Back in the day, bikes had slimline tubes made from Reynolds steel, a horizontal top tube (or ‘crossbar’ in the argot of the time), and were UK-manufactured by the million in Midlands factories.
Times change, sadly. But with this gorgeous-looking Raleigh Ti Team Replica you can step back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when the Ti Raleigh pro team briefly dominated the cycling world like few outfits before or since, taking in victory – and multiple stages – in the Tour de France as well as numerous Classics and other one-day races including the world title.
Today’s Ti Raleigh Team Replica features the iconic red, black and yellow paint job, a Reynolds frame and fork, kit from Campagnolo, wheels from Mavic and a Cinelli cockpit. Whoa, those rose-tinted, nostalgia-tinged specs are misting up already!
It’s a bit of a shame that the very neatly lugged frame is no longer made in England, though the Reynolds 525 steel at least comes from Birmingham. The original bikes would have been made from 531 or in some cases its more exotic spin-off, 753, and Reynolds reckons that chromoly 525 has similar characteristics to the manganese-molybdenum 531.
The down tube bears poignant reminders of Raleigh's glory days
But 525 sits at the lower end of the Reynolds hierarchy, and is normally found on more inexpensive bikes. The same is true of the Campagnolo Veloce 10-speed groupset.
That said, along with the slightly higher-spec Campag Athena brakes, it all works very well with a smooth, solid and accurate shifting action, and the compact 50/34 cassette and 11-27 cassette are much friendlier to the average cyclist’s knees than the original would have been. But it’s not what we’d expect for this kind of cash. Nor is the 9.6kg weight, regardless of how good the bike looks.
Kit highlights include the wheels, which feature Mavic Open Pro rims on Campagnolo Record hubs, paired with quality 23mm open tubular (ie posh clincher) tyres from Challenge, and a Cinelli quill stem and bar combo. Raleigh presumably found a stash behind a cabinet somewhere at its Nottingham HQ.
The quill stem does mean that the handling isn’t as solid as a modern bike’s threadless setup, which is more noticeable at low speeds. This isn’t therefore a machine suited to commuting.
The Reynolds steel frame soaks up the rough stuff admirably
But get up to a steady cruising speed of 15-16mph and it rolls along superbly, copes with road buzz well and attracts positive comments from riders and non-riders alike when you stop for a break. You feel bigger bumps a little more than with a quality carbon frame, which makes you admire Jan Raas’s Paris-Roubaix victory in 1982 even more.
In short, this is very much a Sunday best bike, though you could easily use it for sportives, century rides and similar events – provided you’re not after a personal best. (And that you’re happy to chat with admirers, for your bike that is, rather than the rider. Probably.)
It's also something of a missed opportunity though. The Team Replica might sell well if it were more competitively priced, given steel’s popularity among the hipster crowd and, potentially, older customers trying to recapture their youth. But it can’t justify its current overly inflated tag, perhaps another nod to the 1970s…