Friday, August 05, 2005

Bike Review

I know I need to write more about other things, but I am having such a good time with this new bike, I am going to write one more thing. A lot of people have been searching for a review of the Dawes Lightning bike line (my tracker gets at least one a day), so I will give you the ups and downs of it, as best I can.

This is my first road bike, so some comparisons will only be made to the few others I test rode before buying this one.

First, it does not come ready to ride. The site on eBay (where I imagine most of you are looking) says you just need to slap on the wheels, handlebars, seat and pedals, and away you go. That is False. Be ready to tune the shifting before riding, inflate the tires, and adjust the brakes. The adjustment of the shifter, if you are not familiar with it, can take some time, as it is a lot of fine tuning.

It is also a bit heavier than you would expect for a road bike. I weighed mine in at 26lbs. Compare that to a standard low-end Trek or Specialized at 24.5. If you are racing, that might make a difference, but if not, I promise you won't care. In fact, the extra weight means less stress on your back and arms, and less road "noise". The Bike feels very good underneath you, and descending feels smooth and safe (a common complaint of most riders is descending is scary).

The tubes that come with the bike are junk. That is a common problem with most low-end bikes, because the company has to cut cost somehow. Your local bike shop will have much better tubes, for a very good price. They will also make the bike ride better.

The Wheelset--tires, rims, and hubs--is gorgeous. Alex rims are true and light, maxxis treads, while a bit cheap, look and feel good on the road, and the hubs were packed tight and smooth. I already got a compliment from my neighbor (who rides a 1200 dollar bike) on the wheelset. He took a full 15 minutes looking it over and was all smiles.

For anyone contemplating STI shifting over downtube, let me tell you, STI is the way to go. Again, it is going to weigh a little more, but you make up for it in comfort. It took me about 5 minutes to get used to STI, and now I don;t know how I lived without it. Smooth, fast, and very little hand and arm movement. Don't save the 50 bucks on the cheaper Dawes, get the STI. Sora is bottom of the line, but it is what you will get on every entry level bike you purchase.

The seat is great, it is very comfortable. I would have preferred a seat with the cut-out, but other than that it is soft and forms well to a backside. The seat post is rigid, and I like that. The clamp, though, was a joke. It is NOT quick release, it is very flimsy, and the bolt inside it snapped when I tightened it. I replaced it with a quick release right away. That is important to me, because I plan on riding long distance, and adjusting the seat is a must.

Crankset is normal. RPM is a little known brand, I think, but it compares favorably with most other bikes. It looks great, too. The high gear is wonderful in front, and the low gear in the rear just soars. I can reach 25 on a flat without pumping hard. I coast downhill at about 35.

The paint is far less basic than the pictures show. It is a much brighter, more candy red, and the decals are far less plain. It really does pop, and looks good going down the road. Don;t get the green, it is hideous. I wish she would have had more yellow to try out, but I like the red.

Overall, this is a nice entry level bicycle. Compare it to a Trek 1000, or a Specialized Allez. Those cost 650-700 and have the same component set. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the Allez has the EXACT same set up. I paid, with shipping, 330, and put another 30 bucks into accessories. If you are not serious about racing, just want to do some riding or long distance, you will NEVER notice the difference in the three, and the price will allow you to upgrade later if needs be.

I would recommend this bike to a friend, and that is saying a lot.

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