Disc brakes and flat bars should make for a speedy pothole basher


Equipped with Shimano Sora components, the Strada 6 is the top model from Raleigh's new Strada range. First impressions are that it's good value for money and a good bet if you're looking for a speedy flat handlebar bike that can take a bit more utilitarian abuse than a more purist road bike.

Raleigh markets the 12-model Strada range as “built to be sleek, stylish and agile around town”, although strangely none of them come equipped with a rack or mudguards. You'll need to look at the similarly-priced Pioneer range if you want a bike equipped for utility duties.

The Stradas look likely to appeal to riders looking at something fairly minimalist for leisure rides or commuting in good weather. The cheapest Strada costs £300, the most costly one is this, at £650, and there are two models with a step-through frame option.

The Strada 4, 5 and 6 all come with disc brakes, operated by cables on the £450 Strada 4, and hydraulic Shimanos on the £550 Strada 5 and the Strada 6. Shimano hydraulic discs have an excellent reputation for power, modulation and durability.

The drivetrain on the Strada 6 is based on Shimano Sora, with a 34/50 crankset and a SRAM 11-32 cassette. That will suit relative beginners better than the usual close ratio road cassette when it comes to hilly terrain.

House brand 700c wheels appear well built and come shod with 32mm Schwalbe Silento tyres, which have Kevlar protection in their tough but fast-rolling treads and a reflective strip around the sidewalls. The web site lists Schwalbe Road Cruiser tyres, though.

The handlebar on our sample was a flat 23.5in offering, rather than the riser bar listed, with comfy shaped grips and a 40mm spacer stack on the steerer for height adjustments, or you can flip the stem the other way up if you want to go lower. The stem, the seat post and the saddle are all basic Raleigh-branded parts.

The hydroformed double butted 6061 aluminium frameset seems very nicely put together and well finished, with a stealthy dark grey finish that's difficult to scuff in normal use.

The top tube has masses of standover clearance. The geometry on our test bike measures 70.5 degrees at the head, 74 degrees at the seat. Horizontal top tube reach is 56cm centre to centre, and the seat tube is 46cm from the top of seat clamp to the centre of the bottom bracket.

That would suggest fairly neutral handling and a slightly longer than average reach for a hybrid type bike but we'll report back after we've put some miles into it.

There are threaded eyelets for mudguards and a rack and you could fit bigger tyres if needed, but bigger tyres plus mudguards would be a squeeze. We like the way the rear disc brake bracket sits between the seat stays and the chain stays, leaving plenty clearance for mudguard and rack stays.

Complete bike weight is 11.9kg (26.5lb), way less than the many suspension  equipped fatter tyred hybrids that tout for customers around this price. We'll be putting the Strada through its paces over the next few weeks.

More information from Raleigh.