Dawes unveil 2012 range: 10-speed triples for key tourers Super and Ultra Galaxy

More wicker baskets than you can shake a stick at + our Top-10-Bike-of-the-Year Century SE gets a new colour

by nick_rearden   January 12, 2012  

Pillars of the cycling community Dawes Cycles have launched a range for the recession with ample numbers of sensible urban bikes for less than £500 and the shop owners at the launch we went to in Bristol agreeing they look great for the money. Despite holding their prices, a couple of the pricier flagship models have even managed to squeeze in the latest 10-speed transmissions and fancy brakes.

The Dawes Galaxy range of classic tourers underwent a bit of a revolutionary move last year with the introduction of sloping top tubes that push down the length of the seat tube to allow better sizing flexibility in the showroom and push up the head tube height to position the handlebars in a potentially more comfortable place for leisurely riders.

Dawes knew this would be controversial with lovers of the classic level top tube on a bicycle and it's true that they may have driven a few Ultra Galaxy purists into spending more money with the classy custom builders - or into buying a Surly Long Haul Trucker - but the bigger result according to their spokesmen at the 2012 launch today is that the bikes are more versatile for a greater number of buyers and a full year's sales have borne out their faith.

This year, they're holding their prices from 2011 of the Galaxy, Super Galaxy and Ultra Galaxy at £1,199.99, £1,499.99 and £1,799.99 respectively although the two better bikes get 3 x 10-speed transmissions based on Shimano new Tiagra and 105 components.

The new models start shipping from March; now read on...

 


We obviously weren't the only ones that thought the overall gearing was a little high on Dawes' new introduction last year, the otherwise spiffing £1,500 Nomad flat-barred tourer with the Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub. First they fitted a 20 tooth rear sprocket  and now they've gone all the way and dropped the chainring size to a 39 as well, making Dawes dealers all over the country except maybe Ben Hayward Cycles in Cambridge deliriously happy. Dawes say they've sold more Nomads fitted with the smaller 26" wheels than traditional road-touring-size 700c perhaps reflecting that customers envisage spending as much or more time on canal tow paths and bridleways than asphalt.

 


One area Dawes have kept the top tubes strictly horizontal is on their new-last-year, Reynolds-steel Audax models and they seem to have hit the spot with both; the Clubman (above) and Century SE (below) selling out of production well before the season was over, they tell us. Not daring to increase prices from £849.99 and £999.99, they've dropped the spec of the transmissions by one degree in the Shimano scale, the Clubman going from Sora to 2300 and the Century from Tiagra to Sora but both are still 9-speed, obviously, with triple chainsets.

 


Both Clubman and Century SE also get new shallower drops in the latest style. Colour on the former goes from pale blue to that nice stoney-beigy shade about which we posted this afternoon to universal acclaim from the twitterverse. Well, @John_the_Monkey said, "Oh, I like that Clubman colour a lot!"  The Century SE (above) which was one of our Top 10 Bikes of 2011 gets a new almost-white colour, too. Our reviewer Rob Simmonds said about the bike in its first year, "Happily the ride quality matches the good looks with the exact mix of comfort and pace that you want from an audax bike."  The componentry, in Dawes' endeavour to keep the price within £1,000 was already the only thing he could criticise, let's hope the drop in spec to Sora won't feel like too much of a compromise.

 


The four aluminium Dawes Giro models are now three in number for 2012, the top £1,000 model having been dropped entirely. The rest; the Giro 200 at £299.99, the Giro 300 at £449.99 and the 400 at £549.99 all get a new common frame and it's an entirely more svelte affair than the nicely made but heftily overbuilt Giro from last year. Geometry is also changed with no pretense of being a pure racer. The top tubes are a little shorter and the headtubes a tad longer in the Sportive modern style. Carrying on from there and also carrying over unchanged at the same prices from last year are the Sportif and Sportif SL with more a accentuated carbon-style hydroformed aluminium frame for £649.99 and £999.99. Commendably, both of these also come in a 43cm size which will make them worth looking at by any number of shorter women who want to buy a decent first road bike without breaking the £1,000 barrier.

 


The rise of the Mixte frames among stylish women-about-town continues unabated; what they'll like about this new Cambridge retro model is that it only costs £349.99 without looking in any way 'cheap.' Like many of the Dawes women's 'Heritage' models it even comes with a wicker basket or a close approximation of wicker which will stand up to Miniature Dachshunds and Yorkshire Terriers a lot better than the real thing.

 


The classic Dawes Galaxy tourer at £1,199.99 comes in its own distinctive metallic green - "We wouldn't dare change it," say Dawes - but if you buy the frame and fork alone for £599.99 to build up to your own spec - this is a Dawes suggestion above - it comes in achingly trendy plain gloss white.   

 


Meanwhile the colour of the Super Galaxy moves several shades lighter to this Royal Blue and more importantly the drivetrain moves to the new Shimano Tiagra gears which of course are 10-speed. Matched with a mountain bike triple chainset, yes, that gives you 30 ratios ranging between 12 and 30 teeth at the rear and 26, 36 and 48 teeth at the front. The cantilever brakes on both the Super Galaxy and Ultra Galaxy will now be Shimano's new CX50 and 70s which were designed for cyclo-cross and show every sign of being powerful, easy to modulate and adjustable.

 


And here's the new Shimano CX70 cantilever brake on the Ultra Galaxy, also showing the revised shade of grey for 2012.

 


Unlike the Clubman and Century SE frames which come built up as complete bikes and are made from Reynolds 520 steel tubing, the otherwise geometrically-identical Audax frame and fork is made from stronger and therefore lighter - because they can make it thinner - Reynolds 631. Price for this with a carbon fork and decent headset is £599.99 which is hardly a bargain but neither is it pricey considering the quality of finish and what a homegrown Mercian or Longstaff would need to cost. Similarly, the Ultra Galaxy frame and fork comes in Reynolds 853 for £699.99 although the complete bike also gets the pukka 853 material.   
 


We've not reviewed any of Dawes' growing range of accessories but from looking at the samples today it looks like we might need to put that right. The panniers in particular, which you can buy individually, seem very good considering the best fully waterproof one with a removable liner only costs £39.99.

 

13 user comments

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Can't say I'm hugely sold on the drop from Tiagra to Sora on the SE. Sora is ok, but the bike deserves better. Does it still keep the Tiagra chainset?

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [253 posts]
12th January 2012 - 23:59

5 Likes

Rob Simmonds wrote:
Does it still keep the Tiagra chainset?

Still keeps the Tiagra, Rob. Which is good. imho I don't think it makes *too* much difference, the gears I mean. Sora does seem a bit clunky compared to Tiagra but the likely customer will be impressed with it compared to what they're used to which is likely to be the old non-indexed Simplex nylon shifters on their old 1978 Peugeot. Compared to that, the Soras are amazing and by the time they're ready for an upgrade they'll have had a good year or two's use from them.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
13th January 2012 - 0:22

4 Likes

It obviously makes a difference to Rob though… he bought one Wink

You'd hope Dawes weren't basing there speccing and pricing strategy for the 2012 SE on solely flogging them to cyclists who've been riding around on Simplex gears for the last 30 years. Plus I'm sure those guys are going to be clued up enough to know that they're missing out spec-wise for the same money compared to last year.

I wonder, would the SE have made it in to our Top 10 bikes of the year with the 2012 spec" Thinking I suppose it depends what other manufacturers are doing, but I'm not so sure that many are down-speccing. I can see it must be a tricky one for Dawes, if component costs are going up and the pressure to make the £1000 price point. It's easy to say if you don't actually have a load of bikes to sell but I'd have been tempted to take the hit on price rather than risk the quality of the product simply cos I can't help noticing that a lot of bike shops discounted the 2011 SE pretty heavily and you can still find some keenly priced examples - something I'm sure won't be lost on all those guys trading in their 1978 Peugeots.

The other downer with Sora is the whole changing gear while in the drops issue.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
13th January 2012 - 0:49

4 Likes

taking the hit on the price point means putting it out of reach of most law abiding rule following C2W scheme-ers.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [389 posts]
13th January 2012 - 12:29

3 Likes

Dawes yet again asking for too much money for too lower spec. I'm looking into getting a touring bike later in the year and Dawes will sadly not be on my list because it's underspec'ed for the price and I don't like the slopping geometry. Are Dawes building their frames in this country causing them to be pricier?

On a seperate note I can't stand Sora shifters, when will Shimano improve them to the same layout of the Tiagra shifters or move the thumb shift so people can reach them whilst in the drops?

posted by sam_smith [50 posts]
13th January 2012 - 12:51

2 Likes

workhard wrote:
taking the hit on the price point means putting it out of reach of most law abiding rule following C2W scheme-ers.

Not if what most bikes shops actually charged for the 2011 versions is anththing to go by. The Dawes price is simply an SRP, bike shops can charge what they like depending on what margin they want to make.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
13th January 2012 - 13:08

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tony_farrelly wrote:
workhard wrote:
taking the hit on the price point means putting it out of reach of most law abiding rule following C2W scheme-ers.

Not if what most bikes shops actually charged for the 2011 versions is anththing to go by. The Dawes price is simply an SRP, bike shops can charge what they like depending on what margin they want to make.


I've got Sora on my Kona and it's ok, but not great. It does a different job to the more road oriented groupsets. Better suited to full touring bikes and commuter/load-haulers imho. I would definitely have been less impressed with the bike if it had come with Sora as standard for the same price.

I'm a bit confused about the pricing. Spa Cycles had it heavily discounted from launch, it's almost as if the RRP was just for show, in which case why not drop it to a sub-C2W level?

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [253 posts]
13th January 2012 - 19:58

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sam_smith wrote:
Dawes yet again asking for too much money for too lower spec. I'm looking into getting a touring bike later in the year and Dawes will sadly not be on my list because it's underspec'ed for the price and I don't like the slopping geometry. Are Dawes building their frames in this country causing them to be pricier?

On a seperate note I can't stand Sora shifters, when will Shimano improve them to the same layout of the Tiagra shifters or move the thumb shift so people can reach them whilst in the drops?

Surely Dawes exploit cheap labour in the far east like most other brands?

posted by tombarr [17 posts]
14th January 2012 - 0:51

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I got a Horizon for my LeJog and very happy with the bike - it's very comfortable and durable and I do about 6,000 miles per year commuting on it too. But I do hope they've improved their pannier fittings. I bought Dawes panniers for a Dawes rack; you'd think the things would stay on, but no. A couple of karabiners linking the panniers across the rack solved the problem but I wasn't too impressed.

posted by RuthF28 [94 posts]
14th January 2012 - 4:22

2 Likes

tombarr wrote:
Surely Dawes exploit cheap labour in the far east like most other brands?

From what I understand from Dawes the posher bikes are made in Taiwan where there is obviously some momentum for framebuilding but Cambodia and Bangladesh are also coming onstream now. I wouldn't assume the workers are being 'exploited'. It's true that overall costs in those places are lower than here, otherwise they'd be being built here. But better not to bandy those terms around a) without seeing the workers and how they feel about it b) without acknowledging that the higher costs here are precisely what have made most of our lives here a hell of a lot better than in Dickens' time. If you're prepared to pay the higher price, brilliant, go and buy a nice British made tourer from Bob Jackson, or Longstaff or Mercian. If you're not then be grateful the good people in Taiwan, Cambodia and Bangladesh are on the case because I'm sure they're glad for the work, too.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
17th January 2012 - 12:15

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Just to clear up a few points in this thread. At Dawes we have made the decision to try and hold as many prices for 2012 as possible due to the current climate. This is why we have moved to sora on the Century SE, another reason is that Shimano have made alot of changes for 2012/13. The new Sora mechs now use the same internals and mechanisms as last years Tiagra kit although the shifters still have the little thumb lever. As for the Internet note we have taken big steps for 2012 to cut this out and we are doing everything we can to protect out brand.

Just a small comment about the fact that we are using factories in the far east. This is true and we see no reason to be ashamed of this, we spend alot of time in the factories doing regular audits to ensure staff are well treated, laws are followed and that the quality is at its highest. We would of course love to bring production back to the uk but in reality this is extremely difficult to do as the UK does not have the infrastructure here currently and to ship Shimano parts from Japan to the UK for assembly would not be feasible.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the new bikes and we hope you will continue to support the brand.

Dawes Team

posted by stiggy [1 posts]
18th January 2012 - 20:56

2 Likes

Just a quick message regarding the Dawes Century SE I bought via Cycle solutions,
I have just completed the Lands End to John O'groats on the bike in 11 days but had some slight problems with the gearing as I don't believe the bike has the right set up!
It is described as a long distance mileage bike but after prolonged use the Sora set up becomes very difficult to use I eventually lost the sensation in my gear changing fingers on my left hand due to this and feel it really should have a twin gear and brake levers to make a perfect long distance bike!

Also whilst changing down the rear derailleur jammed into my rear wheel locking the wheel sending me into to road and side hedge luckily it was a quiet section of road in Chepstow after a repair job costing £50 to replace it as it was way beyond salvage!

It really is a shame that last years set up was changed as I believe I would of had a more comfortable ride but as it is I don't believe the bike is more than a day or weekend bike as any more becomes very hard work!

posted by jasten [1 posts]
2nd July 2012 - 17:52

3 Likes

That's sora for you.

Same happened on my bike (derailleur mess) so I'm replacing the entire gruppo with Apex.

Taste

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1733 posts]
2nd July 2012 - 18:02

5 Likes