Donhou announces new Signature Steel model

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We love a good steel bike over here at All the better if it has been handmade. Full custom bikes are an expensive option though, especially if you are of average dimensions and have no weird and wonderful requirements (we are still amazed that no one has made our dream/nightmare 29+ front, 700c rear dropbar beach cruiser).


If you go down to the woods today…

An increasing number of custom manufacturers are recognising that theres a market for “semi-custom” batch production frames. Consumers still get a beautiful, handmade and if not unique, then rare bike, but for a little less of their hard earned cash. Tom Donhou, of Donhou Bicycles was one of the first UK builders to spot this potential with his Signature Steel series. He dropped us a line to let us know that his third iteration, the DSS3 is now available in both a ‘cross and a gravel build. We’ll let him run through the details, but we love the look of the bike, especially some of those paint jobs!
All in the detail

With over a year of development behind it, the innovative DSS3 CX machine, featuring 3D printed steel technology is now available to order. Having won awards and races alike while still only in prototype stage, the production bike is ready to turn some dirt at your local race. Available in two “tunes”: CX or Gravel and with the introduction of several custom options, the DSS3 can be dialled in to your exacting requirements, giving you a lot less opportunity to “get your excuses in early” while waiting on the start line!

CX or Gravel?

It’s a freezing Sunday morning, the dog’s asleep curled up in the basket trying to avoid the morning walk, your kit bags are packed and are waiting by the front door from the evening before. Did you dial you’re bike in just right? Have you had the right breakfast? Should you have put the spikes on? You’re anxious and excited. It’s any winter Sunday, CX race day.


Designed for the UK cross season and the needs of a racer, the DSS3 is a thoroughbred CX offering that pushes the boundaries of whats achievable in steel. Giving you the confidence and ride quality only a finely crafted steel machine can, the DSS3 is designed to work with you, pushing hard right out of the other side of your comfort zone, whether its racing in a local cross race or a hard thrash on a frosty morning before work.


It’s dry and hot, you’ve just stepped off the plane and out of arrivals, it takes a little while for your eyes to adjust to the brightness after several hours in a dimly lit aeroplane cabin. The cars are a little sun bleached and the number plates are a different colour. You have a DSS3 packed away in your bike bag and you have days of hot dusty gravel roads and fresh topped mountain passes out there in front of you…
The DSS3 Gravel Tune takes it’s hardiness as a CX racer but is delivered with geometry finely tuned for fast gravel riding and bike packing. Longer wheelbase, tweaked front end geometry and a lower bottom bracket, it lets you have all the features of the DSS3 in a package designed for long days in the saddle.

In Detail…

With each of our DSS bikes we like to push the envelope of custom steel. It allows us to invest time into design that full custom builds don’t and the DSS3 is a big push of that envelope. The lynch pin of the frame design is the 3D printed seat lug (we’re pretty sure this is a first within steel frame construction). There’s been over a year of development in this single part alone and we’re really excited to be able to offer this bike, featuring such amazing design and innovative manufacturing.

That 3D printed seat tube lug

So good it’s worth looking at from another angle

Tyre clearance, mud shedding, shouldering comfort, durability and ease of cleaning post race are all key features for an outstanding CX machine. The 3D printed seat lug brings all these things together. It allows us to seamlessly use a heavily ovalised top tube for ride characteristcs and comfortable shouldering. It sets the seat stays further apart for stiffness and greater tyre clearance and mud shedding. Finally it also allows us to route the rear derailiuer cable fully internally, meaning less mudded up cable to rub through the paint on your frame and less hassle to clean, as well of course, un-cluttering the pure lines of the beautiful steel frame.
The tube set is a mix of the finest steel tubes from Reynolds and Columbus, custom formed and tuned for a responsive ride, while not cutting back on longevity. The frame also features thru axle technolgy and flat mount disc brakes with the final striking feature being the lack of seat stay bridge, again to give that mud no where to cling to.

Those of us who rode in the 90s are lusting after this splatter paint job

Complete builds are offered with a stock build kit and as with everything, performance, quality and longevity are the key criteria we judge when spec’ing a bike. You can be confident we have selected a build package that comes together and well and truly ticks those boxes. We then have several hop up options including a Brooks England package or a Chris King package if you want to indulge yourself and bike a little further. For those of you who are really fussy we also offer a complete custom build kit option.


Donhou has made it’s name building some of the finest custom frames in the world, having won awards for both road bikes and town bikes, and with the DSS3 even taking ‘Best CX Bike’ 2017 at the prestigious NAHBS show while still in its prototype stage! We like to keep things close to home and it allows us to take full control over production, offering greater opportunity for customisation. We understand the importance of being able to make a bike your own and for 2018 we are now offering custom options on the DSS3 and all the DSS bikes.

Just chillin’

All our DSS bikes are made to order and while each DSS comes with its own ‘Signature’ paint options, full custom paint, along with custom sizing and braze-ons are all now things that can be offered. So with a new DSS bike, it takes our refined chassis and gives you the possibility to tune it to suit you exacting requirements, whether it be for a trans continental adventure, or those frigid lung busting mornings grinding through the mud at your local CX race.

Frame Specification

  • Reynolds 853 and Columbus Zona tubing
  • DMLS printed seat cluster lug
  • Internal cable routing
  • 142×12 thru axle
  • Flat mount disc
  • 44mm headtube
  • 68mm British bottom bracket

Build Options

CX Tune

  • Full carbon construction, 12mm thru axle axle, flat mount disc
    SRAM Force1 groupset
  • Hope headset
  • Hope 20Five RS4 Jbend Wheelset
  • Continental CycloX King tyres (35c)
  • Ritchey Comp finishing kit
  • Ritchey Streem saddle

Gravel Tune

  • Full carbon construction, 12mm thru axle axle, flat mount disc
  • SRAM Force22 groupset
  • Hope 20Five RS4 Jbend Wheelset
  • Clement X’Plor USH tyres (35c)
  • Hope headset
  • Ritchey Comp finishing kit (including Evomax handlebar)
  • Ritchey Streem saddle
Frameset price – £1995
Complete (CX and Gravel tune) – £3795
More details – Donhou DSS3

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