Friday, 27 August 2010

Dolan Ares Review

I've owned the Dolan Ares (pronounced "Ar-ez") for three months now, so thought having racked up around 600-700 miles on it, I can give my initial thoughts.

First picking the bike up, what struck me was a) How light it is b) What a different ride is was compared to my previous bike and c) just how quick it is. I guess for the money, that should be expected.

The geometry on it is out and out road racer (you can buy the bike with 3T time trial bars on if you want) and the narrow downtube gives it good rigidity and aerodynamics. Coming from a cheaper bike, I could immediately tell the difference in quality, speed and build quality.

The steering and handling is second to none. It whips in and out of corners really quick and I've had a real sense of pushing myself harder as my confidence in the bike has grown. That's confidence being helped by the SRAM Red groupset, which has the most awesome brake set-up going. They are so powerful that you can carry your speed that little bit longer, I'd need another 10m or so on my Specialized, even with the upgraded Shimano pads.

The bike turns heads as there aren't many on the road, primarily due to Dolan having a much bigger footprint in the track market, than road. However, many of the top track stars do their road training on Dolan bikes and their popularity is growing. In the North West you see a lot more of them than you do in the South, so if you want something that you won't see as often as some other brands out there, Dolan are someone to consider.

You can order it in a number of different colour combinations as Dolan do all their spraying here in the North West. I went for white/black to keep it pretty neutral and added some metallic red hubs onto Ksyrium SL wheels to give it some colour, they do stand out and I'm pretty pleased I went for this option in the end. I also got some SRAM S60 deep section wheels too (they're sitting in bags at the minute).

One thing I've recently changed on the bike is to remove the recessed seatpost and replace it with a straight post, which I ordered from Dolan. As I'm not an out and out racer, more a sportive and social rider, I found the ride position a bit too aggressive, with a little bit too much stretch when on the bars. Installing the straight post has fixed that and pushed me about an inch further forward in the cockpit, also meaning my pedal stroke is also more efficient with my knee being more central with the centre of the pedal. If you wanted to do the same, just ring Dolan up and they'll sort it out for you.

All in all, I'm really happy with the bike. It's supremely fast, well built and well specced. Terry Dolan has been building bikes for over thirty years for some of the worlds best riders and I like the fact that - although the frame is made in Taiwan - the bike is designed and assembled about twenty miles up the road from where I live. I'm looking forward to cracking out plenty more miles on the bike and will write a further blog in the future with an update on how it's performing.

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