The feel of Steel
Since I have got my new bike on the road, I have had a few more opportunities to ride, the veil of winter seemingly having subsided, at least for the moment. So, taking advantage of the sun, I have done a 30 miler and a 40-miler to fully test out the new frame. And what a revelation it is.
The bike has been handling mainly country roads between Mid Suffolk and South Norfolk. It is on this real-world kind of terrain that the Thorn really shows its qualities. Made from a Reynolds tube set known as Thorn 858, the bike has been designed by Thorn’s master design guru Andy Blance to give a more forgiving ride than the original Audax bike, yet at the same time to handle in a way that doesn’t send the rider to sleep on a long haul!
And the bike makes short work of such rides. I am in training to take on an Audax – style ride in May, and so the gentle increase in distance is a good indicator of how the bike deals with giving the rider comfort after long hours in the saddle. On this particular ride, the conditions were almost perfect – warmish, but with a noticeable south westerly breeze that made the first 2/3rds of the ride easy, but gave me a real challenge on the way home.
The thing I keep realising is that the Audax Mk3, while built for comfort and clearance, is a fast bike if you want it to be. My average for a 40 mile ride was 15.3 mph, with a max of 30.1 (there aren’t many big hills in East Anglia!). But it is not appreciably slower than my old road bike, which was stripped down and light. The Thorn carries a lot more weight, with the frame alone being around the 10kg mark, but with a Brooks saddle and the chunky Topeak Super Tourist rack, the weight stacks up. It manages to give you the feeling that you are pulling less weight than you really are, and while the frame feels almost springy on undulating surfaces, the BB flex is minimal – you don’t feel that pedalling energy is being wasted.
I’m beginning to get used to a whole new kind of cycling – not simply getting sweaty and going as fast as I can, but enjoying the ride and the scenery as well. The way i’m going, I worry that a grey beard is the next logical step!
So for now, a busy week ahead, there will be a bit less time to cycle, but I’m already in the habit of checking the weather forecast days ahead to see when riding is possible…..