I reckon David Bean's contribution summed up many CR Listers' feelings about this thread about DAWES bikes..It's been engrossing..and for me personally it has made me visit some of the furthermost recesses of my workshop and storage facilities so that I could rediscover some of this marque's finer points . It will probably have been obvious from some of my earlier contris to the List that I have a huge collection of French bikes and frames..so huge that most times I tend to forget what else is lurking amongst the cobwebs..or just stowed away in cardboard boxes.
Seeing Mark Hoffman's early Dawes made me realise just what superb frames this company had built, without too much ceremony or trumpet-blowing over the years, and spurred me into action to look at some of the Dawes frames I have..or at least the ones that I could find.
First up was the one I mentioned earlier with the three cables running inside the top-tube..one of them disappearing down the seat-stay...and I don't even get three internal cables on my Reyhands.. just two. This frame also had the gear lever bosses either side of the top-tube..so obviously it was intended for serious but gentle touring around the lanes of the Yorkshire Dales for instance..the levers being close at hand so that the rider could change gear and still look over the hedges and dry-stone walls at the countryside and curlews beyond. Now it seems to me that whoever designed that frame knew a great deal about cycle-touring..and in fact almost took a custom -frame specification and transformed into a bike for Mr and Mrs Everyman. The great feature of Dawes bikes, and it was probably the one that has kept the brand strong for almost a 100 years, is that the designers knew and understood their customers' requirements..the company just did not build bikes and hope that they might find customers, it instead knew that there were always customers looking for and wanting to buy the types of bike it built.
This frame is in very good condition..and must date from the mid 50s or slightly earlier; the model is the "WINDRUSH"...but not the later Windrush shown in Mark Bulgier's catalogues. Among the finer details on the frame are Reynolds 531DB transfers of a special design specifically for DAWES...much like Jack Taylor and Higgins had...but much prettier and artistic. I would never really have noticed that feature had this CR thread not come up. The second..and much neglected frame that I found appears to be the same model as the gold-painted one on Peter Jourdain's photo album..most of the paint has gone, but the Kromo sticker is there..
I think that the next time Barrie is up this end of the country, assuming that his passport is in order and he undertakes not to blaspheme about Dawes bikes, then he should call in and carry out some close up examinations and comparisons of a number of my frames.
While sifting through my many boxes I chanced to come across an early /mid1950s SUN frame..from the original Sun factory before Tube Investments took over.It is a frame I bought only recently at a Jumble to help the seller, so that he would not have the labour of taking it back home. Today was the first time that I had really examined it closely..from its full Nervex Pro lug and bracket componentry, Simplex forged ends and full wrap-over top-eyes...quite delightful...and the mitres inside the bracket were spot on..couldn't be better. Then I looked at the Windrush...ditto for the mitres. Next one up was a frame that sits in my office just behind my desk..it is a Bernard Carre-built Sauvage-Lejeune..the one that Henri Anglade rode in 1965 to win the French Championship and which formed part of his equipment for that year's Tour de France in which he finished fourth. Next..a Carre-built Jacques Anquetil built for Maitre Jacques in 1966.... resplendent in its religiious purple paintwork
You know...there isn't a mitre to be seen inside either of those French brackets..down tube, seat-tube and chainstays ends..straight out out the packing box. What's a mitre..? do I hear the French custom-builders enquire. I reckon, to lapse into Somerset vernacular, that all these French hand-built racing frames were a load of horse-manure. Admittedly however, Carre won hands down on the quality of his elegant ly arched plated top-eyes.
Peter Jourdain's Don Juan eptomises just how forward thinking Dawes were in their bike designs. You don't have to look any further than the elegant fork rake...twenty years before the rest of the industry caught up..and those Dawes blades were still the D-to-round section ones.
Finally..for Barrie and any other serious doubters..and in an attempt to dispell those last enduring traces of snobbery..just take a look at the owners bike that Peter Underwood has recently mounted on his http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk site. It is a 1947 Hobbs Racelight... a bike with some serious pedigree, a true steed for the serious status -conscious racing cyclist.
Making just a few allowances for the equipment ie mudguards I reckon that there is very little to choose between the Mark's Dawes and Peter's Hobbs...except that the top-eyes on Mark's frame..the traditional frame-builder's arrowheads of the late 40s and early 50s.. are far superior to the inelegant flutes of the Hobbs. And...note too that the frame=builder responsible for Mark's frame just thought on enough, and was sufficiently proud of his handiwork to pass a file a few strokes over the ridge on the arrowhead to produce a neat but elegant flat ..Attention to detail.