For the coming cyclocross season, Raleigh USA made subtle refinements to its carbon bikes but completed a wholesale redesign of its alloy range. Not only are the frames supposedly lighter and more efficient but also more comfortable – and new wheel specs across the board will greatly increase traction, too.
Alloy frames have been thoroughly modernized for the coming season with a new hydroformed and double-butted 6061 aluminum tubeset. The down tube has a more pronounced ovalized shape, the seat tube gains a tapered profile with a softer-riding 27.2mm seatpost, chain stays and seat stays are flattened for comfort, and Raleigh has ditched last year's straight 1 1/8-inch head tube for a 1 1/8-to-1 ½-inch tapered one.
The top-end RXC Pro Disc gets an ENVE fork — and killer graphics
Accompanying the newly tapered front end are lighter-weight carbon forks, too, while the geometry has been adjusted to better suit US-style courses with lower bottom brackets to provide a more stable feel through corners.
Changes to the RXC carbon frames aren't quite as dramatic. The internal and convertible rear derailleur routing now exits on top of the chain stay instead of underneath it for a cleaner run while the new RXC Disc model gets an all-new monocoque carbon fiber fork with post mount tabs.
The aluminum line is all-new for 2014
All of the bikes get significant improvements in spec, however, particularly in terms of wheelsets. Raleigh now equips the top-end RXC Pro Disc and RXC Disc with wide-profile, tubeless-compatible, aluminum clinchers from American Classic, while other bikes get house-brand rims with far more generous 18mm internal widths – a massive improvement over the strangely narrow 12.4mm-wide ones we noted in our review of last year's RXC Pro Disc.
The wider footprints that result may not always make the UCI happy – Raleigh's Brian Fornes says the stock Clement tires on the RXC models end up close to 36mm wide – but just about everyone else should appreciate the increased grip, reduced chance of pinch flats, and lower operating pressures.
New, wider rims result in a nice, plump tire that's nearly 36mm wide