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Donhou DSS3 cyclocross/gravel bike launched

Tom Donhou adds versatile gravel and cyclocross frame to Signature Collection

British framebuilder Tom Donhou has launched his latest signature bike, the DSS3, a gravel and cyclocross bike that has been a year in development and features some very nice details.

It has been designed to do service as either a cyclocross or gravel bike, with a choice of stock builds to suit the requirements of each discipline. Donhou’s previous Signature Steel bikes have been made in small batches with set build and paint finishes, but they added flexibility to the offering. So if you want custom sizing, paint options and additional braze-ons, you can have them. Complete bikes will come with rider-specific crank lengths, bar width, stem length and gear ratios. You’re looking at a 6-8 week delivery at the moment.

- Review: Donhou DSS1 Signature Steel road bike

DSS3 at a glance:

  • Reynolds 853 and Columbus Zone steel frame
  • 3D printed seat lug
  • Internal cable routing
  • Thru-axles and disc brakes
  • Custom sizing and paint finish
  • Thru-axles and flat mount disc brakes
  • 44mm oversized head tube
  • External threaded 68mm bottom bracket
  • Full carbon fork
  • Mudguard mounts

It’s a steel frame that Donhou says is the latest attempt to “push the envelope of custom steel.” To that end, it uses a combination of custom Reynolds 853 and Columbus Zona tubes but the real standout detail is the 3D printed seat lug, itself the result of one year of development.

We’ve seen a few frames go down the 3D printed route for dropouts (Charge and Mason both with titanium dropouts), this is the first time we can recall it being used on another part of the frame.


The benefits to the seat lug, according to Donhou, includes increased tyre clearance because the seat stays can be pushed further apart, and easy shouldering due to the ovalised top tube.

That ovalised top tube also has the added benefit of contributing to the ride quality and smoothness of the bike. It has also enabled Donhou to route the rear gear cable internally all the way from lever to mech.

There’s a list of custom options. Mudguard eyelets can be added, as can a third bottle cage mount. Want a pump peg? Stainless steel headbadge?  Rack mounts? Di2 routing? Chain hitch? They’re all optional extras you can specify with your frame.


Like the sound of it? The frameset will cost £1,995 and complete bikes start at £3,795, with upgrade kits including a Brooks England package or a Chris King package if you want a bit more bling. Here are the two stock builds:

CX - SRAM Force1 groupset, Ritchey Comp finishing kit, Hope headset, Ritchey Streem saddle, Hope 25four wheelset, Continental CycloX King 35c rubber

Gravel tune - SRAM Force22, Ritchey Comp finishing kit including the Evomax handlebar, Hope headset, Ritchey Streem saddle, Hope 25four wheelset, Clement X’plor USH 35c rubber

The frame is offered in three stock sizes, small, medium and large. If you have bike fit details Donhou will be happy to receive them to determine the most suitable size. If one of the stock sizes doesn’t work, there is the option of customising the size.


Donhou will be offering a range of colours. There are now 12 stock colours, a single colour with logo design. Next up is what is called the ‘TL Black Top,' a  grey and black scheme pictured above. That’s a free upgrade. Then there is a signature splatter paint job as featured in most of the photos in this article. I think it looks fabulous and brings back some memories of mountain bikes I lusted after back in the 90s. Now I feel old. Or you can always pick a custom paint scheme. “Give us some direction and we’ll cook you up something special,” says Donhou.


We don’t normally include press release blurb, but I liked this bit from the Donhou release:

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.

Check it out at

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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