Summary

Two winter-ready bikes from Dolan and Raleigh: Which is best?

Products

Verdict

We set out to test road bikes that are ideal for riding in winter so we were looking for them to have a few basic qualities in common; mudguards, of course, and then concessions in their specification and design towards comfort and durability.

Both the Raleigh Clubman and the Dolan Dual offer versatility in their range of uses, converging somewhere around the idea of long winter miles, either to prepare you for your summer sport or simply to enjoy riding all
year round.

The Raleigh is probably best suited for summer touring, with its ability to take racks, great ride quality and grown-up handling. But the comfort and durability of its steel frame along with the matching full-length mudguards make it ideal for commutes and long rides through the winter. It?s just a little sedate for full-on training.

The Dolan Dual offers a more committed approach to winter riding. It?s fast, agile and loves the hills and has plenty of scope for finding a position between racy and comfortable. It?s a great ride, offering just the right balance between reassuring handling and exciting responsiveness. You do feel the road more on the carbon Dual than the skinny, steel Clubman and this might be a consideration when choosing a bike for super-long rides.

The fact that Dolan, and others, offers carbon winter bikes shows the ever-growing confidence in the strength and longevity of the material. It does still seem like quite a luxury though. The specification on the Dual that we tested was absolutely ideal for winter riding but did make it significantly more expensive than the Raleigh. It can of course be kitted out with any of the Shimano or SRAM groupsets to bring it down in price a little or, indeed, create a super-trainer.

Second best
Both bikes seem a little too nice to have a full winter of harsh riding inflicted upon them. But isn?t that the case with all decent bikes? While the Raleigh looks too lovely to ride in the rain, its sub-£1,000 price makes it an ideal second bike and it therefore fits in well with the idea of garaging your best bike for the winter. It is also tapping in to another agenda ? that of nostalgia and style in cycling. It does this really well; its retro good looks were universally well received and represent a clever mix of modern and traditional.

Ultimately this test was something of a mismatch, with the Dolan coming in at more than £500 more than the Raleigh. But it helped to make a point about the different approaches you can take to your winter riding. The Raleigh acquitted itself really well and at £950 with Tiagra kit and a Brooks saddle it offers great value as well as a bit of nostalgic joy.

But forced to choose, the modern Dolan wins out. I liked the shallow drops, the saddle and the feel of carbon. All I can say is that I parked the Dolan Dual in my hall in the evening and couldn?t wait to ride it the next morning.

  • Jez Hawthorn

    I don’t earn £120,000 per year before bonuses but at least I can spell hideous!
    I don’t earn £120,000 per year before bonuses but at least I can spell you’re!
    I don’t earn £120,000 per year before bonuses but at least I can spell fibre!
    I don’t earn £120,000 per year before bonuses but at least I can spell Malcolm!

  • Edmundo

    Either way, its 2012, glue and burnt plastic makes a good frame, not romantic or nostalgic, but workhorses like this are tougher than people seem to think ( i have a giant cfm from 93 that has had hiddious abuse) and if, like me, your out four times a week in salt and dirt on country lanes in the dark, you get home and throw it in the shed, mudguards, carbon fiber (or a disposable alloy) frame and campagnolo are a must.
    With all due respect Malcom, i don’t think think the review was for you personally.

  • John

    the trouble with readers’ comments is that i never know if they are joking or not. Assuming not.. well done to all you big earners out there – carry on and buy your disposable bikes… most of the fashion and fad concious memebers of our society will go onto the next trendy thing long before they have got the full use from whatever exotic machine they buy but for the rest of us… Steel frames are a safer bet when buying second hand. They may be a little heavier but the better quality tubes are within a knat’s digit – unless you go carbon-fibre. This just looks like a throw-away bike. we have had to get used to the idea of the componenets not lasting but now it appears that the frames are going the same way.
    As far as being ashamed to be seen on last years model… well, i never worried. if i was good enough to get to the front then it did not matter much what year the bike was made.
    I bet Team Sky could ride a butcher’s bike faster than most of us who are on this years latest carbon miracle.
    - feel free to discuss….

  • Edmundo

    Old shimano? It only lasts 4 years! The good ride of a steel frame, rubbish, once a week around a park with deep wheel, who are these people?

  • leroche

    I earn £120,000 per year before bonuses and I for one wouldn’t be seen dead on a training bike that cost a mere £1,500. How anyone would want to ride ”old shimano” is quite frankly beyond me.

    Deep section carbon wheels are de rigeur for my weekly race around Richmond park where I destroy all these so called clubmen with their mudguards………..

  • Malcolm McGregor

    Suggest you read the current issue of your magazine on winter bikes. Scott Thwaites rides a machine made up of “old shimano” and comments in “What you say” suggest that steel frames and bits & pieces are adequate for most of us as well as full mudguards.

    You at Cycling Weekly must think we are all made of money. Cyclo Cross ! treat yourself to a cross bike. Sportive ! likewise. It seems we need a machine for every discipline. I have an income of £14,600.00 (state & work pension) how can I afford £1500.00 for a winter bike ?

    Perhaps you should get rid of the Tech Team and employ an economist to advise those of us on low incomes how to afford the latest gear. A couple of good journalists also to report on the racing scene.