Dawes XC 2.2 review£679.99

Durable and comfortable off-road tourer

BikeRadar score2/5

Birmingham-based Dawes made their name when holiday essentials were carried in a canvas saddlebag not on a cut-price flight, and they still produce top value touring bikes as well as a range of mountain bikes like the XC2.2.

It's well specced and rack-ready for comfortable cruising, but its low bottom bracket, noisy rear mech and basic fork mean it struggles in technical terrain.

Ride & handling: Solid and enjoyable all-rounder

The basic elastomer and coil spring internals of the Dawes' RockShox Dart fork squeeze up and down okay in the workshop and roll over occasional bumps fine. Start working them hard though and they really don’t like it, with a sticky, mid-stroke thump and noticeable twist and twang when you’re cornering or braking hard.

The materials used in the fork mean it’s heavy and the overall bike weight is high too. This makes for a less lively feel up climbs, out of corners or when flicking the bike about, and limited ground clearance means regular foot taps on rooty/rocky sections.

However, if you stay away from rougher sections, the Dawes is a well balanced and enjoyable ride. The frame is mellow in feel despite the clattering rear mech making it sound rough, while the skinny seatpost takes extra sting out of the trail.

The Shimano hubbed wheels should last well if you maintain them. Add the rear rack mounts and you’ve got a reliable off-road cruiser that fits with Dawes’ long history of building excellent on- and off-road touring bikes.

Frame: Decent quality chassis with useful cargo fixtures

The alloy frame is based around double-butted main tubes. The hydroformed top tube expands downwards to meet the oversized down tube behind the conventional head tube. The down tube flattens towards the bottom bracket from where skinny straight chainstays continue to the open triangular dropouts.

These feature a replaceable mech hanger and extended leg on the disc mount to spread braking stress up the offside stay. Skinny seatstays with a pronounced S-curve complete the rear triangle, with four-point rack mounts too. There are twin bottle cage mounts plus a forward facing clamp slot with bolted collar on the extended seat tube.

Equipment: Durable hub and gear spec but low-grade fork limits off-road performance

The tall Truvativ bars need a bit of twisting to find a comfortable position, but stem length and width are fine. Avid brakes with a 185mm rotor up front offer plenty of control and Shimano’s Deore gears are accurate. The old-style rear mech doesn’t half rattle about off the chainstays compared with fixed angle Shadow setups, though.

While they’re not particularly grippy, the Tioga tyres slide predictably if you push them too far and they roll well on hardpack. They’re more like a 2.25in rather than 2.1in tyre in girth, which adds useful puncture protection and comfort on rougher sections.

The RockShox Dart fork is a definite ride limiter, both in structural and suspension terms. The spring thumps to a halt about 60 percent of the way through the travel when the elastomer kicks in. The skinny legs twist noticeably under heavy cornering or braking loads which also chokes the suspension stroke.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

Related Articles

Back to top