Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Dolan Ares review

27 Sep 2022
Verdict:

A super-stiff aero road bike that is primed for British racing and good value for money

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Good range of in-stock spec choices, Stiff, Fast, Good value
Against 
We don't have a wind tunnel to test its aerodynamics, Not the most comfy climber, Might be too aggressive and stiff for some

Dolan has racing pedigree. Ever since Terry Dolan started building bikes in Liverpool after his previous employer, the legendary Harry Quinn Cycles, closed in 1980, speed has been a huge part of what Dolan does. From helping build the career of a young Chris Boardman to actually winning Olympic gold on the track, its heritage is plain.

The brand’s road output hasn’t quite hit the same heights, although it still sees plenty of action with the EvoPro Racing and Dolan-Ellesse teams, but it’s an increasingly big part of what Dolan is doing.

The Ares is the start of Dolan’s quest to conquer the world of road racing, and replaces its former top end road bike, the Rebus. With all the modern aero bike boxes checked – elongated tube profiles, integrated cables, 32mm tyre clearance, one-piece bar and stem, disc brakes and 50mm deep wheels – it leaves no stone unturned.

And yet it has another big box ticked too. Specced with Shimano’s newest Dura-Ace R9250 groupset, the Ares comes in keen (by today’s top-end standards) at just over £7,000. It’s laudable stuff, particularly when Dolan says the frame uses a carbon fibre layup that includes Toray’s premium, high-stiffness T1000 carbon fibre.

‘We were looking for an aerodynamic, race-geometry road frame that had all the modern features,’ says Stephen Dolan, son of Terry, alluding to geometry that incorporates 572mm stack – which is high for an aero bike – and 393mm reach for this size large. Together that seems fairly relaxed for a bike of the Ares’ remit, but I found I wasn’t left sticking up like a sail with my hands on top of the hoods.

This model, with all its bells and whistles, hit the Cyclist scales at 7.8kg. That may seem a fair chunk, but bear in mind that even some WorldTour-level aero bikes don’t come close to troubling the 6.8kg UCI minimum weight.

click to subscribe

If you read my opinion piece on pro bikes last issue, you may remember Mads Pedersen’s new Trek Madone weighed 8kg at the Tour de France – although that included pedals, bottle cages, computer and mount.

Dolan uses the analogy of filling a water bottle to explain why the company doesn’t get hung up on searching for the absolute minimum weight – 500ml of water weighs 500g, but the equivalent of dropping a spare bottle in frame weight is seen as being massive.

Rather, the company believes these extra grams are well spent maximising the structural integrity of the frame given the stresses it will undergo in race conditions. The tell-tale UCI sticker on the top tube certainly announces this bike’s aspirations.

In the blood

For a brand with the track pedigree of Dolan, the expectation is that speed is a natural design outcome, and I could feel this immediately in the Ares. Aside from the racy geometry, the bike felt incredibly stiff and highly efficient, invoking that ‘no watt wasted’ feeling. It was brilliant in sprints and on inclines, where its stiff spine – head tube, down tube and chainstays – helped offset the extra weight by providing a superbly efficient pedalling platform, particularly out of the saddle.

The Dolan Ares is quick. I found it easier than I would normally expect to maintain high speeds on flat roads, and the aggressive position isn’t too aggressive given that slightly higher front end. I found it hard to take it easy on this bike, which given its purpose is hardly a negative point.

Helping things along in the speed department are Alpina’s wheels and one-piece bar/stem. Alpina has long been Dolan’s component arm, supplying the likes of carbon forks to the company’s track bikes. Here the wheels are 50mm deep, with an internal width of 18mm and external of 26mm.

By today’s standards that’s a bit narrow – 20mm-plus internal width rims are becoming the norm – but nonetheless at 1,700g (claimed) and fitted with Continental’s consistently good GP5000 tyres, the wheels helped the bike shift through the gears nicely, carrying speed well. Likewise, the bars are a well-considered inclusion, able to hide cables for a look that isn’t just clean but aero too.

Being ultra-critical, I prefer bars where the tape wraps all the way onto the tops, as I regularly use the tops while climbing. But that’s just me, and it is also worth noting that I could have this bike with a traditionally shaped bar. Dolan builds its frames from the ground up, so there is plenty of scope for customisation.

For a top -spec bike that performs as well as this, the Ares is excellent value in the context of the modern market, and given that Dolan is flexible on component choices too, more savings can be had by speccing lower-tier components – a similar Ultegra-based bike costs £5,125. With plans to further push its road racing bikes, both in terms of their tech and their use by pro teams, it will be interesting to see how Dolan develops this platform in the coming seasons.

Photography: Mike Massaro


Dolan Ares spec

Brand Dolan
Price £6,249.98
Frame Dolan Ares Disc
Fork Dolan Carbon Road
Weight 7.8kg
Sizes available XS, S, M, L, XL
Levers Shimano Dura-Ace R9270
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace R9270
Rear derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace R9270
Front derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace R9270
Crankset Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 50/3
Bottom bracket Shimano BB86 Press Fit
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 11-30
Chain Shimano Dura-Ace R9200
Wheels Alpina A5D 50mm
Tyres Continental GP5000 28mm
Bars Alpina
Stem Alpina
Seatpost Dolan Carbon 27.2m
Saddle Selle Italia Flite Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow

Products reviewed by Cyclist are independently selected and tested by our editorial team.Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Readour reviewspolicy.


Pick of the kit


Lazer Vento KinetiCore helmet, £249, lazersport.com

The Vento is one of the first helmets to feature Lazer’s KinetiCore safety tech – its equivalent to Mips. KinetiCore uses EPS crenelations on the underside of the shell, which are designed to crumple to protect the rider’s head against rotational forces in a crash.

But in contrast to Mips, KinetiCore is built into the structure of the Vento’s shell, which allows the helmet to be cheaper, lighter and better ventilated. Thankfully I didn’t need to put the new safety tech to the test, but the Vento held up well in every other area.

Dolan Ares alternatives

Dolan Rebus Ultegra Di2

Dolan is one of the few brands left still producing a rim-brake aero bike. Antiquated stopping system aside, the £3,399 Rebus Ultegra Di2 promises plenty of speed thanks to its aero styling.

Dolan ADX Titanium

Dolan’s roots are in metal bikes. Like the Ares, the ADX Titanium road has 32mm tyre clearance but much less of its raciness, making the £3,099 105 Di2 build a good choice as an everyday workhorse.

Price: 
£6,249.98

Read more about: