Spa Audax build photos

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Samuel D
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Spa Audax build photos

Postby Samuel D » 18 Apr 2019, 10:55pm

Some of you may know I recently got a 58 cm Spa Audax frame to replace my 54 cm model. The 54 cm had some battle scars but was good enough to build up in a different way for another user.

Besides moving across my old components, deep-cleaning and lubricating everything as I went, I installed a pair of Campagnolo Record single-pivot brakes that I’d been keeping for this occasion and Dia-Compe Gran Compe GC202 levers with non-aero cable routing. The goal was minimal and easy maintenance.

Here are some photos I took yesterday evening of the initial result. I’ve since shortened the front brake cable housing by about an inch and swapped back to a longer Nitto stem; the hoods of the new levers turned out to be noticeably shorter horizontally, messing up my top-tube versus stem-length calculations.

Click to embiggen.

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It’ll never be this clean again. Nor will it look so sleek when winter brings dynamo cables, lamps, and mudguards. But that versatility is the beauty of this frame.

Meanwhile, summer is on its way!

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horizon
Posts: 9562
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby horizon » 18 Apr 2019, 11:27pm

It's amazing what can be achieved on a modest frame (in the only available colour) with attention to detail and an eye for proportion. Congratulations. 8)
Last edited by horizon on 19 Apr 2019, 9:06pm, edited 1 time in total.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

slowster
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Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby slowster » 19 Apr 2019, 12:08am

Very, very nice.

I too prefer a traditional curved handlebar with brake levers angled upwards like that. Modern compact bars just do not seem to me to provide as much scope for varying hand positions and grip on the bars. I also find that traditional lever shape much more comfortable than Shimano's modern STI levers with their large/bulky flat surface, which do not offer the same flexibility of choice of position, i.e. they seem to need to be angled horizontally.

Brucey
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Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Brucey » 19 Apr 2019, 12:45am

looks nice: I think it'd look even nicer with a quill stem but that is just me.....

but anyway what does it ride like? How do you like the brakes? Do you notice much difference with the larger frameset?

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Samuel D
Posts: 2860
Joined: 8 Mar 2015, 11:05pm
Location: Paris

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Samuel D » 19 Apr 2019, 8:35am

slowster wrote:Modern compact bars just do not seem to me to provide as much scope for varying hand positions and grip on the bars. I also find that traditional lever shape much more comfortable than Shimano's modern STI levers with their large/bulky flat surface, which do not offer the same flexibility of choice of position, i.e. they seem to need to be angled horizontally.

I think the purpose of compact bars is to limit the position changes to a range the rider can handle with the bars set low, although that’s not how they’re marketed. Anyway I agree on both bar and brake-lever comfort. This is a Nitto Mod. 177 ‘Noodle’ bar. Pretty nice except it occasionally bruises my wrists when throwing the bike around from the drops (out of the saddle).

One reason I like the brake levers a little farther up than some people is to compensate for the fact that the lever rotates in an arc around its pivot when pulled. If the lever is too low on the bar, I end up pulling at an awkward angle from the hooks when descending and braking hard. The way I have the levers, the pull is tangential to the lever’s arc of motion by the time I have the brake on hard, which is when I most need efficiency.

Brucey wrote:Ithink it'd look even nicer with a quill stem but that is just me.....

Not just you, but I still feel more comfortable with the operation of a threadless set-up. If I ever get a 1" steel steerer bicycle, I’ll seriously consider a quill stem.

Brucey wrote:but anyway what does it ride like? How do you like the brakes? Do you notice much difference with the larger frameset?

It’s smooth and quiet, but half of that is because it’s a new build with everything meticulously set up and a new SRAM chain packed with viscous factory grease. I haven’t ridden far enough to get a feel for the subtle frame differences from the previous one. Of course the steering feels a little different with a shorter stem. The top tube lightly touches my thighs when honking and the stem is now too far forward to catch my knee, so that’s a nice trade-off.

The brakes feel great! Very low cable friction. Light action through the pad-clearance zone and then good hard braking. I can do a stoppie with two fingers easily (or with one finger with a little assistance from weight transfer).

There is one obvious problem with the brakes: the front one squeals a bit with hard braking. I gave the rim a good clean with acetone, so I’m hoping that has improved it. If not, maybe the pads need to bed in a bit or develop a toe-in with wear. Otherwise I’ll have to attempt more drastic solutions.

amediasatex
Posts: 714
Joined: 2 Nov 2015, 12:51pm
Location: Sunny Devon! just East of the Moor

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby amediasatex » 19 Apr 2019, 12:19pm

Samuel, that looks lovely and personally I think the fit looks better aesthetically compared to your old 54 with all the spacers.

Happy riding!

Greystoke
Posts: 195
Joined: 8 May 2018, 7:41am
Location: Lincolnshire

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Greystoke » 19 Apr 2019, 1:24pm

Very nice, looks like a proper bike.
I'd like the adjustability of a quill stem.

PH
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Location: Derby
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Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby PH » 19 Apr 2019, 1:55pm

Pretty pictures and very individual :wink:
Can't make out if you've gone for form or function or just had some random parts - the brakes look great, but are they a match for modern ones? Then there's that crankset, it draws my eye from everything else, looks like it belongs on another bike or era.
Enjoy riding it, interested to hear your comparisons with the smaller frame.

reohn2
Posts: 35882
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby reohn2 » 19 Apr 2019, 3:29pm

Nice retro looking and very practical bike :)
Just needs a pair of 32mm Hypers and it'll look reet :wink:
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I cycle therefore I am.

Samuel D
Posts: 2860
Joined: 8 Mar 2015, 11:05pm
Location: Paris

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Samuel D » 19 Apr 2019, 5:32pm

PH wrote:Can't make out if you've gone for form or function or just had some random parts - the brakes look great, but are they a match for modern ones? Then there's that crankset, it draws my eye from everything else, looks like it belongs on another bike or era.

Have you heard my rants about pads rising into the tyre with wear on dual-pivot brakes? That design flaw irked me, maybe especially because I use rims with shallow brake tracks. That and being a young, light man (with consequently high grip strength for my body weight) prompted me to try single-pivot brakes.

As I said, the front squeals slightly. It improved during today’s ride so I think the new pads may have a skin or need a toe-in (which arises naturally from wear because the arms twist under hard braking to wear the heel more than the toe). I’ll give it another few days before deciding whether I need to tackle the squeal in some explicit way.

Otherwise these brakes are not much different from my BR-R650 callipers with BL-R400 levers in power or feel. They have a measurably lower mechanical advantage, but the friction in the non-aero cables is lower, not least because these cables are new. They have a light, smooth action until the pads hit and then they feel at least as firm as my BR-R650s. The arms flex more than the BR-R650’s in the fore-aft direction when pulled around by the rim while the brake is on, but you can’t feel that through the lever. I don’t recognise the complaints I’ve read about these brakes, which makes me think set-up is critical to their good operation. There are many things you can do wrong, from a sloppy pivot adjustment to high cable friction to spongy housing ends to old dried-out pads. My nearly NOS brakes both arrived with the pivots ludicrously loose and not a drop of lubricant anywhere.

You need to lubricate the pivots and spring contacts. I’ve already ridden with the Campagnolo brake on the rear on my old frame for several weeks (after the miniscule ball bearings in my rear BR-R650 turned into a corroded mess). It worked great, but I did need to periodically put a single drop of oil on each spring contact to stop them squeaking and to keep the brake centred. That job beats fiddling with pad height in my book. It takes ten seconds while lubricating the chain.

I don’t want to make any grand claims until I solve the squealing, but first impressions are excellent. These feel nothing whatsoever like the brakes on an old ten-speed! They feel pretty modern.

Everything on this bicycle was chosen for functional reasons first. Of course my priorities may differ from another rider’s. I’m seeking low running costs, low maintenance requirements, and good on-the-road reliability. Only after those were fulfilled to the best of my knowledge did I consider aesthetics, which mainly involved choosing silver components where there was a choice (e.g. rims, spokes, hubs, seatpost, stem; the handlebar was silver whether I wanted that or not) and matching the saddle and hoods colour (brown) for a little coordination to soften the contrast of silver versus black.

As for the cranks, they too were chosen for function but I’ve run into a couple of hiccups with them. The external bearings don’t last long either, even though I’m only 65 kg and don’t push the pedals that hard. I’m ready to try a good square-taper crank again. And, as if on cue, a friend gave me his old FC-7410 a few days ago. If it’s in decent condition (I haven’t got it yet), I’ll be trying that. Maybe that will be more to your taste.

Samuel D
Posts: 2860
Joined: 8 Mar 2015, 11:05pm
Location: Paris

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Samuel D » 19 Apr 2019, 5:36pm

reohn2 wrote:Just needs a pair of 32mm Hypers and it'll look reet :wink:

The first time I wrecked my rear wheel on the old frame, I borrowed a friend’s wheel which happened to have a genuine 35 mm tyre. That fitted fine without a mudguard. However, the carbon fork won’t take more than a 28 mm tyre with reasonable clearance. Maybe I’ll eventually get a nice steel fork with more clearance, but that isn’t a priority now. They seem to cost about a hundred quid.

Samuel D
Posts: 2860
Joined: 8 Mar 2015, 11:05pm
Location: Paris

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Samuel D » 19 Apr 2019, 5:43pm

By the way, weight as photographed was 9.4 kg.

reohn2
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Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby reohn2 » 19 Apr 2019, 5:47pm

Samuel D wrote:
reohn2 wrote:Just needs a pair of 32mm Hypers and it'll look reet :wink:

The first time I wrecked my rear wheel on the old frame, I borrowed a friend’s wheel which happened to have a genuine 35 mm tyre. That fitted fine without a mudguard. However, the carbon fork won’t take more than a 28 mm tyre with reasonable clearance. Maybe I’ll eventually get a nice steel fork with more clearance, but that isn’t a priority now. They seem to cost about a hundred quid.

I know the tyres fitted are 23's but there seems to be a lot of clearance on the fork fitted,that's what prompted my comment.
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Brucey
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Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby Brucey » 19 Apr 2019, 6:09pm

IIRC FC-7410 has milled cutouts in the 'throat' region (between the crank and the spider arms) in an attempt to reduce cracking in this area. Unfortunately in the ones I have seen the milled finish isn't really good enough to make the cranks crack-proof in this area, and worse yet, the cranks are anodised which means that once a crack starts, it is liable to 'go' quite well. I am not sure what the best policy is here; you should certainly check for cracks (magnifying glass before cleaning, dye pen after) and maybe polishing that area will do some good if there is no crack already present. If the anodising is removed in a larger area and that area is regularly cleaned, you can reduce the local corrosive attack that accompanies smaller breaches in the anodising.

Aesthetically FC-7400 series is a good match for the rest of the bike. In point of fact any ST 130 BCD crank from that period (including Exage ones) will look OK too. Exage rings are not great (in some models they are weighty steel); the cranks themselves are polished aluminium and are a bit chunkier than 600/DA cranks, but are not a great deal heavier. They can be polished to your heart's content, obviously.

The other route which may appeal to you is to fit a campag ST triple chainset; with careful selection of BB spindle (i.e. quite a lot shorter than campag suggest) on a steel frame you can bring the chainline in so that the outer two rings are only a little bit further out than the rings on a double. The inside 'emergency' chainring can be set to practically brush the chainstay. Word of warning; it can be difficult to get a FD to shift cleanly onto a chainring that close to the frame; most FDs won't go far enough inwards.

I have a road bike with 32-42-52 chainrings and a 14-28 cassette; this gives me gear ratios which will (unladen) get me up almost anything, and plenty of gears for fastish work too.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

geocycle
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Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 9:46am

Re: Spa Audax build photos

Postby geocycle » 19 Apr 2019, 7:06pm

Looks fantastic to me. I like the retro and modern look. Great photos, thanks for sharing.