Considering this machine's price – a bargain £449 – you can see why the versatile Audax is Surosa's most popular bike. If your budget can stretch a bit, component and groupset upgrades are available from both Shimano and Campagnolo, the latter starting at £499 for a Xenon-equipped bike.
Surosa Cycles used to be known as Oldham Cycle Centre, and is owned by former British and world cycling champion Mandy Jones and her hubby.
Given that pedigree, it's no surprise that she knows a thing or two about producing decent bikes.
Ride & handling: ideal for eating the miles
The ride is exactly what you would hope for in an audax bike: smooth, stable and unruffled, ideal for pounding out mile after mile.
The all-rounder tag is accurate too. The frame comes complete with rack mounts, and though it wasn't tested with panniers, a lot of riding was done with a heavily-laden seatpost-mounted bag.
If you fancied a spot of cycle touring this could do the job, being easily stiff and strong enough to cope with some extra weight.
At the other end of the spectrum, though, you could whip off those mudguards for a spot of racing or time trialling, where that shortish head-tube will enable you to lower your riding position.
Frame: protect that paint
At the heart is a de rigueur oversized aluminium frame, which comes in eight different sizes: 50-62 in 2cm increments and a 'mini compact' 45cm model.
What is more unusual is the horizontal top-tube – rare these days – although the short head-tube and multiple spacer combo adds a more modern touch.
That said, there is one thing that lets down the Audax – during testing the bike acquired more chips than you would expect on the chainstay where the chain hit it, and cable rub on the head-tube caused a bit of wear. Make sure you get those frame protectors on quick.
Surosa also claims that the Audax weighs 9.8kg, but oddly the same weight is listed, whether it is equipped with Sora, Tiagra or 105 components.
Equipment: pukka parts throughout
One welcome bonus for a bike at this price is the use of name-brand components throughout.
Shimano's 9-speed Sora groupset has had a revamp for '08 and, to be honest, unless you really need the extra ring that 105 offers (available for an extra £225) there's little need to upgrade.
The wheels are also Shimano, in this case the wallet-friendly but decently performing R500, though if you did have a bit more cash to splash it might be better spent on higher grade, lighter wheels than a higher-end groupset.
Alpina provides the seatpost and a carbon fork which helps keep the weight down, while the Cinelli Vai stem and oversized bar are a more than decent combo.
Even the mudguards are branded, the chromoplastic Zefals coming with a Secu-Clip-like release on the front wheel; should something get trapped between the mudguard and the tyre, rather than you being thrown off, the mudguard stays release at the axle. Neat.
All in all, the Surosa Audax is a lovely bike, elegant to look at, enjoyable to ride, and providing a lot of kit for your cash.
If you've got half a grand, you can get a decent all-rounder along with a helmet or high quality lock to keep it secure.