Terry Dolan’s name is respected among riders who’ve been around the sport for a while. Dolan-made bikes raced the Tour de France in the days before carbon was king. As well as a base between the Ribble and Mersey estuaries in the UK, Dolan competes for sales online, offering good value bikes with custom build options.
The Dolan RDX’s 7005 aluminium frame is triple-butted and has smoothed welds, apart from at the bottom bracket shell, rear dropouts and stay bridges. The top- and down-tube have rounded teardrop profiles, with the latter ovalising to soundly brace the bottom bracket shell. A round seat tube and seatstays are joined by asymmetrically S-shaped chainstays that are only slightly flattened for the chainrings.
There’s plenty of clearance around the 28mm tyres that measure 30mm wide on the 24mm Mavic rims, but with maximum recommended frame clearance for 32mm rubber, tyre choices for gravel, and ’cross in particular, are limited.
Rack mounts and full 42mm mudguards add versatility, and the built-in rubber flaps make a difference to the amount of spray thrown up.
Tidy dropouts include flat-mount disc calipers, and all the cables and hoses are routed internally through the left fork leg, down tube and chainstays, but pass beneath the bottom bracket shell. If you want to replicate a racy road position, the 150mm head tube on my 56cm frame helps. The seat angle is steeper than usual at 74 degrees, but saddle setback isn’t a problem.
Dolan can offer an RDX at £949.99, or in its standard spec with Ultegra hydraulic discs for £1,149.99. My example benefited from the options list, particularly wheels, tyres, cockpit and mudguards.
Since Shimano’s new Ultegra hydraulic shifters and calipers aren’t yet available, mine had the 105-level ones instead. Less attractive than the intended items, they feel fine and operate well, although I found upshifts heavy in this configuration, which isn’t normally the case.
Mavic’s Ksyrium Elite Disc Allroad hoops not only look good, with their brown anodised hubs matching the Continental Gatorskin sidewalls, but they feel keen to accelerate and sustain speed well.
With their help, the RDX is responsive to little digs, paying you back with increased velocity. The sharp steering gives a racy edge, and while it’s quite capable on rougher terrain with substantially lowered tyre pressures, its characteristics and relatively firm ride seem most suited to tarmac.
I wondered if 140mm disc rotors at each end would be sufficient, as a 160mm up front is most common on the road. At 75kg, I found them to be perfectly reliable, but bigger riders, or those anticipating lengthy descents in the heat may want to consider a swap.
To go down, you have to go up and the RDX proved a willing ascender, with its compact chainset and 11-28 cassette easily a match for my local hills. It’s no polka dot jersey winner, but I felt able to push onwards and upwards at will rather than just slogging away.
The Dolan’s handling, ride feel and practicality lend it superbly well to being a fine winter trainer, or add a rack and press it in to daily commuting duty. It’ll certainly make you stronger, and save your best bike from the daily grind.