I’m fast becoming CW’s Raleigh specialist after testing three (count them) of the Nottingham manufacturer’s bikes.
Last year, I rode the Comp version of its SP Series as part of a long-term test, so got to know the bike better than most. This year, I’ve swapped to the SP Race to see if the step up in price (£450) is matched by a step up in performance.
If you’ve been turning your nose up at the Raleigh brand over the years, perhaps it’s time to start tilting it down again. It’s fair to say the company was focused on the cheaper end of the market, but in recent years it has been turning more to the serious and competitive side of cycling, built around its race team and the Special Products Series bikes.
The SP Series has four bikes, ranging from the budget Comp at £1,450 to the £3,900 Team, with the Race sitting one up from bottom.
The two bikes bottom in the range share the same multi-direction layered carbon frame, but the Race model here gets the added bonus of a BB30 bottom bracket. It does feel very stiff, slightly stiffer than last year’s Comp model, which I’d say is down to the BB30. It feels like a proper race bike, with a low front end and fast steering, and the weight is comparable with competitors’ models.
With a 53x39t chainset on the front, though, I find the gearing isn’t quite right for the kind of riding I do – long commutes, riding for fitness but no racing. I suspect the word ‘Race’ in the bike’s title might be on the money then.
It’s hard to fault the component spec here; the wheels feel super-quick and the Ultegra brakes work like a dream. I’m not a huge fan of the colour scheme – it reminds me of an Eighties watch – but that Casio look is certainly on-trend at the moment. A good riding, good value bike, if you can live with the image.