Thorn Audax MK3 review

A great combination of comfort, performance and versatility

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £1,607.00 RRP

Our review

near enough the perfect bike for audax and very, very comfortable
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Somerset’s Thorn Cycles are a top touring marque – and get top marks for sticking to their guns, continuing to offer well-designed steel tourers. The Audax Mk3 is a fast, multipurpose machine on a mission to please as many steel aficionados as possible.

  • Highs: Well considered spec for maximum versatility
  • Lows: The single-colour paintjob wasn’t to everyone’s taste
  • Buy if: You’re looking for a great combination of comfort, performance and versatility

The Audax Mk3 weighs a reasonable 10.1kg (22.3lb) with its chromoly fork, but the optional carbon fork is 600g lighter – and an extra £120. The frame, handmade in Taiwan from Thorn’s heat-treated 858 chromoly, offers the perfect balance of zing, comfort and strength. Thorn’s conviction in the quality of its frames is backed up by the lifetime guarantee – as well as a 14-day money-back guarantee.

While all-out performance isn’t the raison d’être of a 10kg bike with a 102cm wheelbase, the Audax feels nippier than its weight would suggest. In part this is due to the wheels. These very successfully pair Shimano Deore hubs with Mavic’s Open Sport rims, and are complemented by Schwalbe’s excellent 28mm Ultremo Xx tyres.

On our first 60-mile ride over poor roads these came into their own, offering great grip, bags of comfort and shock absorption with very little perception of increased rolling resistance. The saddle, Thorn’s Velo, is well shaped for the long hours of in-the-saddle audax riding. And although it won’t appeal to dyed-in-the-Lycra roadies, the Thorn’s triple chainset and Shimano Tiagra shifters offer an impressively wide range of gears.

One unusual frame feature is its 133mm rear dropout spacing – 3mm wider than road hubs and 2mm narrower than mountain bike hubs. Steel’s natural springiness allows you to use either road or mountain bike hubs, though you can have it permanently set to 130 or 135mm.

The frame has a full complement of braze-ons, including low-rider mounts on the classic sloping crown chromoly fork, and this medium-duty machine can go both ways: sprightly enough for a brisk club run, tough enough to load up and head out on a Continental tour. The generous 56cm top tube and deep-drop anatomic bar on a steep stem also mean you can ride in a comfortable, upright position or tuck in tight on the drops.

Thorn mk3 audax: thorn mk3 audax
Joby Sessions

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.

Product Specifications


Name Audax MK3 (11)
Brand Thorn Cycles

Description 49.5, 52.5, 55, 55.5S, 57, 60cm sizes, Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 700x28 tyres,
Rims Mavic Open Sport alloy rims, Shimano Deore hubs, DT stainless spokes, 32 3-cross
Top Tube (cm) 55.5
Standover Height (cm) 78.5
Seat Tube (cm) 48
Chainstays (cm) 43
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 27.5
Weight (kg) 10.1
Stem Uno forged alloy stem, 11cm, 11/8in steerer, 25.4mm bar clamp
Shifters Ultegra Triple STI
Seatpost Thorn alloy 27.2x300mm, single bolt clamp
Seat Angle 72.5
Saddle San Marco SKN, steel rails
Rear Wheel Weight 1639
Brakes Shimano Sora long reach dual pivot
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Head Angle 71.5
Handlebar Zoom 6061 aluminium anatomic, 42cm c-c
Front Wheel Weight 1190
Front Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Frame Weight 1936
Frame Material Full double butted tig-welded chromoly, forged dropouts.
Fork Weight 519
Fork Reynolds chromoly, sloping crown, lugged, 11/8in steerer
Cranks Shimano Tiagra 2-piece, 170mm arms, 110mm bcd, 50/39/30 alloy rings
Cassette Shimano CS-6500 9spd, 12-27 steel sprockets
Wheelbase (cm) 102