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BUYER'S GUIDE

12 of the best Audax bikes - find a bike with stamina to match your own

Bikes built for going the distance

Audax events are long distance bike rides; they're all about
being self-sufficient over a long distance, and with events ranging from
50km up to a staggering 1,400km, there’s something for all tastes. Audax
bikes are similar to sportive bikes except that traditionally Audax
rules required mudguards and although that's no longer the case (it's
now up to the event organiser) you'd expect to be able to fit mudguards
to an Audax bike.

  • Audax bikes balance long-distance comfort for 200+km
    rides with the speed necessary to finish in the time limit

  • Mudguards aren't compulsory any more, but any "real"
    Audax bike will be able to take them

  • Tradition and reliability mean steel is still a popular
    frame material in Audax circles

  • The combination of comfort and clearance makes Audax
    bikes versatile: you can commute and tour (lightly laden) on the same
    bike you use to munch miles at the weekend

12 of the best audax bikes for 2020

Arguably the jewel in the crown of the Audax calendar is the mighty
Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1,200km route that tests stamina, endurance and
mental fortitude to the limit. It only takes place every four years, and it's
a serious test of rider and bike
.

Audaxes are not competitions or races, there's no medal for the fastest
times. Instead, it's a test of your long distance riding ability and
self-sufficiency. As such they are generally a lot more laid back,
friendly and sociable than most events, and there’s more shared
camaraderie amongst participants.

here-be-dragons-sussex

Read
more: Wales and back, 600km - it’s not Epic, it’s just a long way

Instead of signposted routes with marshals at every junction, you’re
expected to be able to navigate yourself using either the traditional
route cue sheets with turn-by-turn directions, or as is much more common
these days, GPX routes downloaded to your preferred bike computer.

The event you choose will have a start and finish, usually at a village
hall where you can fill up with tea and coffee, and along the route, there
will be checkpoints where you get your Brevet card stamped to prove you’ve
ridden the route. Checkpoints can vary from manned stations with acres of
cake and homemade treats to unmanned checkpoints where you’re required to
get a receipt from a cafe, shop or cash machine to prove your passage of
route.

If you want to learn more about Audax and where your nearest one is, the
Audax UK website has a
wealth of information
.

Read
more: 13 of the best touring bikes — your options for taking off into
the beyond

What to look for in an Audax bike

In reality, any bike can be used to ride an Audax, and indeed you’ll see
a wide range of bikes being ridden: everything from carbon fibre race
bikes with a tiny saddlebag of spares to classic steel touring bikes with
racks and panniers and maps clipped to the handlebar.

The best Audax bike is essentially whatever is reliable and comfortable
for your chosen distance. You can get away with a lighter setup for a
short Audax, but for the longer events, especially those that run through
the night, you’ll likely need extra clothing and a lot more food and
spares, so luggage and comfort will be a consideration.

Kinesis Fend-Off mudguards-6.jpg

Mudguards are good to have, given how changeable weather can be and how
unpleasant riding on wet roads for hours is. In the past, some Audax
events required all bikes to be fitted with mudguards, but you’ll find
most organisers are a bit more relaxed about them today so don’t fear,
mudguards aren’t essential for taking part in an Audax... You might just
find yourself riding on your own if you don't fit them and it starts to
rain though!

Read
more: Things I learnt on my 300km audax

If you need to carry luggage, you can either use a rack and pannier or go
with a large saddlepack (Carradice is a popular choice) or handlebar bag,
or one of the frame packs that are fashionable with the bikepacking crowd.
What to carry and how to carry it comes down to personal preference and
you’ll see many different luggage solutions at an Audax.

restrap-handlebar-holster

Read
more: 14 of the best bikepacking bags

Frame material comes down to personal preference and budget. Steel has
long been the most popular choice for Audax bikes because of its famed
comfort, but other materials are fine too. It really depends on what sort
of bike you want and what type of ride you prefer. Any material will do
just fine.

12 of the best Audax bikes

Forme
Longcliffe 2 — £650

Forme Longcliffe 2 - riding 1.jpg

With clearance for mudguards and 28mm tyres, and an eminently reasonable
price tag, the Forme Longcliffe 2 makes an excellent entry-level Audaxer.
It delivers a very good ride indeed, and don't pay much attention to that
overall weight – on all but the steepest of hills it feels nippy and
surprisingly agile.

Aluminium alloy frames have changed beyond all recognition from those
available at the turn of the century, but when you receive what could be
considered a budget option you do tend to wonder just how refined it is
going to be. It ain't the most supple out there, but considering the whole
bike has an rrp of just £650, it's pretty darn good.

The Longcliffe 2 has a longer wheelbase than a race bike, giving a stable
ride that is quite confidence-inspiring. Its weight actually helps here,
as on rough descents or when your speed is pretty high it never gets
unsettled by rough road surfaces and feels properly planted.

Read
our review of the Forme Longcliffe 2

Find a Forme dealer

Triban
RC 520 Disc — £799.99

Triban RC 520.jpg

Proving you don’t have to spend a fortune on a new bike, the Triban RC
520 Disc with its comfortable riding position and mounts for racks and
mudguards is a really good option. The super tall head tube and short top
tube gives a comfortable upright riding fit and delivers steady handling.

Read
our review of the Triban RC 520 Disc

Thorn
Audax Mk3R — from £1,675

thorn audax

One of the earlier test bikes in my career testing bikes still rates as
one of the nicest I’ve ever ridden. It was a Thorn Audax and provided the
most sublime ride quality I’ve ever experienced. The British company still
makes the Audax and has been refined since it was first introduced some 20
years ago. The heat-treated steel frame and fork accept up to 31mm tyres
with mudguards, there are rear rack eyelets and three bottle cage mounts,
and it can carry up to 20kg of luggage.

Fairlight
Cycles Secan — from £2,199

fairlightsecan (2)

Many Audax routes will keep you away from busy roads and so use quiet
country lanes which can often be badly surfaced, making wide tyres a good
option. The latest breed of adventure and gravel bikes with their capacity
for very wide tyres are a potential choice. The Secan here provides space
for very wide tyres whether on 700c or 650b rims and has two choices of
geometry for each frame size allowing you to get the right fit. It’s also
a bike I’ve used on a 300km Audax last year and can vouch for its comfort
and pace.

Read
our review of the Fairlight Cycles Secan

Ribble
CGR
— from £999

Ribble-CGR-AL-Shimano-105-first-look-preview-100

Cross, Gravel, Road, that's what the CGR initials stand for on Ribble's
all-rounder, but you could add an A for Audax in there as well. The
aluminium frame has a long wheelbase for a stable ride and mounts for
mudguards and racks, and there’s also space for wide tyres.

Read
our review of the Ribble CGR AL Shimano 105

Read
more: Is Ribble's CGR the answer to your road, gravel and commuting
needs?

Genesis
Equilibrium Disc 2020 — £2,199.99

20-equilibrium-disc-hero-gallery-slide-1_1551372470_lg

The Equilibrium has long been a solid choice for long distance riding,
with a choice of steel or titanium frames and a sorted geometry that just
work. It has many fans over the years, including our own Dave
Atkinson who
built
one for Audax riding a few years ago
. Combine a Reynolds 725 frame
with a carbon fork, relaxed geometry and all the eyelets for racks and
mudguards and you have a good pick for Audaxing.

Mason
Definition — from £2,795

Mason Definition Ultegra.jpg

Steel is often the preferred choice for an Audax bike but don’t discount
aluminium especially when it’s done as nicely as the Definition from Mason
Cycles (there’s also Mason's Resolution if you prefer steel). It’s got a
focus on speed without diluting the essential comfort, with a dialled back
geometry, space for wide tyres and eyelets for mudguards and it’ll take a
rear rack.

Read
our review of the Mason Definition

Read
more: 13 of the best aluminium road bikes

Van
Nicholas Yukon Disc — from £2,888

Yukon-Disc

The Van Nicholas Yukon has long been a popular option with UK cyclists
wanting a titanium touring bike capable of turning its hand to commuting,
training, touring or Audax, and now the rim brake model has been joined by
a disc brake version. It’s got space for 35mm tyres, has eyelets for
mudguards and racks and all the cables are internally routed. It’ll even
accommodate a dynamo with internal routing.

Read
our first look at the Van Nicholas Yukon Disc

Cannondale
Synapse 2021 — from £899

2021 Cannondale Synapse 105

Endurance bikes can often work as Audax bikes because they are designed
to provide a smooth and comfortable ride and most cater for wide tyres.
The Cannondale Synapse is a popular choice with aluminium and carbon frame
options, and both will take mudguards. There are no rack mounts on the
carbon version though so you’ll want to look at large saddle packs, frame
or handlebar bikepacking bags for your luggage solution.

Read
our review of the Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Disc Dura-Ace Di2

Read
our review of the Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora

Specialized
Roubaix 2021 — from £2,749.99

2021 Specilaized Roubaix S-Works eTap

If you want maximum comfort, then the Specialized Roubaix with its
innovative Future Shock front spring could be a bike to consider. Like the
Synapse, there’s no fitting a rack but it’s got space for wide tyres and
the geometry is designed to provide a relaxed riding position. If you want
mudguards you'll have to fit something like Crud
Road Racers
or SKS
Raceblade Long guards
.

Read
our review of the Specialized Roubaix Expert

Read
more: 23 of the best sportive bikes — great bikes for long, fast
endurance rides in comfort

Enigma
Etape — from £3,999

Enigma Etape

If you want to spend a bit of cash on a high-quality bike, then the
Enigma Etape with its beautiful titanium frame is surely worth a closer
look. The geometry has been developed over a decade to deliver
long-distance comfort and ride quality and it has space for wide tyres,
there are rack and mudguard mounts and the tubing is size-specific across
the 50 to 60cm size range.

Kinesis
RTD frameset — £850

Kinesis RTD_Bike

UK brand Kinesis Bike offers a number of suitable Audax bike choices but
we’ve plumped for its RTD, a lightweight scandium frame with a carbon
fork, clearance for 34mm tyres, three bottle cage mounts and mudguard
eyelets. And because it's a frameset only you can either build it
yourself, or get your local bike shop to build it, with your dream parts
to suit your requirements or budget.


If you're planning to take part in an Audax this year we'd love to hear
about it, so let us know in the comments section below.

Explore
the complete archive of reviews of bikes on road.cc

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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

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