Let's get something out of the way: the old-fashioned graphic treatment of Raleigh’s Avanti Race wasn’t popular with our testers. But once you get over that – and once you get your leg over the top tube and start pedalling – you’ll throw your preconceptions away quickly.
And quickly is exactly how the bike rides. This is a genuine race machine that demands to be ridden fast. Our workshop manager George rather romantically described it as having “a purity of purpose that encourages the innate desire to go faster”. More prosaically he added that the handling was “sharp and exciting”.
And these views were echoed by the whole Bike Of The Year testing team. The Avanti has a direct response, and being from Raleigh’s Performance Division it leaves you in little doubt about what’s coming. It’s instantly rigid and direct with no loss of effort anywhere, feeling light, responsive and totally connected to the road, urging you to press harder on the pedals and let it loose.
It handles well, it corners conﬁdently and it’s fairly well damped over smaller bumps, although big hits are transmitted directly through to the rider with no compromises. It’s a thrilling machine to ride, and a great race bike, although it’s possibly too rigid for some for all-day riding.
The Avanti Race is typical of bikes at this price, specced with Shimano Ultegra groupset and brakes, along with Shimano’s RS30 wheelset, but Raleigh have managed to make the package more than the sum of its parts.
Many BikeRadar's UK readers will have fond memories of Raleigh – we bet many of you took your ﬁrst serious ride on a bike bearing the heron badge – while others are still to be convinced that the Nottingham-based company can offer them a top-end ride. If you fall into the latter category you should probably take one for a test ride.