!  I ride a road bike (Specialized Allez Sport) and it's got me round longer rides than yours without trouble.  You ask about the gearing, what gearing do you actually have?  What number of teeth do you have on the smallest front and largest rear ring?  The Hop Garden 100 isn't listed as a hilly ride, are there really any substantial hills to worry about?

As for tyres, one thing to remember is that the advice on the Audax site is for people riding up to 600km, if you've got decent tyres on your best bike you should use that.  Flip the stem if your back hurts and if you want to spend any money, buy a new, more widely spaced cassette.  You shouldn't need a big saddlebag for 100km in July, all you need is a pump, tools, your wallet and keys - a standard small saddlebag will be fine.  If you're really worried about breaking down without a particular more esoteric tool (eg. chain breaker), make sure that on your fast bike you're not at the back of the field, then you can find someone behind you who had the right tool :)

Enjoy yourself!

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2010, 01:46:59 pm »
100k is a nice distance and if you take your time it won't really make a massive difference which bike you take I think ( unless you keep the knobbly tyres on the MTB).

I know you asked for advice about the bike, but here some non-mechanical advice FWIW... make sure you strike up a few conversations early on.  People are normally happy to chat a little and later in the day when you are feeling a bit weary it's nice to have someone to say Hi to when you roll into a control.  If they happen to be wearing YACF clothing you've got an instant ice-breaker.

And beware, Audax, like tattoos, is addictive.  Finish a 100K and the next thing you know you'll be in the start line on PBP! 

Liam

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2010, 02:41:17 pm »
The obsessing over equipment is typical for most people on here, including me. Everyone has their own preferred type of bike, tyres, load carried (I sometimes leave the kitchen sink at home!), etc. But ultimately, it really doesn't matter.

The main thing is really just to enjoy it. It is only a bike ride, you are obviously capable of riding it as you've done similar distances before.

Make sure you've got everything ready early the night before (I always find that those "little jobs" I leave to do in the morning on my way out take longer than I expected). Take a pen (for info controls). Take some cash for buying food at controls.

Turn up with time to get yourself ready to go and still be able to sit down with a coffee at the start. Watch everyone at the start, the hall will suddenly empty with a few minutes to go then everyone will be off. Easy to miss if you are faffing.

Make sure you have some way of holding the route sheet; you should be keeping track of where you are even if you are in a group - if you get dropped you'll need to know what the next instruction is. It's also not unusual for the whole group to be lazily following a single navigator at the front, who may miss a turn...

As Liam said, look out for yacf (or acf) shirts - introduce yourself and you'll be made welcome.

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2010, 03:12:54 pm »
Personal record distances on bikes will often involve a bit of discomfort unless you have a magical setup for the bike. You can't expect a bike that's comfy for a 5 minute ride to be comfortable for a 50 hour ride. Your body can compensate for the odd position for a finite amount of time and then the aches and pains will start. It'll be different for every person and every bike.

You can alleviate symptoms by modifying bike setup (such as flipping the stem to raise the bars) but that's going to have other knock on effects. Less weight on the hands and less bending over (to avoid backpain) means more weight on the arse. A more upright riding position means either more power required or more time in the saddle as you'll be going slower for the same work.

Symptoms should also go away with plenty of hours in the saddle, as you build up the core strength required for long periods on the bike. I haven't changed my fixed Audax bike setup at all but my first 100 mile ride on it hurt, subsequent 200km rides didn't; my first 300km ride on it hurt by the end, subsequent 300km rides didn't, etc.

If a bike is still giving back problems after a repeated bunch of rides of a certain distance then look at the setup as a well setup bike should be comfortable once you're used to the distance.

From what you've written, If you've done 50 miles on a bike and survived without too much discomfort then another 12 miles won't kill you.
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citoyen

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2010, 03:40:58 pm »
the old yellow bike being a 10 speed has no granny ring or a lovely 'mega 9 cog that's almost as big as the wheel' thing going on, so although I have good legs for climbing I'm thinking what will they be like at the end when I have to do Holly Hill  :-\

More gears = heavier bike.

I used to think a triple with very low gearing was essential for audaxing, but over time I've shifted towards the other end of the spectrum and this year I've even started riding audaxes on fixed. I find my overall average speed is much the same on fixed as when riding on gears.

If you're a competent climber, you'll find very few hills that you can't manage (as long as you steer clear of AAA-rated rides).

Quote
Luggage wise I'll take the advice given and forget the rack/pannier then, and concentrate on a largish saddle bag.

Yup. Again, a rack is just extra weight that's best avoided. I used to have a rack on my audax bike but no more. A saddle bag doesn't even need to be that big. For me, a Carradice Barley fits more than enough kit and food for a 300. Extra luggage space will only tempt you to carry more stuff. More than you need.

Quote
I was wondering do many people use MTB's ? They are on the heavy side I know but I thought would roll quite well with the right tyres.

I have seen MTBs on some of the shorter audaxes before.

d.

jogler

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2010, 03:59:03 pm »
I have done only a few audax rides but quickly moved from using a saddlebag(which allowed me to carry too much stuff) to using a small saddle-wedge & jersey pockets.
The last 100km I did kept me on the road for 7 hours in dry weather last month so I was physically & mentally comfortable with having minimum kit.If I do longer rides in the future in variable weather I will revert to using the saddlebag but be strict about not taking too much "just-in-case" kit.
I would certainly not use knobbly tyres.I have several bikes which I have used on these rides & found Specialised Mondo 23mm to be the most comfortable for 100km distance.

LittleWheelsandBig

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2010, 04:01:08 pm »

I was wondering do many people use MTB's ? They are on the heavy side I know but I thought would roll quite well with the right tyres.


Sheila Simpson has done a Super Randonneur series on a MTB.
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citoyen

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Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2010, 04:01:55 pm »
Of course, I often see lots of very experienced riders with triples with very low gearing, and racks laden with large rack packs.

And they usually finish ahead of me.

d.

brownster

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2010, 04:18:27 pm »
Of course, I often see lots of very experienced riders with triples with very low gearing, and racks laden with large rack packs.

And they usually finish ahead of me.

d.


:-D Such is life... well, I have discounted the MTB at least, now it's down to the old or newer racer.
I had another look at the gearing and the old yellow racer has a lower gear combination which also goes in it's favour as do the tyres that at least have some  puncture protection; the newer racer has 'Cheng shin' rubber on them which I'm not convinced are premium either and there's no puncture protection on them for sure.
The wheels on the old bike are 36 spoke too, as opposed to some fancy 28 spoke design on the other one with aero wheels.
I've also got some full mudguards for the old racer too which pretty much swings it in it's favour so I think it's pretty much decided ! Time for some fettling!
I'm really looking forward to my first 100 and am already thinking about the next one, will I be ready to step up to a  160 or 200.....

Cheers,
Wayne

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2010, 04:20:40 pm »
I'm really looking forward to my first 100 and am already thinking about the next one, will I be ready to step up to a  160 or 200.....

Audaxing is addictive. You'll be doing a 600 before you know it.

In fact, it's not too late to start training for PBP next year. ;)

d.

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2010, 04:22:42 pm »
With that distance, you will do fine with what you have got.  If you are content with your current bikes, stick with them

There is no real need to start considering audax type frame geometry, etc, unless you are riding much longer distances.  I completed a 300km on a standard race frame last Saturday quite happily and I am still (just about) able to walk.

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2010, 04:33:11 pm »
I did my first 100km audax towards the end of March - it took some courage on my part as i normally steer clear of humans.

There was no need to have suffered the myriad anxieties that i put myself through, it was just a bunch of people going for a bike ride on all sorts of different machines with all sorts of different kit.  I used my road bike, although my touring bike would have done just as well.

I had a brilliant day, felt quite pleased with myself for pushing myself into it and now believe why others say it is addictive - i was glad i had entered the 200km the following weekend and enjoyed that just as much, despite being bloomin' knackered by the end of it!

Enjoy, and let us know how you get on (and what you get on!)  :thumbsup:

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2010, 04:45:51 pm »
it was just a bunch of people going for a bike ride

Oh yes, this is so true - if you can convince yourself of the fact that "it's only a bike ride", that's half the battle won. Then all you have to do is ride a bit, then ride a bit more, and maybe a bit more after that.

d.

brownster

Re: New to Audax, which bike would be best?
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2010, 05:07:15 pm »
Hopefully might see some people from YACF and will say hi if I do :-) I was doing it on my own but now a mate has bitten the bullet and is going to join me so we'll be able to give each other moral support (plus I'll tuck in behind him in a head wind, hehe)  ;D

Cheers,
Wayne.