|165mm Sugino cranks||Flip flop rear hub|
Dolan Track Champion - £720.00
Dolan is a well-known brand in the UK, and rightly so when Olympic, World and Commonwealth Champion Chris Hoy is riding founder Terry Dolan's bikes. Dolan's vast experience as a builder goes into a great selection of track bikes for all riders and disciplines. We tested the Track Champion, one of their entry level track bikes.
Frame - £395.00
The frame comes in a very large variety of sizes from 49cm to 60cm with the angles pretty much only changing for the smallest bikes. I tested the smallest they make, the 49cm frame. It sounds tiny, and it is.
The aluminum frame and Alpina Carbon forks are lightweight and responsive making racing that little bit easier. The steel inserts on the rear dropouts are well positioned and provide enough room for large changes to gear ratios. They also are vital in protecting the nice paint job. There's an option of two colours, black or white; both look great, complementing any rider and kit.
When ordering a Dolan Track Champion, there is ample opportunity to upgrade any of the components.
The stock standard running gear is Sugino RD2 chainset and bottom bracket. You can't go wrong with 96 years of Japanese experience and the Suginos are well up to the job. The bottom bracket is stiff and even with the most power I could put through the pedals, there is very little flex.
The combination of Navigator Pista clincher wheels (flip flop hub) and Schwalbe Blizzard tyres really complements the look the black frame creates. Although the wheels feel slightly heavy, in fact they weigh in at 950 grams for the front and 1050 grams at the rear, comparable to any similar priced wheelset. Depending on your racing needs and with a calculated tyre selection they would make an affordable racing option, or would make reliable training wheels.
Deda's Piega bars have an anatomic bend for comfort and control. Although at the budget end of the handlebar scale, they do not show weakness or flex and held up quite well in stressful situations. Deda measure their bar width outside to outside rather than centre to centre (keep in mind when ordering).
The white Sella Italia Tranz AM XO saddle really sets off the white handlebar tape and white Dolan logo. Saddles are very much a personal selection and although this saddle may be suitable for some people in the population, it is not suitable for me and did not stay on the bike for very long.
First things first; black is sexy and gives you so much versatility to individualise this bike. The matte paint job looks great; however, it does mark easily.
The 49cm frame geometry fitted me pretty well. Adjustments are of course necessary with any track bike and this one gave a large range of play. Riding in the drops is really comfortable and I preferred it to riding with hands on top of the handlebars (during warm up of course). The overlap with the front wheel, as seen in most small frames even with 165mm cranks, although not a problem was more noticeable than on my other track bikes.
In racing conditions the ride was stable and responsive. The general handling felt regular and precise. In an individual sprint effort on occasion it felt slightly sluggish (maybe mirroring the rider) on starting but at top speed glides along and feels light and helps build confidence. In an individual pursuit (without aero bars), it held up to be consistent and stable.
At every opportunity to ride the Track Champion I was putting it through its paces and thoroughly enjoyed it. Fit a lightweight set of racing wheels and a comfortable saddle and all you need to concentrate on is winning.