As Robert Penn knows it actually IS all about the bike!


When I originally started researching the bike I had the following criteria:

  • the total budget was €1,000 (limit of the Irish Cycle to work scheme)
  • originally considered a hybrid, but on advice from friends settled for a road bike
  • since the main aim was Malin to Mizen the bike needed to be able to be fitted with racks and fenders
  • the rider was heavy (16st (about 225lbs or 105kg) there was no point in getting carbon
  • another piece of advice was to purchase a decent groupset, something that would be very reliable without breaking the bank.
  • the final point was that having invested in decent frame and groupset, in the future I could always upgrade other components such as wheels, pedals, saddle etc.
So, with the above as a starting point, I began looking at bikes such as The Giant Defy 3, the Felt F85 and the Trek 1.5, not so much as a shortlist, but more of a reference list as to decent bikes I could get for under a grand.
With this list, I headed off to look at different retailers, and with a very good reputation locally John at An Siopa Rothar was the obvious choice to help select a bike. Being very knowledgeable John went through the pros and cons of some of these bikes.
But I was pleasantly surprised when John suggested something that I thought was initially way out of my price-range: why not build up a frame, something that would turn out cheaper than the equivalent in a more mainstream brand.
The Bike
So what bike did I go for? Well, in case you can’t tell from the picture (not the best quality but the only one I have of the original setup), it’s a Dolan Preffisio.
Not even used once!
  • Frame: Dolan Preffisio
  • Groupset: Shimano Tiagra Triple 4500 (50/39/30 – 11/25)
  • Wheels: Generic Rims built around Shimano RM-60 hubs
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Blizzard
  • Handlebars: Giant
  • Stem: Giant 120mm
  • Saddle: Avenir
Fortunately, most of the upgrades so far have been just that: upgrades as opposed to the replacement of faulty parts.
  • Chain: this is the only thing (so far), that had to be replaced because it was faulty. The original Shimano chain snapped twice within the first couple of weeks. The cheaper BBB replacement has been perfect so far.
  • Saddle: I was actually quite happy with the Avenir. But with a one week tour in the offing, I decided to go for an upgrade. And in touring circles, there was only ever one contender: a Brooks Leather saddle
  • Pedals: These were the most obvious upgrade for any new road cyclist. Originally the first upgrade from toe-clips to clipless was a second-hand seat of old Look pedals. But due to an annoying creak when out of the saddle the second upgrade was to a set of Shimano 105 SL 5700 pedals.

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