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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 08-21-09, 02:04 PM   #1
nerobro
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Dawes SST-AL: You bought a what? to ride where?

So, I came through here asking about the SST-al and didn't get a whole lot of good feedback, and the rider experiecnes were few, far between, and didn't say much useful. So here we go.

I've been looking for a track bike. Not because I'm some hipster jerk, but becuase I live just a few miles from a velodrome. I've been using rental bikes all year, and I finally felt like I had proven that I'd use a bike of my own.

The search began. Everyone recomended the Fuji Track Pro, or Fuji Track Comp. I was able to locate one, but I was in no mood to spend $800 on a used bike. I was then able to find a new one, but fuji's supply chain was entirely out of 49cm bikes. I was the proud owner of a 52cm Fuji Track comp for roughly 48 hours. The 52 was just a little to big for me, and it had to be returned.

So I turned to bikesdirect. I have ordered from them before. And my Dawes LT1000 has served me well for most of three years. I tried to order the SST-AL, but they were out of my size. As soon as the pre-order came up for the new SST-AL's I ordered my bike. Ironically, the motobecane team track was made available two weeks later... which is a fuji track comp, but it comes with even better components.

2009 Dawes SST-AL

So what makes the bike a 2009 versus the old model? Well first of all it comes with a carbon fork. Second it comes with road brake levers. Finally it comes with a brand name crank.

If you've never ridden one, carbon forks are a godsend to road riders. They take the edges off the nasty bumps, and dampen vibration from the small ones. It really comes down to trying it. Preferably back to back against a steel fork bike.

The road brake levers provide you with another position to ride the bike from. If you're a road rider, you should be accustomed to riding frome the hoods. If you're a track rat, it may not matter to you.

It's nice to see brand name components on the bike, and the FSA crank is welcome. As are the tektro levers and brakes. Of note: the brakes that come with the bike are the replacable pad type, not the threaded stud kind that come on the cheaper bikes.

I'm quite impressed by the frame. it's not "just a cheap" frame. The rear dropouts have the stainless steel inserts to stop the axle nuts from digging in. The top tube on the bike is formed, while having an aero shape in that part of the bike doesn't do any good, it does make the brake wire invisable from one side of the bike. The seatstays are aero tubing at the top, and the chainstays are ovalized nicely.

To compare, my LT1000's frame is looks haphazardly dented where chain and crank clearances are needed, and the seatstays are round all the way from top to bottom.

Here's a shot from last night, just after riding to dinner.


I have, quite litterally, no complaints about the bike. The closest thing to a complaint I can come up with are the wheels aren't "exactly" true, and the spoke tension isn't perfect. And the bike didn't come setup exactly the right way for my body. .... and what bike does?

Riding a fixed gear bike on the street is a very strange experience for me. Until tuesday, I had never riden a fixed gear bike anywhere but on the track. My first real shock, was coming to a stop the first time. At the track, I stop when my body weight is enough to stop the bike rolling forward, and I step to the ground. Missing the step off point could leave me 6' ahead of where I intended to stop. This is ok on the track, but not so good at a stop sign. Since I've only ridden on the track, the idea of using the brakes just doesn't come up.

Bumps also sent me through a loop. Almost literally. it's built into me to post over bumps. That means stopping pedaling. Well the first time I tried that.. and my foot got yanked clear out of the pedal. whoops. I settled that habit right quick.

It was enlightening. I finally really understand the idea of spinning out. I've never had that happen at the track. However, that is where this bike will live most of it's life. Last night, I removed the stock bars and stem, the brakes, and took off the pedals. I fitted a new 31.8mm set of bars, a stem to match, and put on my road clipless pedals. Tonight the bike is coming with me to the velodrome. Hopefully someone will see fit to loan me a 15 or 16 tooth sprocket for the night. :-)

I might put the bike back on the street for the winter, as I have a few highway overpasses that might be useful for training cadence and power. (going up and back down again...) But we'll see. The brakes that came on the bike are MUCH better than those that came on the LT1000. They just might get moved over.

I think it knows it's not going to see the road again for a long long time.
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Old 08-21-09, 02:13 PM   #2
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I've been looking for a track bike. Not because I'm some hipster jerk, but becuase I live just a few miles from a velodrome.
Thats not a track bike.
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Old 08-21-09, 02:17 PM   #3
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The dawes sst-al is road geometry.
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Old 08-21-09, 02:33 PM   #4
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Don't mind the haters, good review dude.
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Old 08-21-09, 02:35 PM   #5
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Nope, it's not a true track bike. I ride at the ed rudolph velodrome in northbrook. It's a very flat track, so having the low bottom bracket doesn't bother me. Additionally, I prefer slacker geometry. I come from the world of motorcycles, bikes with to little trail feel spooky to me.
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Old 08-21-09, 02:41 PM   #6
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i thought about that bike too, just something about the brake cable guides turned me off..

Yo! i scooped up a kilo tt the other night CHEAP see you monday?!!
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Old 08-21-09, 02:45 PM   #7
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looks to be the poor man's langster, without the sloping top tube.
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Old 08-21-09, 03:15 PM   #8
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HELLYEA NAYNAY

Be there for great times. What color?
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Old 08-21-09, 03:27 PM   #9
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I really like that bike. I'm trying to convince my brother to get one, but he's almost 16 and thinks that bikes are no longer cool, fixated on cars

I'm still super pumped for my Team Track.
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Old 08-21-09, 04:03 PM   #10
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Nerobro - Nice review, thanks for sharing.

What size is that bike that you got? How tall are you and what is your bike inseam?

Thanks!
CD
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Old 08-21-09, 04:10 PM   #11
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I wish they made that bike in track geometry also, I'd snap one up.
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Old 08-21-09, 04:59 PM   #12
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HELLYEA NAYNAY

Be there for great times. What color?
they say genius' pick green
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Old 08-21-09, 06:31 PM   #13
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I have an SST-AL and have riden it ~200 miles so far. It's exceptional for the price.
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Old 08-21-09, 11:02 PM   #14
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That's a 50, the smallest they're selling. it's a full 15mm shorter in the top tube than the 49cm Fuji! I'm 5'5"
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Old 08-22-09, 06:28 AM   #15
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So what you're saying is they run small by 1.5cm's.

Good to know.

Thanks again Nerobro.
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Old 08-22-09, 07:24 AM   #16
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Mine arrived via the Big Brown Truck Last night......been a Mtn Biker for years and made the jump to the road... so far I'm very happy with what I see I'll post up more after I get out and ride this morning.
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Old 08-22-09, 08:32 AM   #17
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So what did YOU do to it?
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The seat tube measurement is about right. I think I'm really saying the 49cm fuji runs about 1.5cm long. :-) If you look at the charts on fuji's site the 49 is anomaly.
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Old 08-22-09, 07:28 PM   #18
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Eticket - keep us updated.

Share some pics and impressons!
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Old 08-22-09, 10:01 PM   #19
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Well after my first ride this morning I'm very happy with my choice in the SST-AL. Making the change to a road bike has its learning curve (theres alot less tire and no suspension to absorb the bumps.....) The seat is comfortable and the geometry is very comfortable. I got the 54 and I'm 5-10 (215lbs - the main goal to lower this number) and it fits me great. First ride was only 10 miles so as I ride longer and harder I will add more of my thoughts. Pics will come in the next few days, if theres anything you have questions about fire away and I'll do my best to give you my opinion or answer.
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Old 08-23-09, 02:13 AM   #20
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Are you running it singlespeed or fixed? As of friday I'd swapped out the stem and bars for a nicer set I had hanging around the house. And I put my road cleats on it. Are you using the clips and straps that came with it? or do you have nice shoes from your MTB bike?
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Old 08-23-09, 12:54 PM   #21
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Running it SS - I'd kill myself fixed.....running my Mtn Shoes w/ shimano PD-A530 clip/clipless pedals. I think I'll be switching the bars out for some bulls down the line but for now everything is good.
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Old 08-23-09, 02:24 PM   #22
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are you saying clipless prevents you from riding fixed?
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Old 08-23-09, 04:04 PM   #23
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are you saying clipless prevents you from riding fixed?
Not at all - I just like freewheelin ...... going downhill without pedaling is my reward for making it up the damn hill in the first place!
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Old 08-24-09, 06:56 PM   #24
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I have the freewheel... I've never put it on the bike. Im pretty sure I won't I haven't even tightened my lockring. :-)

I should get pictures of the bike while it's in track mode, before I set it back to a road setup.
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Old 08-24-09, 07:09 PM   #25
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U needa tight'n''r up thaein'
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