The Raleigh Militis Team eTap's frame is made in the Far East, but the bike is assembled in the UK. It has brought bike assembly back to Raleigh’s Nottingham home after a 14-year hiatus and will be available as a special order. It’s a small step, but one we hope leads to more assembly work returning to Britain.
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The Militis is spearheading Raleigh’s continued resurgence into high-performance bikes. The 880g frame has aggressive geometry mixing a short 99cm wheelbase, near-classic racing angles and a short 170mm head-tube. This places agility at its core, which helped Raleigh Militis-riding pros to 110 podium places last season.
Raleigh is also one of the UK distributors for SRAM and Zipp, and has made the most of that fact by showcasing their products on its flagship flyer. The Zipp Speed SL stem and SL 70 carbon bar – with rearward-swept aero bladed tops – is a stiff and aggressive pairing. But those flat tops are also surprisingly comfortable, even without bar tape, when you want to cruise along. The SL70 doesn’t transmit road buzz, and is another example of the bike’s overall quality, as are the Zipp carbon 202 wheels.
Their resolute stiffness means these come into their own on descents. Their new hub results in a more rigid build, while braking from the carbon rims and Zipp’s brake pads makes it the wheel we’d choose for big days over rolling terrain. The Schwalbe Pro One tyres are soft and grippy, complementing the tyres’ smoothness nicely.
Superb, simple wireless shifting
But what we really wanted to get our mitts on was SRAM’s eTap – and it didn’t let us down. The more time we spent with the wireless shifting system the more we liked it, and considering we appreciated it hugely from the get-go that’s quite a statement.
SRAM’s eTap uses complex proprietary wireless technology but the resulting system is simplicity itself. The two-button system – right lever to shift down, left to shift up, click both together to shift the front mech to its other ring – becomes so natural you’re left wondering why anyone would want it any other way.
The derailleur-mounted batteries are interchangeable, so that if one does go flat you’ll still have 11 gears to get you home. As for the shift quality, well, it’s just superb. The upshift across the cassette may be a fraction slower than with mechanical Red, but it’s a very marginal difference.
A responsive, aggressive ride
The Militis’s responsive ride requires your full attention, but the way in which it can change direction makes it a serious downhill weapon, the bike responding with little drama if you correct in mid corner. The aggressive position means climbing on the hoods is the way to go, and while the lightness is appreciated, we’d have preferred a more ‘everyman’ 52/36 chainset to the 53/39 fitted – especially as the largest sprocket has only 26 teeth.
Put simply, this Raleigh is superb. It’s ready to be raced the moment you take it from the shop, its kit is faultless and SRAM’s electronic eTap is exceptional in every respect. If you want to break Shimano Di2’s near-monopoly in electronic shifting then this Raleigh represents a magnificent choice.