Dobermann Molosse 24”

Review date: July 2010

 
 

Duration of test: April 2009 - June 2010

Cost: £400 posted direct from Dobermann, Canada (expect a £90 Fed Ex import tax bill on top). £450 from Balfa UK

Options: price included custom colour (raw flat shown) and serial number



Overview


Pro

 - Light (5.2lb scale shot)

 - Good geometry for street/ park and dirt

 - Chunky chainstays

 - Mid bb and BMX hub spacing

 - Custom options


Fail

 - Head tube

 - Tyre clearance

 - Customer service

Overall

There is no denying that this is a brilliant all round frame, which provided 12 months of enjoyment.


The weakness came from the head tube, which has no ring reinforcement and is not compatible with internal headsets. Dobermann’s views of internal head tubes offering inferior strength is a set back in a market where internal headsets are now standard. Internal head tubes are however now available as an option, but only when ordered direct from the company.


In summary, I would recommend this frame to a park, street and trails rider who lives in North America as long as the internal head tube option is selected. For riders elsewhere, look at other options.


Dobermann bikes

First impressions

This was like nothing I had ridden. The frames responsive nature felt exciting coming from traditional MTB geometry. The Dobermann spins, hops and pumps extremely well. Although it is marketed as a park and street frame, it handles beautifully on trails too. The top tube length (21.5') is as short as it gets before encountering foot clearance issues with the front tyre on bar spins and x-ups. At 14.17 (360mm) slammed the chain stays are some of the shortest on the market. The mid BB and BMX hub spacing offer ample opportunities for a dialled set up. As many frames of this nature break at the chain stays, the huge chain stay junction at the top tube is reassuring. My only criticism was that it didn’t accommodate an integrated headset



After the Honeymoon

I rode hard on this frame for just over a year at numerous trails and park spots. The only time it felt out of its depth was in a particularly tight warehouse, but I placed this down to the large wheels rather than the Dobermann. Once I was used to this frame it felt comfortable on everything I rode. The frame paired well with a 80mm Gold Label (460 a2c). It didn’t fair so well with a taller fork (RockShox Pike at minimum travel). The 69 degree head angle and slightly raised BB resulted in a good all-round frame, rather than one limited to street and park riding as Dob intended. This is good news for a MTB trails rider after a flickable alternative to the standard breed of slack and long trails frames. A 20” rider even commented that hop 360s were as easy to do on this bike as on his BMX.

R.I.P

Following a large slam on a big double, which bent the steerer tube on a set of pikes and knocked me unconscious, an examination by Frank at Sidwell Cycles revealed a flared headtube. It was anyone's guess as to whether this was caused or aggravated by the crash. A headset with longer cups was installed to extend its lifespan. A few weeks later a loud creak developed that could be heard when pedalling. The flaring had progressed.


I rang Balfa UK, the importer of Dobermann, to enquire about warranty. I was told that the cheapest option was to have a deep cup headset bonded to the frame, at a cost of £120 plus postage both ways (£150 total). I would also incur a two week wait. This was by no means a permanent solution.


The crash replacement scheme was a half price frame (£250) plus postage. If I wanted any custom options such as headtube ring reinforcement then I would have to wait and pay for delivery and customs charges from Canada.


As it was the height of summer neither of these options appealed to me, as they were both expensive and time consuming. I contacted Dobermann direct in the hope of settling a better deal. At first they were keen to help, but then didn’t respond to further emails. Unfortunately the crash replacement scheme and customer service left much to be desired, and I bought another frame.

Dobermann are one of the few brands to offer true street MTBMX frames with BMX spacing and tight geometry. Their frames cater for 26” and 24” riders who like their bikes to handle as close to a BMX as large wheels allow. Dobermann bikes are based in Quebec, Canada and are hand built in house. Their frames are targeted at the street and park market, but this Dob didn’t shy away from dirt.

Spec:

- 4130 cromoly
- 5.2Lbs
- 24 or 26inch wheels
- MID bottom bracket
- 110mm x 14mm rear wheel spacing

Geometry:
69 degree head tube
71 degree seat tube
14.37 to 15.5inch (360mm to 395mm) chain stays

Frame sizes:
21.5, 22, 22.5” top tube lengths