Dolan L’Étape Ultegra-6800 SE road bike review
Terry Dolan started building bikes over 20 years ago for a certain Chris Boardman.
Boardman rode that frame to 4th place in the Grand Prix des Nations and since then his bikes have been ridden by multiple World Champions on the track and numerous pro cycling teams, most recently at the top level by the Sean Kelly An Post team in 2011.
Dolan now sells direct, similar to Canyon but on a far smaller scale, and that means at a consumer level you get a lot more bike for your money.
Lively and fun
L’Étape is ostensibly more of a sportive bike than a race bike, as the longer head tube and sloping geometry testifies. But it doesn’t feel anywhere near as high up as many of the other sportive-style bikes and there’s certainly no hint of the softness or lack of response that you can feel in certain bikes from this genre.
In fact, quite the opposite. It was lively and fun from the start and, as we went out on our favourite test loop for the first ride, we were startled at how favourably the ride compared with far more expensive bikes.
Dolan’s builds are fully customisable, so if you want to change any of the already-great components, you can
Handling is superb, exactly what you expect from a bike with the name of a master frame-builder on the side, and gave us hours of fun. Downhill you can head into corners safe in the knowledge that the bike will be able to handle anything you ask of it, and stability is excellent. Part of what makes downhill so fun is the brakes.
We’ve waxed lyrical about the Ultegra brakeset in the past, but it’s so good that we’ll reiterate: they’re the best on the market outside of Dura-Ace, superbly powerful and highly sensitive.
The wheels are a wonderful addition to the build. The quality and lower weight of the Ksyrium Elites over, say, Mavic Aksiums that you frequently find on builds at this price, gives the ride a superior feel. You save over 200g compared with a set of Aksiums and add a whole load in terms of quality.
Wheel upgrades are almost always the first thing we’d look at on bikes around this price range (and even bikes up to £2k), but we’d be happy putting countless training miles in on these.
Despite the low price tag, your derrière gets a high-class perch in the shape of the Selle Italia saddle
The finishing kit is of a similarly high quality, with Italian components specialists Deda providing its alloy Zero 100 bars and stem. The beauty, of course, is that Dolan offers customisation on all their builds, so you can select exactly what you want. If you want a 120mm stem rather than a 110, or fancy a different saddle, then you can choose from a selection, depending on how expensive your tastes are.
The entire transmission comes courtesy of Shimano’s plaudit-laden sharp-shifting Ultegra 6800
The fact that L’Étape comes in at under £1,500 and boasts a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with the aforementioned Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels makes the full package incredible value for money.
With almost any other brand, this price point would get you 105-level components at best, but a full Ultegra build is superb. However all that would mean nothing without ride quality – and this bike has that in abundance.
Verdict: High comfort, superb handling and almost unbeatable value in a package that, even if you paid £500 more, you’d feel like you were getting a bargain, 88%
Contact : www.dolan-bikes.com