Bicycle review: Drag Master Pro (2014)

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The Bulgarian bicycle offensive relies on a secret weapon, that works just as well for all types of bikes: affordable price. Drag’s Master Pro, an entry-level road warrior, confirms the rule, but in the same time shows that low prices don’t imply low quality. Even if we’re dealing here with a basic kind of bicycle, this offer deserves at least some attention, if not a thorough research.

Who does this road bicycle suit?

If entry-level doesn’t exactly locate the positioning of this bike in its range, then maybe we could clear things by saying it’s the first stop after passing from fitness bike land to road bike land. All the components of the Master Pro reveal it’s a model designed to represent the bare minimum among its type, without comprimising too much quality. So, if one plans on riding 2-3 times a week, nothing extreme included, then the Bulgarian Master embodies a pleasant company discovering the basics of road cycling. Or, if the road cycling itch needs to be scratched and treated with a budget medicine, you also came to the right place.

Drag Master Pro’s frame

Without having anything special in particular, Master Pro’s frame would be our nominee for receiving the award for “the most solid component of the bike”. It hasn’t got anything special, but it respects all the guidelines that a quality aluminum frame should: tidy welds, attention payed to details, and every here and there a more elaborate shape of the tubes. This material also proved it can stand the test of time, but those of you seeking extra comfort will be disappointed, as the old habit of aluminum, to shake you as hard as big the size of the obstacle you’re passing over is, didn’t fade away. Aluminum alloy is stiff, and doesn’t care too much about vertical compliance, but these flaws are more likely to be noticed when riding on such a bike after using a carbon one, which does better in this regard. So, as long as you’re not downgrading, you don’t have to worry too much. Also, you can improve the comfort level by using a softer handlebar tape, wider tires or even comfort-enhancing seat posts and saddles. As for the fork, it’s a plain and simple one, made out of the same alloy.

Other features of the frame include two water bottle cage mounts, several colour schemes, and a place to mount fenders if you plan on giving the bike a more urban direction.

Drag Master Pro’s specifications

Except for the brakes, the Shimano Sora groupset equips this frame. We all know the story of this set that drove mad generations upon generations of users by its systematic failure to comply with the required and desired mechanical settings. The story isn’t much different nowadays, but we’ll have to give Shimano credit for the upgrade Sora went through. It now features 9 speeds, but also a more palatable visual appearance which, even if it doesn’t fully mirror the set’s performances, it does make you feel more confident in its capabilities. In fact, Sora resembles a lot the higher-placed Tiagra, yet it cannot overpass it in terms of quality or functionality, which means it remains to embody the “bare minimum” level, a thing that you can notice from the frequency you’ll have to adjust your derailleur or the slowness with which it sends the chain on lower cogs. Still, 9 speeds are more than enough for any new-comer in the road realm, you can always swap the crankset for a triple one, and you can enjoy improved ergonomy of the levers, and their display which tells you the gear ratio you’re using.

The braking power of the COX brakes is directly proportional with the force with which you pull the levers. There’s no room for terms like “modulation” here, but when need be, the calipers stop the bike, especially if you actuate the levers without any trace of hesitation or remorse. Also lacking any finesse are the wheels, which are tough, feature double wall rims and a slight aero profile. From previous experiences we’ve learned that the Schwalbe Lugano tires offer decent puncture protection, and even a great one as long as you avoid passing over sharp obstacles. The saddle is a an average one, but the handlebar has a generous width, and ergonomic shape which, coupled with the spongy tape, makes for a comfortable front end.

Conclusion

We’ve left out on purpose the weight matter, for it needs to be put in the greater picture of the bike. Despite the fact that Drag Master Pro represents the bare minimum in terms of road bikes, which means it’s a good option if you plan on exploring this domain, it doesn’t have major quality issues. It doesn’t achieve outstanding performances because the specifications chart wouldn’t allow that, but, up until a certain level, it functions in a satisfactory manner. If we add that the Master Pro weighs 9,74 kilograms, a more than decent value for its category, and has a price below 600 euros, this is, for sure, one of the most attractive entry-levels out there.

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