Spa Audax or similar

by Topcat   June 16, 2014  

I'm currently trying to decide my next purchase and looking for the input of the more experienced of you! I'm looking to build up an everyday/long distance bike. I love my CAAD 8 but carrying all my work gear or clothes for a weekend away is a real pain in a rucksack.

I've really got carried away looking at Bob Jackson, Mercian and Condor frames but decided to spend less as the bike may spend time chained up outside my work or in North London; so it's going to get knocked about and I don't want it to be too desirable to thieves.

Does anyone on here own a Spa Audax? It seems to be the perfect steel frame to build an all rounder on a budget. I have considered the Genesis Equilibrium but realise that it does not have rack mounts and is more expensive. The only downsides I can see is that there are a few comments about the Spa frame seeming a little agricultural and having a short head tube.

I'm considering using Camagnolo Centaur/Veloce mix on this bike as I have Shimano 105 on my CAAD and think I prefer the shape of the Campag shifters. Does this seem like a sensible choice over Shimano for this sort of bike given how Shimano seems to be the most dominant brand?

Any thoughts or comments are much appreciated.

7 user comments

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I don't mind the longer days in the saddle, and live near the heart of the Cairngorms…so gears matter. The problem with Campag is their rear mechs can only cope with a 28T, personally I've always had a bail-out granny gear that I know I can grind up any hill with a wide triple, I can run 26x31 so my feet whirl faster than my wheels. Ideal for a 1:3 with 200k+ in the legs. Its perfectly possible to run even lower gears if you use Shimano.

I've got Veloce 10sp on the carbon bike, its adequate, but gear range is limited and suited to sportif/racing more than distance work.

I'm still happily eating the miles on my old Raleigh Randonneur (1988 from new), if you keep an eye open you could still pick one up for an absolute song, the spec is bang on for what you want and the Reynolds 531ST tubeset still rocks.

posted by Trull [55 posts]
17th June 2014 - 4:59

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10 speed campag mechs will do 30t and the 11 speeds are now 29t.

Surly are also very good long haul framesets.

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [679 posts]
17th June 2014 - 7:46

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Remember the formula for Shimano rear mech compatibility:

(Front big - front small) + (cassette big - cassette small) = n

eg; (50 - 34 = 16) + (30 - 12 = 18) = 34

If your result is over 33 then Shimano recommend you buy a long cage mech.

All Campagnolo 11s, either standard or compact, will take a 29t on the back.

posted by Nick T [753 posts]
17th June 2014 - 8:55

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Hi Matey

YACF best place for talk about the Spa - start here:

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=73529.0

Or run a search.

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posted by alotronic [247 posts]
17th June 2014 - 11:25

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Hi - yep. I've got a Spa Audax and signed up specifically to answer this. I bought the built up Titanium one with SRAM Apex and I love it. Can't comment on the frame being agricultural as to me it appears to be a great frame and it's very light and the bike as a whole is a joy. You are right that I have a lot of spacers on the bike - that's how it came....doesn't seem to make a difference......I'm not an expert on the spacers vs headtube argument so can't really comment. I ride the bike to work every day and really enjoy it. I also enjoyed the buying experience from Spa from whom I got great service.

posted by jeepie [1 posts]
17th June 2014 - 14:02

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Head tube height - horses for courses. I like a short head tube and longer top tube as I have a longer body relative to legs. 90% of 'sportive' geometry bikes would drive me nuts! The only thing to note about the Spa is that it does have a long top tube in the smaller sizes (52 and under from memory) it's 1.5cm longer than most at that size. The advantage is tons of 'toe clip' clearance. The disadvantage is running a slightly shorter stem. If you were built the other way to me (long legs short body) you might find it an issue. For the price - great. Other wise the Hewitt or Thorn Audax or maybe Bob Jackson but the Spa is the cheapest decent steel frame out there for sure.

In the flesh the steel bike looks very unassuming and not very nickable.

A

PS as you can tell I've been looking into the same question at the moment Nerd

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posted by alotronic [247 posts]
17th June 2014 - 14:20

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Thank you all for a great response! After looking into groupsets I may go Shimano 105 again as it seems to be available for only a small amount more than tiagra at the moment.

I think the Spa Audax is the one I'm going to go for. The YACF forum has a lot of discussion on it and generally it seems very well received. I think really I've got carried away looking at more exciting frames and forgetting the purpose of an all-rounder, the Spa ticks most of the boxes and if I really get sick of black (my last two bikes were black) I can always paint it!

I will let you all know how I get on, it is just a shame that Harrogate is so far away from Sussex.

posted by Topcat [19 posts]
17th June 2014 - 23:00

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