On October 6, a contingent of Recycled Cycles members traveled down to Kent to visit the Raleigh mothership. RCR and Raleigh go way, way back. Ever since anyone can remember, the team has been winning races on Raleigh bikes and it looks like a relationship that isn’t going to end anytime soon. Diamond Back, our other hosts, have signed on to sponsor the MTB section of the team. It’s a good deal all the way around. They get a team that will race the hell out of their bikes on the road and in cross season. We like riding something that is designed in our backyard. They listen to our complaints and praise, and they even come on rides with us sometimes. I wonder if the company president will join the Meet the Team Ride again this year. And they gave us cool t-shirts.
The purpose for the meeting? The 2010 Raleigh lineup. There are some exciting additions to the Raleigh line. I won’t comment on everything; there are a lot of bikes.
The new team frame tubes are HUGE. The down tube is nearly the size of Jeff’s calves. The chain stays are thicker than most downtubes. The UCI commisaire will have to inspect it for the proper aspect ratio. And somehow, it’s lighter than the old one. They’ve included every 21st century specification available: BB30 bottom brackets, tapered steer tubes with 1.5 inch crown races. The fully-built Team bike wouldn’t look out of place on the ProTour: Sram Red group, FSA cockpit parts, and Mavic Ksyrium SLs.
The RX1.0 is so popular it’s sold out. The team contributed to this. They should have more by November. They made some very tasteful component choices this year: The Easton EC90 fork is replaced by the much stiffer EC70, eliminating the dreaded fork chatter and resultant control loss. Also gone are the Shimano Tiagra parts, replaced by SRAM Rival, the go-to gruppo for the budget-minded racer. That is to say, it’s perfect for cyclocross. And the paint job looks fabulous when bathed in mud.
Steel’s resurgence as the material of choice is complete, much to Nick Brown’s approval. Raleigh is producing a bunch of steel bikes this year, including the Clubman, a very sharp-looking and nattily attired general purpose road bike, and the re-birth of the Record Ace, a sleek, lugged steel road racer invoking images of Moser or Museeuw, tearing hell-bent across Europe’s windswept farm roads. But unlike Francesco and Johan, you’ll have 10-speed Ultegra channeling the power and a Brooks saddle caressing your hide. I’m excited to ride both of these bikes.
I played with a belt-drive bike – the Alleyway. I predict belt drive adoption will go through the roof when people realize that it’s light, clean, and reliable.
When they weren’t looking, we fondled the Shimano Di2 levers. Paradoxically, they were installed on Raleigh’s Interbike single speed cyclocross showbike. The ergonomics feel good to me. It’s like shifting with a calculator, but not in a geeky kind of way. They wouldn’t show us the SSCXWC prize bikes. I know Sally was holding out.
My MTB knowledge is really thin, so for what it’s worth:
I appreciate that Diamond Back ignored the trend to build everything in carbon and instead focus on making their aluminum dual suspension frame lighter and stronger. And in real life, 29er wheels are huge! I hear these are the new rage. RT raced one all summer and says he’s sticking with the big wheel. I think I might give one of these a try this summer.
Raleigh’s XXIX PRO is fully equipped with SRAM XX and many other choice bits. The frame is 853 for dent resistance and wears discs fore and aft to ensure you can check your manic speed before tossing it into the next bend.
For anyone into retro, and who isn’t sometimes, there was a Raleigh SS 29er with a neon green paint job. I’ll bet you could find some Vuarnet sunglasses on eBay to match it’s disco inspired paint job and go bomb down Mt. Tam.
Stay tuned for a report from FSA in a few weeks. I will ask the question on everyone’s mind: “Where’s the road group the press was all a-twitter with last year?”