Dolan Dual Apex £1199.99

Lightweight year-round bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

Dolan’s Dual is a somewhat different proposition to the traditional British winter bike, mainly because it’s built around a carbon fibre frame.

  • Highs: Classy carbon frame with a low overall weight; it’s racy but also user friendly
  • Lows: The bar shape isn’t to all tastes, and the SRAM Apex transmission is a little clunky
  • Buy if: You want a lightweight, high-performance, all-year-round bike

Carbon dominates the high-end race market but big clearances and mudguard mounts are rare features. The frame isn’t ground-breakingly light by carbon standards, but the 1.23kg (2.71lb) is still a useful chunk lighter than many steel or aluminium frames.

The Dual is available with the full spectrum of groupsets from Shimano and SRAM. This Apex build is the second cheapest option – the Shimano Sora bike is less still. SRAM’s DoubleTap shifting takes a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to Shimano or Campagnolo, and Apex doesn’t have the slick feel of Shimano’s offerings. 

We were also plagued by drivetrain noise on the bottom half of the cassette. Our test bike had a wide-range 11-32 cassette and long-cage rear derailleur, giving a mighty spread of gears at the expense of some big jumps between them. It’s a setup worth considering if you’re surrounded by substantial hills, but a more conventional 11-26 is available as a no-cost option. 

While we’re niggling, the 3T Rotundo bar is a very traditional shape that doesn’t sit all that well with modern shifters – they end up either very low or with strange lever angles.

The 3T handlebar is traditionally round

Those things aside – and Dolan offer options to everything at point of sale – the Dual has much to recommend it. The combination of the stiff carbon frame, overall light weight and steep geometry gives the Dual a considerably racy feel. 

It’s very much a race-style bike with mudguard clearance, which will be a winning combination for many. While the frame is somewhat overbuilt and uses a 31.6mm seatpost, it’s still reasonably forgiving and there’s room for 25mm tyres under the mudguards.

The Dual is well-named, having race potential as well as being a capable winter trainer. You’d want to use different gearing, but other than that it’s just a few mudguard bolts away from race-ready. 

And bearing in mind that Dolan think highly enough of the frame to sell it with Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM Red groupsets, it’s clearly worth hanging onto and upgrading.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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