Gravel bikes are the hottest trend in cycling right now, and likely to be popular sellers this year. More durable and capable than a typical stiff, light and skinny-tyred race bike, gravel bikes offer go-anywhere capability with an emphasis on comfort, control and durability. Most bicycle companies are adding gravel bikes to their ranges this year, and British company Raleigh is no different: it has a complete range of gravel bikes priced from £650 up to £2,500.
The £1,000 Mustang Elite here shares the exact same geometry as the carbon fibre Roker we tested last year, but it’s made from aluminium to keep the price down. The 6061 aluminium frame on this model uses externally routed gear and brake cabling with a tapered head tube and all-carbon fork. A nice detail is the internal routing for the front brake cable inside the fork leg.
Despite the low price, the bike features thru-axles at both ends, 15mm at the front and 12mm at the rear. And there are eyelets for mudguards and a rear rack, ideal for winter riding and commuting.
This model is similarly equipped to the Roker we previously reviewed, with a full SRAM Rival 1x groupset. Gone is the front mech and regular double chainset, and instead, a single ring is combined with a wide-range 10-42t cassette. Specially shaped teeth on the chainring and a clutch mechanism in the rear derailleur ensure the chain isn’t able to derail at the front, even when riding over rough terrain. The 44t chainring with the wide-range cassette provide plenty of low speed, steep hill capacity, yet there’s enough top-end for battering along the road at high speed.
At this price you rarely get hydraulic brakes, but the Mustang features TRP Hy-Rd discs. They’re a self-contained hydraulic disc brake actuated by a regular brake cable, so they work with normal mechanical brake levers. We’ve always been impressed with these brakes and you can read the full review here.
A common feature of gravel bikes is the space for wide tyres. Raleigh has fitted Schwalbe’s new G1 35mm tyres, which are tubeless-ready and feature a dimpled tread pattern to provide traction on loose surfaces. The bike thoughtfully comes with the Raleigh’s own RSP AD3.0 tubeless ready rims, so ditching the inner tubes is pretty easy, if you want to go down that route.
That RSP label pops up again on the aluminium handlebar, stem, seatpost and headset. A Selle Royal Sirio saddle completes the build, which on the road.cc scales comes in at 10.42kg (22.97lb) for the size 56cm we have here. Compared to the similarly specced carbon fibre Roker Pro, it’s carrying about 1.5kg extra heft, but the Roker Pro is twice the price so you pay dearly for that lower weight.
In terms of rivals, the nearest contender in the same price range that we’ve tested on road.cc is the £850 GT Grade. Like the Mustang, the Grade has an aluminium frame with a carbon fibre fork and wide tyres, but with mechanical disc brakes and regular quick release axles.
More at www.raleigh.co.uk
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.