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  1. #1
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Modern British Audax

    LD Folk,

    Are any of you riding a modern version of a British Audax frame on Brevet type rides?
    I'm considering having Mercian or Bob Jackson build one to spec for me and would be interested in your feedback.

    http://www.merciancycles.co.uk/frames/25/audax-special

    http://www.bobjacksoncycles.co.uk/pr...products_id=44

    Regards,

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  2. #2
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Wow, I didn't know Bob Jackson was still in business. I always considered they as "classic" or collectors bikes. A friend of my has a Bob Jackson tandem. Sorry, non of that is particularly useful I'm sure. I have seen Mercian's on the long distance road and If I remember correctly Richard Cranium may ride one. Memory is a little fuzzy on that though. Either way, both are quality manufacturers so I think that if you spend the time to outline what you want it to do and make sure it is fitted properly for you, you'll be happy with either one.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  3. #3
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Thanks Homeyba,

    In the Dim & Misty Past several of my teammates raced Mercians, one still has the same Vincitore and rides it decades later.
    The shop did a steady special order business w/ Mercian from the 70's through the late 80's, good solid quality and no nonsense.

    It now occurs to me that if an elderly gent wishes to go for a good long bicycle ride at a brisk pace who understands the requirements better than the old line British frame makers? 130 dropout spacing, threadless fork combined w/ mudguard clearance and a light lively frame would come as no surprise to them, or am I wrong?

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 08-15-13 at 06:25 AM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

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    Randomhead
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    Mercian will build what you ask them to build, so you should know what you want. Boulder bikes or Ocean Air might be better if you need a little guidance

  5. #5
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Why not have a US frame builder build you an audax (or sports touring) bike? Jackson and Mercian are fine builders but you are buying from overseas which will make it much more of a headache to warranty the bike if you have any problems. Gunnar makes a stock sports touring frame that should be close to what you want. If you want to spend more, I've always liked Waterford bikes. In any case, the list of frame builders in the US is pretty long for a custom bike.

  6. #6
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Mercian will build what you ask them to build, so you should know what you want. Boulder bikes or Ocean Air might be better if you need a little guidance
    unterhausen,

    Mercian will indeed build to spec, in a previous life I special ordered various models for customers with some regularity but not in decades.
    I have my requirements based on the Audax model fully spec'd other than color.
    Hopefully someone from the LD community who is riding a current version of a King/Audax/etc. can give me feedback from the saddle.

    Thank you for your input,

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 08-15-13 at 10:51 AM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  7. #7
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    Why not have a US frame builder build you an audax (or sports touring) bike? Jackson and Mercian are fine builders but you are buying from overseas which will make it much more of a headache to warranty the bike if you have any problems. Gunnar makes a stock sports touring frame that should be close to what you want. If you want to spend more, I've always liked Waterford bikes. In any case, the list of frame builders in the US is pretty long for a custom bike.
    bikemig,

    There are indeed quality frame builders in the USA. Mark & his team at Waterford in particular do a fine job, if I was looking for a road racing frame built to spec I'd go that way. However that's not what I'm considering. I'm sure that I can get my requirements across to a domestic builder for an Audax/Brevet style bike but why not go direct to the well and source one from builders who have decades of experience building just exactly that? Warranty coverage is not a big concern, in particular Mercian has never been a problem for me.

    Thank you for your input,

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  8. #8
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    Gunnar makes a stock sports touring frame that should be close to what you want.
    bikemig,

    Neglected to inform that I already have a bike that's close to what I want, see attached pic.
    I built a Soma Stanyan to Rando-ish spec as a sort of test mule to see if I'd enjoy a change from the road race bikes I've grown old with.
    Those road bikes now need dusting.

    A fellow in my circle of acquaintance, let's call him Captain Fast, has made an offer to purchase it after we took a jaunt down one of my favorite hill country roads where a combination of deteriorated chip-seal pavement, eroded low water crossings and blind off camber corners made him less than enamored of his aero-ultra$$-nano-tech-uber-bike. Everything I own is for sale, make me an offer. Therefore a replacement could be in order, might as well up-spec the project.

    -Bandera
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Bandera; 08-15-13 at 06:45 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  9. #9
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    bikemig,

    Neglected to inform that I already have a bike that's close to what I want, see attached pic.
    I built a Soma Stanyan to Rando-ish spec as a sort of test mule to see if I'd enjoy a change from the road race bikes I've grown old with.
    Those road bikes now need dusting.

    A fellow in my circle of acquaintance, let's call him Captain Fast, has made an offer to purchase it after we took a jaunt down one of my favorite hill country roads where a combination of deteriorated chip-seal pavement, eroded low water crossings and blind off camber corners made him less than enamored of his aero-ultra$$-nano-tech-uber-bike. Everything I own is for sale, make me an offer. Therefore a replacement will be in order, might as well up-spec the project.

    -Bandera
    Bandera: hablas espanol? So I'm thinking great minds think alike, . The soma stanyan is a really cool looking bike. I have my share of racing bikes (starting with campy nuovo record and ending with a modern campy chorus bike) but I've been thinking of lately about something with a bit more forgiving gearing and a little fatter tire which is one way to build up a long distance bike. I built up two this year. I put a triple on my RB-1 and then built up an older Salsa casseroll frame using a compact crank:P1010076.jpgP1010142.jpg

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    bikemig,

    There are indeed quality frame builders in the USA. Mark & his team at Waterford in particular do a fine job, if I was looking for a road racing frame built to spec I'd go that way. However that's not what I'm considering. I'm sure that I can get my requirements across to a domestic builder for an Audax/Brevet style bike but why not go direct to the well and source one from builders who have decades of experience building just exactly that? Warranty coverage is not a big concern, in particular Mercian has never been a problem for me.

    Thank you for your input,

    -Bandera
    As unterhausen Mentioned Boulder cycles may be a good domestic choice. They seem to special in Audax/raddoneur style bikes. They also used to make the modern Rene Herse bikes. The owner has close ties to Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly and seems to know the desires of raddoneur's. Might be worth calling them at least.

  11. #11
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    Bandera: hablas espanol? So I'm thinking great minds think alike, .
    bikemig,

    Puedo pedir una cerveza.

    Good solid looking machines for mile churning.
    The Stanyan is a perfectly serviceable choice w/o breaking the bank but when a beat-to-death Captain Fast offers cash.......I can build another or something bespoke (NPI).

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  12. #12
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlanoFuji View Post
    As unterhausen Mentioned Boulder cycles may be a good domestic choice. They seem to special in Audax/raddoneur style bikes. They also used to make the modern Rene Herse bikes. The owner has close ties to Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly and seems to know the desires of raddoneur's. Might be worth calling them at least.
    PlanoFuji,

    Since I'm reading BQ now instead of Velo News your recommendation is a good one.
    Never rode a low trail machine, adds another element to consider.

    Thanks for your input,

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  13. #13
    Randomhead
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    Soma is coming out with a 650b randoish bike that might suit you.

  14. #14
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Soma is coming out with a 650b randoish bike that might suit you.
    unterhausen,

    I had no idea, thanks.

    The Stanyan's quality is very good; straight, solid & clean.
    Reminds me of an old school Brit clubrider's frameset, but built in Taiwan.
    A Soma 650B may well be an affordable way to check-out this French-ified low trail cult thing.

    Thanks again to all for your input,

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  15. #15
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    I started cycling seriously back in the early 70's, and the local shop where I bought my first good bike also sold Bob Jacksons. However, I have never been particularly impressed by British framebuilders. During the bike boom of the 70's, all sorts of British bikes made their way to North American shops, many of them having rather questionable workmanship. Not saying that Jackson or Mercian were among them, but one telling feature was the use of a 26.8 seatpost. A Reynolds 531 seat tube is single-butted, and the wider inside diameter (27.2) is supposed to be at the top. So if your frame (almost always English) required a 26.8 seatpost, it meant that the builder had brazed in the seat tube upside down! This was fairly common on the British frames.

    Unless you just want the British name adorning the frame, I think you are far better off having a US builder construct your frame. Besides the money staying here, I really think US builders have outstepped the constraints of "traditionalism" in frame building, being not afraid to use state of the art tubes and welding techniques, depending less on "we've always done it this way." At least, that would be my assessment, and I'm Canadian (and can only think of a couple of builders in Canada I would trust, not including Marinoni since that crash on the track back in 1980 caused by someone's Marinoni fork snapping!). Plus, as mentioned, warranty issues are easier dealt with.

    Living near Seattle, I've been riding the heck out of a Rodriguez street fixie (built by Dennis Bushnell) for the past 3.5 years and 75,000 km (including PBP, LEL, and a CA Triple Crown, and soon to add a Furnace Creek 508), and I am really impressed by its durability (and its geometry, which allows me to make stupid mistakes when I'm tired, and it stays up!). Anyway, I think you're far better off with a frame made by a reputable US builder. One thing for sure, it's not Mr. Jackson or Mr. Mercian building that English frame anymore. Which could be a good thing, or not.

    Luis

  16. #16
    Randomhead
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    26.8 was a common French size for 531, it means they grabbed a metric tube. I doubt they would put a seat tube in upside-down. Mercian is a high-volume custom shop, a lot like Waterford. Only the price on a Mercian is quite a bit less. I am not a big fan, but people seem to like them. I have never heard anything bad about them.

    I don't really know the history of Audax in the UK. I didn't get the impression that there were all that many UK riders at PBP considering how easy it is to get there.

  17. #17
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
    I have never been particularly impressed by British framebuilders. During the bike boom of the 70's, all sorts of British bikes made their way to North American shops, many of them having rather questionable workmanship. Not saying that Jackson or Mercian were among them, but one telling feature was the use of a 26.8 seatpost. A Reynolds 531 seat tube is single-butted, and the wider inside diameter (27.2) is supposed to be at the top.

    Unless you just want the British name adorning the frame, I think you are far better off having a US builder construct your frame.
    lhbernhardt,

    In the boom of the 70's I was responsible for all assembly in one of the oldest & most respected shops in the US. There certainly were basic machines of dubious quality that we had to deal with but I never had any serious QC problems with any British machine higher than a Raleigh Sprite, and that one never went to a customer.

    "So if your frame (almost always English) required a 26.8 seatpost, it meant that the builder had brazed in the seat tube upside down! This was fairly common on the British frames."

    Fairly common? In my experience Never.
    Where precisely and on what make & model of frame did you encounter this?
    There was a metric 531 spec of 26.8.
    We only dealt with the British top tier: Mercian, Jack Taylor, Raleigh/Carlton and an occasional B.Jackson so QA/QC was very good, and much better than many of the fashionable Italian framesets that we sold later.
    This sounds like an Urban Myth to me, no disrespect intended.

    Which brings us to today.
    I really don't care if there is "British name adorning the frame", my current Rando-ish/Brit-Club-Like frame is built in Taiwan. So what? It is manufactured to the quality, price and specification required.

    There are indeed high quality domestic frame manufacturers. I personally prefer Waterford if I was to spec a road racing bike, but I'm not.
    Specialization does occur in the global supply chain, I'm inclined to go with it.
    Mercian has been building some of the finest quality Audax frames made for decades. Are they traditional? I certainly hope so, that's the point. I can have them build one to my exact specifications including the finest modern tube sets/dropout/fork specs with little doubt that I will get precisely what I required when it was due to be delivered at the agreed upon price. How bad can that be?

    Warranty claims? Never had one w/ Mercian in the past, and we sold them for a long time.
    My more recent experience in QA/QC gives me some confidence in that regard, details too tedious to note.

    Thanks for your input,

    Hopefully someone in the LD community who rides a modern British Audax/Brevet design can give some feedback from the saddle. It's not an idle inquiry but part of the "due diligence" in Project Management. As an old PMP that's how I roll, as it were.

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 08-16-13 at 07:41 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  18. #18
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I don't really know the history of Audax in the UK. I didn't get the impression that there were all that many UK riders at PBP considering how easy it is to get there.
    unterhausen,

    You know way more about this aspect of the sport than I but a retired colleague now home in Wales has returned to cycling his Rando/Audax/Brevet activities and told me that "It's all quite daft this plootering about on push bikes in all weathers, but better than being in the office with the likes of you."

    I'm sure truer words were never spoken.

    All I've found is here:

    http://h2g2.com/entry/A87807784

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randonneuring

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 08-17-13 at 04:38 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  19. #19
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    A LELer had his fairly new Mercian crack at headtube/ downtube junction and finished on a volunteer's bike, another Mercian!

  20. #20
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    A LELer had his fairly new Mercian crack at headtube/ downtube junction and finished on a volunteer's bike, another Mercian!
    LWaB,

    Thanks for the feedback.
    What's the general opinion then of current Mercian quality in your community? My experience is decades out of date.
    Would you have one built for yourself, financial considerations aside?

    BTW: London, Edinburg, London sounds very cool:

    http://www.londonedinburghlondon.com/

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 08-17-13 at 06:54 AM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  21. #21
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    I've not seen the inside of enough custom English frames to sensibly comment. You really need to talk to somebody who repaints and repairs them (probably over a beer or 2) to get a worthwhile answer. The Mercians and Bob Jacksons that I've ridden (for short periods) were enjoyable to ride, cornered well and I'd be happy to ride them again. Mercians look very nice. For the sake of completeness, there are other options too (Dave Yates has ridden long brevets, Argos in Bristol, Longstaffs and so on).

    I think that most builders produced 'bad frames' occasionally. Look around hard enough and just about every long-term builder has had some breakages. When there is a pattern, I tend to steer clear.

    Some second-hand (I saw but did not own these specific bikes) stories of breakage: A friend's Mondonico (ordered and picked up in Italy) cracked in the same location during a race (I was in a different grade that day) in the late '80s, just poor mitering with all the load carried by the lug. A lot of these instances survive for years, others fail quickly. Llewellyn had a couple of forks fail earlier in his career because a machined stress raiser at the base of the crown race.
    Last edited by LWaB; 08-18-13 at 12:33 AM.

  22. #22
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    I think that most builders produced 'bad frames' occasionally. Look around hard enough and just about every long-term builder has had some breakages. When there is a pattern, I tend to steer clear.
    LWaB,

    Agree. I've spent a good chunk of my career in Quality Assurance/Quality Control, failures in service do occur.
    Your staying away from a "pattern" of failure is a cornerstone of due diligence in sourcing a supplier. Helpful input, thanks.

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

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