Author Topic: Audax bike question  (Read 14069 times)

Audax bike question
« on: April 26, 2010, 11:03:35 pm »
I have a Thorn Sherpa, which I use for day rides and cycle camping. It's a lovely bike and I'm very pleased with it. Loaded with camping gear or not, it's rock steady and a delight to ride.

I am now starting to do some longer rides - I've done a couple of 100km Audaxes this year, and will attempt my first 200 in two weeks time. Also, I've rather foolishly booked on to a 2 week supported Tour des Grandes Alpes in September, and have embarked on a hilly training programme to prepare for this.

I am considering buying a lighter bike. The Sherpa weighs 14kg, and I reckon I could spend £600 on a new bike and maybe save 3 - 4kg, which may make those hills a little easier.

I would appreciate some advice as to whether this is worthwhile. Would it make the long / hilly rides easier?

Apologies to CC readers - I posted this question there last night, but I think it got a bit swamped in the traffic.

Finally - as I settle down to that most pleasurable of tasks - internet research as to shiny new bike options - has anyone any recommendations?

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2010, 11:15:55 pm »
14kg is heavy but the reason people fail to enjoy/complete an Audax ride is seldom directly related to bike weight. Reliability and comfort are much more critical IMO and your Sherpa seems to deliver these.
I would not rush into buying a new bike quite yet; get a few brevets under your belt and decide later.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2010, 07:18:48 am »
14kg is heavy but the reason people fail to enjoy/complete an Audax ride is seldom directly related to bike weight. Reliability and comfort are much more critical IMO and your Sherpa seems to deliver these.
I would not rush into buying a new bike quite yet; get a few brevets under your belt and decide later.
Absolutely. Position on the bike is far more important on long rides. Get that wrong and the lightest bike in the world won't help. Done in an uninformed manner you may risk getting something too "racy" for the purpose. Fine if you too are a racer, but .....

You may find that your requirements in the way of gear - clothing, food and drink, spares, etc. - changes with experience. This could affect your choice: do you need pannier mounts or not, etc.

Also, a study of the other machines on a few rides can be illuminating, although you really need to connect them to the riders and their finishing times, since the diversity has to be seen to be believed (in both riders and machines). This alone wil convince you that Audaxes can be done on anything (see Drew Buck at PBP 2007!)

vorsprung

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Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2010, 09:02:54 am »
My best audax riding bike only weighs 9 or 10kg but oh dear what a pity it has 2 x 1 litre water bottles (+2 Kg)
an SQR tour full of clothing and bits of flapjack (+7kg) and of course a fat lummock on top (+80kg)

Total weight 99kg.  If the bike weighed 14kg instead this would increase the total by 5%
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LEE

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 11:39:58 am »


Thorn Raven and me (4 hours away from completing Midhurst 600 Audax).

Apart from the hub gears I doubt there's much difference in the 2 bikes.  
Neither bikes are lightweights but comfort counts for a lot (as the distance increases it counts for more and more)

Tyres make a huge difference, I use the basic (£15) Schwalbe Marathons, 25x1.5".  They are still fat when compared to 700c race tyres but they are rated to over 100psi so they roll along nicely and they make sense on gravelly/flinty country lanes.

So yes, you could spend some money and complete the 200 in a quicker time but that doesn't mean you'll enjoy the ride more.

Charlotte

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Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 11:57:26 am »
As everyone else has said - if you're that worried about the kilos, don't take so much kit with you and loose a bit yourself (most of us can/should).

Although there's nothing to stop you splurging on something racier, a Thorn Sherpa is a fabulous bike and absolutely fine for audaxing.  You've only got to average 15kph - if you're riding something made of Elf Spoo and Fairy Dust, chances are it's not going to be nearly as comfortable as the Thorn is now. 

Time is miles  8)
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Pete Mas

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Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2010, 12:10:26 pm »
IMHO I didnt feel the need for a lightweight (carbon frame) bike until I decided to ride very long events, ie PBP and LEL. Was fine on the Thorn Raven til then. Now I love my Shimano Roubaix for hilly rides and long audaxes, and long climbs in the Alps and the Pyrenees. It only weighs around 14 lbs, and I only have an altura seat pack, so not tempted to carry too much with me either. Think I would consider a titanium frame with relaxed angles, allowing mudguards, if money was not a limiting factor, for my next bike.
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Justin(e)

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Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2010, 12:37:01 pm »
A contrarian answer.
The UCI legal weight is 6.8kg, but in audax there is no minimum.  Effectively you are carrying an extra 7kg up every single hill - for what?  The new bikes have been cleverly designed to take vibration out of a bumpy ride whilst still giving your rigidity in the right places.

I know that when I do any sort of lumpy ride that the guys with the lighter bikes have a HUGE advantage over me when I had my old bike.

Two years ago I decided to ride the etape with a bike I picked up from the dump.  I was going to show all those unfit city guys on their expensive carbon fibre bikes that it was all about the training, not the wallet.

Very bad idea, I made it - but I will never try that stunt again.

Get a light bike, the lightest that you can afford.

Oh and welcome to the grand world of randonees.  They are terrific fun and a great way to see the countryside, but for heaven sake, don't take 14kg to the Alps - you'll end up with haemorroids (like I did).

 

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2010, 12:47:10 pm »
IMHO I didnt feel the need for a lightweight (carbon frame) bike until I decided to ride very long events, ie PBP and LEL. Was fine on the Thorn Raven til then. Now I love my Shimano Roubaix for hilly rides and long audaxes, and long climbs in the Alps and the Pyrenees. It only weighs around 14 lbs, and I only have an altura seat pack, so not tempted to carry too much with me either. Think I would consider a titanium frame with relaxed angles, allowing mudguards, if money was not a limiting factor, for my next bike.

Don't worry too much about the angles for the sort of distances you ride.  Personally speaking, I am quite happy riding on race frames for hilly distances upto 300km in summer. The only contention is in the depths of winter when you need to carry more clobber on randonees in which case a frame with softer angles will be appreciated - in which some of Titanium versions are fine, though I use a tatty old Trek frame with luggage capacity.

Stick with your Roubaix and you should be fine, they are designed for endurance rides in any case.  Also remember, the more space bags, the more you will fill those bags and the more unnecessary clobber you will carry. (PS, if you want to allow for mudguards, you don't need lugs, the clip-on race blades are sufficient).

chillmoister

  • King of Compton
Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2010, 01:03:45 pm »
here's my 2 cents worth .....I started audaxing in 2008 using my Thorn Raven Tour and over following year or so completed several 100km and 200km rides without too much trouble. However despite how much I love the Raven it always felts like the heavy, bullet proof world tourer that it is and I really fancied something a bit lighter and a bit more nimble ....so with the help of my companys bike2work scheme I purchaed a Thorn audax mk3 in march 2009 ...just in time for my first 300K.  It was a revelation and there was no holding me back ...and i'm now 3/4 of the way through my 2nd SR.  Buying a lighter bike was definitely the right decision.
appearing in a tea room near you

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2010, 08:12:08 pm »
I sorta agree with this, I used to be entirely happy on my old steel frame bianchi, did plenty of 200k's on it and then also LeJoG. But then I did a trip to the Alps, then the Etape, then the Raid Pyrenee and agree, the lightest bike you can afford is the way to go up proper big hills - I swapped my old steel bianchi for a full carbon one before the Etape. Maybe it's quicker / easier up the hills, maybe it's more nimble down the hills - who knows - it's all in the mind - but to me I finish big rides in the mind, not the legs and if my mind is happier being on a full carbon then that's a good starting point.


IMHO I didnt feel the need for a lightweight (carbon frame) bike until I decided to ride very long events, ie PBP and LEL. Was fine on the Thorn Raven til then. Now I love my Shimano Roubaix for hilly rides and long audaxes, and long climbs in the Alps and the Pyrenees. It only weighs around 14 lbs, and I only have an altura seat pack, so not tempted to carry too much with me either. Think I would consider a titanium frame with relaxed angles, allowing mudguards, if money was not a limiting factor, for my next bike.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2010, 09:36:28 pm »
The logic of a lighter bike being an easier ride is, I suppose, unassailable.  But there is great merit in adapting what you have for the time being, to ensure that this is really what you want to do, and to help you determine what characteristics your "ideal" bike needs.  It's not just about weight.  On a long ride position becomes very important.  Are you likely to be a "fair weather" participant, or round-the-year - mudguard clearance, even if not fitted all the time, might be important (and yes, RaceBlades and clip-ons work, but they are not as effective as proper guards).

I keep saying I'll get myself a lighter bike (than my steel Roberts, which weighs a ton compared to many of the steeds I see on audaxes), but what I have is comfortable, and generally reliable.  And I suppose keeps me stronger, as I have to push so much more up the hills.  But then my own 92kg is a poor starting point!

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2010, 09:52:10 pm »
A lighter bike will make things easier for a while but then you realise that you still aren't really fit enough.  However a lighter bike will probably make you want to get out there and ride more hence get you fit enough.  Not very helpful really. if you want a new bike, you don't need our approval, just go for it. None of my bikes are particularly flash, don't know how much they weigh but I am faster than quite a few riders up hills who ride newer or more exotic bikes than mine. It's not about the bike.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2010, 10:04:50 pm »
Bike weight doesn't make much of a difference on the flat. It may be a bit slower to get up to speed but once you're up to speed all of your power is being used to defeat air-resistance (the bulk of it) and friction. Audaxes aren't known for their sudden attacks and rapid changes of pace that a light bike will benefit from (F=ma remember).

Bike weight can be useful for downhill, but since you're being assisted by gravity a heavy bike isn't a problem.

Uphill, unsurprisingly, is where a light bike becomes useful. You're lugging xkg of bike+bidons+luggage and ykg of you+clothing up a hill. When you stand on the pedals to climb a steep hill you're putting your weight of ykg on the top most pedal. None of the xkg is helping you in this.

This is why 5kg in a pannier makes for a much more sluggish ride than 5kg in a rucksack (although your back would soon run in to trouble with 5kg in a rucksack for Audax type distances). It's the oft repeated mantra "A pound off the bike is worth two off the rider."

The lighter xkg is, the easier it will seem to climb but not a huge amount. Halving the weight of your bike and luggage won't make you twice as fast up the hills (although it may feel like that the first time out on a new shiny lightweight bike!). You can achieve this by taking less stuff with you (strapped to the bike), replacing individual components on the bike for lighter ones, or by replacing the whole bike with a lighter one.

The problem with relying on losing rider weight is that you generally lose a proportional amount of power at the same time. (Well that's true for me as a not very prolific rider bordering on the 'untrained' power-to-weight ratios.) Even if your power-to-weigh ratio improves slightly, the bike is now a larger proportion of your leaner mass, which doesn't help. Getting fitter is what helps, as it generally leads to increased power-to-weight ratio and lower weight. I wasn't much fitter by the end of 2008 than I was at the beginning despite all of the riding I did that year, I was lighter, but that didn't help my climbing.

There's nothing wrong with your Sherpa, you've proven that you can Audax on it. But there's certainly a more suitable and lighter bike for Audaxing available for £600.
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Panoramix

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Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2010, 10:39:27 pm »
Also you can spend money in a good pair of wheels and the bike will feel much faster. I am not sure how heavy your frame is but frame weight tend to be a small portion of the total weight much of your kinetic energy is in the rotation of the wheels hence the disproportionate effect of a good pair of wheels with light tyres.

Actually you can upgrade your tyres before the 200 and for less than £50 the bike will feel faster. Use for instance 26x1.25 paselas.
Chief cat entertainer.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2010, 10:53:01 pm »
Thanks for detailed and diverse responses.

Comfort should be ok - I've done multi-day tours on a mountain bike as well as the Sherpa without discomfort so I guess I'm quite adaptable.  Enough people have posted about seeing a real difference with a lighter bike to make me think it's worth exploring further. I'm not interested in going faster - just a little further and higher.

I guess my main concern is the Alps - I don't want to ruin a cycling tour by struggling too much. I went up the Col D'Aubisque in the Pyrenees a couple of years ago without any problem, but this trip will be one or two cols a day at least! At least the trip is supported, so I can keep the carried weight down.

Weight wise, I'm 73.5 kg at the moment.  Regular cycling through the summer should get me back down to 71kg - if I lose 4kg of bike weight then the total would be 6.5 less kgs to take up the hills. I feel that my legs will appreciate this.

I intend to get fitter and lighter - last season I lost a little bit of weight by cycling 700km through France followed by a coast to coast walk four weeks later.  At the end of it I felt great, although the cycling in France did take it out of me a bit.  Greenbank's comments about losing power with weight applied to me then. Need to build up to it over a longer period - a series of audaxes will definitely help with this.

I will have a look at a few lightweights and test one or two - and will look with new eyes at the other bikes on next weeks 200.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2010, 10:55:15 pm »
I believe you would be fine on your current bike, but if you have space and money for a lighter, racier bike, Go For it.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2010, 10:57:49 pm »
All equipment improvements bring a quantum jump in performance. Fitness improvements come as tiny increments. In addition, the spending of large amounts of money behoves you to justify the expense. As an improving cyclist you can split your efforts financially and physically, ride more and you will get faster, buy a fast bike and you will stay with other riders longer and try harder, which means you will need more knowledge of nutrition and hydration, soon you will be on a virtuous spiral to fitness. But make sure you enjoy your riding, because that will sustain your fitness in the long term, and don't take it too seriously. Your partner will like you to be fitter and thinner, but they might look elsewhere if you become a bore, who is away a lot.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2010, 11:27:42 pm »
All equipment improvements bring a quantum jump in performance. Fitness improvements come as tiny increments. In addition, the spending of large amounts of money behoves you to justify the expense. As an improving cyclist you can split your efforts financially and physically, ride more and you will get faster, buy a fast bike and you will stay with other riders longer and try harder, which means you will need more knowledge of nutrition and hydration, soon you will be on a virtuous spiral to fitness. But make sure you enjoy your riding, because that will sustain your fitness in the long term, and don't take it too seriously. Your partner will like you to be fitter and thinner, but they might look elsewhere if you become a bore, who is away a lot.


Great Post.

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2011, 08:16:21 pm »
 An update - after a few months of procrastination I got myself a Sabbath September.  I've now done about 2000 miles, including a couple of 200k audaxes on it.  Although my ride times don't seem to have improved, the Sabbath feels lighter and faster than the Sherpa.  It is a lovely bike, very comfortable when ridden all day after I had got used to the new Brookes saddle, which in itself took 1000 miles to do.

BDI

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2011, 09:11:47 pm »
Very good Ergle. And how do you carry the legendary stove and tea-set on such a sporty machine?

Re: Audax bike question
« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2011, 08:13:43 am »
Very good Ergle. And how do you carry the legendary stove and tea-set on such a sporty machine?

Haven't worked that one out yet.  It's got to be a titanium tea set though