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Ride Long – What makes a good Audax bike

3 minute read

You may have read on the RCC Facebook page that Peter Corfe, Anisa Aubin, and I rode the Moonrakers and Sunseekers 300km audax last weekend. Whilst it would be ambitious to try to ride this event as your first venture into audax, I would like to give you some advice which could give you confidence to enter and complete a 200km ride next year.

You may think you need a dedicated audax bike. That’s far from the case, and Peter’s excellent video clips showed that some riders were riding bikes that are similar to those you would use on a sunday morning group ride. I’d like to give you some sense of what you are looking for in a bike for an audax event, and their order of importance.

Firstly it needs to be reliable. Any problems need to be resolved before you start a long ride. There isn’t any roadside assistance so you either need to be able to make repairs yourself, such as fixing a puncture, otherwise you will need to call a friend or relative to come and collect you.

After reliable, comes comfort. If you are going to be spending 8 or more hours on the bike, you need to be comfortable. Saddle soreness, back ache, foot pain etc etc are going to make the final stages of your ride miserable. You are unlikely to be feeling as fresh as a daisy at the end, but being in pain, isn’t going to lead to you becoming a committed audax rider.

Next comes efficiency, ensuring that as much of your effort goes into propelling you forward. Rolling resistance and transmission efficiency really do make a big difference. In particular tyre choice, can make a measurable difference over a long ride.

Next in line, I would put aerodynamics. I’ve read that at 10mph half your effort goes into overcoming aerodynamic drag. The set ups of bikepacking racers show how much effort they put into minimizing the frontal area of their bikes, and many use aerobars both for comfort and aerodynamics.

And finally I would put weight. Many cyclists become obsessed by weight of their bikes. and that partly because you can simply measure the weight of an upgraded component, but it only makes a marginal effect. Having said that, keeping the overall weight of rider and bike will make a difference when going uphill.

Often to achieve one of the first priorities you compromise one of the lesser priorities. For instance, tyres that are reliable enough for a route with trail or off road sections, may have more rolling resistance than ones you could use on a smooth all road route. Another example would be an overly aggressive position that might be fine for a three hour ride, but would lead to back ache, on a 10 hour ride.

I hope this has given you some food for thought, and I would welcome alternate viewpoints from other more experienced audax riders in the club. I will probably try to expand each of these aspects over the coming weeks to set out how Ive arrived at my particular Audax set up.

For more information on this article or anything Audax, please contact Adrian

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