Raleigh SP Race£1,900.00

High quality racer

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Classic British marque Raleigh have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and are doing plenty to re-establish themselves as one of the best brands around. Their return to road racing sponsorship is already beginning to pay off, with feedback from pro riders clearly influencing the new range.

The Race has had a major overhaul for 2012. The frame has lost some weight, mainly through the adoption of a BB30 bottom bracket shell and inclusion of an ITM carbon fork, and this results in an impressive all-in bike weight of just over 8kg (58cm size).

Add to this a Shimano Ultegra groupset and RS30 wheels, plus quality kit from ITM, FSA, Selle San Marco and Schwalbe, and it’s an impressive package. Even more so when you consider that bikes with an equivalent spec have a £100+ price premium over the Race.

On the road the Raleigh, if anything, feels even lighter. The handling has an impressive deftness to it. Light steering paired with an impressively stiff fork gives the Race a truly nimble feel. We revelled in pushing it as quickly as we dared through switchbacks and consecutive corners.

Get into the hills and the light ride and decent wheels mean the Race is a great companion for tough climbs, even with its 53/39-tooth standard chainset. Steeper slopes may offer more of a challenge than with a compact or triple, but once you’ve crested the rise you’ll love pushing on the pedals to whip that 53-tooth ring up to impressive speeds, in the knowledge that the Raleigh’s sharp handling will get you safely down the road ahead.

Some may see the FSA Energy chainset as a downgrade. It’s the need for a BB30-specific crank that’s dictated its use, and we’ve found it just as quick to shift as the Ultegra unit it replaces, with the deep, machined chainrings offering ample resistance to flex.

In all, we’ve been mightily impressed with the Raleigh. It’s a true racer’s bike – sharp, stiff, fast and light, and with a great price to boot. It’s not the most comfortable of rides but it’s sublimely efficient at getting the job done quickly, and for that reason we’d happily recommend it.

This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.

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