The Dawes Mono is simple, reliable and tough, and has a very composed ride. As the name suggests, it's a singlespeed/fixed-gear bike. It comes complete with quality mudguards and a full complement of brakes, so unlike most fixed-wheel bikes, it’s ready for the rigours of winter. If you’re thinking of trying one-speed riding then it's a great choice.
This is no short, whippy, track-derived one-speeder. It’s much more akin to a classic British audax bike. A more stretched-out position and sensibly trailed fork makes for a smooth and stable ride. We were initially sceptical of the 48x18-tooth gearing, which seemed light for fast cruising on the flat. That said, the gear offers enough leverage to conquer most climbs. We did spin at a high cadence on the flat but, as most track riders will tell you, you’ve got to spin to win.
The relatively budget price belies the fact that the Dawes has a decent Reynolds 520 steel frame, matched to a carbon-legged fork. The ride isn’t up to that of a quality steel lightweight, and it certainly isn’t aided by the hefty wheels with Alex rims and high flange track hubs, but it’s smooth over broken surfaces and its nerve-free stability is perfect for greasy, wet or icy roads.
We put most of the stability down to the sorted ride position, long wheelbase and good, wide handlebar. The solid wheels and big tyres give you plenty of confidence when changing direction on slimy ground, but the downside of what's proven to be a tough and durable wheelset is a hefty 16kg overall weight. We could certainly feel this when the road started to rise and it meant plenty of out-of-the-saddle efforts when we’d normally remain seated.
But then again, this is a winter trainer and as with any training it’s no pain, no gain. As a workhorse for winter commutes and for grinding out the miles on wet, wintry days, the Dawes is an eminently suitable bike and one we like a lot. It offers a stable ride and a good level of components, from the basic but adequate Tektro brakes to the highlight of a classy Japanese-made Sugino Messenger chainset.
It also comes with secure, rattle-free mudguards, those hardy wheels and tyres and, of course, the added simplicity of a single-gear setup. Including a fixed sprocket as well as a freewheel is also a good value addition. Add in the fact that, as with any singlespeed, the Mono needs little maintenance, and it all makes for a workhorse that’ll do everything you need and come out next spring still intact.