Components: Shimano Tiagra triple crank and front derailleur, 105 rear derailleur, brake levers and shifters, nine-speed rear cassette, Alex wheelset, Zertz handlebars
Frame & Fork: A1 premium
Geometry: Specific to women for road and triathlon; sloping top tube and aero downtube
Sizes: 44, 48, 51, 54, and 56
Comments: Bene, Bene!
Women typically have problems finding bikes that fit properly “” most bikes are engineered to fit men! Women tend to have long legs and short torsos, which increase our frustration in the search for a bike that fits without spending several hundreds of dollars more on shorter stems, longer crank arms, and time at the bike shop. My long legs and arms earned me the nickname “Spider-woman” last season; since I’m used to riding “standard” geometry bikes, I was skeptical when it came to Specialized’s Dolce Vita Multi-Sport “” how different could this bike be?
At first glance, I thought, “Wow, this is one cool looking bike … good for road, triathlon . . . interesting . . . and a snappy colour!” Thus began my introduction to the Dolce’s key characteristics. The top tube is sloped, meaning the rider’s reach (the distance required to reach the handlebars) is shortened and more front wheel is “under” the rider, giving a greater sense of control over the bike. Women who often find bikes don’t have enough stand-over (the top tube touches them) will now finally have both feet comfortably on the ground. Compactness generally means that the bike corners tightly, a definite advantage in tight turn-arounds and criteriums, and aerodynamically, a compact bike will slice through the wind. I found that the Dolce Vita delivered in these areas. Overall, it handled well and was a nicely balanced bike in corners, at lower and higher speeds.
The frame and fork are A1 premium double-butted aluminum, known for lightness and durability. Aluminum bikes are renown for their “response” to the pedal strokes of the rider “” the effort you put in will be the effort you get out. When sprinting, I found the bike rigid enough to apply maximum force without having the bike feel flex-y or heavy; I reached top speed at a very respectable rate. Lightness combined with rigidity translates well on inclines and the Dolce Vita is a snappy bike on hills. Keep in mind that aluminum can be somewhat unforgiving in terms of comfort, especially with longer distances. The Zertz vibration-dampening handlebars add some comfort, as will the aero bars, however you can take additional measures such as investing in a suspension seatpost and a more comfortable saddle.
The Dolce Vita Multi-Sport features a Shimano triple-bracket front crank and a nine-speed rear cassette, giving the rider a wide selection of gears for varying terrain. With a wider gear selection, there can be increased cross-chaining, which is a minor technical hiccup, but one that can increase the wear on your chain and gears. You can minimize this by exploring the gearing that’s most appropriate to your abilities and terrain, periodically checking for chain-stretch, and by keeping your transmission system clean and lubricated.
The Alex aero wheels receive a big A+ after riding the horrifying roads of Montreal, Mirabel, and Quebec City. I can happily say that the wheels stayed true, felt consistently smooth, and I had no flats “” chouette!!! The Specialized All Condition tires were ridden in rain, slush, and dry conditions, and they felt grippy, not sticky “” a solid all-condition tire. The wheel-tire combo is great for training and extremely suitable for racing, so if you have racing wheels, then the Alex’s become a welcome luxury.
The Dolce Vita Multi-Sport is a great triathlon/road bike with reliable components that perform. This frame geometry is truly refreshing and conducive to providing the proper fit for women. Designed for the more amateur rider, it is a great investment bike that gives you the option to upgrade components and the gruppo, or to add other accessories as you decide the style of riding that best suits your needs. In terms of performance, it is light and responsive, suitable for city or country roads, with a wide range of gears, meaning that not even hills will be a problem.