Champion: Dolan Track Bikes World Class

VeloUK looks at the track bikes that are winning World Championships and are designed right here in Britain. Bikes with a pedigree unrivalled by any current British bike designer.

Related: Champion’s riding Dolan frames and bikes at Revolution over the years

Dolan Bikes in the North West have a large variety of racing and sportive bikes for those riding on or off the road but it’s the Track bikes they produce that are in the spotlight right now. In the recent World Cup in Astana, the Dolan brand found itself under a number of riders who raced their Dolan’s all the way to a spot on the podium.

At last year’s Track Worlds, Sharakova of Belarus won the Points race on a Dolan Forza. At Revolution a few weeks ago, Craig MacLean on a Dolan (also a Forza) got within a few millimetres of beating David Daniel on an UK SI bike. In the sprint for the Keirin, who should be fighting it but two riders on Dolans with MacLean winning it!

They really are a World Class Track bike and it’s no wonder when you consider that Terry Dolan’s experience in building track frames goes way back to the days of the Harry Quinn bikes. Harry himself had built bikes for riders like Norman Sheil (World Pursuit Champion Twice) and Bill Bradley (Milk race winner twice).

Dolan learned from a master and when Chris Boardman was a junior, it was Dolan providing bikes for the future Olympic champion. The frames used by the GB team pursuit squad in Barcelona (’92) were Dolan’s and Yvonne McGregor won an Olympic Bronze medal in Sydney 2000  and a UCI World title on a Dolan in 2000. The accolades for the bike go on like Rob Hayles and Bradley Wiggins riding Six Day Madison events on them and in 2003 Bradley Wiggins won the unofficial world cup of Madison racing, the Gent Six, with Matthew Gilmore, on a custom aluminium frame.

They are a special frame. Not just because of Terry’s experience but also the feedback from riders like Sir Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean during the days when Dolan supplied his bikes to Team GB. Now, the GB team ride the black bikes called the UK SI but even they have had the Dolan touch with Terry helping out with the geometry of them during their design days.

So, while the world look on with envy at the UK SI bikes that the British team continue to rack up wins on, the top of the range Dolans are available for a fraction of the price. These days, there are six track frames to choose from in the Dolan range, three made out of aluminium and three from carbon. There is the Kadet track bike for children and then five frames for the older rider.

One of Terry Dolan’s specials for Bradley Wiggins.

PreCursa £199

After hearing from Terry Dolan that this frame won something like five World Track Cup events, it’s a bit harsh to call it the beginners frame but that is where it sits in the Dolan range. It was introduced in 2000 to be used by the GB team’s Talent Team and a large number of sizes are still made to suit riders of all ages and height. It is a more traditional track frame in its geometry and made from aluminium. It’s a multipurpose frame ideal for track leagues and use week in, week out.

Track Champion £349

The next step up the ladder is the Track Champion which is lighter and stiffer than the PreCursa but uses the same front forks as the PreCursor. With different tubing to the PreCursor, the Track Champion has a special bottom bracket, the part of the frame which needs to be stiff to avoid any loss of power coming from the pedals. The frame was the top of the range Dolan track bike before the carbon models were introduced. Like the PreCursor, this frame was once the bike of the GB Endurance riders and has won it’s share of international championships. It’s available in four sizes from  52cm to 58cm.

Seta £599
The third frame in the range is the ‘upright’ Seta and is for the rider looking for a bike to be used in bunch races. The name of the bike, Seta, is Italian for silk which Terry says describes the ride you get on it. The work in designing the frame constructed from Ultra hi-modulus UDP Carbon Fibre saw it tested in wind tunnels and the end result was a frame worthy of being ridden in major track championships by Great Britain riders.

It’s the ideal bike for an endurance rider who wants to spend less than they would for the Forza or DF3 but still get a bike that has a high strength factor and stiffness that maximizes the rider’s transmission of power through the drive train.

This is essential in order to cope with the stresses and strains of fixed gear riding and Terry achieved this with the Seta by surrounding the bottom bracket with an increased amount of carbon fibre. The result, all the power you put into the bike to move it forward is not lost in any flexing of the frame and it’s also got the comfort and smoothness required in an endurance bike.

DF3 £999

Above: Olga Panarina is the World Champion for the 500 metres on a DF3 as well as the World Record holder for the event. Simona Krupeckaite held the record prior to Olga on her Dolan DF3 and they both jointly hold the World Record for the flying 200m.

Apparently this frame is nicknamed the Dyer Flyer after a certain coach in the GB team and the name has stuck and still talked about. No surprise then that this frame has a reputation as a sprinters frame and I last saw it used in anger by World Junior Champion, John Paul at a recent Revolution meeting when he was man 1 for the team sprint.

The geometry, says Terry Dolan, is very close to that of the UK SI frame that the GB team use and was designed with feedback from riders such as Craig MacLean. The history of the frame goes back to the days when Terry was sharing a mould for his frames with another manufacturer and wanted to have a unique design of his own.

So, with the help of British sprinters, the DF3 was born and it was used at the last Junior Worlds where John Paul won the Sprint competition. It’s also been used in six day events by riders needing a stiff frame suitable for racing on the small tracks. At the 2011 European Track Championships in Holland, Iljso Keisse and de Kettle won the Madison after winning the Amsterdam Six 24 hours earlier. Kiesse then went on to win the Grenoble Six after the Europeans.

Forza £1099
The most expensive of the Dolan track bikes is the Forza which is likely to be more used by an endurance rider for timed events on the track and in bunch races. That said, former World Championship Silver medallist in the Sprint, Craig MacLean who was in such awesome form at the last Revolution, uses one because he prefers the geometry of it which is not quite as tight as that used by the DF3.

The big difference between the DF3 and the Forza is the sloping geometry of the Forza provides riders with a more relaxed position than the Sprint specific DF3. Sharakova, who won the World Points title in 2011, used a Forza as her bike of choice.

Tatsiana Sharakova of Belarus, Women’s World Points Champion on a Dolan in 2011.

As with the DF3 and Seta, the Forza was designed using state of the art fluid modelling and wind tunnel experimentation. During testing in a wind tunnel, the Forza was placed on a static trainer that simulated a rolling road at 50 Kilometres/Hour.

The Bike and test riders, all Pursuit specialists, were then slowly faced with an increasing artificial headwind that rose to 140 Kilometres/Hour. Built into the floor under the rider/bike is a large digital display screen (Voltmetre) that provides the rider with a Voltage that represents their aerodynamic efficiency. The smaller the number the less aerodynamic drag the rider/bike create and in return the faster they can travel.

In the test, each of the riders were able to decrease their aerodynamic drag to the lowest it had ever been and the technicians in the centre, that is regularly used by Formula One teams to conduct the same tests on their cars, reported that the Dolan Forza had the lowest aerodynamic drag of any pedal powered vehicle they had ever seen.

The carbon fibre composite that makes up the Dolan Forza frame is the highest quality composite currently available in track bikes here in the UK and around the World. As with the DF3, the Forza is fitted with the Terry Dolan patented Stainless-Steel Dropouts that are thicker and stronger than any other dropout available. The increased durability of the legendary Terry Dolan dropout means they are more than capable of coping with the countless gear changes that a rider makes in track racing and training.

New in 2010 were adjusters to help in perfect alignment of the rear wheel and chain tension.

Before we leave this look at Dolan Track bikes, it is also worth noting that Dolan produce the Alpina Wing Front Forks and Seatpins  and also a rather special narrow handlebar with a width of only 33cm for an aerodynamic position on the bike.

To see all the bits and pieces on offer by Dolan Bikes, check out their website where more Dolan gems can be uncovered.


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