Raleigh’s SP Race impressed in the Cycling PlusBike of the Year test. Its cheaper cousin – the SP Comp – shares the same geometry and frame material.
There are differences between the two bikes, though: the bottom bracket shell is BSA rather than BB30, the chassis a little heavier – but what hasn’t been lost is Raleigh’s ideally balanced ride. The handling is truly impressive, requiring minimal input for direction changes. It’s a bike that’s at its very best at speed, its stiff frame allowing you to lay it over confidently and safely through high-speed corners.
The fork tracks straight without side-to-side flex, but suffers from excessive chatter and vibration over coarse surfaces. This, combined with the aluminium bar and stem, transfers a fair amount of buzz to your hands, though the bar’s semi-wing profile offers a comfortable hold on the tops or hoods. It’s not hugely comfortable through the saddle, though, and a carbon seatpost wouldn’t go amiss.
At £1,450 it’s not surprising to see the Raleigh lose a few points on kit choice, though its 8.61kg for a 58cm frame would suggest less than you’d think.
Shifting, with the predominantly Shimano 105 drivetrain and non-series R600 compact chainset, is smooth and positive, though when climbing we could detect some flex in the large ring with more acute chainlines. But other than occasional chain noise it wasn’t an issue.
Shimano’s R561 brakes match 105 for performance, but with a bit more weight and a slightly harder compound pad. The wheels are Shimano’s solid and tough RS10s, but Raleigh haven’t skimped on the rubber. Schwalbe’s excellent Durano S tyres are both tough and fast rolling.
The Concor is a slim and comfortable racing saddle, its high rear end allowing you to hunker into the saddle on challenging climbs and really lever into your pedal stroke.
The guys at Nottingham have delivered another impressive machine, which in spite of its compact setup we’d still put firmly in race bike territory. It’s exciting to ride but lacks a little refinement compared with other, smoother bikes. If you have competitive ambitions, though, the SP Comp could be your perfect partner.