Over recent seasons the design team at Raleigh have truly impressed us. After years in the low-end doldrums they've progressively improved their serious road products to the point where the line-up now bears comparison to the days when Raleigh dominated the peloton as well as the shop windows.
The latest Militis has been built around feedback from the Raleigh road team and, as you can imagine, they’d demanded lighter, stiffer, and more comfortable bikes for the rigours of racing. Now that’s not an unreasonable set of requests for a bike – in fact it's what every brand hopes to achieve through its design and development.
The all-new frame seen here is exactly the same as that raced by the team and its 880g-frame weight is one of the lightest you’ll see at this price point. Add the lightweight C6 fork, SRAM's new 22-speed Force groupset and Cole’s latest Elite version of its Rollen wheels and you’ve got a seriously light complete bike at just 7.28kg. The Militis is unashamedly aggressive: mixing a short (994mm) wheelbase with classic racing angles (73.5° head and 73° seat) and a short 170mm head tube makes for a bike with a stance built for speed.
Classic racing angles mean the Militis is built for speed
The sharp-steering front and ruthless rigidity make the Militis a fabulously tractable bike. Direction changes are swift and response to pedalling efforts is instant and very rewarding.
The Force drivetrain with its race-ready gearing (53/39,11-26) is identifiable by the tangible snap to its shifting. SRAM’s double-tap shifters bring about rapid chain movements with a defined mechanical clunk. We like the drivetrain's vocals – they're a not-so-subtle reminder that this is a racer. Shimano’s smoothness and silence somehow feels a little more sedate in comparison, even though it shifts just as quickly.
Elsewhere the Raleigh continues to impress. Ride quality, for instance, is free of the bangs and bucks you’d expect from such a hardened racer. No it’s not a smooth and cosseting as some of the more endurance orientated bikes around but for something from the race-class it’s more than acceptable.
The all-alloy cockpit is an obvious area for saving on the bikes budget; after all 1570g wheels and an 880g frame don’t come cheap and you can feel a bit of buzz making it through to your hands on the worst of road surfaces. At the back Raleigh has combined a carbon seat post with the often forgotten Fizik Ardea a well-padded, flat-profiled – and wider than most – road saddle that offers heaps of comfort into the mix.
The direct responsive ride means the MIlitis is one mean descender, and brilliant though high-speed corners. On the climbs the response under pedalling is a boon, though some may find the low front end means you resort to on-the-tops climbing holds sooner than usual. The Cole hoops' low weight also adds massively to the Raleigh’s ascending ability, though we managed to induce a little brake rub on the rear when sprinting – and after four hours in the saddle the same wheel had shifted a little out of true.
In all the MIlitis is a brilliant racing machine, and one that’s priced truly competitively. The downsides are that the tall gearing isn’t going to be for everyone, and we think the wheels are going to take a little more maintenance to keep them straight and true than most. If you’re an aspiring racer you could do far worse than the Militis – and you’ll be hard pushed to find as light a chassis as this for the money.