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my DONOHUE cross bike(19 posts)

my DONOHUE cross bikeMJ
Oct 13, 2001 9:18 AM
the bike was custom built by Paul Donohue in Bishop Auckland, County Durham in the NE of England (near Newcastle for those of you familiar with the beer) - it weighs just under 22 pounds - it's 631 steel with pannier and fender eyelets on the frame

Daytona racing triple, 12-25, Cinelli 46 handlebar, TIME ATAC, Stronglight headset, Uno stem, Selle Italia Trans Am saddle, Mavic T221's with Michelin Sprints

have some other shots if anyone's interested - will also post a review on the review page
customer service is not a strong point - but the product is great - you may be better off just buying the frame and building it up yourself as their frames are real, er, steals - strangely they don't advertise their cross bike on the website (another example of the typical English approach to customer service apparently) - remember to discount the VAT for an accurate price outside the EU - BTW I'd be surprised if Donohue's current price list is up to date...

since finally getting the bike running in mid-late April I've put in 1600 miles - everything from offroad to road club rides to the daily commute to work - very pleased indeed

what do you think Timo? (let's see the mtb!)
Ho Ho Ha.Cross-ply
Oct 15, 2001 5:26 AM
Jeez, what a tub. Did he supply the frame and you did the welding with a blow torch in your back yard? 22 Lbs - why is the frame filled with lead shot? Great seat - saves using your arm-chair. And what's with the TRIPLE? Campy triple at that. Explain those rims too.

So when did he get brought out by Huffy?
not very niceMJ
Oct 15, 2001 6:12 AM
you know the saying - if you can't say something nice...

welding looks good to me - though I'm not a welder
saddle is like riding on air and I would highly reccomend it
22lbs is a great weight for a bike (even raceable for a cross bike)
triples rules - negligible weight differential - more options for road or off road/variable terrain
campy rocks - Shimano is for mtb. (oooh controversial)
wheels/rims need to be upgraded for road riding
My DONOHUE mtbTimo Vennonen
Oct 15, 2001 10:45 PM
Here's a pic of my Donohue mtb at last. Reynolds 853 throughout, though I haven't got a clue about the weight. I've been very satisfied with the bike but as I've said before, customer service is appalling.

The bike is set up with a 8 speed drivetrain, XT derailleurs, shifters and hubs, LX cranks and XTR cassette and brakes. The red fork is a Marzocchi DH3 of 1995 vintage. After taking the pic I replaced it with a Z2 Atom 80 (suits the colour better!).

The whole episode began when my old trustworthy mtb was stolen. With the insurance money I purchased a cross bike, a Cannondale XR800, which by the way is much heavier than the Donohue. And to my knowledge, nobody has ever accused Cannondale of using lead instead of aluminium. Go figure.

I liked the cross concept a lot, doing mostly commutes and such with it. But I still wanted to have a mtb - because I had a lot of old components gathering dust in the cupboard I decided to create a "ecological, recycled mountain bike". I shopped for some second hand parts but was unable to find a good second hand frame (I prefer steel). Apparently I had already forgotten all about my road bike purchasing experience, because I decided to order the mtb frame made to measure from Paul Donohue.

According to Paul's own math, the delivery would take 4-5 weeks. To make a long story short, after 26 e-mails and about 20 phone calls, the frame finally arrived 11 weeks overdue.

Is Donohue worth the hassle? Definite maybe. You'll get a bike that is made especially for you (the Huffy comparison just doesn't work) and the whole customer service process adds to the character of the bike. But this seems to be the case in the British custom build business in general.
Can you imaginemuncher
Oct 16, 2001 7:18 AM
The flame that you would have got on the gen pic board if you had shown those head spacers on there. Just goes to show how much more IQ there is in the CX world.

11 weeks just for a frame is good going, even by D's standards - I wonder if you are a record holder? Still, worth the wait by the look of it.

Out of interest, does the geo of this differ much from "off the shelf" stuff you have/had, and if so, how?
Can you imagineTimo Vennonen
Oct 16, 2001 9:34 PM
The spacers aren't pretty, I have to admit that. But they are history already, I mean the ones above the stem though the 2 cm under it are in place. That's mostly because of Mr. D - somehow he or one of his employees managed to shave 5 mm off of the headtube length I specified. The seat tube was lacking 10 mm! There are two possibilities: maybe he thought the geometry will be better that way and only failed to notify me or it really was accidental. Not sure which of the possibilities would be better one! It's not a big deal after all as spacers are alway available, but still a minor irritation to add to the whole picture. Miraculously the top tube was of exactly right length.

So here's the geo:

head angle 71
seat angle 73
top tube 614
seat tube 495
head tube 130
bottom bracket 297
chain stays 424

Mostly standard save the long top tube. I added 20 mm of top tube compared to my previous mtb and shaved 20 mm from the stem. This bike likes to go fast (if I only had the legs) but the down side is that it's not too agile.

To put you on the map roadbikewise, my road bike is 61 cm c-t, 58 cm top tube and 13 cm stem. You can see it on the background of this pic.
Fine looking stable.muncher
Oct 18, 2001 1:12 AM
I would hazard a guess at the answer to the missing tubing, but no matter if it all panned out. How did you decide on the spec for your MTB? Did you get measured up, or just go from the old bike geo?

BTW, assume you mean 13cm post, rather than stem? That would be very interesting geo otherwise :+)
GeometriesTimo Vennonen
Oct 18, 2001 9:49 PM

I used the old mtb as a starting point for the geo, but wanted a longer top tube and shorter stem. Otherwise the measurements are pretty much in line with the mainstream.

The approach to the roadbike was a bit different, though. I have very long arms (legs too) - I did once the analysis at and it stated that my arms are more than 1 cm longer compared to the average 185 cm/6'1" guys. Talk about apes! Thats why I opted to have a shortish top tube and long stem (stem is the thing which connects the handlebar to the frame, right?) on the road for better weight distribution. Not sure if this method can survive any scientifical studies, but the bottom line is that it fits me well.
Oct 19, 2001 1:09 AM
No, you're right - you do mean handle bar stem, I was thinking 13 was long, but I guess you are measuring c-c on that, which in combination with your arm length, makes sense. I am the other way around, having more leg than arm/torso.

Better weight distrib in what sense - more front wheel weight presumably - does it make a perceptable difference? Where does that leave you on the drops looking down - bars to the front or behine the ft axel?
GeometriesTimo Vennonen
Oct 19, 2001 1:20 AM
Yes, I measure the stem c-c, aren't they all measured that way?

I figured out the weight distribution this way: If the average geometry for a guy of my size would be 59 cm top tube c-c and 12 cm stem or so for good handling and weight distribution, I should shorten the top tube and add to the stem to achieve the same given my long arms.

I have done the axle test with hands on the hoods, not drops... The axle is more or less behind the handle bar.
Oct 19, 2001 7:57 AM
I dare say you are right - I don't think I have ever measured one/had to specify a size - only go "longer" or "shorter" till it feels right.

Interesting - I was toying with this kind of logic as between my CX bike and my roadie, and trying to decide what the salient differences were for speed/handling (i.e. the shape of the knee/hip/wrist triangle). Not sure I follow why you didn't conclude that, given what you say about average sizes, you made the tube shorter and the stem longer, rather than making both the tube and the stem a little longer?
Geometries, continuedTimo Vennonen
Oct 29, 2001 10:49 PM
Well, my cx bike has a 59 cm top tube and a 12 cm stem: exactly the same length as my road ride, but in different way. Of course, I can't really compare the two because of the differences in chainstays and bottombracket heights. The angles are the same on both, 73/73.

My idea on the road rig was that I'd have my weight in the same place as the more proportionally average specimen (without long legs, arms and neck). If i had gone the route you suggested, i.e. added length on both the top tube and stem that would have resulted in a too long cockpit. Sure, the steering is pretty fast. But I guess that one reason's also the short chainstays.
Hmm, British racing green...Timo Vennonen
Oct 15, 2001 10:52 PM
To my eyes, your bike looks good. Having seen that, I wouldn't hesitate ordering a cross bike from Donohue, if you can bear the process. I just wonder what's wrong with that other guy - the saddle is one of the most personalized items on a bike, the bike is light and I can't see what's there to explain on the rims.
Hmm, British racing green...MJ
Oct 16, 2001 12:53 AM
I reckon it's either a troll or pure jealousy...

your mtb is sweet - what kind of shock is that?

British racing green was my own little tongue in cheek joke - it's also dark enough to not show grime...
So tell me...muncher
Oct 16, 2001 1:28 AM
What is the US equivalent to British Racing Green, or isn't there one?
you should knowMJ
Oct 16, 2001 5:07 AM's either puke green or olive drab...


anyone else?
I hear sand is very popular at the moment....nmmuncher
Oct 16, 2001 7:13 AM
Pure jealousyTimo Vennonen
Oct 16, 2001 2:33 AM
Thanks for the compliment and yes, the remark on colour was pure jealousy.

The most difficult thing in the custom building (including the service) is choosing the colour. I did pretty well with my road bike (yellow/dark grey) but the mtb wasn't that big success. If I even summon enough courage to have another go on a British bike, racing green would be high on my short list for colours.

The fork is a Marzocchi DH-3 from '95. It used to be a downhill fork back them, but makes for a nice xc fork nowadays. It sports air, oil and springs and about 75 mm of travel. But like I said, I swapped with a 2000 model of Z2.
Pure jealousyMJ
Oct 16, 2001 5:08 AM
I found choosing the colour very difficult indeed - the basic was good and it's hard to get wrong - but yours looks flashy - it looks good