Raleigh Airlite 100 review

Well-specced first road bike

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £499.99 RRP
Raleigh Airlite 100

Our review

Ideal, well-specced first road bike that could double as a winter trainer
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Raleigh’s Airlite wears its high-end-of-budget price on its sleeve, or at least in the quality of its frame. We appreciated the 2011 Airlite 100 when we tested it earlier this year, and the 2012 offering has had a makeover, with its aluminium frame losing weight too.

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The Raleigh Airlite 100 has much to recommend it and little to hold against it. Braking is average, but it has a good frame, well chosen gearing and components and makes a very rewarding bike, either as a first entry into the world of drop bar bikes or as a winter trainer. It’s a good weight for the price, versatile and good looking.

As well as being lighter than the 2011 version, the Airlite also looks better than last year’s model. The top-tube has lost its unnecessary curve and, as a result, the cable dangling underneath it like a washing line. Great to see a proper metal heron headbadge too. That might be a very old-school touch, but when it comes to gearing it’s very 21st century, with a 34/50 compact chainset and 12-25 cassette. This provided a good range of usable gears, though a larger sprocket would have been better still. We also like the fact that the Airlite has rear rack mounts and plenty of clearance for mudguards or wider tyres without toe overlap, making it a suitable basis for a more than decent winter trainer.

The oversize stem and bar combination and sensible reach handlebar keep the front end handling sharp, and its relatively light overall weight makes for good acceleration too. The Tektro brakes could be better, and while the Schwalbe Lugano tyres aren’t the lightest or quickest rubber around, they grip well, offer very good puncture resistance and are great on a bike at this price. San Marco’s new Spid saddle is an all-rounder, though its flat profile is likely to appeal more to racers than leisure riders.

But the Airlite 100 as a whole is very much on the money for a £500 road bike, comparing well with similarly priced bikes from other brands. Looking for a first road bike or a second bike for the colder months? Take the Airlite for a test ride.

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This article was originally published in Cycling Plus

Product Specifications

Product

Name Airlite 100 (11)
Brand Raleigh

Description Schwalbe Lugano tyres
Grips/Tape EVA white
Brake Levers 2300
Weight (kg) 10.37
Shifters 2300
Saddle PONZA POWER
Rims NOVA 32F/32R
Rear Shock N/A
Rear Hub Sealed bearings
Rear Derailleur 2300
Pedals LU-209
Headset Type TH10
Front Tyre Michelin Dynamic 700 x 25C
Available Colours BLACK on WHITE
Front Hub Sealed bearings
Front Derailleur 2300
Frame Material 6061 Aluminium
Fork Alloy
Cranks TEMPO 50T/34T
Chain Z72
Cassette Shimano HG50 8SP 12-25T
Brakes R312
Bottom Bracket 7420ST
Available Sizes 51cm 55cm 59cm. 43cm. 47cm 43cm. 47cm 51cm 55cm 59cm. 55cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 51cm 55cm 59cm. 51cm 51cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 55cm
Spoke Type Stainless silver 14G