Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Raleigh, What Are You Up To?

Earlier this summer, I was lamenting the fact that the Raleigh Clubman (a bike I own and tend to gush about like a shill) had dropped out of sight in the 2014 lineup on the Raleigh site. With the whole industry getting its knickers in a twist over Interbike this week, I wondered what 2015 might bring, so I wandered over to the site again.

Much to my dismay, the Clubman is back... with disc brakes:

Wot wot, guv'nor?

Seriously? The disc brake fad is that pervasive? You have to put them on my beloved Clubman? Although I have to admit that the air under the fenders is promising. Perhaps this Clubman keeps the fat tire clearance of its predecessor. Somebody needs to fire the photo stylist (yes, that's a real job... our Graphic Design Genius did it once, briefly) who set up those fenders with such hideous, uneven spacing around the tires, though.

Lest you think all is lost, the lineup of steel (in what the marketing flacks are calling the Urban All-Road category, sheesh) actually got bigger. There's the Grand Sport which looks to be the real heir to the Clubman mantle, with its steel frame, long-reach caliper brakes, and snazzy orange paint job (though somebody forgot to spec fenders):

Orange you glad it doesn't have disc brakes? 

And then, there's another model name from the past, the Grand Prix, although it has some features its predecessor never could have imagined:

A Grand Prix ten-speed. It's like the 1970s never ended.

That's a Campy-equipped steel frame with the same long-reach brakes as the Grand Sport (again, no fenders?), but -- get this -- built with Tom Ritchey's Breakaway travel bike system. So it's pretty much my Clubman, except with some Italian flair and the ability to stuff it in a suitcase to visit Italy. Crazy. (Oddly enough, Ritchey's site has ZILCH in the way of explanation on how the Breakaway system works, but this Adventure Cyclist review does a nice job if you can get past one misuse of "break" vs. "brake". Maybe it was a play on Breakaway. Sure, that's the ticket.)

As you can see in the linked pages from the Raleigh site (from which these images were horked), nothing's posted in the way of geometry or MSRP on any of these yet. My hope is that they chose not to reinvent the wheel and stuck with Clubman geometry across the board... which is pretty much a copy of Rivendell Rambouillet geometry, which is probably a copy of some 1970s Raleigh geometry, so what comes around goes around.

Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a paid Raleigh shill, just an interested observer who saw these bikes on their site and immediately reached for his drool cup. But if they're looking for someone to test any of them (even -- shudder -- that disc-braked abomination), I certainly wouldn't turn down the opportunity... wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more...


Anonymous said...

Cool! Nice to catch up on what Raleigh is up to.

First, as a guy who rode a '74 Gran Sport for 14 years, I'm happy to see the Gran(d) Sport name being used. However, the Gran Prix has always been a notch or two *below* the Gran Sport in the lineup! Back in the grand days of Raleigh, my Gran Sport came with a beautiful Stronglight 93 crankset, while Gran Prix came with an awful steel cottered crank. Also, the Gran Sport was built with Reynolds 531 tubing, while the Gran Prix used Raleigh 20-30 tubing (probably a high carbon steel). They both came with the plastic Simplex derailleur, so Raleigh has always used some embarrassing parts.

Am I really seeing four gravel bikes in the modern Raleigh lineup? And none are named for cities in Iowa? No "Des Moines" or "Keokuk" models? Shocking.

Overall, it's good to see such a variety of useful bikes. They could stand to bring the Gran Sport back up to its traditional semi-glory (and bring back the International), but overall I approve.

Steve in Peoria,
where two vintage Raleighs grace the residence.

Stanley Rogouski said...
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