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Reviews Raleigh SP Race

Raleigh SP Race

They’re a brand with a great history in Britain, but can Raleigh still compete in the 21st century?

Speak to most British adults and you can almost guarantee that they will have owned a Raleigh. Whether it was a Grifter, Chopper or Burner, this company and its heron badge has a special place in many of our hearts.

Now celebrating its 125th birthday, the company is still producing bikes to compete with the best and this £1,700 full carbon offering is certainly receiving plenty of attention.


The monocoque frame of the Raleigh is never going to win any beauty prizes. There’s a bit of a ‘cut and shut’ incongruity about it with the front end not quite tying in with the rear. But with a BB30 bottom bracket, oversized downtube and meaty front end, a lack of stiffness shouldn’t be an issue.

A fairly dainty-looking rear triangle, together with a full carbon fork, should help to deliver a fairly plush ride and internal routing is a nod to aero performance. Wheels are the solid and reliable Shimano RS30s and, although definitely a training wheelset, represent a reasonable spec that shouldn’t detract from the rest of the build. Schwalbe Durano tyres are another sensible choice, striking the correct balance between daily riding durability and performance.

The Ultegra in the Raleigh’s name is slightly misleading as, although shifters and mechs are Shimano’s mechanical number two, it’s not a complete groupset. The FSA Gossamer chainset isn’t at all disappointing, but the Tektro brakes are a definite cost-cutting exercise. Gearing is fairly aggressive with standard chainrings upfront and an 11-25t block on the rear – good for race day but potentially tough going on long hilly rides. Bars, stem and seatpost are decent enough alloy offerings from ITM, while a Selle San Marco saddle crowns a build that, although it won’t set your heart racing, ticks a lot of boxes.


The riding position feels incredibly upright and un-racy. Dumping a bit of bar height from the substantial stack helps, but it’s still definitely erring on the relaxed side. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing when putting in some long training miles, but if you’re planning to use it at races, it could be an issue.

Through bends and over short rises, the Raleigh accelerated well, displaying impressive stiffness and power transfer. But it does lack a certain nimbleness. When you drive hard out of a corner from slow speeds, it sure-footedly wallows rather than dances.

On long flats, though, it really comes into its own. The compact drops give a comfortable but powerful-feeling position and, once up to rolling speed, the Raleigh ploughs a fast, straight and efficient furrow. Road buzz through the front is impressively low, and there are no unexpected jolts through the rear to put you off your pedal stroke. When sprinting from a fast-rolling speed or attacking to crest a rise, that laboured wallow vanishes and the Raleigh reveals that it’s got a racing spring in its step.

Unfortunately, the wallowing does make a partial return on longer climbs. When seated, it climbs well but, again from relatively low speeds, try to jump out of the saddle and it just doesn’t quite deliver the lively kick you want. The Ultegra and FSA mixed drivetrain behaves impeccably, but unfortunately the Tektro brakes don’t come anywhere near the level that Ultegra would attain. This is a real shame as the Raleigh descends well, railing predictably and accurately around bends but, because of the brakes, you find yourself braking early and losing valuable time.

Contact : www.raleigh.co.uk

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.

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