Raleigh AIRLite 200 review

Starter road ride

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0
GBP £600.00 RRP | USD $993.60

Our review

Solid enough for recreational duties, but the frame and wheels leave it trailing behind when it’s time to put the hammer down
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You used to own a Raleigh, right? We all did at some stage, and the Nottingham-based company still covers everything from kids’ bikes to £3000+ carbon race machines. The AIRLite 200 is the second-cheapest model on Raleigh’s road bike roster, featuring the same alloy frame as the entry-level 100 model (£499.99). It’s also available with a women’s-specific frame called the Aura.


Ride & handling: Increased weight means a lack of get-up-and-go

Although they bump up the weight, the AIRLite’s 25mm-wide tyres have large air chambers that add extra cushioning to the ride. And Tektro’s dual pivot brake callipers have enough well-controlled power for you to attack the downhills fast without the fear of things getting ugly around the next corner.

The compact chainset combined with the 12-25 9-speed cassette gives you a spread of low gears that should keep you spinning up the steepest hills, but the hefty wheels definitely limit the AIRLite’s climbing ability.

There’s no notable flex in the frame or wheels when you get out of the saddle, but we found ourselves having to work that little bit harder to stay with mates when the terrain headed upwards. And dropping them with a crafty sprint was more of a challenge.

Overall, the Raleigh provides a sound enough ride, it’s just that it’s not as sporty as some others we’ve tested and has more of a recreational feel. Fair enough, it’s relatively cheap, but we’d be inclined to dig a little deeper to get a higher level of performance.

The one fact you can’t get around when riding the Raleigh is that it weighs 22lbs. We know that size isn’t everything and, as a rule, don’t like to get too obsessed with it. Plus, what’s 3lbs when you consider the combined weight of both the bike and you? But the bike just doesn’t spring into life as readily as a lighter one would. When you call for an increase in pace, it’ll think about it for a second or two before joining in.

Don’t get us wrong – it will bowl along once you’re up to speed. The shape of the handlebar drops is superb, the generous amount of rearward extension meant we spent more time than normal in a low and efficient ride position, and fastening tri bars wasn’t a worry either.

Chassis: Downward-sloping tubes make for a low ride

The AirLite 200 features a 6061aluminium alloy frame that’s a workmanlike, if not spectacular, option. The down tube starts out as a deep teardrop up at the head tube junction before squashing down and broadening out to clamp across the bottom bracket shell.

Meanwhile, the top tube arcs and tapers along its length in a similar way to the Specialized’s. It slopes downwards towards the seat tube too, so you get a low-ish standover height that you might favour if you need to get your feet down in a hurry.

Raleigh airlite 200: raleigh airlite 200

Equipment: Solid kit adds weight to the frame

Out at the back, the wiggly seatstays come with mounts for fitting a rack easily, while the chainstays kink inwards for good heel clearance. The front end is of medium height, so your ride position errs towards the more relaxed end of the spectrum, while 3cm of headset spacers allow you to fine-tune the fit.

You get mudguard mounts on the carbon-legged alloy steerer fork, though if you want to fit them you’ll need to swap the tyres; there’s not enough clearance with the 25c Michelins fitted.

The welds are neat enough and the finish is good, but the lack of butting means the Raleigh is a pretty heavy frameset.

The bike comes with a mainly Shimano Sora groupset, and FSA’s compact Vero chainset. It’s not the lightest kit money can buy but it all functions fine, the mechs obediently shifting with as much speed and accuracy as a top-level set-up.

The wheels – Rigida Nova rims laced to Formula hubs – are pretty heavy. With 25mm Michelin Dynamic tyres on board rather than the usual 23mm options, they’re noticeably less keen to pick up speed than the opposition’s are.

The wide michelin dynamic tyres really help to soak up road vibration: the wide michelin dynamic tyres really help to soak up road vibration

The shape of the no-name handlebars is among the best of any bike we’ve tested lately, with the anatomic wiggle on the drops fitting comfortably in the palms. Opinion was divided on San Marco’s Ischia saddle, though. It’s either luxuriously cushioned or overly squidgy, depending on your taste.

The raleigh’s wiggly drop handle bars are the most rider-friendly shape on test: the raleigh’s wiggly drop handle bars are the most rider-friendly shape on test

Product Specifications


Name AIRlite 200 (10)
Brand Raleigh

Available Colours Black and Red
Rear Wheel Weight 1944
Top Tube (cm) 55
Standover Height (cm) 80
Seat Tube (cm) 55
Chainstays (cm) 42.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 26.5
Weight (lb) 22
Weight (kg) 10
Stem Alloy stem
Shifters Shimano Sora
Seat Angle 72
Saddle Ischia
Rims Nova
Rear Tyre Michelin Dynamic 25mm tyres
Available Sizes 55cm 55cm 51cm 47cm 47cm 51cm 55cm 59cm 51cm 47cm 51cm 51cm 51cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 47cm 47cm 51cm 51cm 47cm 47cm 47cm 47cm 47cm 47cm 47cm 47cm 55cm 59cm 47cm 55cm 59cm 47cm 55cm 47cm 51cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 59cm 51cm 51cm 51cm 51cm 51cm 55cm 51cm 55cm 59cm 51cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 59cm 59cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 59cm 59cm 55cm 51cm 51cm 51cm 51cm 55cm 59cm 51cm 55cm 59cm 55cm 55cm 59cm
Pedals Alloy pedals with toe clips
Headset Type FSA
Head Angle 73
Handlebar Semi compact alloy
Front Wheel Weight 1438
Front Tyre Michelin Dynamic 25mm tyres
Frame Weight 1970
Frame Material AIRLite - Aluminium
Fork Weight 650
Fork EVO Carbon fork with alloy steering stem - 45mm rake. Mudguard clearance and eyes
Cranks SORA
Cassette 12-25T cassette
Brakes R320 short-reach calipers operated by Sora Sti levers
Wheelbase (cm) 101.5