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Dawes Galaxy Cross: First ride

Dawes Galaxy CrossWords Matt Lamy | Photos Daniel Gould

Normally when I review bikes I have a pretty well established routine of slipping on the Lycra (I’ll spare you the graphic details), checking the bike fits, checking the controls work, and heading out on one or two pre-determined routes. But with the Dawes Galaxy Cross I felt a different approach was needed.

You see, from the moment I clapped eyes on this little beauty at the Dawes dealer roadshow in January, I already had visions of what this bike would be. Nominally the Cross might be part of Dawes’s world-conquering Galaxy touring bike family, but with its cute-but-practical chromoly compact frame, rear rack, disc brakes, flat bars and 24-speed Shimano drivetrain, to my mind this looked like a commuter deluxe.

If I can dabble in romantic notions for a moment, I thought it would make an ideal daily companion for those who might not preen over their machines as much as shaven-legged roadies, but who undoubtedly engender a far closer relationship with their two-wheeled partner every morning and evening commute.

Jeans and jacket
So it made a nice change to be able to set the saddle height, ensure everything worked, and nip out for a spin wearing jeans, ‘normal’ shoes and a casual jacket. I also didn’t fuss about sweeping rural routes, preferring instead to hunt out cycle paths and lanes in an urban environment.

The Cross’s first surprise was a rather charming liveliness — no stodgy commute here. Part of that was down to the bike being a fraction too small (in CA’s continual quest to bring you commuter scoops we had got our hands on the only Galaxy Cross demo machine in the country). But even taking the size into account, the ride is a nicely involving experience, while the Cross’s reasonably long wheelbase means it is also a very stable performer. In fact, everything about the core of the bike treads a nice line between being responsive and relaxing: the chromoly frame might be compact but then it benefits from steel’s naturally forgiving qualities.

Dawes Galaxy CrossThe rest of the set-up is equally built for purpose. Everything looks good to last and the bars in particular offer a very nice selection of handholds. Hardened mtb’ers might scoff at mechanical rather than hydraulic disc brakes, but on a town and touring bike like this, the Shimano stoppers are a significant and reassuring upgrade on v-brakes or cantilevers. Similarly the Vittoria Randonneur tyres balance comfort, control and speed nicely.

Whole lotta Rosie
So it rides sweetly and it’s a fine build — it’s everyone’s perfect soulmate, right? Almost, but love should never be blind, and there are a couple of considerations any potential Cross owner should mull over. First is the cost. The Galaxy Cross isn’t expensive — indeed for its range of abilities and the Galaxy name it’s a very fairly-priced package — but as one of my colleagues pointed out: for £600 people expect a great bike. The Cross is great at a lot of things, but there might be a specialist machine more suited to your unique requirements.

The second worry is more fundamental: weight. At 34lb this is a heavy old girl. In the saddle I don’t think that is a huge problem — in fact, it might even contribute to the Cross’s surefooted road manners. But if this is going to be a town bike, and needing to be taken up into apartment blocks or down into basement flats, then that mass could be an issue.

Despite all this, even after riding it, there really is something special about the Galaxy Cross. Using my head, I would say it is a perfectly utilitarian pedal transport machine. But using my heart I would say that for many commuters — and anybody who fancies some relaxed cycling holidays, charity rides, perhaps even a gentle sportive — this could be the little cracker you fall in love with. As with any life partner, though, tread carefully round the issue of weight.

Dawes Galaxy CrossSpecification

Dawes Galaxy Cross £599.99
Frameset Double-butted chromoly steel
Gears Shimano Acera
Chainset Shimano triple
Brakes Shimano M375 mechanical discs
Wheels Alloy double-wall rims on alloy hubs
Tyres Vittoria 700x32c Radonneur
Bars/stem Dawes alloy
Saddle Dawes Touring
Seatpost Dawes micro-adjust
Size range 16, 18, 20, 22in
Weight 15.6kg (34lb)
Contact www.dawescycles.com

Raleigh RoyalAlternative

Raleigh Royal £550

The Galaxy Cross combines flat bars with touring spirit but for many, the Raleigh Royal is more of a classic British tourer. In application the two machines have much in common.

The Raleigh also has a chromoly steel frame with rear rack and 24 gears on offer. However, the Royal is a smidge lighter at a claimed 14.5kg, Tektro cantilevers rather than discs handle stopping duties, and the Cross’s fun straight bars make way for traditional drops.

Contact: www.raleigh.co.uk