Dunhill Women's Road Bike - Blue

dunhill women's road bike - blue - three-quarter view
The tires don't kill it, but the seat does

Vintage road bikes provide reliable basic transportation if you live in a city or on a college campus, and they make a great starting point for a single-speed or fixed-gear bike conversion. But how does this vintage Dunhill women's road bike stack up? Read on and find out.

Style

One of the main reasons hipsters and nostalgia freaks love vintage road bikes is that they're stylish. Bike manufacturers in the 1970s and 1980s weren't afraid to use bright colors and bold-yet-subtle graphics to make their road bikes stand out. This Dunhill road bike, which probably dates to the 1980s, doesn't rate too high on the style scale. I love its metallic Smurf-blue paint, but the frame decals and graphics look like they belong on a package of generic corn flakes, not a road bike. I know it's a woman's bike, but drop handlebars and a sloped top tube rarely look good together. The stubby little SR stem and tacky, cheap components don't help either.

Quality

In order for a vintage road bike to be reliable, or to withstand the rigors of fixed-gear riding, it needs to be a quality bike. And the Dunhill falls short there too. It's a low-end Korean lugged road bike, without too much attention paid to construction quality. Of course, it might endure another 20 years of everyday use; it's hard to predict how long a bicycle will last. But this Dunhill should probably be reserved for basic bicycle transportation.

Components

When selecting a vintage road bike for transportation or to build into a single-speed or fixed-gear bike, it's important to check out the bike's components. Unfortunately, the Dunhill doesn't do to well there either. It's equipped with a bevy of cheap steel parts, from the brake levers to the brakes to the derailleurs. The cranks are cottered, which means that eventually they'll start to "flop", and in order to upgrade them for a single-speed build, the entire bottom bracket will need to be replaced with a square-taper unit for reliability and versatility.

The bright side

The former owner did install a rear cargo rack, a padded Avenir saddle, and a set of new tires on this bike (see below for links to these products; note that tire sizes vary wildly so make sure the tires you buy fit your bike). That makes it more comfortable, more reliable, and more versatile. Unfortunately, it also makes it much more ugly. A giant padded seat and blackwall tires just don't look good on a vintage road bike!

Is the Dunhill an ideal vintage road bike?

I'm going to say "probably not". Don't get me wrong; I do like its color, and I have a soft spot for 1980s Korean lugged road bikes. But based on its cheap componentry and construction, forgettable graphics and less-than-versatile cottered crank, if you want a great vintage road bike to ride or turn into a fixed gear bike, the Dunhill probably isn't it.

Scroll down for more photos.

dunhill women's road bike - blue - side view
Dunhill on a downhill
dunhill women's road bike - blue - front view
This shot is just plain awkward
dunhill women's road bike - blue - front end
Like a nest of little birdies: cheep cheep cheep
dunhill women's road bike - blue - frame
I do like blocky Korean road bike lugs
dunhill women's road bike - blue - head tube decal
This may be the worst head tube decal ever
dunhill women's road bike - blue - head tube decal
And there's more of it
dunhill women's road bike - blue - cranks
Cottered cranks and rusty pie plate
dunhill women's road bike - blue - drivetrain
Drivetrain and weird angle
dunhill women's road bike - blue - cargo rack
I bet this rack never carried anything
dunhill women's road bike - blue - saddle
These are so comfortable but so ugly
dunhill women's road bike - blue - seat tube
Another ugly decal
dunhill women's road bike - blue - head tube lugs
I call these "marshmallow lugs"
dunhill women's road bike - blue
SR stem: one inch long, 18 inches tall