Aluminium cyclo-cross bike with cutting edge specification
Raleigh has a range of eight cyclo-cross bikes, from its top-flight carbon-framed models through to a more affordable aluminium range. For 2016 many of its bikes have been redesigned to feature lx drivetrains and front thru-axles. The RX Pro is at the top of the aluminium range and comes with a SRAM Rival lx groupset with SRAM’s HRD hydraulic
disc brakes and Cole Rollen disc wheels.
The Raleigh’s frame is cyclo-crossspecific and is made of hydroformed aluminium with butted tube joints. The fork is a full carbon cyclo-cross design that comes with a lSmm thru-axle to hold the front wheel more securely than a conventional quick-release. There’s a tapered headset, which should also ensure steering accuracy. The welds are not fully smoothed out, but nevertheless it’s a good-looking bike. The rear derailleur cable is fixed to the top of the top tube, while the rear brake hose is routed out of the wayalong the bottom of the down tube. The front brake hose passes into the fork crown and is routed internally.
The Raleigh comes with SRAM’s Rival lx drivetrain. This dispenses with the usual second chainring and front changer by providing a much wider range on the rear cassette. The gear range is similar to a two-ring set-up and overlaps between ranges on the large and
small rings are eliminated, but the jumps between ratios are greater. To accommodate the wider-range cassette, the lx set-up uses a different design of rear derailleur. This has a horizontal parallelogram and a clutch mechanism to ensure that chain tension remains
even and chainslap is minimised. The chain ring itself has alternating wide and narrow teeth, which, it is claimed, mesh better with the wide and narrow links in the chain and so hold the chain more securely than a standard design while promoting mud-clearance.
The wheels are Cole Rollen CX. This is a fairly new designi and uses 28 J-bend round-section spokes frond and rear. The brake discs ar ached with the conventional six-bolt design and the hubs have sealed cartridge bearings and alloy axles. At a claimed 1,900g a pair, these are not light wheels but should stand up well to off-road use and be easily serviceable.
They are shod with 33mm-wide Schwalbe X·One cyclo·cross clinchers that have a design with fairly close lugsand an aggressive profile. These are a new tyre from Schwalbe, designed to be set up tubeless but with a reduced amount of sealant needed.
Hitting the trails on a hot day, I started out carrying the bike to the top of the South Downs. It’s quite easy to shoulder, but it did get uncomfortable after a while. as. despite its flat profile. the top tube is quite narrow. Once on top, I progressed at a rapid rate. though. The geometry felt stable on rough surfaces and the bike handled well on fast, flat
bridlepaths. Turning downhill, the Raleigh coped well with bumpy descents and the
hydraulic SRAM HRD brakes provided plenty of control. There’s that bit more bite and modulation than with the Ridley’s mechanical set-up, and the SRAMs need noticeably less effort. “It felt stable on rough surfaces and handled well on fast, flat bridlepaths.
Turning downhill, the Raleigh coped well with bumpy descents and the hydraulic SRAM HRD brakes provided plenty of control. There’s that bit more bite and modulation than with the Ridley’s mechanical set-up, and the SRAMs need noticeably less effort.
I didn’t miss the second chainring. The range of gears offered by SRA M’s lx system is so large that I was able to find a low enough ratio for all but the steepest ascents. Although I spun out on faster roads, this was no different to a two-ring set-up, and the clutch
derailleur kept chainslap to a minimum on bumpy terrain, even in higher gears.
The Raleigh’s handlebars have grippy rubber-effect tape that has a lot of cushioning, so they were particularly comfortable to hold when riding over bumpy terrain and gave a confidence-inspiring grip. The SRAM hoods were also easy on the hands.
I really liked the Schwalbe X·One tyres. They have a grippy tread profile which worked well in rough, dry conditions; I’d expect them to hang on well in the wet too. They rolled well on the Cole wheels, and even at low pressures didn’t bottom out on the rims.
There is plenty of mud-clearance too, so the Raleigh should keep going once winter arrives and the gloop returns. The fork allows plenty of space around the front wheel and there’s no shelf behind the bottom bracket – a favourite place for mud to collect.
The matt paint collects dust, though, so the bike needed a wash after each ride – but bike washing is a fact of life if you ride cyclo-cross.