Wednesday, December 14, 2011

1000km review: Thorn Audax 3

Having done 1000km+ on the Thorn it seems an appropriate time as any for a longer-term review of the Thorn Audax 3 frame I bought earlier this year. On the whole I'm very impressed, although of course there's a few minor niggles that hold it just short of perfection. (Mind you I should be pretty happy since I built it up myself!) One of my biggest complaints is that I haven't had enough time to do as many miles as I'd like. It hasn't been my best year on the bike, I'll hold back on the excuses.

Positives first. The Thorn rides well, the steering is responsive but not overly so and it isn't greatly affected by the weight of a handlebar bag. I haven't noticed any toeclip overlap. The relatively tight rear triangle means the Thorn accelerates well enough to feel sporty and makes light work of a quick stab up short rollers, but at the same time it's comfortable for long distances and rides fine no-hands. The ample braze-ons on the Thorn meant that fitting racks and mudguards was a breeze. I'm deliriously happy with the Gilles Berthoud front rack with its intergral light mount and matching decaleur to hold my handlebar bag snugly in place and of course my Son hub and matching Edelux are a match made in heaven too. The Tubus Fly rear rack is light and handy for strapping a raincoat to or mounting a couple of light panniers for a longer jaunt.

Minor niggles then: I'd like to be able to fit wider tyres. This is one of those compromises that comes up with touring-style frames. If you want cailper brakes then there's a practical limit to how wide a tyre you can fit. On the Thorn, with mudguards, that limit is about 28mm, although it's happier with 23mm tyres so I'll stick to those for the time being despite preferring wider rubber. The integral pump peg, while handy, is designed for a pump which appears to be no longer made, the magnificent Zefal HPX. I'm still sorting out some minor wheel and tyre issues, but once those are done I reckon we'll be as close to perfection as you can get!

3,952km so far this year.


Steve said...

Nice bike Miss Marple.

David Killick said...

Not plastic enough to ride in the Mardi Gras then?

Doug said...

I have a Thorn Audax as well and glad to have found your blog.

You've got an interesting set-up there with that dynamo and front rack but it looks like it works very well.

Here's my 1000 mile review...

Anonymous said...

Hi David

thanks for posting a review! My mother and father in law both have these bikes and love them. I'm getting a frameset soon to build up for myself.

I asked thorn about the pump-I couldn't find the standard HPX any more either, they said the Zefal HPX classic, that is listed on their website (in size 1) is made to fit the pump peg. It has the little holes in it for the peg, as well as being "frame fit" with the grooves. Hope this helps :-)


Unknown said...

Hi David,
That looks like a very nice setup. I was wondering if you could let me know which Gilles Berthoud rack and bag you have. Also, how did you get around mounting the rack with calliper brakes? Many thanks.


David Killick said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks. I used this rack bag:
and this decaleur:

The mounting was a bit of an issue because originally I used the rack intended for cantilever brakes, which had a tab which screwed into the rack mount in my fork crown. I didn't like how it sat, so I ended up buying the piece which suited caliper brakes and I am much happier with the fit. From memory it involved me installing a slightly longer brake bolt.

The handlebar bag is the GB2286. I've been very happy with it but I ended up replacing the liner with something stiffer. I think if I were to ever replace the handlebar bag, I would go for one without the side pockets, because I seldom use them and they can get in the way if filled.