Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Please be fair and thoughtful in your opinions. No rants please.
bretonbikes
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Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby bretonbikes » 8 Jan 2018, 12:48pm

Hi All

After my last review (of the Ridgeback Expedition) generated 13 pages of discussion I thought it time to point to another. This time it's two reviews - both reviews being of Hybrids around £500. These are what I consider to be the minimum standard for a serious touring bike. That's an important market point because as well as making a decent first tourer they are cheap enough to make a winter hack for someone with better bikes, or more importantly make a suitable bike for someone wanting to cycle in foreign lands but doesn't want to risk transporting their precious bike. As always they are based on not only my (opinionated) opinions, but also those of our customers and their performance is judged after a hard year of hire use rather than a ride round the block... Hope you enjoy them and I'll keep an eye on the thread so I can answer any questions.

The first is of the German made VSF T-50s hybrid - http://www.bretonbikes.com/homepage/cyc ... e-vsf-t50s

The second is the Dawes Sonoran Trekking Hybrid - http://www.bretonbikes.com/homepage/cyc ... get-tourer

brynpoeth
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby brynpoeth » 8 Jan 2018, 12:58pm

There is a typo in the VSF review, near the end.. GBP 5 000 :wink:

How many kms did the bikes do, how many p *******s or other breakdowns, do you sell them after one season, may one order VSF in the UK?
Merci
Last edited by brynpoeth on 8 Jan 2018, 1:08pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby bretonbikes » 8 Jan 2018, 1:07pm

Bargain!

Fixed;-)

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby bretonbikes » 8 Jan 2018, 2:03pm

brynpoeth wrote:There is a typo in the VSF review, near the end.. GBP 5 000 :wink:

How many kms did the bikes do, how many p *******s or other breakdowns, do you sell them after one season, may one order VSF in the UK?
Merci


Sorry - missed the second bit;-) it's hard to estimate the km for each bike, but we're looking at over 1000 kms in the year per bike. No breakdowns at all though all the Dawes had dodgy brake cables/pads that needed replacement long before the VSF's Punctures - I can remember five from last season - so at a wild guess one every 2000 kms, but as always four bikes riding over a hawthorn twig might pick up more punctures in five minutes than the rest of the fleet in a year;-)

Bonzo Banana
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby Bonzo Banana » 6 Feb 2018, 9:15am

Not much german about the VSF really though. Sounds like rims is about it. The rest appears to be far east components with only assembly in Germany. Why is it so heavy, makes me think the aluminium frame is quite crude with no butting. There is no obvious reinforcing, no gusset at the top of the top tube. I realise the bike is fitted with quite a few accessories though.

Something like the Carrera Subway at halfords looks to have stronger frame and wheels taken from their mountain bike range, also freehub based and about half the price with admittedly less accessories. Clearly the Subway would be better over rough ground, potholes etc.

The mentality that German equals quality is more about marketing and people who aren't in touch with reality nowadays.

German cars tend to be the least reliable out there on average, most expensive to own and run.

http://www.reliabilityindex.com/manufacturer

Now if the Japanese made bikes that would be different. They are the true geniuses when it comes to engineering and quality who have remained at the top of car quality for many decades.

I'm only making that point because a) sometimes you read reviews and its like the person actually believes somehow Germany represents a quality advantage and b) the bike pretty much has nothing to do with Germany anyway its a recipe of far eastern parts and they should get the kudos if any is going for the bike. I certainly understand you can get good assembly and poor assembly of bikes but for me this is far less critical than the actual quality of components.

If you want an actual German made bike with German components you will have to pay a lot more than that, its almost as expensive to manufacture in Germany as it is in the UK. This is merely a German branded far east import. The rims are probably only there to claim its partly manufactured in Germany nothing more.

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby bretonbikes » 6 Feb 2018, 11:05am

Bonzo Banana wrote:Not much german about the VSF really though. Sounds like rims is about it. The rest appears to be far east components with only assembly in Germany. Why is it so heavy, makes me think the aluminium frame is quite crude with no butting. There is no obvious reinforcing, no gusset at the top of the top tube. I realise the bike is fitted with quite a few accessories though.

Something like the Carrera Subway at halfords looks to have stronger frame and wheels taken from their mountain bike range, also freehub based and about half the price with admittedly less accessories. Clearly the Subway would be better over rough ground, potholes etc.

The mentality that German equals quality is more about marketing and people who aren't in touch with reality nowadays.

German cars tend to be the least reliable out there on average, most expensive to own and run.

http://www.reliabilityindex.com/manufacturer

Now if the Japanese made bikes that would be different. They are the true geniuses when it comes to engineering and quality who have remained at the top of car quality for many decades.

I'm only making that point because a) sometimes you read reviews and its like the person actually believes somehow Germany represents a quality advantage and b) the bike pretty much has nothing to do with Germany anyway its a recipe of far eastern parts and they should get the kudos if any is going for the bike. I certainly understand you can get good assembly and poor assembly of bikes but for me this is far less critical than the actual quality of components.

If you want an actual German made bike with German components you will have to pay a lot more than that, its almost as expensive to manufacture in Germany as it is in the UK. This is merely a German branded far east import. The rims are probably only there to claim its partly manufactured in Germany nothing more.


Just to clarify - as with almost every bike 'made' in Europe below a certain price point the VSF not of European manufacture (their better frames are German made), and it's impossible to make a 100% German bike anyway. However the VSF doesn't come with a German flag on it or make a big thing of being German whereas the Dawes does imply that. The Dawes is delivered to the UK ready boxed from Vietnam. The VSF is assembled (and I believe painted) in Germany and thus has German quality control and it shows. For example the Dawes is delivered inside a bike box, covered in about (and I don't exaggerate) 30-40 separate pieces of rolled up corrugated cardboard, zip ties, bubble wrap, masking tape and brown paper - it takes about 20 minutes to cut it all off (and I'd guess more to fit). The VSF arrives in a bike box and inside is a single fitted inner box protecting everything. It all lifts out as one and takes about 30 seconds to remove. The Dawes requires a complete service, set-up and adjustment taking the best part of 30 minutes - the VSF requires me to straighten the handlebars and fit the pedals - this of course only being of interest to the poor bike shop. This is an example of both quality control and engineering efficiency - the Germans are good at it and the British are not. Sadly when I used to receive 'Made in Britain' Dawes in the old days it was a case of recutting threads, reaming seat tubes and filing drop-outs so wheels would run straight... This is why Dawes come from Vietnam and why manufacturing things in Germany is economic and why they export 5x as much stuff to the Far East as we do (we like to blame EU restrictions but then...).

As for weight the dynamo system alone counts for much of the extra KG but I would expect the frame to be plain gauge. However it depends what you call 'crude' as it is beautifully made, finished and painted and as I said the standard of fittings is well above the Dawes.

In another life I also write hi-fi reviews for the site http://www.tnt-audio.com (the biggest independent site on the web) and yes - the Japanese have wonderful quality control, but I'd put German manufacturing very much at the same level - both have a culture of engineering perfection and a pattern of investment in both machines and personnel and it shows.

The 'Subway' isn't really a competitor - it lacks about £100 of touring kit, doesn't exactly have touring geometry or riding position, uses much cheaper components elsewhere and the plain gauge Aluminium frame is backed by a straight 'hi-ten' steel fork rather than the rather nice curved CroMo affair on the VSF. It's not something I would take over the VSF and the difference in price is actually less than I would expect given the 'direct sales' nature of Halfords and the spec of the bike.


Lastly - in all these reviews (unlike the press) I have absolutely no ax to grind and write exactly as I find - that means my personal likes and dislikes will always dominate, but hopefully so will my experience.

Bonzo Banana
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby Bonzo Banana » 8 Feb 2018, 10:31am

Your reply makes no sense to me and something I cannot agree with.

Not that I'm defending Dawes or anything I'm sure that is as stated its a fully imported bike with no connection with the UK except for the brand slapped on.

I totally disagree with your assessment of German quality it's like 10-20 years out of date. I've seen many poor German products and many good ones. There are manufacturer's in Germany making goods to a low price point and a higher price point and many products don't even have any manufacturing in Germany at all. I've shown you evidence that German made cars are some of the least reliable which you have ignored.

If the frame is sprayed in Germany that is a shame, fuji-ta in China by far the largest exporters of whole bikes and frames in the world have some of the most advanced paint spraying of frames in the world using the very latest technology. If they are using a fuji-ta frame and sprayed it themselves then likely that is a downgrade in paint finish.

At least I now know where you are coming from so pretty much your reviews can be ignored as you have a fantasy bias in favour of German products.

The Carrera Subway is a pretty fantastic bike, great frame and forks, decent components, bomb proof absolutely amazing value thanks to its simple factory to retail logistics with a huge turnover. Might be worth checking out. Absolutely no reason it couldn't be used as a touring bike.

With Halfords they assemble the bikes for the customer if required for no additional cost so I guess that pretty much makes every bike they sell British Made.

It's common knowledge across Europe that Germany exploit the made in germany reputation even though its much reduced nowadays. It has been discussed at EU level and many such products do nothing more than arrive and leave Germany and get such branding or it can be trivial processing like packaging. A huge part of their exports is selling to people who buy on reputation and perceived quality rather than actual quality. You certainly seem to fit into that category.

http://www.businessinsider.com/made-in- ... 012-1?IR=T

With our huge trade deficit, spiralling debt and many essential services in trouble it seems ridiculous to waste even more money buying far eastern goods that have been detoured to Germany for minor processing with a large extra fee on top.

Hopefully this reply won't get deleted like my last reply. I don't know why that was done but surely any moderation of postings can be edited not wholly deleted.

brynpoeth
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Re: Review of £500 hybrids Dawes Sonoran and VSF T50s

Postby brynpoeth » 8 Feb 2018, 10:35am

One would like to know more about moderation policy
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome