As its name suggests, the Century SE is designed with mileage in mind. It’s pitched as an audax bike and has a distinctly traditional mien.
- Highs: Robust, comfortable, practical and versatile, with classic style
- Lows: Heavier than the competition and Sora ergonomics won’t suit everyone
- Buy if: You’re more interested in mileage than pace
The heart of the Century is a Reynolds 520 butted chromoly frame, with noticeably big tubes and a reinforcing gusset under the down tube. Diamond-shaped reinforcements at the bottle bosses are a neat retro touch, and there are rack mounts on the seatstays, though a rack would have to share eyelets with a mudguard at the cowled dropouts.
Up front there’s a mix of traditional and modern, with a conventional headset holding a carbon fork. SKS chromoplastic mudguards keep road spray at bay.
Shimano’s Sora transmission is a common entry-level choice and a solid performer, though the ergonomics of the shifters don’t lend themselves to spirited riding – the release levers on the inside of the hoods are essentially inaccessible from the drops unless your thumbs are as long as your fingers. To be fair, though, shifting up the cassette from the drops probably isn’t the behaviour of the Century’s target market.
Dawes have equipped the Century with a triple 50/39/30 chainset that’s an appealing alternative to the now-commonplace compact double – there’s not such a jump between the biggest two chainrings and there’s a bail-out gear for that awkward climb at mile 98. The big gear range dictates a long-cage rear derailleur, which slows shifting a little. The Sora theme extends to the brakes too, which offer reassuring power and control.
Diamond reinforcements match the overall retro look
Silver bar, stem and seatpost are final old-school touches, although the FSA bar is a modern compact shape with particularly comfortable flattened tops. A relatively short head tube, flippable stem and big stack of spacers make for a good range of bar height adjustment.
That chunky steel frame clearly contributes to the Century’s high overall weight of 11.05kg (24.4lb). The extra poundage makes the Dawes relatively hard work on hills, but once you’re up to speed it rolls along nicely. While the fat tubes don’t deliver much in the way of old-school steel spring, the Century is still a comfortable place to be thanks to the carbon fork and 25mm tyres.