Last years’ Dolomite and Gabbro models were widely regarded as the ideal bikes for an introduction to the world of drop bar road bikes, offering great value for money with reliable/dependable specs. With some clever additions to the range there’s greater choice and even better value to be had. On the riding front we’ve tweaked geometry and frame design to drop weight and increase riding comfort/ease of fit, to make these our best dropbar road bikes to date.

The Dolomite models rise from x3 models to x4 for 2012 with the introduction of the 18-speed Sora specced Dolomite Two and the ladies get a choice of spec on the Gabbro now with an additional Gabbro Two model added with swanky new Tiagra 10-speed.  All x6 models fall under the magic £1k key price point meaning they’re all eligible for your Ride2Work/Cyclescheme vouchers.

Still aimed at the dropbar newcomer, 2012 Dolomite/Gabbro models use an all-new frame designs with revised tube profiles and geometry. The geometry retains the close-clearance, short wheelbase feel of a race bike while balancing the nimble feel with secure front end handling that would be at home in the Belgian spring classics, so it has a perfect blend of characteristics for a bike that can be ridden year-round in the UK. Let’s take a closer look…

Dolomite One – £500srp

To kick things off we have the stealthy looking Dolomite One @ £500 on the nose. Far more practical than last years’ white paintjob, this should make for the ideal daily commuter workhorse for those who like to live life in the fast lane whilst still being more than able to keep up with the pack for those weekend leisure rides.

All models regardless of spec/price get the same carbon legged/alloy steerer fork (with mudguard eyelets), slim seat stays and a taper-oval shaped top tube increase rider comfort while the front end of the bike retains plenty of stiffness for power transfer and a quick handling response.

Dolomite vital statistics – all models use the same geometry.

Short’n’shallow (reach and drop). AKA the ‘compact’ bend handlebar. Last’s years’ love-it-or-loathe-it anatomic handlebar makes way for the highly regarded compact bend model. Perfect for non-pro’s (that’ll be most of us, then!) compact drops are more everyday usable - the transition between all positions is less so you can change up hand placement in more places for comfort measures.

Certainly not to shy away from the crowd, the Gabbro One is bright and bold in its matt blue finish. With a well thought out spec (identical to the Dolomite One) including full Shimano 16sp 2300 drivetrain, Alex R500 wheelset and FWE Sport Women’s saddle the Gabbro One should ride every bit as good as it looks.

We’ll hold our hands up and admit we made an oversight on last years’ Gabbro model in that unlike the Dolomite models it didn’t come specced with long-drop 57mm brake calipers for full-length mudguard compatibility – not so for 2012. Long-drops and mudguard eyelets all round for all Gabbro/Dolomite models!

We don’t buy into the ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach to women’s bikes. We like to think the majority of female riders don’t find pastel colours or flowers all that appealing and would much rather have a bike that fitted them well and was comfortable to ride. The Gabbro models come specced with a women’s specific saddle, shorter crankarms and stem and a narrower handlebar for an improved fit.

£100 extra gets you upgraded Shimano Sora 18-speed drivetrain (vs. 16sp Shimano 2300 on the Dolomite One) with Octalink chainset and BB and a much nicer wheel package featuring Alex Rims tough, yet lightweight Race24 rim with semi-aero doublewall rim with 24mm profile.Lighter and stiffer for assured handling and steering. All Gabbro/Dolomite models come equipped with oversixe 31.8mm bar and stem combo to help keep things stiff up front and steering on the straight and narrow.

34/50T compact chainsets on all Dolomite/Gabbro models. Much like the favoured bend handlebars when it comes to chainsets and teeth ratios, for us, compact is king. The 34/50T combo (especially combined with a wider ratio cassette out back) provides a nice middle-ground compromise between the standard road double crankset (with 39/52 or 39/53 tooth chainrings) and the road triple (with 30/42/52 or 30/39/53 tooth chainrings). The 34/50T ccompact provides nearly the same lower gear ratios as a triple but without the need for a third chainring, a triple front derailleur and a long cage rear derailleur.

Gabbro Two – £750srp

The women’s Gabbro Two (unlike the Gabbro One) doesn’t match the spec/price of the Dolomite Two. It gets the full works treatment - Shimano new (and excellent, we might add) Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain matched to an FSA Omega chainset with external BB, lighter Alex Rims DA22 based wheelset shod with sportier Kenda Kriterium 25c rubber and upgraded Tektro R593 brake calipers for supreme stopping power.

Gabbro geometry above – quite a bit different to that used for the 2011 model.

They might be small details but they just go to show we leave no stone left unturned. Twin downtube mounted barrel adjusters make for easy on-the-fly derailleur adjustments and the supplied Jagwire rubber cable protective sleeves will keep your bikes paint looking fresher for longer.

Things start getting a bit more serious from here on in - lighter tyres, rims and finishing kit together with a full 20-speed drivetrain give a nod to the Dolomite Three’s more sporty intentions. Perfect for that first big Sportive or Triathlon or easily morphed into a durable winter training bike.

Dolomite Four – £900srp

Our flagship Dolomite model featuring a enviable spec of Shimano 105 drivetrain, Shimano RS10 wheelset, FSA Gossamer chainset with MegaExo BB makes it the lightest, fastest Dolomite at just a shade over 20lbs (20.7lbs). Ideal for entry-level racing, training or simply enjoying some fast road miles.