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Donhou releases fourth Signature Series steel frame, the DSS4

London-based Donhou Bicycles has just launched the latest steel frame in its Signature Series, the DSS4 which has been thoroughly race tested throughout 2017 at the hands of the Kibosh race team. Made from Columbus tubing with a focus on racing, the frameset will set you back £1,795 and complete bikes will start at £4,380.

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Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 10.16.23.png

To recap, the Signature Series is Donhou’s stock offering,  with just three sizes to choose from, ideal for cyclists that don’t feel they need customised geometry but do want to buy a frame from one of the most exciting builders currently working in the UK as part of a revitalised custom framebuilding scene. However, we've since learned that Donhou will now offer custom geometry if those three sizes don't work for you. There's a full list of upgrade options and you can fully personalise the paint finish.

- Great custom handbuilt frames — from makers who can craft your dream frame

road.cc previously tested the DDS1, a disc-equipped steel bike made from Reynolds 853 tubing. We summed it up as a “fabulous bike with sparkling ride and handling.” You can read that review here.

The new DSS4 has been designed for racing and is available in a choice of rim or disc brake flavours. British Cycling has decided it’s okay with disc brakes in amateur races and it’ll be interesting to see what the uptake is in 2018.

It’s made from Columbus HSS tubing with oversized and profiled tube shapes, with a focus on providing a stiff and responsive ride. Up front is a Columbus Futura carbon fibre fork plugged into a tapered head tube. The frame has been chemically treated internally and finished with stainless braze ons and bosses.

dss4_detail_900.jpg

dss4_detail_900.jpg

The Signature Series differs from Donhou’s full bespoke bikes in being offered in just three sizes, which helps to keep the prices down compared to the full bespoke offerings and reduce the waiting time if you’re in the market for a new steel frame. You have a choice of three frame sizes, 54, 56 and 58cm, you can see the full geo chart on the website.

It is, however, offering a choice of paint finishes. Donhou has a knack for producing stunning bikes (the special Grinduro creation springs to mind) and this new DDS4 is no different. You can pair any base colour from a choice of 12 with a single logo colour, or opt for the TL Black Top grey and black scheme pictured at the top of this article.

If you want something a bit special, Donhou can work with any inspiration you might have and create a unique paint job. Sadly it can’t offer the James Hunt’s Marlboro Mclaren inspired Kibosh race team finish.

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Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 10.19.07.png

The rim brake frameset costs £1,795 and the disc version is £1,925. Prices include the frame, fork, headset and axles on the disc frame. There is a list of options including stainless steel head badges, Di2 routing, a 3rd bottle cage mount, mudguard eyelets and more. Even rack mounts if you want them!

A full build is available with £4,380 getting you a Shimano Ultegra groupset, Ritchey finishing kit and wheels and Conti tyres. There are upgrade options aplenty including Dura-Ace, Chris King and Enve parts. Complete bikes will have rider-tuned crank length, stem length, bar width and gear ratios.

More at www.donhoubicycles.com/signature-steel/dss4/

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

14 comments

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missionsystem [53 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes

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Biggus-Dickkus [32 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Beautiful bike. I have seen these in the flesh and they are quite superb.
One of the best hand made bikes around.

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PRSboy [141 posts] 2 weeks ago
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I'll have mine in Porsche Gulf colours please.

Website is worth a look if you haven't already... £1795 for a hand made steel frame seems a fair price in this day and age.

I can't work out if a custom paint job is included in the price.

With this and the Bowman winning the best frame of 2017, its a good time for UK bike building.

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Chris James [449 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Nice paint job, although £1800 is a lot of money for a frame that is only available in three sizes.

I wonder what makes this particularly suitable for racing though? The oversized tubes will certainly be stiff, but probably not very comfortable, and HSS  typically has a wall thickness down to 0.4mm, so potentially prone to denting easily.

Looking on their website appearently one their team riders says he can corner 'twice as fast' on this frame, so there must be something very magical about the way they tig weld their off the peg tubes into a conventional geometry.

They are a bit vague about the framset weight, but that shouldn't worry anyone because, again quoting from their website, the frame 'never loses that steel feel and the confidence that brings. Something that will gain you many more seconds than simply counting grams.'

For racing, I'm more of a cheapo aluminium alloy frame man myself, but then again I suspect very of these frames will be sold, and even fewer will be raced. They look nice though, so the cafe ricer will have a lovely time polishing his or her pride and joy.

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missionsystem [53 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Mr James, please check http://road.cc/content/tech-news/221058-bike-check-donhous-kibosh-steel-race-bike .

This previous article states that, with the kit shown in the photos above as near as damn it, "the complete bike weight is coming in at about 7.75kg..."

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Chris James [449 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
missionsystem wrote:

Mr James, please check http://road.cc/content/tech-news/221058-bike-check-donhous-kibosh-steel-race-bike .

This previous article states that, with the kit shown in the photos above as near as damn it, "the complete bike weight is coming in at about 7.75kg..."

But that is for the full bike (cost £5175 in Dura Ace, according to the website), not the frame. The fork is pretty light at a claimed 350g, Dura Ace group set is another 2.2kg or so, wheels about 1.5kg.

How much does the frame weigh? A typical HSS frame (e.g. Enigma) is around 1600g, so I imagine the Donhue would be around the same ball park, as it uses the same main tubes.

It is pretty easy to build a bike to 7.75kg, so that doesn't really give much indication of the value for money of the frame for racing. Obviously you could race it, but I think there are cheaper and better tools for that job.

It is a nice bike to look at, so it would certainly give the owner joy of ownership.

I wonder how many Madison Genesis riders ride the Volare and how many the Zero?

 

 

 

 

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Rapha Nadal [713 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes
Chris James wrote:
missionsystem wrote:

Mr James, please check http://road.cc/content/tech-news/221058-bike-check-donhous-kibosh-steel-race-bike .

This previous article states that, with the kit shown in the photos above as near as damn it, "the complete bike weight is coming in at about 7.75kg..."

But that is for the full bike (cost £5175 in Dura Ace, according to the website), not the frame. The fork is pretty light at a claimed 350g, Dura Ace group set is another 2.2kg or so, wheels about 1.5kg.

How much does the frame weigh? A typical HSS frame (e.g. Enigma) is around 1600g, so I imagine the Donhue would be around the same ball park, as it uses the same main tubes.

It is pretty easy to build a bike to 7.75kg, so that doesn't really give much indication of the value for money of the frame for racing. Obviously you could race it, but I think there are cheaper and better tools for that job.

It is a nice bike to look at, so it would certainly give the owner joy of ownership.

I wonder how many Madison Genesis riders ride the Volare and how many the Zero?

I bet you get invited to all the parties.

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janusz0 [73 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Chris James wrote:

 HSS  typically has a wall thickness down to 0.4mm

This is a bit confusing!  Doesn't Columbus know that HSS usually means "High Speed Steel"?  Not an alloy that I'd choose for a bicycle frame!  I guess that Firth Brown isn't around to sue them.

 

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Disfunctional_T... [263 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
PRSboy wrote:

£1795 for a hand made steel frame seems a fair price in this day and age.

Really? It takes an experienced builder about 6 hours to build a custom steel frame.

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RobD [550 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
PRSboy wrote:

£1795 for a hand made steel frame seems a fair price in this day and age.

Really? It takes an experienced builder about 6 hours to build a custom steel frame.

And then another few hours in the paint shop, and another couple (hopefully) of QC and assembling the frameset. Doesn't seem that unreasonable, a little on the higher side than some but certainly not outrageous.

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RobD [550 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Chris James wrote:

It is pretty easy to build a bike to 7.75kg, so that doesn't really give much indication of the value for money of the frame for racing. Obviously you could race it, but I think there are cheaper and better tools for that job.

It is a nice bike to look at, so it would certainly give the owner joy of ownership.

I wonder how many Madison Genesis riders ride the Volare and how many the Zero?

A Caterham or Lotus would probably be cheaper and better for racing than a Porsche Cayman, doesn't mean everybody's going to buy one though.

Avatar
PRSboy [141 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
PRSboy wrote:

£1795 for a hand made steel frame seems a fair price in this day and age.

Really? It takes an experienced builder about 6 hours to build a custom steel frame.

But its the design expertise you are paying for, not just the hourly rate, plus materials, paint, overheads, VAT etc.

Similar money will buy you a cookie-cutter moulded CF frame from a mega factory in the far east.

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Chris James [449 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
PRSboy wrote:
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
PRSboy wrote:

£1795 for a hand made steel frame seems a fair price in this day and age.

Really? It takes an experienced builder about 6 hours to build a custom steel frame.

But its the design expertise you are paying for, not just the hourly rate, plus materials, paint, overheads, VAT etc.

Similar money will buy you a cookie-cutter moulded CF frame from a mega factory in the far east.

 

The design expertise? It is an off the peg frame available in three sizes. The tubing is also off the peg . The geometry is very standard - pretty much the same as every frame from the last 40 years or so. The challenge is in cutting and mitreing the joints, and tig welding the tubes, which could also be done in a mega factory in the Far East if there was much demand for steel frames any more. I'd argue that a robot welded frame is more consistent to one done by hand. Most of the time, and money, in bespoke frame building is in dressing the joints to a high aesthetic standard.

For £1700 you would get more than a 'cookie cutter' frame from the Far East. Carbon fibre layup is also extremely manual and time consuming - which is why the vast majority of frames are made in low wage areas . Since carbon fibre is anisotropic it requires careful design of the orientation of the sheets, which is much more complicated than welding some pipes together.

In any case my point was really that, for racing, a cheaper frame that the rider doesnt have to worry so much about crashing, is more suitable - unless someone is giving you the bikes for free.

 

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PRSboy [141 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

I'd certainly agree a cheaper frame is the way forward for non-pro racing... I would be beating a path to Bowman's door, for one of their PalaceRs.