I think it is fair to say that Mrs G came late to cycling but has been rapidly making up for lost time since purchasing this bike new in 2007, using it 7-days a week for shopping and getting about as well as joining me on UK and European tours. In short, this bike is a very able workhorse, though as a result of considerable daily use and the resulting hard wear & tear, a number of parts have been changed over time. At the time of purchase she was after a do-it-all type bike and the Dawes Karakum has suited the role admirably.
Personally I have misgivings about alloy frames but so far the Karakum has proved robust and rides well. The bike comes in ladies and men’s versions but the men’s frame has a less steep sloping top tube that results in a stronger and stiffer configuration that will suit a woman equally as well and for this reason was the bike of choice for Mrs G. A distinctive feature of these bikes is the butterfly bars, which have proved to be very popular with Mrs G, though due to their size they can be a nuisance when parking, carrying on car rack or on trains; notwithstanding the bars provide numerous choices of hand position and are a good alternative to drop bars (my favourite) for comfort. It’s also worth noting that the alloy stem allows significant vertical adjustment of the bars using a swivel mechanism that is easy and convenient to use.
The original components were mostly lower to middle-end quality Shimano that served well but, given the hard use this bike is put through, have been mostly replaced by now. Much of the Deore groupset remains original but the chainset and bottom bracket needed to be replaced about two years ago. I undertake most of the maintenance on the bike but at the time I was unable to do so and in this case the work was undertaken by our very good LBS. Unfortunately they used an external bottom bracket that looks nice but which I understand are often made to price (cheap) and don’t wear as well as an internal / square taper type, with which I am more familiar. Notwithstanding, it has worked well so far, so the jury’s out.
Last year the headset bearings were also worn and had become indexed – this is one job I do not undertake due to the difficulty removing and subsequently setting the bearing cups properly. As it turned out this was a smart move, as the aforementioned LBS took two weeks to remove the cups which had become corroded to the alloy frame.
Perhaps most surprising the rim of the rear wheel split after about five years and the front was following a similar path. As a result both wheels were replaced with hand built Rigida Sputniks and Deore hubs that so far even Mrs G has failed to destroy. Mindful of the hard use the bike gets, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres were also fitted at the same time – it’s true they are very, very difficult to fit but are truly bombproof and are still running well.
Bits & Bobs
Saddle: Like most bikes nowadays they come with cheap saddles and pedals, which therefore usually need replacing. In this case Mrs G found the woman’s Terry Liberator Gellisimo saddle to be extremely comfortable.
Pedals: Notwithstanding my comments and despite my best efforts, Mrs G favoured neither strapped toe clips or cleats and so has retained the original pedals but with short, open toe clips that at least provide some additional power.
Other: Like me Mrs G uses the excellent Zefal Spy mirror. The bike came fitted with Blackburn rear and front racks, which though good have worn noticeably where the panniers touch; I was pleased to see a light fixing plate on the rear rack too, something I believe all racks should come with but rarely do.
The panniers, which she carries religiously, are of course Ortlieb Classics that have so far been excellent – they are used so extensively but still look as good as new after at least 6- years, I think she should seek sponsorship from Ortlieb. I persuaded Mrs G to get a Carradice bar bag recently, which required an extended KLIKFix fitting as a result of the butterfly bars – unfortunately she uses it infrequently!
Finally, as a utility bike there was originally a single side stand fitted which I recently replaced by a double-sided v-shaped stand that works much better.
|Make & Model||Dawes Karakum 2007|
|Frame||Alloy with 135mm rear drop-outs|
|Rear & Front Derailleur||Shimano Deore|
|Shifters||Shimano thumb operated|
|Chainset||Shimano Alvio 48 x 36 x 26& 170mm crank|
|Bottom Bracket||Shimano Deore BB51 external|
|Cassette||Shimano HG CS-HG 50-932-28-24-21-18-16-14-12-11|
|Gear Inches||22.2” to 119.2”|
|Brakes||Shimano Alloy V-brakes|
|Wheels||Rigida Sputnik 700c x 36 spokes& Deore hubs|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700c x 1.50”|
|Saddle||Woman’s Terry Liberator Gellisimo|