Posted By on November 22, 2012

Dawes Road BikeLooking to buy a bike online and just don’t know whether to believe the hype? Can you really buy a $700 dollar bicycle for $250 bucks? Are these discount bikes worth a damn? Well, your not alone in asking these questions. This manual details a buyers experience purchasing a Dawes Lightning Sport online from Bikes Direct.

I wanted to get my 12 year old nephew a road bike for his birthday. He was finally tall enough that he could be fit to one of the extra small frames. The first step was easy, go over the info on the site and choose a bike. Searching for a bicyle on Bikes Direct is straight forward, as they are categorized by bike type. There are tabs for Road, Mountain, Comfort, Cruiser and Hybrid as well as Women’s bicycles. Under each tab, bikes are listed by the quality of components and price. This makes it easy to see what bikes fall within your budget. Not wanting to send a ton of money on a bike that my nephew would soon outgrow, I chose one the the least expensive models available. A Dawes Lighting Sport. Dawes is a long established company founded in 1926 in England. Today all there bikes are made in the far east with the Lightning that was purchased labeled “Made in China”. The drive train components are mainly Shimano, but the bottom of their line quality wise.

After having found the bike that was wanted, the order was placed and paid for via PayPal, a nice payment option to have. The order was placed on a Saturday evening and a confirmation email along with a tracking number showed up the next day. This bike didn’t ship until Monday of course, but fast order processing on Bike’s Directs part with no shipping charge or tax.

The following Thursday UPS delivered the box safe and sound with no signs of damage to the box or it’s contents.

Boxed and Delivered

The bike was well packaged with cardboard wrapped around all the frame tubes and zip ties securing everything from shifting around during transit.

boxed dawes lightning sport The contents were pulled from the box and placed on the work stand. A few minutes were spent removing all the packaging materials. The seat, post, skewers and pedals were shipped loose in the box. The seat and post were installed first so that the bike could be properly mounted to the work stand, then the stem and bars were temporarily placed into the headset until the shift levers could be installed.
Dawes Lightning on the stand The front wheel was placed on the bike just to see that all the parts were there before beginning the tuning process. Let me first say, if you are not mechanically inclined, don’t have the tools or experience for tuning bikes, you will be wise to take the box to your local bicycle shop to have them assemble it for you. Most shops would do this for around $50-$100 dollars.

If you decide to tackle this job yourself, here is what I had to do to get the bike ready to ride. First, the tires were removed as both front and rear wheels needed to be trued. The rear wheel was not too far off, but the front was way out. Also, the hub cone bearing had to be adjusted as both were really tight and restricting wheel rotation. The bearing were well greased, but all the fasteners were dry. Once the wheels and hubs were trued and adjusted, the tires were reinstalled and inflated. The shift levers were added to a greased stem and installed. The head set bearings were really loose and were adjusted. The bottom bracket is a sealed cartridge type, so it required no adjustment. Both front and rear brakes cables were oiled and brake pads needed adjustment along with setting the cable lengths. Both front and rear derailleurs and cables needed complete adjustment. The cranks were checked for correct torque along with all other fasteners. The pedals supplied were very cheap and were tossed in the spare parts bin. A decent pair of platform pedals were installed and as always with a new bike, the serial number was recorded from the bottom bracket and placed in a safe place.

Bottom line, is the bike worth the money? With no doubt, yes, but don’t expect to get a great bike for $250 bucks. It’s a step or two up from a Walmart bike and I suspect it will perform well for my nephew until he outgrows it, but it is supplied with bottom of the line components and the old saying “you get what you pay for” pretty much holds true in this case. If it weren’t for the fact my nephew will quickly outgrow it, I would have probably looked for a used mid-level bike for him.

As far as wear, I’ll come back and post updates as the Dawes is put through it’s paces.

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