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Old 12-01-15, 06:50 PM   #1
wphamilton
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Dawes Streetfighter review

Or maybe Dawes SST since Bikes Direct sent me the drop bar version. Either one is $229 so it isn't really an upgrade. But it does have the fixed gear cog which I didn't expect on the Streetfighter.


I was a little disappointed to see the drop bars. One of the reasons I ordered the Dawes Streetfighter was for the flat bar; my current two bikes have drop bars. Whatever, I was thinking bullhorns eventually anyway.

Assembled, prior to my commuter accessories:


As it sits there, if anyone cares what a cheap steel single speed weighs, it's 25.2 pounds.

Assembly is the usual: wheels, handlebar, saddle. But I decided to mess with it a little before assembly. The front hub seemed tight so I took it apart: and the bearings looked a little dry so I greased them up and it felt much better, spinning as I held the axle. Same thing for the back wheel . These wheels together with the cogs weigh right at 8 pounds. Wow, maybe I mis-measured. Formula hubs, Wienmann rims I think.

After that I figured I might as well see if anything is up with the bottom bracket so I pulled the cranks. . Evidently some kind of semi-cartridge, but it doesn't look like it needs anything from me so I went back to assembly.

No surprises, but I got a laugh out of the handlebar clamp bolts: They look kind of old; did they send me used bolts or have they been in the clamp a looong time? The front brake is just a tad out of adjustment . I am pretty happy with the adjustable seat post, but the "Dawes Super Light" saddle (no pic) weighs in at 538 grams. It feels OK but I'll probably replace it with a plastic saddle.

The wheels weren't all that out of true, from my perspective at least. [video]https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4c-_IgHyrMLZko2bW1FRXlub00/view[/video] (sorry about the shaky vid) But I tweaked it a little to get that slight wobble out.

Parking lot ride, it felt pretty good. The only issue is a very intermittent but annoying click from the crank area - tightening everything didn't resolve it. If it doesn't magically disappear soon I'll change the pedals out.

I got this primarily for a commuter rain bike, and because a SS/FG is supposedly good for winter training, or mainly because I wanted one. I'm not going to start a year-long review but I'll update the review after a few hundred commuting miles or a few longer off-day rides, or both.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg dawes sst.jpg (98.3 KB, 316 views)
File Type: jpg hub.jpg (98.7 KB, 223 views)
File Type: jpg freewheel 2.jpg (99.4 KB, 210 views)
File Type: jpg BBC 1.jpg (94.3 KB, 208 views)
File Type: jpg bar clamps.jpg (100.2 KB, 236 views)
File Type: jpg brake.jpg (95.3 KB, 228 views)
File Type: jpg box bike.jpg (99.6 KB, 275 views)

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Old 12-01-15, 07:02 PM   #2
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Was there any grease at all in the hubs?
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Old 12-01-15, 07:07 PM   #3
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Was there any grease at all in the hubs?
Not that I could see! There had to be some to hold the balls in but it could have been a light spray of oil for all I could tell. I didn't even take the bearings out to check that closely, which I guess is half-assed but I didn't see the need for a brand new hub.
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Old 12-01-15, 07:21 PM   #4
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a complete reassembly is often a good idea on a bike at that price-point. and from their perspective, in comparison to the 8 pound wheels anyway, a 500+ gram saddle could be reasonably labeled, i suppose, "Dawes Super Light".
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Old 12-01-15, 08:08 PM   #5
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Was the "clicking" on SS or fixed? (or both)

I thought my BD SS crank was clicking until I flipped to the FG side. Those freewheels they put on there are C-H-E-A-P.
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Old 12-01-15, 08:36 PM   #6
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Was the "clicking" on SS or fixed? (or both)

I thought my BD SS crank was clicking until I flipped to the FG side. Those freewheels they put on there are C-H-E-A-P.
I'll switch to FG tomorrow - of course I've got to try it in fixed gear at least once! I don't think I have any interest in that but who knows. Maybe I'll get lucky and find the click.
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Old 12-01-15, 09:22 PM   #7
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Was the "clicking" on SS or fixed? (or both)

I thought my BD SS crank was clicking until I flipped to the FG side. Those freewheels they put on there are C-H-E-A-P.
good point.

i had a cheap Shimano labeled SS freewheel that 'clicked' when the pawls were engaged in one particular combination of teeth in the freewheel. i've switched to using ACS's Crossfire freewheels now. i think they are targeted to adult SS Cyclocross racing. at least that's what i've been telling myself anyway.
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Old 12-02-15, 10:04 AM   #8
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good point.

i had a cheap Shimano labeled SS freewheel that 'clicked' when the pawls were engaged in one particular combination of teeth in the freewheel. i've switched to using ACS's Crossfire freewheels now. i think they are targeted to adult SS Cyclocross racing. at least that's what i've been telling myself anyway.
Did you try anything beyond replacing it? I'd guess the next step would be opening up the freewheel and cleaning out anything that might keep the pawls from engaging, relubing, looking out for some mechanical malfunction, but for me (as much time and head scratching that might take me) the freewheel might not be worth it.
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Old 12-02-15, 11:17 AM   #9
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Initial Summary

I forgot the executive summary so here are my first impressions.

Pro:
  • Cheap at $229
  • Chromoly frame and fork, decent looking welds
  • Comes with both brakes, flip-flop hub, sealed bottom bracket
  • lots of eyelets for fenders and/or racks
  • light seat post and nice adjustable clamp
  • seat stays look like up to 32 mm tires will clear, front fork even wider

Neutral:
  • Shipped a different model without notice
  • Low end calipers, but the brakes are OK at least initially
  • dull matte paint, thankfully with only one decal
  • low end but very adequate crank set
  • durable double-wall rims of known brand
  • it remains to be seen if the saddle clamp holds up and holds adjustments

Cons:
  • 25 pounds configured as shipped
  • heavy wheels, possibly too-cheap freewheel
  • hubs urgently require grease, cones tightened haphazardly
  • the bottom bracket cover "felt" like it was torqued too tightly (but I'm no pro mechanic)
  • bottom-barrel pedals
  • the heavy, padded "Super Light" saddle is bound to be replaced soon

Unknowns:
  • Does the freewheel have a click? Will it fail soon? Remains to be fully diagnosed.
  • Just how sluggish will it feel when I put the rack and fenders on, along with my commuting load?
  • I'm wary of the crank arm bolts since they needed to be really tight - how well will that hold up?

If I do wind up replacing the wheelset eventually, and the handlebar I ordered or want instead of the drop bars bikes direct sent, and use a different saddle, I'd have been better off ordering the $110 Dawes SST frameset from BikeIsland and building up. If this satisfies me as is through the winter, I'll be perfectly happy with it.
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Old 12-02-15, 01:05 PM   #10
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Or maybe Dawes SST since Bikes Direct sent me the drop bar version. Either one is $229 so it isn't really an upgrade. But it does have the fixed gear cog which I didn't expect on the Streetfighter.


"This bike comes 90% assembled."

Good to see your assistant is carefully inspecting the shipment.
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Old 12-02-15, 01:16 PM   #11
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"This bike comes 90% assembled."

Good to see your assistant is carefully inspecting the shipment.
He strongly approves of the box. Apparently bicycle shipping boxes and loose packing material is preferable to anything you'll buy down at the pet store.
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Old 12-02-15, 02:08 PM   #12
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Your review is almost exactly what I found with my Nashbar fixie I bought in around 2008. Different bike, though, with an aluminum frame. Assembly was poor, but given the price and the fact that I'm competent to make it right, I was satisfied. But I can't recommend these bikes to most people because assembly and some components are so bad.

What is the gearing on yours? For the fixed gear winter benefit, I recommend something low, 67 inches or less.

If the click comes at every turn of the crank, it's not your freewheel. A crank could be hitting the frame. The chain might be hitting the chainguard; maybe it's the master link. I once had a ping sound that went with my pedaling, and it turned out to be a little plastic ball at the end of my jacket's drawstring; it was hitting the top tube in perfect rhythm.

One of my fixed gear bikes is a 1975 Viscount, formerly a 10-speed. It's fun, but it doesn't have room for a rear fender.
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Old 12-02-15, 02:40 PM   #13
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Your review is almost exactly what I found with my Nashbar fixie I bought in around 2008. Different bike, though, with an aluminum frame. Assembly was poor, but given the price and the fact that I'm competent to make it right, I was satisfied. But I can't recommend these bikes to most people because assembly and some components are so bad.

What is the gearing on yours? For the fixed gear winter benefit, I recommend something low, 67 inches or less.

If the click comes at every turn of the crank, it's not your freewheel. A crank could be hitting the frame. The chain might be hitting the chainguard; maybe it's the master link. I once had a ping sound that went with my pedaling, and it turned out to be a little plastic ball at the end of my jacket's drawstring; it was hitting the top tube in perfect rhythm.

One of my fixed gear bikes is a 1975 Viscount, formerly a 10-speed. It's fun, but it doesn't have room for a rear fender.
It's 46-16, and with 25 mm tires, so 76 gear inches. That's going to be a little challenging with our hills but not unreasonable and fortunately my default route is mostly flat. I probably can't push that through snow, if we get more than an inch or so.

I've got a rack ordered, the $13 one from Amazon to keep with the theme, and I'll make my aluminum fenders which don't necessarily care about clearance on the rear.

The click is very intermittent and only while pedaling, not every turn and roughly the same place (not always). I was a little worried about the frame itself, but good call by @AlmostTrick, it went away when I flipped to fixed gear. I'm going to blame it on the freewheel, and if prior experience with cheap freewheels holds it might even go away on it's own. Maybe I should dive into it, possibly find some metal shaving or other manufacturing detritus is interfering with the pawls, but I don't really feel like it.
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Old 12-02-15, 02:44 PM   #14
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If the click is not in rhythm with your pedaling, then it's not in the crank. Check to see if the master link is hitting something.

Definitely lower your gearing. I don't know what to ride in snow, maybe 60 inches or lower. @Sixty Fiver can advise us on that, as he rides fixed in snow a lot.

I like where this project of yours is going. It's a proof of concept. You can get a very nice bike for very little money by substituting time and expertise for money.

My Nashbar fixie came with triangular pedals which are excruciatingly painful for me. Even Shimano triangular pedals are hell.

Unfortunately, I was careless with that bike and it was stolen.
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Old 12-02-15, 03:12 PM   #15
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It does have some issues but $229 for a cro-mo frame is insane.

I'd put a Brooks saddle on it , just to class things up a bit...
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Old 12-02-15, 04:21 PM   #16
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It does have some issues but $229 for a cro-mo frame is insane.

I'd put a Brooks saddle on it , just to class things up a bit...
I couldn't buy a frame and build it for that. Even using a spare wheelset, cold-setting the frame, it would be close which is why I'm not worried much about the wheels. I'll use them until they break or I want something better, replace them and still come out ahead.
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Old 12-02-15, 05:04 PM   #17
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BD buy the Dawes Name too ? China made?
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Old 12-02-15, 06:57 PM   #18
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I'd put a Brooks saddle on it , just to class things up a bit...
This would be the very, very rare case where switching to a Brooks saddle would save weight.
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Old 12-02-15, 07:01 PM   #19
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It's 46-16, and with 25 mm tires, so 76 gear inches. That's going to be a little challenging with our hills but not unreasonable and fortunately my default route is mostly flat. I probably can't push that through snow, if we get more than an inch or so.
The nice thing about singlespeeds is that you can play with the gearing for just a little cash. You could pick up an 18T Sturmey Archer freewheel for $15. If you don't like you could probably resell it for $10. People seem to like small cogs, but bigger cogs are slightly more efficient and easier on the chain.
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Old 12-02-15, 08:53 PM   #20
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The click is very intermittent and only while pedaling, not every turn and roughly the same place (not always). I was a little worried about the frame itself, but good call by @AlmostTrick, it went away when I flipped to fixed gear. I'm going to blame it on the freewheel, and if prior experience with cheap freewheels holds it might even go away on it's own. Maybe I should dive into it, possibly find some metal shaving or other manufacturing detritus is interfering with the pawls, but I don't really feel like it.
I had the same clicking issue with my new Motobecane Fixie Cafe this past spring. It really sounds like the crank because the noise resonates through the chain to the pedals. It kinda sort of clicked around the same position most of the time too. I tried tightening all the bolts, removing and greasing all the bolts, swapping pedals, swapping chains, and even removing/greasing and reinstalling the bottom bracket. Still clicking just the same! As soon as I flipped the wheel it went away.

BD knew it was an issue, and said they could send me another of the same cheap freewheels, (no thanks!) or a credit for what the FW cost them. (which was very little)

A new Shimano FW from my LBS was quieter, and the fancy Eno FW by White industries even more so. (I'm picky!)

But I fell in love with fixed, so I haven't used the FW except for the test ride.

I don't think you can open or repair one of these cheap freewheels. Especially if you intend to ride SS instead of fixed, I'd reccomend getting a better unit.
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Old 12-02-15, 11:04 PM   #21
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If the click is not in rhythm with your pedaling, then it's not in the crank. Check to see if the master link is hitting something.

Definitely lower your gearing. I don't know what to ride in snow, maybe 60 inches or lower. @Sixty Fiver can advise us on that, as he rides fixed in snow a lot.

I like where this project of yours is going. It's a proof of concept. You can get a very nice bike for very little money by substituting time and expertise for money.

My Nashbar fixie came with triangular pedals which are excruciatingly painful for me. Even Shimano triangular pedals are hell.

Unfortunately, I was careless with that bike and it was stolen.
My icebike runs 54 gear inches on Nokian 296 Extremes, considering that I only have one good leg I need to gear things to make sure I can put down more power on the good leg.
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Old 12-03-15, 11:58 AM   #22
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This would be the very, very rare case where switching to a Brooks saddle would save weight.
Talk about win-win...
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Old 12-03-15, 03:28 PM   #23
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As it sits there, if anyone cares what a cheap steel single speed weighs, it's 25.2 pounds.
Wow, that's an anchor! I had absolutely no idea those bikes were so heavy, what did they do fill the frame with lead... I just got a new Giant Toughroad SLR2, which came in at 24 lbs. Granted that's a much more expensive bike, but its got 3x9 with hydraulic discs, and 29x2 tires.
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Old 12-03-15, 04:03 PM   #24
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Wow, that's an anchor! I had absolutely no idea those bikes were so heavy, what did they do fill the frame with lead... I just got a new Giant Toughroad SLR2, which came in at 24 lbs. Granted that's a much more expensive bike, but its got 3x9 with hydraulic discs, and 29x2 tires.
You'd think it would be lighter, with less stuff right? Wheels mostly, saddle, probably the crank and crank arms are heavy. Steel fork likely adds a pound or two compared to a cheap CF fork. I doubt that the frame itself is particularly heavy for steel. Another three pounds with my lights and saddle bag, and I'm adding a steel rack, no weight weenie leanings on this one.
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Old 12-03-15, 04:38 PM   #25
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You'd think it would be lighter, with less stuff right? Wheels mostly, saddle, probably the crank and crank arms are heavy. Steel fork likely adds a pound or two compared to a cheap CF fork. I doubt that the frame itself is particularly heavy for steel. Another three pounds with my lights and saddle bag, and I'm adding a steel rack, no weight weenie leanings on this one.
I was in a bit of a weight weenie mood when I built my single speed Jake the Snake a couple of years ago, so I weighed everything and kept a spreadsheet. The final build came out to just over 18 pounds. Comparing my notes to the numbers you've mentioned, I think the big differences are as you say here: about 3 pounds (!!!) for the wheels/tires/freewheel, half a pound for the saddle, probably around a pound for the fork, around half a pound for the crankset, maybe as much as a pound for the frame. My wallet came out significantly lighter too -- just my frame and fork cost me twice what you paid for the whole bike.
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