The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

Spa Cycles Wayfarer review

A day-to-day bike and tourer in one well-equipped package

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £1,400.00 RRP
Pack shot of the Spa Cycles Wayfarer road bike

Our review

High-quality steel tourer that copes with poor surfaces superbly
Pros: Quality steel frame; comfort; good wheels
Cons: Slightly weighty; limited clearance with 50mm tyres
Skip to view product specifications

Along with Thorn, Spa is probably Britain’s leading supplier of touring bikes. It sells tourers from the likes of Ridgeback and Surly, but also its own Spa-designed bikes, including the “expedition-focused” Wayfarer that “provides the ultimate in luggage-carrying capability”.

Advertisement

The qualities that make the Wayfarer a touring bike – comfort, racks, full-length mudguards – are equally handy when it comes to commuting and leisure riding.

The Wayfarer is based around a very well-finished Reynolds 725 frame, with three sets of bottle bosses and hand-built wheels. Gearing is from nine-speed Shimano Sora, which is one of my favourite groupsets, with Spa’s own triple chainset.

Triples are rarely seen outside of touring these days and, while there will be some redundant ratios, the small gaps between gears mean you can keep a smooth and consistent cadence, which is what you want for distance riding.

It also gives you a high top gear and a low bottom gear, which you’ll need if you’re hauling kit over hills. If its 28×34 bottom gear isn’t low enough – and for loaded expedition touring you can never go too low – Spa can spec your chainset of choice.

How we tested

We tested four bikes around the £1,000 mark that are all suitable for commuting, but can be used for much more than the daily grind to work.

Their aspirations take in leisure riding, fast fitness and perhaps even racing ambitions, plus loading up for trips away.

As such, while they are all around the same price, each offers a distinct set of characteristics and features.

Be sure to check out all four reviews to see which one might just be a good fit for you and the cycling you do.

Also on test:

I tested the Wayfarer over my former commutes – 12 miles mostly on towpath and 16 miles on a surfaced Sustrans route – as well as longer, loaded days out. It proved an exceptionally able companion at all times.

Apart from dynamo lights and a kickstand, either of which you could go for, the Wayfarer has pretty much everything you could need for touring – or commuting, or getting half a week’s shopping.

Yes, it is a bit of a weighty beast, but a little extra weight is really neither here nor there on a touring bike, and we rated Genesis’s similarly weighty Tour de Fer 30 very highly when we tested it recently.

Spa Cycles Wayfarer road bike is equipped with a Brooks Cambium C17 saddle
Brooks’ rubber-topped Cambium C17 saddle works well.
Dave Caudery / Immediate Media

Far more important when carrying kilograms of kit are comfort and reliability. If you’re halfway across the Gobi Desert, you don’t want your frame failing.

Reliability and ease of servicing are also the thinking behind the TRP Spyre C brakes. They don’t have the power and ultra-light action of hydraulics, but I know which system I’d feel more comfortable fettling in Faisalabad or repairing in Rawalpindi, and it’s not the hydraulic system.

The Spyres are a dual-piston system, with braking controlled and powerful enough, and better than the Tektro Mira single-piston discs on the Forme Monyash 2 I’ve reviewed.

Spa Cycles Wayfarer road bike is equipped with a XD-2 Touring Triple chainset
There are plenty of gears, thanks to the triple chainset.
Dave Caudery / Immediate Media

The Spa’s tubeless-ready wheels are an absolute highlight, hand-built to a high standard and paired with quality Schwalbe tyres.

The 50mm-wide rubber coped well with broken road surfaces, towpaths and gritted surfaces, and would be ideal if your riding regularly takes in such terrain, as well as for touring in the back of beyond.

For day-to-day riding, I’d probably drop down to a slightly narrower tyre, especially as the Schwalbes are a very, very tight fit with the mudguards, even if the front guard is designed to pull away from the hub if a foreign body is trapped between the tyre and guard.

Male cyclist in red top riding the Spa Cycles Wayfarer road bike
The Spa’s tubeless-ready wheels are a highlight, hand-built to a high standard.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The ride is everything you’d expect from a steel tourer with wide rubber: sumptuous and comfortable.

The riding position is upright and the FSA Wing bar – with its slightly flattened tops – is excellent for long-distance comfort. You’re not going to fly up hills, but drop into the bottom gear and you can sit in the saddle and spin.

The Spa’s front and rear Tubus racks will take more weight than I could comfortably haul, and if you’re using the Wayfarer for the daily commute, you could lose the front rack, keeping it for longer adventures.

Male cyclist in red top riding the Spa Cycles Wayfarer road bike
Spa’s Wayfarer will carry kilos of kit for adventures, or a change of clothes and your laptop for commuting.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The saddle is another touring classic: a Brooks Cambium C17. I’ve never been a huge fan of Brooks’ leather saddles, but I got on very well with the rubber-topped, nylon-hulled Cambium, which I found supportive without being overly firm – exactly what I want.

Advertisement

In fact, there’s very, very little that I could fault the Wayfarer on.

Spa cycles Wayfarer geometry

SMLXL
LongShortLongShortLongShortLongShort
Seat angle (degrees)7272727273737474
Head angle (degrees)69.569.5707070.570.570.570.5
Chainstay (mm)455455455455460460465465
Seat tube (mm)470470500500540540580580
Top tube (mm)522.9513535.5525.6553.6553.6567.3552.4
Head tube (mm)8585135135170170210210
Fork offset (mm)5959595959595959
Bottom bracket drop (mm)7070606057575555
Wheelbase (mm)1,0561,0461,0681,0581,0891,0741,1091,094

Also consider

A little more

  • Spa Cycles Ti Tourer
  • £1,850

Up the ante a little and you can get yourself one of the most affordable titanium touring bikes around. Other than that, it’s a very similar build to the steel tourer, from the hand-built wheels to the wide-range gears and brakes.

A little less

  • Spa Cycles 725 Steel Tourer
  • £1,225

This is very similar to our test bike, with a Reynolds 725 steel frame, Sora gears and Spa’s own triple chainset, but the 725 Steel Tourer has much slimmer tyres than the Wayfarer, and Tektro RX6 mini V-brakes, rather than disc brakes.

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £1400.00
Weight 14.29kg (54cm long) – with rack
Brand Spa cycles

Features

Available sizes 47, 50, 54, 58cm long; 47, 50, 54, 58cm short
Headset FSA Orbit Equipe sealed bearing
Tyres 700x50c Panaracer GravelKing
Stem FSA Omega 168
Shifter Shimano Sora
Seatpost Deda RSX02 27.2mm
Saddle Brooks Cambium C17
Rear derailleur Shimano Sora
Handlebar FSA Wing Compact
Bottom bracket First F-2001
Frame Reynolds 725 chromoly steel
Fork Chromoly steel fork, straight steerer
Cranks XD-2 Touring Triple 48/38/28, Zircal rings
Chain Shimano HG601
Cassette Shimano HG400 11-34
Brakes Tektro TRP Spyre cable discs, 160mm rotors
Wheels Kinlin XR26 RTS rims, Bitex 106 hubs