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Donhou Bicycles – DSS2

Donhou Bicycles - DSS2

The Donhou Signature Steel DSS2 is the second model in award-winning Donhou Bicycles acclaimed Signature Steel series. This model is more ‘all-road’ than the previous DSS1 which was a sleek road machine built for speed. The DSS2 is more of an adventure machine. Built to take you from the daily commute to the back roads of any far-flung corner you can think of, all in impeccable style and quality build. The bike pricing measures up to top end bicycles but you’re getting hand-built (in England) steel pedigree and beautiful paintwork designed by talented textile and print designer Suzanne Antonelli.

Donhou Bicycles is a multi award winning frame building workshop based in east London, England. We have featured much of Tom’s work on the site, with many appearances in our yearly Bespoked coverage. Most recently the Kibosh Racing team machines. Tom has an eye for detail and it truly shows in his work.

The ‘Signature Steel’ series of bikes come in a range of stock sizes, paint and geometry for those who are not looking for a bespoke bike and the wait that comes with it. With custom sizing is also now available. The DSS1 and DSS2 are TIG welded as opposed to the fillet brazing of the custom builds. The stock frame sizes also have the option to ensure optimum component choice with rider-tuned crank length, bar width, stem length and gear ratios.

Donhou Bicycles - DSS2

The frame is built from Reynolds 853 steel, which is heat-treated to give high strength and damage resistance, and the steel properties allow thin walls to be used, so that lower weight can be achieved. Coupled with a Wound Up carbon gravel fork, it has a filament wound carbon fiber construction, offering stability, vibration dampening and torsional stiffness. I cannot fault the function of the fork, it performed without fault and added the overall comfort of the DSS2 but it definitely split opinions in terms of it’s looks.

The DSS2 has been built up using Shimano Ultegra with TRP Spyre SLC cable operated brake callipers. Allowing the brakes to be maintained or adjusted with ease should you wish you take the DSS2 on an adventure. A Shimano hydraulic option is also available. The wheels are hand built by August Wheelworks using Hope hubs and the excellent Pacenti SL25 disc specific rim. The bike is then finished off with a combination of Fizik handlebars/saddle and Thompson stem/seatpost with a Chris King headset as your cherry on top. The DSS2 I rode for the test was a custom component build, for those who spot the Chris King hubs.

Donhou Bicycles - DSS2

Our time with the DSS2 coincided with some events that put the bike through its paces. First was the Rapha Prestige West Country which is a team ride that seeks out the roads less travelled. A great day on the bike through a mixed array of terrain. The DSS2 was in it’s element here, fast and responsive on the road and inspires confidence off road. My sand riding skills were not quite as inspiring though.. Second was bikepacking the West Country Way from Plymouth to Minehead, a coast to coast route that takes you through the heart of Dartmoor and Exmoor with plenty of hills in between. For this trip I loaded the bike up with enough equipment to get us through two days of riding and a night outside on Dartmoor. Despite being noticeably heavier, the bike handling remained much the same.

Donhou Bicycles - DSS2

Donhou Bicycles - DSS2

Verdict

The Donhou Bicycles DSS2 is a versatile road bike with a wild side, it will adapt well to most riding environments and leave you smilling when you reach your destination. The price may be a little to high for some with the complete build available at £3,985 but for those looking to own a truly unique, bike for life you cannot go wrong with a DSS2.To find out more about Donhou Bicycles, Signature Steel or the DSS2, visit the website at www.donhoubicycles.com

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