Author Topic: Spa Steel Audax  (Read 34203 times)

Spa Steel Audax
« on: July 07, 2013, 05:00:20 pm »
I recently built up a Spa Steel Audax to my own spec and thought I would just post to say how much I'm enjoying it. I only managed two rides before I broke my collarbone falling off my mountain bike. Today I've been out and done just over 50 miles, on a flat route from Harrogate to Wetherby via Sicklinghall and then to Green Hammerton, Boroughbridge via Aldeburgh and Ripon. Home on the back roads through Burton Leonard, Markington and Ripley.

The bike is all I'd hoped. The 725 frame is nicely made and went together without any issues. It is fast enough - feels responsive to me - very comfortable on 28mm tyres with a resilience to the ride that reminds me of my old 80's Orbit Gold Medal. The frame is still stiff enough for me to be happy climbing standing up, although if you really get the hammer down you can feel the bottom bracket moving from side to side. It's not unpleasant and there are those who have the view that (if you ride with rhythm?) you get the energy back later in the pedal stroke.

Mine is set up with a mixed Shimano group and the 'new Stronglight' triple at 48-36-26 with 12-25 cassette. Gearing works well over all and, so far, I've not regretted giving up the 50:11 of the compact doubles to get closer ratios and a lower bottom end.

Well worth a try if you are after a comfy new audax/light tourer general purpose steed and either would prefer steel to the titanium or simply want a lower budget. I can't compare to the Genesis etc, but being local to Spa it's easy to pop in if anything needs fixing and they've always been good at looking after me.

Mike



You can see another project in the background...

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2013, 05:42:58 pm »
The bike is all I'd hoped. The 725 frame is nicely made and went together without any issues. It is fast enough - feels responsive to me - very comfortable on 28mm tyres with a resilience to the ride that reminds me of my old 80's Orbit Gold Medal. The frame is still stiff enough for me to be happy climbing standing up, although if you really get the hammer down you can feel the bottom bracket moving from side to side. It's not unpleasant and there are those who have the view that (if you ride with rhythm?) you get the energy back later in the pedal stroke.
That sounds similar to the ride I experience on my Croix de fer, also 725 throughout. It's a great feeling, resilient, comfy and still seems efficient.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2013, 08:51:13 pm »
This is mine, made up earlier this year.






Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2013, 09:38:34 pm »
would it be possible to attach a rear rack and panniers to this frame without spoiling it's handling :)

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2013, 10:10:12 pm »
Ferret, the frame has rack mounts and I think would be fine with a light load - worth giving Spa a call to ask. If you want to carry heavy stuff then you might be better off with the tourer or a Surly LHT, but they'll feel (and in the Surly's case be) a bit slower. I kept mine rack free as I already had the saddlebag and didn't want to get led into carrying too much on long day rides, plus I built an LHT a  couple of years ago that already has a rack if I want to go camping/shopping.

De Sisti, looks nice and functional. Are you enjoying it. They don't get much press in comparison to the Ti model, but I've been pleased and the frame is only about 1/2lb heavier in any case.

Mrcharly, I think they both set out to achieve something similar. Nice that there appear to be similarities in riding experience too.

Mike

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2013, 10:21:33 pm »
I've been looking at the Surly Cross Check & I'm on the verge of ordering a frame but seeing these two has really turned my head, it does say that a Tubus rack can be fitted for a small charge in the blurb, but yeah I think I'll give Spa a call.

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 05:53:24 pm »
Spa have just put a picture of their new/prototype 725 tourer on their twitter feed. Might pop in to ride it in the next couple of weeks, if it's a reasonable size for me.

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 08:07:37 pm »
Sjnmike, I bought the frame to replace a cracked ti frame and have managed to get the position
identical to the that of the bike it replaced. I'm very happy with it, as it's not much heavier than
the ti bike I used to have. If not for the fab weather we're having at the moment it'd be my
current steed.

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 08:28:26 am »
Would either of the two owners here mind giving a little update on how they are getting on with the bike? I think I've just about decided on this as a new frameset for my commuter. It seems to tick all the boxes I'm a bit concerned the wall thickness may not be enough to withstand small dents when locking in busy bike racks though. Any thoughts?

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 10:25:42 pm »
Guerilla

I'm still very pleased with mine. It's been knocked over inside a couple of times when the children dash past to closely, but has survived unscathed. I still like the comfortable and resilient way it rides and find it easy to do long, for me, rides on. I'm pretty much happy with the Audax and the Peugeot singlespeed. I suspect the Audax tube is stronger than the 531professional the Peugeot is made of.

I'm going to try it with the Tubus Cargo rack I picked up cheaply a few months ago. The bagman and carradice is currently on my wife's Bob Jackson, looking very pretty, so I need something to carry a rackpack and stuff. If I don't bark my heels on panniers I may sell the Long Haul Trucker and the Lapierre and use the Audax for pretty well everything. If I get around to it in the next couple of weeks I'll let you know.

One tip - don't use Campag gear cable stops as they seem to move under pressure. The metal Shimano ones are much more reliable in my experience.

Mike

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 03:51:16 pm »
thanks for the feedback, looks promising.

Toady

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2013, 10:47:34 pm »
I've been riding mine for a few hundred miles now, so I thought I'd comment. 

I really like it.

Mine is the stock model, except for the wheels which I supplied myself, with the SRAM Apex transmission.

Problem is, but I'm not sure how to write a review of a bike.  It's so dependent upon what you were used to before.  In my case a 1980s Dawes Shadow fettled repeatedly, Trigger’s Broom style, until only the frame, bars and mudguards remained.

I've found it a really smooth comfortable ride.   I've done a couple of long rides (for me that's 100 miles) on it and ended up feeling maybe a bit less beaten up afterwards than I did on my other bike.  I've also done a couple of brisk rides on it and felt like I could go a bit quicker, and keep up with scary fast guys (all psycho wotnot I'm sure).  It’s like my old bike but nicer.  How much of that is me unconsciously justifying the grand I spent on it, I can’t say.

It has a much higher top gear than my old bike (50/11 vs 48/13).  I didn't think I would need or use this, but it turns out that I really appreciate it and often find myself trying to change up past top gear.  After test riding I also chose to have the bars slightly further forward than my other bike, and I like that - but this is down to fitting rather than the bike itself.  (I spent half a day Spa riding bikes, swapping stems, adding/removing spacers, tweaking the saddle, riding again, they were very helpful.)

The other end of the range, (34/32) is what I was used to, and gets me up anything in my area … weary legs permitting.

I'm new to indexed gears and all that malarkey, being a friction shifter kind of guy before.  I've unshipped the chain a couple of times, but that probably means that the gearing may need a small tweak. Note to self: must learn how to do this.

One thing I would note is the saddle is the Passport Navigator which was fitted as standard.  The guy in at Spa said this was the cheapest decent saddle they could find, and many people would fit their own, or order a different one.  I intended to swap this over for my B17 off my other bike, but never got around to it, and (whispers) I think I prefer it to the Brooks!

Oh, and it’s all new and shiny.  That’s the best bit.


Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2013, 07:12:16 pm »
I want one … shame they don't do finance.
I dunno why anybody's doing this!

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2014, 09:20:10 pm »
Been meaning to update, though I haven't got out much lately.

I fitted some mudguards and the tubus rack this week and took it out with a pair of Carradice Carradry paniers last night. I was pleased that my heels didn't hit the panniers (size 47 Shimano RT82) and the bike rode nicely. I think it would happily to a weekend away, which is as much as I'll ask, and the rack can come off in a jiffy if I ever want to save a few hundred grams.

I also sorted out the indexing, hopefully once and for all and it's as sweet as a nut.

Still very pleased with the bike and the build.

Mike

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2014, 09:30:12 pm »



Here's mine (again):



Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2014, 12:52:43 pm »
Hi De Sisti

What size is your one? How tall are you?

Looking to buy... yours look about the right size.

Cheers

A

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2014, 10:59:19 pm »
I commuted with reasonably heavy panniers a couple of days last week. It was OK, but I was aware of the load at the back of the bike affecting the handling. To be fair, I think the pile of papers and laptop I carry would make itself known on the LHT as well. However, in summary, I'd be perfectly happy taking it away for a night's camping - I travel pretty light - but there may be better choices for a full on round the world tour with a tent.

Not really a surprise.

Mike

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2014, 01:33:05 pm »
Hi De Sisti

What size is your one? How tall are you?

Looking to buy... yours look about the right size.

Cheers

A


Mine is the medium size. I'm five seven, but have long arms.

Samuel D

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2015, 01:13:43 am »
Does anyone here know about the steel-fork option for the Spa Audax? Is it even officially available? I see no mention of it on the Spa website. Price? Fork make and model? Advantages?

I am thinking of one of these. Ideally I’d get a custom frame, but I laboriously did the geometry calculations and the 54 cm would fit me with plenty of spacers and seat post. The 56 cm would too, but with an unusually short stem.

I would ask Spa but they take weeks to answer emails (if at all).

Any new thoughts on the merits or otherwise of the Spa Audax are invited.

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2015, 12:42:31 pm »
Does anyone here know about the steel-fork option for the Spa Audax? Is it even officially available? I see no mention of it on the Spa website. Price? Fork make and model? Advantages?

I am thinking of one of these. Ideally I’d get a custom frame, but I laboriously did the geometry calculations and the 54 cm would fit me with plenty of spacers and seat post. The 56 cm would too, but with an unusually short stem.

I would ask Spa but they take weeks to answer emails (if at all).

Any new thoughts on the merits or otherwise of the Spa Audax are invited.

Just popped in to Spa to ask about steel forks. None in stock at the moment, apart from those for the 50cm frame that have a bigger offset (53mm compared to 45mm). In theory therefore some on the way feom Taiwan at some time, but probably best not to hold your breath.

If you want to run a steel fork the Surly Pacer fork is a straight replacement and can be obtained with 3 different rakes (44, 45 and 50mm). I have two of these (44 and 50) for experimentation. They are fine.

The main reasons to use a steel fork would be:

- You want more guard and tyre clearance
- You don't trust alloy steerer bonded to carbon blades (the Columns Hover fork is monocoque carbon at a price)
- You want to mount a front low rider rack - Spa not surly
- You prefer the look
- You want a heavier bike

As to the bike, I've tried selling the frame a couple of times and still have it. Now with a compact chainset and 12-28 10 speed cassette, dynamo wheels and lights and mudguards. It is doing more miles than any other, better bikes and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. All up weight with steel forks for my 58cm is just over 23lbs. A carbon fork would bring it down to 22lbs, so not worth it for me.

It is a nice riding and solid workhorse and the frames is a bargain.

Mike

Samuel D

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2015, 01:09:24 pm »
Just popped in to Spa to ask about steel forks.

Hey, thanks!

(the Columns Hover fork is monocoque carbon at a price)

Is that the model name of the carbon fork on the Audax?

I am light so I trust most bicycle components with the logic that they should work for me if they work for anyone. I guess I prefer steel forks for aesthetics first and foremost, and maybe that’s not a good enough reason in this case.

Sorry for another question, but do you happen to know the model of headset included with the Audax? Again, the website doesn’t specify this. Perhaps it varies depending on what Spa has in stock.

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2015, 05:54:44 pm »
Just popped in to Spa to ask about steel forks.

Hey, thanks!

(the Columns Hover fork is monocoque carbon at a price)

Is that the model name of the carbon fork on the Audax?

I am light so I trust most bicycle components with the logic that they should work for me if they work for anyone. I guess I prefer steel forks for aesthetics first and foremost, and maybe that’s not a good enough reason in this case.

Sorry for another question, but do you happen to know the model of headset included with the Audax? Again, the website doesn’t specify this. Perhaps it varies depending on what Spa has in stock.


Hi Samuel

No the Columbus Hiver is an aftermarket full carbon fork that would fit, but it costs around £190 [http://www.bricklanebikes.co.uk/columbus-hiver-1-18-carbon-fork] compared to the Spa fork at £100, which is carbon with an alloy steerer.

The headset has varied over time. I initially had a stronglight in my Audax, but now have an FSA Orbit MX. When I built Hannah's bike they gave me a headset with open roller races and that's been really good in fact. Spa tend to sell stuff they know works, so unless you are after a specific headset I wouldn't worry - they're easy enough to change later in any case.

Look forward to seeing your build and what fork you choose.

Mike

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2015, 08:30:28 pm »
I have had my Spa Ti Audax for about 3 months.  Because I needed the smallest frame, I was advised to use the steel forks rather than carbon to avoid toe overlap. I would have preferred the cleaner lines of the carbon fork - the steel forks have lugs for front racks etc and look a bit chunky.  But everything works together superbly.  And no toe overlap as I wobble up the endless hills of the Durham Dales.  Basically, Spa build each bike to order, so you can specify more or less what you want.  So mine has the Audax frame but with the touring bike gears, mudguards etc. I think it is a bit "livelier" than the Spa Tourer - I don't need the luggage carrying capacity for full touring and I'm a featherweight anyway. Regard the quoted price as a guide, pick and mix the components, and the price is adjusted accordingly.  I was happy to go with most of their recommendations.
Spa have got all their models in every size, will change pedals, stems etc to get a decent fit, and send you out for as long a test ride as you like, and as many - I tried 4 different bikes.  When I got back from one and complained that the suggested route had no hills, I was rapidly turned round and directed to the local hill!  Hubby came as tech backup, and although he had no intention of buying, they set a bike up for him to accompany me on the test rides.  The lads patiently spent a lot of time letting me make my mind up.
Oh, and they completed the build in less than a week......
I've always found it best to contact them by phone - chose a time when the shop might be less busy - they do seem to multi-task!

Samuel D

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #23 on: October 31, 2015, 09:02:49 pm »
Thanks for that additional information, Mike. Appreciated.

I haven’t quite decided what to get, but if I do get a Spa Audax – and everything except its plain appearance and need for many headset spacers says that would make a lot of sense – then I’ll certainly share the build details.

Flite: your experience sounds great. Many people who visit the shop seem to get exceptional service. Sadly I can’t do that because I live in France.

I have emailed Spa three times. The first time I got no response (I didn’t pursue it, instead buying the chainset I was asking about elsewhere). The second time I got a reply many days later, but it did have the info I needed. The third time I again got no response.

I have phoned (international call) and been told to call another day. When I did phone another day the phone experience was good.

I ordered wheels that while well-built to my precise specification were slightly damaged in shipping, due to bad packaging.

So all in all they’re a hard lot to deal with from abroad! But they have unique knowledge and products and those strengths outweigh the difficulties.

Anyway, I would be buying a frame only, so there shouldn’t be much to discuss with Spa. The geometry is carefully presented here, allowing me to do all the fit calculations.

Re: Spa Steel Audax
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2015, 10:49:17 pm »
A few thoughts to add.

The steel Audax is hugely versatile. When I called in the other day, Andy in the shop had his there as well. We are similar heights - a short 6' 1", or about 184cm for metric types. Andy rides a 56cm daily from Leeds and I ride a 58cm frame. He has a few spacers and a 120mm stem. I have no spacers and a 100mm stem. We both have dynamos and lights - Andy an edelux 2 and me a copy premium. Both have hand-built wheels. Both have 25mm tyres and guards. His cranked is more beautiful than my 105 old stock compact.

The package works really well. Mine is a great winter trainer, and I can replicate the position on my 'summer high day's bike. But it also is able to just turn out the miles and to work well.

If black is too plain, then wait for a colour or send it to Bob Jackson or other for a spray. Build it into what you want and enjoy. Mine is one of the early steel frames and I keep using it day after day.

Mike