Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

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nomm
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Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby nomm » 17 Feb 2020, 9:09am

Through a series of coincidences - including a pay out from an accident, the bike i've had on loan for 2 years being requested back (DAM YOU SIBLING!), as well as my employer starting a ride to work scheme - it might be time for something new (although I have been looking second hand)

My needs are day rides, weekend rides, v.light touring both camping/credit card - steel - defo, disk - ideally, let's not debate this, dull colour please.

Both companies have great reps, can more easily test the thorn (local shop) and likely very little between the two... thoughts?

reohn2
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby reohn2 » 17 Feb 2020, 9:21am

Thorn are local and if a test ride is positive then there's no contest unless there are other factors.
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PH
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby PH » 17 Feb 2020, 10:57am

I'm not sure which bikes you're comparing, I thought the Elan was Ti, is there a new steel version?
Also, I don't think Spa do a C2W scheme, though it may be possible to get one via a shop that does.
I've never ridden either bike, the first difference that stands out to me is the tyre clearance which the Thorn has less of. Then the price, expect to pay a good bit more for a Thorn, opinions differ on whether that's worth it. Test rides ought to be possible, both companies encourage it, Thorn also offer a trial period (14 days?) I know Harrogate is a long way for you, but if I'm considering an expensive purchase, I'll make the time to test it out and a weekend in Harrogate is a pleasure in itself.
I was at Thorn before Christmas, just passing and they were good enough to show me round, the new Nomad is very versatile, would build up to anything from a Expedition Tourer to an everyday commuter. Might be worth a look.

Brucey
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby Brucey » 17 Feb 2020, 11:12am

most of your envisaged uses suggest more racehorse than carthorse, thus an Audax type bike. However a light camping load can mean different things to different people; a touring bike would probably better for that use.

As with many bike purchases, I suggest that you think of tyres first rather than tyres last. Imagine what tyres you are going to be happy to use for each use, and choose the bike based on that. If you are going to be happy on 28mm tyres with modest clearances in every case then many audax type bikes are going to be OK. If you want to fit 32s or 35s, then not so much.

cheers
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colin54
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby colin54 » 17 Feb 2020, 11:43am

PH wrote:I'm not sure which bikes you're comparing, I thought the Elan was Ti, is there a new steel version?

Does the OP perhaps mean the Spa Aubisque which looks like a similarly specced bike to the Thorn ?

https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m1b17s223p3 ... 105-Triple

http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/ThornAudaxMk4.pdf

nomm
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby nomm » 17 Feb 2020, 12:08pm

colin54 wrote:
PH wrote:I'm not sure which bikes you're comparing, I thought the Elan was Ti, is there a new steel version?

Does the OP perhaps mean the Spa Aubisque which looks like a similarly specced bike to the Thorn ?

https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m1b17s223p3 ... 105-Triple

http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/ThornAudaxMk4.pdf


The Elan 725 Steel is due in March according to print ads in Cycle magazine - Frame £395 Full builds from £1050

If it sticks to similar set up as the Ti version - both the Mk4 and new Spa should take 32s with mudguards

PH
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby PH » 17 Feb 2020, 12:24pm

nomm wrote:
PH wrote:I'm not sure which bikes you're comparing, I thought the Elan was Ti, is there a new steel version?


The Elan 725 Steel is due in March according to print ads in Cycle magazine - Frame £395 Full builds from £1050

If it sticks to similar set up as the Ti version - both the Mk4 and new Spa should take 32s with mudguards

That's interesting.
You still might want to check the tyre clearance, Thorn say an actual 31mm which probably means some 32's with little tread and the Ti Elans I've seen are running much wider than that, though I don't know the limit.
It is a big price difference, £400 more for the standard spec Thorn. I like Thorn, the bikes and the company, but for me it'd have to offer something extra to justify the price. I'd still recommend riding them both. On paper they're both very nice bikes.

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honesty
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby honesty » 17 Feb 2020, 2:04pm

I have a mk3 Thorn audax, and have used it for day rides, audaxing and B&B touring (either with 2 small panniers or with a Carradice) and it's a comfortable, nice riding, bomb proof bike. They are heavy though, the frame and forks weigh upwards of 3.3kg. I would say on a sliding scale from race to touring I'd say the Thorn bike weight goes much more to the touring side than the race side. Different audax bikes aim for different things though. Apart from discs I cant see much difference in the designs of the models between the mk3 and mk4, so may be cheaper to by a mk3 frame and build up if you're not interesting in discs (other changes if you want to consider it is rear OLN and tyre clearance, so it really is going to depend on brake type and which tyre width you want). EDIT: Ooh actually on looking the mk4 has 2 eyelets at the back, so you can fit mudguard and racks separately. This is nicer than the mk3 which only has 1.

Spar dont do Cycle to Work, though there is a shop in Bristol that stocks their frames that you may be able to get a test ride with, and may do C2W. SJS Cycles do, but they will charge you the 10% fee (or they did last time I asked anyway!)

pwa
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby pwa » 17 Feb 2020, 2:51pm

I have both Thorn and Spa bikes in my garage and both are good. But you get a lot more for your money with Spa.

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NUKe
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby NUKe » 17 Feb 2020, 3:32pm

reohn2 wrote:Thorn are local and if a test ride is positive then there's no contest unless there are other factors.

I would say the same as Rheon2. Go test ride a Thorn its local and if you like it go with it. otherwise SPA is a long trek, but still a great company with great bikes
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geocycle
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby geocycle » 17 Feb 2020, 4:34pm

pwa wrote:I have both Thorn and Spa bikes in my garage and both are good. But you get a lot more for your money with Spa.


So do I. I test rode a Spa Ti elan in a relatively heavy build and would describe it as a very solid workhorse of a bike with huge build flexibility. For me it felt very similar to my Thorn raven sport rohloff bike and I was after something sprightlier so I went for the Spa Ti audax. The elan has bigger clearances, disk brake capabilities and is an out and out tourer which wasn't what I was after with that purchase.

It's hard to compare my Thorn with my Spa audax as they are so different. If pushed I would say the Thorn is a notch above in terms of quality. However, it is also more expensive so the Spa could be considered better value.

pwa
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby pwa » 17 Feb 2020, 4:48pm

geocycle wrote:
pwa wrote:I have both Thorn and Spa bikes in my garage and both are good. But you get a lot more for your money with Spa.


So do I. I test rode a Spa Ti elan in a relatively heavy build and would describe it as a very solid workhorse of a bike with huge build flexibility. For me it felt very similar to my Thorn raven sport rohloff bike and I was after something sprightlier so I went for the Spa Ti audax. The elan has bigger clearances, disk brake capabilities and is an out and out tourer which wasn't what I was after with that purchase.

It's hard to compare my Thorn with my Spa audax as they are so different. If pushed I would say the Thorn is a notch above in terms of quality. However, it is also more expensive so the Spa could be considered better value.

I'm not so sure about the quality difference. I have a Thorn with peeling paint, one reason I then went for a Spa titanium frame that wouldn't have paint issues. And one Thorn frame came with a bottom bracket not properly greased on installation, meaning one cup has not come out in 18 years of use. When the time came to renew the bottom bracket I just bought the same unit and retained the old cup. Their Audax frames save money by using no-brand tubes which they stick their own label on. And they are not light frames. Thorn's idea of lightweight is not the same as everyone else's. I like Thorn's frames but they are not noticeably better than Spa's. My Spa titanium tourer frame has a more impressive finish than any Thorn frame I have had. By quite a margin.

geocycle
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby geocycle » 17 Feb 2020, 5:28pm

pwa wrote:
geocycle wrote:
pwa wrote:I have both Thorn and Spa bikes in my garage and both are good. But you get a lot more for your money with Spa.


So do I. I test rode a Spa Ti elan in a relatively heavy build and would describe it as a very solid workhorse of a bike with huge build flexibility. For me it felt very similar to my Thorn raven sport rohloff bike and I was after something sprightlier so I went for the Spa Ti audax. The elan has bigger clearances, disk brake capabilities and is an out and out tourer which wasn't what I was after with that purchase.

It's hard to compare my Thorn with my Spa audax as they are so different. If pushed I would say the Thorn is a notch above in terms of quality. However, it is also more expensive so the Spa could be considered better value.

I'm not so sure about the quality difference. I have a Thorn with peeling paint, one reason I then went for a Spa titanium frame that wouldn't have paint issues. And one Thorn frame came with a bottom bracket not properly greased on installation, meaning one cup has not come out in 18 years of use. When the time came to renew the bottom bracket I just bought the same unit and retained the old cup. Their Audax frames save money by using no-brand tubes which they stick their own label on. And they are not light frames. Thorn's idea of lightweight is not the same as everyone else's. I like Thorn's frames but they are not noticeably better than Spa's. My Spa titanium tourer frame has a more impressive finish than any Thorn frame I have had. By quite a margin.


Yes I love the Ti finish! TBH I have been lucky with the paintwork on my two thorns, both have been excellent with no problems at all despite everyday use. The build quality of the Thorn was better than the Spa (which needed some attention to the gears, headset, brake levers and seat post after delivery) but I guess that comes down to who has been involved in the work. I am very happy with both brands and their frame makers.

pwa
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby pwa » 17 Feb 2020, 5:58pm

To be honest, I think any bike that arrives in a box will need a bit of fine tuning within the first few miles. The headset will bed in by a fraction of a mm, requiring a small adjustment. The cables will tend to need a small adjustment in tension after a bit of use to get the indexing just right.

reohn2
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Re: Thorn Audax Mk4 or Spa Elan (steel)

Postby reohn2 » 17 Feb 2020, 7:13pm

NUKe wrote:
reohn2 wrote:Thorn are local and if a test ride is positive then there's no contest unless there are other factors.

I would say the same as Rheon2. Go test ride a Thorn its local and if you like it go with it. otherwise SPA is a long trek, but still a great company with great bikes

Agreed.
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