Dolan Preffisio Apex £749.98

Old-fashioned winter trainer with modern touches

BikeRadar score 4/5

Take off the mudguards and the Dolan looks like a pure-bred race bike from the 1990s. There’s something pleasingly old-school about its level top tube, classically rounded handlebar and unfussy tube shapes.

  • Highs: Superb handling, strong brakes, comes with mudguards as standard
  • Lows: The ride is stiff, and there are quite large gaps in the gearing
  • Buy if: You want an old-fashioned winter trainer with some modern touches

At heart, the Preffisio is a modern take on the old-fashioned training bike, a machine for grizzled roadmen with chiselled thighs to ride on five-hour epics through the worst weather. With a fairly short head tube, the Dolan offers a racing bike riding position but with the practicality of SKS mudguards and rack mounts.

Order using Dolan’s online bike builder and you can choose the stem size, bar width and crank length. You can make a few upgrades, too: the Preffisio Apex starts from £699.99, but our test bike came with continental Gatorskin tyres bumping the price up to £749.98.

Compared with the hydroformed tubes of other road bikes, the Dolan’s frameset looks rather old hat. There’s not a lot wrong with the way it rides, though. Push hard on the pedals and your effort arrives at the back wheel with no woolly flex getting in the way. 

The long, low position really puts you in the mood for some aggressive pedalling too. Hit some turns at speed and you won’t want to slow down. This is a lively and responsive bike, as happy to carve a tight bend as dearer out-and-out racing bikes, and excellent brakes give you the confidence to tackle descents at speed.

When the road heads upward the stiff frame keeps you moving forward efficiently. SRAM Apex shifts crisply, and the 32T sprocket should see you safely up anything short of a cliff-face. 

Having such a big sprocket does make for some big gaps between gears in the middle of the cassette, but since you choose the gearing when ordering, this is a simple fix.

The Dolan’s lively feel is great for the first hour or so. As the third hour ticks by, though, you might wish for more comfort. The 3T bar tape is grippy but thin and does little to quell road buzz, and the level top tube means little seatpost is on show so there’s not much flex to take the sting out of the road. It stops short of being downright harsh, but you’ll know you’ve been for a long ride by the time you wheel the Dolan back to the bike shed.

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

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