Just in: Raleigh Sojourn expedition tourer £1,100

We've been itching to get hold of this tourer with disc brakes since it was first launched in America...

by nick_rearden   March 16, 2012  

Raleigh have gone upmarket in the do-everything tourer market with their Sojourn, just arrived at road.cc towers. Its £1,100 price pitches it among some hot competition but it has disc brakes, surely a precursor of things to come as utilitarian tourists tend to care more about how things perform and for how long, rather than how they look and how much they weigh which is taxing the sensibilities of the lightweight crowd as you read this.

The Sojourn has been in the range of the United States arm of Raleigh's worldwide empire for a number of years but never in the brand's spiritual home country, which is odd as we like to think of ourselves as a nation of tourer buyers. Certainly a quick glance at any railway bike park will reveal a good number of Raleigh Royals and Dawes Galaxys perhaps not bought for their globetrotting credentials but blooming' useful nevertheless with practical tyres, gears for all eventualities on weekend runs and luggage racks for the trip to Tescos on the way home from the station.

Well, the Raleigh Royal at £500 and indeed the Dawes Horizon at a wee bit more are still very much alive and kicking in the ongoing ranges but if you want something a bit snazzier in case you really are heading off up the Karakoram Pass, the Raleigh Sojourn looks like it should be fit for the job. The good news is that it's already been doing battle in the US where the similarly-priced Surly Long Haul Trucker and plenty more besides make that market a competitive crucible for genuine continental tourers.


The big story on this Sojourn is disc brakes for the first time here: Avid BB5s which won't surprise anyone that rides a mountain bike but likely to raise a few eyebrows in the traditional touring world.
 

So, what have we got in this here Sojourn? Well, apart from the disc brakes that are a bit new in the context, a whole lot of traditional thinking and all painted in understated plain black gloss. The size 55cm - with a 54cm top tube - that the average-height UK man will ride has a 73° seat angle and a 71° head allied to a 50mm fork rake. That as well as a long but not overly long 1046mm/41" wheelbase should mean a high degree of stability especially if your front rack is loaded and bumping across loose shale. The geometry varies as well across the sizes which are nominally 50, 53, 55 and 57cm so that, for example, the 57 has a shallower 72° seat angle on the assumption that your taller rider has longer thighs.

Of course, the frame is made from classic steel tubing. Let's see whose? Ah yes, Reynolds. Of course. It's their '631' blend, the latest version of the classic '531' which they've tweaked over the years so that it can be hand-brazed by elven artisans in converted railway arches in Lancashire as well as laser guided robot welders in Taipei. The upshot though is that the stuff is super-strong but malleable enough to be drawn into the nice thin-walled shapes frame designers like for stiffness and strength here - points at the chain stays and forks - and just a bit of 'give' there - the forks again - which is why they have that special oval cross section.


It would be funny old traditional tourer that didn't have Reynolds steel tubing of some kind. This is the middle-ranking 631 flavour that's light and strong without being too exotic and pricey and it can be repaired my a man with an anvil in Botswana.

Anyway, let's tick a few boxes that the potential expedition tourist will be looking for; Brooks B17 saddle - in black obviously - check, Vittoria Randonneur 700C x 35c tyres, yup. Nice wide Shimano gears based on a Sora triple chainset with 50/39/30-tooth chairings and 9-speed 11-34 at the rear, yes. And a sturdy rear luggage rack and the braze-ons on the fork for a front one as well if you want to add it. Got them, too.

Less common or expected are steel mudguards which although painted beautifully to match the overall scheme look to our eyes like they might be a bit vulnerable on a bike that could get bashed about. Let's see what Mr Simmonds our reviewer says about that one. Most likely he'll notice and appreciate the kink in the stainless steel rear mudguard stays where they avoid the chainstay-mounted disc brake calliper. Did I mention the disc brakes? Ah, yes - that's what everyone including us is dying to read about; the disc brakes. A nice pair of Avid BB5 cable-actuated callipers as fitted to a million mountain bikes, matched up with the 160mm centre-lock rotors on middle-ranking Shimano hubs.

We have a number of nice tourers lined up for review over the next few months; the aforementioned Surly Long Haul Trucker which they're offering with or without discs, the Super Galaxy where Dawes are going with the new Shimano CX50 cantilevers and a Ridgeback that their man still thinks is right for sticking with cantis. It will be interesting to see what Rob Simmonds makes of the Great 2012 Disc v Cantilever Debate as it applies to classic expedition tourers.


Just so you know your British Raleigh folk are thinking of you, the UK-bound versions of the Sojourn come with Shimano's Sora STI levers instead of 'bar end controls the USA gets.

20 user comments

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No wonder it's so shiny, Nick's been licking it.... Surprise Wink

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
16th March 2012 - 14:53

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"the Raleigh Royal at £500 and indeed the Dawes Galaxy at a wee bit more"

Only if you call £1200 a wee bit more than £500 Smile
Thinking of the Horizon maybe?

posted by MikeF [8 posts]
16th March 2012 - 16:30

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MikeF wrote:
"the Raleigh Royal at £500 and indeed the Dawes Galaxy at a wee bit more"

Only if you call £1200 a wee bit more than £500 Smile
Thinking of the Horizon maybe?

Yeah yeah yeah Horizon. The problem with being old is that in my head the Galaxy still is around £600 back when Mars Bars cost 2p. Sigh...

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
16th March 2012 - 16:41

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Nice looking bike imho.

I hope Raleigh continue to make progress. I have fond memories of my old Maverick (the frame still lives in my garage roof).

My daughter has a modern Raleigh too but not as expensive as the one featured here.

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
16th March 2012 - 17:17

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nick_rearden wrote:
The problem with being old is that in my head the Galaxy still is around £600 back when Mars Bars cost 2p. Sigh...

31/2d, surely?

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
16th March 2012 - 17:55

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Looks ok, but the older models cream color was much nicer.

Not sure what you mean by it now having discs, as this model always has from when it first came out in the US.

posted by jimc101 [56 posts]
16th March 2012 - 20:24

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What? When did the galaxy go over £300

posted by FMOAB [228 posts]
16th March 2012 - 21:26

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Wow bikes have risen in price my 2007 dawes audax supreme with a similar 631 frame but with 105 cost 700 quid!

scopeland's picture

posted by scopeland [11 posts]
16th March 2012 - 22:22

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scopeland wrote:
Wow bikes have risen in price my 2007 dawes audax supreme with a similar 631 frame but with 105 cost 700 quid!

2012 Galaxy Supreme with Tiagra - to you sir, £1,499.
http://www.dawescycles.com/p-605-super-galaxy.aspx
Prices have gone up and specs seem to have dropped. I blame that there global economy. Nerd

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posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
16th March 2012 - 23:03

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Won't Mr. Simmonds actually have to do a tour on it? Thinking Devil

posted by Crackle [5 posts]
18th March 2012 - 20:46

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Crackle wrote:
Won't Mr. Simmonds actually have to do a tour on it? Thinking Devil

And who's to say I won't be? Nerd

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
18th March 2012 - 21:46

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I look forward to finding out

posted by Crackle [5 posts]
18th March 2012 - 22:10

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"Just so you know your British Raleigh folk are thinking of you, the UK-bound versions of the Sojourn come with Shimano's Sora STI levers instead of 'bar end controls the USA gets."

Oh goody! The US market gets bar end shifters and we are lumbered with the crappy Sora Shifters. I'd rather have the bar end shifters thanks. Sad

Still overall it's a nice looking bike but why the black paintwork, a nice red or blue would've been better. Thinking

A possible choice for the cycle to work scheme.

posted by sam_smith [48 posts]
19th March 2012 - 13:43

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Nothing wrong with Sora shifters and I hate the weird cable loops that you get with bar-ends, they just look awkward.

The black paintjob looks *very* smart and of course it goes with everything. Very important if you have brightly coloured luggage. Big Grin

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
19th March 2012 - 23:00

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I tried a Sora equipped bike and I hated them, you can't reach the thumb shifter in the drops. The drops is where I'd generally be if I want a higher gear and the thumb shifter is the one that goes up the gears. A stupid design. Angry

I've tried bar ends too, they take a bit of getting used to but are superior to the Sora shifters.

I have the opposite, I own black luggage so would quite like a coloured bike, a nice maroon or royal blue perhaps... Thinking

posted by sam_smith [48 posts]
20th March 2012 - 0:53

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sam_smith wrote:
...A stupid design...

I wouldn't call it 'stupid.' The little thumb lever is where it needs to be if you're trying to keep the design simpler and cheaper. One of the definitions of a half-decent bike shop is that they'd fit for you the shifters you prefer - we posted about some nice Microshift ones recently that work with 8 or 9 speed here: http://road.cc/content/news/53805-tech-roundup-basso-forza-jagwire-knog-... or the Shimano handlebar-end controls here: http://www.madison.co.uk/productinfo.aspx?vertical=Cycling&tier1=Transmi.... These latter *are* very good but as Rob above says result in that loopy cable. I have them on my tandem which looks weird anyway.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
20th March 2012 - 12:47

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For a tourer I'd have thought it was ideal (certainly is for my workhorse Dew Drop, which is a very similar bike in many ways) as you're more likely to be riding on the hoods and drops. I'd have 'proper' STIs for preference over Sora, given the choice, but I wouldn't call Sora stupid or impractical.

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
20th March 2012 - 13:12

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Sorry Nick but I can't agree there, that thumb lever is badly placed. The cheap design argument doesn't stand up either as Campag's Xenon shifters with a thumb lever which is easily reachable in the drops for 40 quid less than the Sora shifters! Surprise

It sounds like I don't like Shimano but I'm quite a fan and love there hub gears which I have on my bitza commuter hack and have tried out the Tiagra STIs which are excellent but the Sora shifters are a turd in an otherwise excellent range. I agree the loopy cable is a bit weird though. Confused

Thanks for the Microshift link it is very interesting... Thinking

posted by sam_smith [48 posts]
20th March 2012 - 13:44

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sam_smith wrote:
Sorry Nick but I can't agree there, that thumb lever is badly placed.

I can't believe I'm defending a gear lever that I've criticized in numerous bike reviews over the years. And I've been critical of all Campagnolo's shifters up until the new EPS - but that's another story and on racing bikes - for the same reason but I still think for the money the Soras are not bad, all things being equal. Hardly anyone - but maybe you do - spends *that* much time in the drops upshifting on a tourer and I'm certain that for most people the bike will have more showroom appeal. As I said, no bike shop would lose the deal if they thought fitting bar-end shifters was the clincher and you can be sure if enough dealers complained Raleigh would be fitting them at the factory in a flash. Well, after six months.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
20th March 2012 - 14:57

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I have to say my perception of bar-ends is that their target market is hardcore tourists, determined STI refuseniks and people who just want to carry a spare cable and not have to worry about fixing a broken STI in darkest Outer Camelhumpistan. My suspicion is that the Sojourn isn't really aimed at them, it's more of a civilians casual tourer, with a touch of sturdy commuter thrown in.

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posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
20th March 2012 - 18:10

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