Two years ago we tested Spa Cycles’ titanium Audax. The steel Audax, in Reynolds’ classy 725, looks similar, weighs barely any more and is £350 cheaper (the Ti bike now costs £1,550). But can the old-school material match more modern titanium out on the road?
In short, yes. Just as with dearer titanium, the steel Audax with its curved carbon fork is perfectly set up and kitted out for the rigours of long-distance riding. SRAM’s Apex gears – combining an 11-32t cassette with a compact chainset – provide all the range you’ll ever need, with crisp gear changes and the added advantage of ergonomic hoods that are comfortable to ride on.
The semi-flattened bar top is a great shape, while the Passport saddle is deeply padded and comfortable.The hand-built wheels are tough, Schwalbe’s Durano tyres likewise, and the Shimano 105 hubs super-smooth.About the only downside is the Miche deep-drop brakes, which aren't a patch on SRAM’s.
The Audax's 10kg weight might count against it if you’re riding fast sportive-style events, but for poised and polished mile-eating rides, regardless of terrain, it'll take some beating – unlike your backside – as you rack up smooth mile after smooth mile. Full mudguards make it a year-round machine, while rack mounts mean you can use it for touring, shopping and commuting, adding versatility to its comfort.