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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best audax bikes 2022 — find a bike with stamina to match your own

Be randonneur-ready with the best audax bikes, built for going the distance

Audax events are long 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. Here's our pick of the best Audax bikes you can buy.

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 and their 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.

15 of the best Audax bikes

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3 — Buy Now for £2,969.00 from Pedal On

2021 Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3 - riding 4.jpg

The Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3 is an endurance-based road bike that delivers loads of comfort, and a geometry table that'll keep you feeling fresher on those epic rides. It's still sporty enough that you can ramp the speed up though and have some fun in the hills, though you'll probably want to change the stock tyres for something a little livelier.

Read our review of the Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3
Find a Giant dealer

Ribble Endurance AL Disc 2021 — Buy Now starting at £999 from Ribble

2021 Ribble Endurance AL Disc - riding 1.jpg

With the Endurance AL Disc, Ribble has created a bike for the masses. It's ideal for winter training, commuting, club runs, short blasts or long rides – it's even quick enough for entry-level racing, and it's bang on if you want an Audax bike that's a bit sportier than Ribble's CGR, below. The balanced, neutral handling works for the beginner, without feeling overly relaxed for the seasoned roadie. It's a lot of bike for the money.

Read our review of the Ribble Endurance AL Disc

Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E — Buy Now for £3,145.00 from Delta Bikes

2020 Merida Scultura Endurance 7000E.jpg

The 7000-E tops the new Scultura Endurance range from Merida, and is a more relaxed, less aggressive version of its Scultura race bike. It still offers plenty of performance and comfort, but it's more suited to those big rides – and, thanks to large tyre clearances and mudguard mounts, you can use it whatever the weather too.

Read our review of the Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E
Find a Merida dealer

Condor Fratello Disc Thru Axle frameset — Buy Now for £1,299.99 from Condor Cycles

2020 Condor Fratello Disc Thru Axle frameset.jpg

The Condor Fratello Disc Thru-Axle frameset manages to keep hold of that traditional look and feel of a winter/fast audax/commuter/year-round mile-muncher bike while having been adapted to the demands of the modern roadie. The steel frame and carbon fork pairing give an exceptional ride quality and you get some impressive tyre clearances with mudguards. It's an absolute looker too.

Read our review of the Condor Fratello Disc Thru Axle frameset

Triban RC 520 Disc — Buy Now for £849.99 from Decathlon

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 — Buy Now starting at £1,565 from Thorn Cycles

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 — Buy Now starting at £2,449 from Fairlight Cycles

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 — Buy Now starting at £999 from Ribble

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 2021 — Buy Now for £2,699.99 from Freewheel

2021 Genesis Equilibrium Disc

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 — Buy Now starting at £2,995 from Mason Cycles

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 — Buy Now starting at £3,310 from Van Nicholas

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 — Buy Now starting at £999 from Sigma Sports

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 2022 — Buy Now starting at £3,100 from Sigma Sports

2022 Specialized Roubaix Comp - SRAM Rival eTap AXS

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 — Buy Now starting at £4,200 from Enigma Bikes

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 — Buy Now for £950 from Enigma Bikes

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.

Things to know about Audax rides and Audax bikes

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: 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: 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.

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

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

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You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

road.cc buyer's guides are maintained by the road.cc tech team. Email us with comments, corrections or queries.

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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26 comments

Avatar
Woldsman | 1 year ago
1 like

I noticed a few Fairlights, Masons and Spa Cycles bikes amongst a huge range of bikes at one of the controls on LEL2022.  

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

Indeed.  And for balance this was lifted from social media showing riders at a control 300km from the end of the 1500km event.  Rather them than me.  

Image: 
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chrisonabike replied to Woldsman | 1 year ago
0 likes

I love that cycling can be intensely serious and simultaneously for wacky racers.  I'd be personally be happy to find myself on the front wheel drive recumbent at bottom right (not a Cruzbike?).  Albeit for a much shorter distance.  A double chapeau to the others though!

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Richbeck | 3 years ago
1 like

Still Longstaff - this is my 853 version.

Image: 
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NZ Vegan Rider | 3 years ago
0 likes

Where is the orange bike in the thumbnail?!

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OnYerBike replied to NZ Vegan Rider | 3 years ago
0 likes

Cannondale Synapse. The orange one in the header pic is this one: https://www.cannondale.com/en-gb/bikes/road/endurance/synapse-carbon/syn...

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Carlosfoznango | 4 years ago
2 likes

It's got to be a Tripster, the only bike I haven't fallen off of when asleep. That's essential for Audax.

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Dhill replied to Carlosfoznango | 3 years ago
0 likes
Carlosfoznango wrote:

It's got to be a Tripster, the only bike I haven't fallen off of when asleep. That's essential for Audax.

Thank you, I have been asked ‘how can you fall asleep whilst cycling’. I still don’t know but you can. 

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randonneur replied to Dhill | 3 years ago
0 likes

If you are tired your brain disengages with your eyes and shuts down.then you either wake up and correct your balance or fall off.
Same as falling asleep when driving.

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Richbeck | 4 years ago
0 likes

Longstaff - 'nuff said.

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alexb | 4 years ago
1 like

There are a few models that are missing in my view:

Condor Fratello

Genesis Croix de Fer

Spa Cycles Audax

Hewitt Cycles 

Tifosi CK7

It's a shame you picked such a bad picture of the Thorn Audax, set up with less spacers and with nicer looking handlebars they are quite nice looking.

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randonneur replied to alexb | 3 years ago
1 like

Don't forget the Airnimal Chameleon for international Audaxes

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Chris Hayes replied to randonneur | 3 years ago
0 likes

Is there a subliminal message hidden here?  Don't fForget the Airnimal Chameleon for international Audaxes?  

I'm starting to get restless now...

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NZ Vegan Rider | 4 years ago
0 likes

The Winner for the most UGLY bike ; Thorn Audax Mk3R ; gag ;-(

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alotronic | 4 years ago
2 likes

Ah, the Audax bike question.... a long time favourite. Basically you have to balance speed with comfort and safety and that balance will differ depending on age, fitness and tolerance for descending at night in the rain on rim brakes with no alssp. When I started about ten years ago there where still Thorns to be seen, and Mercians and other lightweight steel bikes. Not so much anymore. Just as likely to see a Defy or Roubaix or an Enigma or Reilly or Fairlight. The modern 'road plus' bike in all it's forms is just a brilliant all round type of bike that is perfect for Audaxing. My current ride is a Datum which I rode PBP on last time, and is a fantastic balance of fast and comfi, but before that I did my very long rides on a Tripster. Other bikes I have used for 600km rides include a Kinesis CX bike, an Orbea carbon race bike and a Genesis Fixie. Ride what you have first, just make sure the saddle works  1 then buy something flash if you like it after a year or two. 

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Diagnoliste | 4 years ago
2 likes

As been said, many routes will pass by 24 hour garages etc to facilitate replenishment.  However, there are more places to get water than you think, i.e. a lot of graveyards have taps.  Obviously you have to prep before a through the night ride, but there is usually an answer.  I have never used more than 2 bottles.

Bags need not be used for just the long rides though as extra clothes might be used on a 300 or even a 200 if done in the winter months.  A 6am start can be very cold in March, warm up in the day and then cool down after 9am.

You may also get caught out, weather forecasts may not be too reliable, find yourself in an isolated spot with just a pair of shorts and jersey on you could be in trouble.

At the speeds you do Audax at, it doesn't hurt to throw into a Carradice Barley or similar sized bag, a pair of longs, extra top layer and shell jacket just in case.  It's all light stuff anyway.

Better to have it and don't use it than not to have it when needed, that can ruin the ride.

Avatar
Dhill replied to Diagnoliste | 3 years ago
0 likes
Diagnoliste wrote:

What’s a gravey ard? 

As been said, many routes will pass by 24 hour garages etc to facilitate replenishment.  However, there are more places to get water than you think, i.e. a lot of graveyards have taps.  Obviously you have to prep before a through the night ride, but there is usually an answer.  I have never used more than 2 bottles.

Bags need not be used for just the long rides though as extra clothes might be used on a 300 or even a 200 if done in the winter months.  A 6am start can be very cold in March, warm up in the day and then cool down after 9am.

You may also get caught out, weather forecasts may not be too reliable, find yourself in an isolated spot with just a pair of shorts and jersey on you could be in trouble.

At the speeds you do Audax at, it doesn't hurt to throw into a Carradice Barley or similar sized bag, a pair of longs, extra top layer and shell jacket just in case.  It's all light stuff anyway.

Better to have it and don't use it than not to have it when needed, that can ruin the ride.

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lmm | 5 years ago
1 like

On long rides I've been known to stash an extra bottle in my pannier, and then you can swap them over at a control. But yeah usually you can rely on topping up at stops, particularly within the UK.

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Sir Wobbly | 5 years ago
5 likes

"If you want maximum comfort, then the Specialized Roubaix with its innovative Future Shock front spring could be a bike to consider."

If you want ultimate comfort on long Audax rides then I highly recommend the Pashley Roadster!

Fully sprung Brooks B33 saddle and mahoosive wheels & tyres really do make the miles much more comfy.

And a free bonus is the look of respect/incredulity/pity you get from "roadies" when you finally make it the end of, say, a 400 or 600 smiley

Avatar
froze | 5 years ago
1 like

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

Avatar
Joe Totale replied to froze | 5 years ago
1 like
froze wrote:

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

You do realise that on an audax you reach a control every hour or two to get your Brevet card stamped? Often they will provide a bit of food and sometimes they are based at cafés!

Other times you have to get a receipt in a particular town, these will usually be at a café/corner shop if you're anything like me. I carry some food with me but you don't actually need too much due to the amount of opportunities to get hold of some more. Two bottles have always been fine for me as you can get them refilled at a control. IMO you only need 3 bottle cages if you carry tools in one of them.

You will need to carry more spares such as tubes and more tools as due to the distance you are more likely to have a mechanical. Also a battery charger so your GPS device or lights don't run out of charge. Only on the 400km+ ones do you need extra clothes in a large saddle bag as you'll spend the night somewhere.

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Sir Wobbly replied to froze | 5 years ago
3 likes
froze wrote:

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

Although Audax rides do sometimes go through the night they are routed so that "controls" (i.e. checkpoints) are rarely more than 50 miles apart. You get to refill water bottles; you don't have to ride the entire night without a refill!

And Audax is about self-sufficiency; there's nothing to stop you from getting refills en route (at pubs, petrol stations, etc.) you could even ask local residents for water. I've done that many times...

 

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alotronic replied to Sir Wobbly | 4 years ago
0 likes
Sir Wobbly wrote:
froze wrote:

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

Although Audax rides do sometimes go through the night they are routed so that "controls" (i.e. checkpoints) are rarely more than 50 miles apart. You get to refill water bottles; you don't have to ride the entire night without a refill!

And Audax is about self-sufficiency; there's nothing to stop you from getting refills en route (at pubs, petrol stations, etc.) you could even ask local residents for water. I've done that many times...

 

Sir Wobbly knows of what he speaks! He is legendary. Basically on an Audax it is rare to be riding more than 4 or 5 hours between controls, most of the time it's 2 or 3, so a couple of big bottles is enough. And you get to know where the all night service stations are in between. Food and water is seldom a problem in reality, though you have to have a good tolerance for sh*t food for many hours on end if you only have service stations on a long night leg. Cold at night and 'the dozies' are much more or an issue than food for most riders.

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theSplund replied to froze | 5 years ago
1 like
froze wrote:

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

I must admit that the 3rd bottle cage on my Mk1 Thorn Audax was rarely ever used for anything but my tools (in an old Isostar wide-necked bottle) especially as it was rather exposed to the elements - still, not every Audax is quite so well populated with controls (especially 'Permanents') and in the summer you might be glad of a third bottle (but might turn out to be an extra 3/4kg of dead weight)

Avatar
Bmblbzzz replied to theSplund | 5 years ago
0 likes
theSplund wrote:
froze wrote:

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

I must admit that the 3rd bottle cage on my Mk1 Thorn Audax was rarely ever used for anything but my tools (in an old Isostar wide-necked bottle) especially as it was rather exposed to the elements - still, not every Audax is quite so well populated with controls (especially 'Permanents') and in the summer you might be glad of a third bottle (but might turn out to be an extra 3/4kg of dead weight)

For a second I was boggling at how a water bottle could weigh three or four kilos. Then I realised you meant 750g... enlightened

Generally I agree that a third bottle is rarely if ever needed on an audax.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to froze | 4 years ago
0 likes
froze wrote:

It was explained in the article that Audax are long distance rides that could go into and all night which meant to carry more food and clothing, ok, what about water?  There was only two sets of water bottle bosses on all the bikes I looked at, I would think water would be important and would see at LEAST 3 sets of bottle bosses plus probably 2 more sets on the forks; am I being crazy?

The Enigma Etape has three sets of bottle bosses, the standard two and one underneath the downtube, which doubles as the cable holder too. 

Avatar
NZ Vegan Rider replied to froze | 4 years ago
0 likes

Bolt on bottle cage could be added  3

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