The top bike of the new four-bike Raleigh Cyclo Cross range is a lavishly equipped £3,000 RX Team... or at £2,000 there's the RX Race. Both have carbon frames and cantilever brakes. At the other end of the range there's the £800 RX Elite and then there’s the bike we have on test, the £1,200 RX Comp.
The RX Elite and the RX Comp score identical 6061 aluminium frames and carbon forks. The cheaper Elite gets cantilever brakes with supplementary bar top levers and a Shimano Sora based drivetrain, while the Comp gets Avid BB7 disc brakes, SRAM's 2 x 10 Apex gears and a 'cross friendly SRAM S350 46/36 chainset.
Our previous experience of the 'Powerglide' rings on the S350 chainset is that they do a decent job of shedding mud on typically filthy mid-winter cross trails. So with Schwalbe's Racing Ralph 32c close knobbed 'cross tyres, the Comp is effectively a ready-to-race bike, albeit with enough adaptability via rack and mudguard eyelets (plus two sets of bottle bosses) for it to double up as an all-rounder with a change of tyres... although spacers may be necessary to clear the disc callipers and there's only a single set of eyelets on the rear dropouts.
The frame is finished in a tough silky black (almost matt) overcoat with white graphics. The mainframe tubes are double butted with ovalised profiles where tracking or lateral stability can benefit. Tyre clearance is generous enough for a bigger set of treads (up to about 38mm out back, bigger up front).
The frame and C2 carbon fork are beefed up for 'cross use, resulting in a 23lb/10.35kg all in bike weight, heftier than would be ideal for a pure road bike at this price. But that would be missing the point. A bike like this is intended to take abuse, with the durability and geometry suited to the bumps and surprises that come with harsh terrain, including the pothole riddled roads that increasingly bolster the popularity of bikes like this as all-rounders.
The wheels are house branded RSP CX2.0s with deep section rims and hubs bearing no particular brand marking, but the quick releases are decent quality offerings. All the finishing kit is nicely specced, including slightly padded Velo non-slip handlebar tape, a twin bolt seat post, four-bolt RSP stem and slimline but fairly comfy Selle Royal Seta S1 saddle.
We measured the RX Comp's seat angle at 72.5 degrees, the head angle at a fairly relaxed 70.5 degrees and the horizontal top tube length (57cm frame) at 55cm. This is shorter than on some 57cm bikes but that should suit the looser riding stance needed for many off-road scenarios and there's loads of fore/aft saddle rail and stem height adjustment if you need more or less stretch.
The compact RSP handlebar allows a flat-top reach to the brake levers and there is nothing to stop you adding bar top supplementary levers if that's what you prefer. Cable routing all passes along the top of the top tube, with a dirt-proof full outer cable to the rear brake, and there are threaded tension adjusters on both brake and gear cables.
Full test to follow as soon as we've found some decent mud to charge around the woods in. From: www.raleigh.co.uk