As promised, here are some photos of the pre-production 2010 Raleigh Alley Way. A review will be forthcoming once we’ve spent some time getting to know the bike.
Posted 10.18.09 in Bike Gallery | Bookmark or Share
The colour is nice and the belt drive is interesting.
Why the sloping top tube?
Arguably, sloping top tubes enable a wider range of riders to be fit with fewer frames sizes (this bike, for example, comes in only three frame sizes). Also, some people find a reduced step-over height advantageous for urban riding.
I like the sloping top tube except for the fact that it puts quite a bit of flex into the seat post and we all know how aluminum reacts to flexing (unless its a thick one). I’d toss the seat post and buy a titanium post. Heavier riders might crack that aluminum but a Ti post would act like a suspension beam. Regardless, the bike has quite a bit to offer Northwest urban riders with our rainy climate and all. The belt drive and hub gearing makes for a low maintenance and most of all, clean drive train. No more messy grease stains and that black sludge from using rim brakes in the rain goes away too. Way to go, finally bicycle designers are thinking of practicality and usefulness rather than catering to the racing fantasies of the weekend warrior.
Is that a front dynamo hub without a headlight?
When you do review it in full, any comments on the ease of removing the rear wheel for puncture repair would be of interest to me. Never seen a belt drive, the ease of removing the wheels should not be overlooked. Thanks.
Yes, that’s an Alfine dynamo.
This bike makes sense. What a breath of fresh air, for a change. Simple and clean. A real step forward instead of just another design statement cooked up by the sales team and their lackey designers. How nice.
How is the belt tensioned? I assume an eccentric BB?
An Alfine dynamo without headlight actually make since, since at this price point, people are probably not going to be happy with the Shimano headlight.
Yes, eccentric BB. I had a brain fade this morning and forgot to take a photo of the BB shell. It’s clean and simple, appears to work fine with no apparent issues.
Alan, I’m preaching to the choir but your photos are always a joy to see!
This bike, not so much. The components and belt drive-discs-IG hub I applaud and wish were more comonplace. But the lines seem way off when a regular frame leaves almost as much seatpost showing as a folder. I think the reality is when you strip away the great features, how is this frame with it’s basic welds and “cheap?” integrated stem/ handlebars any different from a toy-store bike?
I guess I’m used to seeing so many high caliber bikes on this website I can’t equate this one with a Riv, ANT and the like.
I have the feeling the integrated bar-stem combo is intended as a feature, not a bug– It’s arguably lighter and prettier, and lots of custom bikes have recently started getting them, so I bet Raleigh was going for that association. If the goal were keeping costs down, it probably would have been cheaper to source a generic stem and bar.
Similarly, you can make the same “feature-not-bug” argument for the weird top tube (no, I don’t particularly like it either). A low stepover means that the bike will fit more people in a given size, that it’s easier to ride with a skirt, and easier to get on and off of.
More generally regarding the quality of the frame, it shows lots of thoughtful design. They use an EBB to enable the use of vertical dropouts, which means that discs are much easier to set up and removing the rear wheel is a simpler process. They placed the rear disc caliper inside the dropout to allow easier rack and fender mounts. They use chainring bolts to hold the rear dropout together (necessary for installing belts), which are easy to replace if necessary. It’s a far cry from an off-the-shelf frame.
So, no, the welds aren’t that good, and there seem to have been sacrifices to the frame geometry to fit a wider range of riders. But that’s what you get with a mid-range mass-produced bike. It may be no Rivendell in terms of quality, but that’s not really what this bike is. A more apt comparison might be the Civia Hyland, and this bike seems to compare with that pretty well.
interesting to hear different points of view about this bike. believe it will be a whole built bike for the about the same price as the least expensive american made riv frameset. to compare it to that is a little silly. on the other hand, i’d like to see the bike built up with noodles, (oops how do you shift the alfine with drop bars?). i’ve never been comfortable on flat bars. but these sure look cool. but are they comfy. and dialing in reach and height will be limited.
i like the lines of sloping tt and long long seat post. not necessarily classic, but a new up to date look all its own. variety is the spice of life and this would be fun to learn about in terms of belt drive, alfine, and owning a new all purp cruiser.
Sloping top tubes come from mountain biking. Here’s the Salsa Fargo “adventure” touring bike, also with a steeply sloping top tube. This is not an uncommon frame geometry once you get outside the realm of traditional road bikes. Charlie Cunningham had sloping top tubes like this on his mountain bikes as far back as 1980 or so. The advantages are clearance, range of fit, and stiffness.
Another reason for sloping top tubes on mountain bikes is to allow for front shocks with a decent amount of travel. If you look at a 5-6″ travel MTB from the side, you can see some of them have the top of the headset almost level with the seat. A traditional horizontal top tube would be just a bit awkward. (Curved down tubes on MTBs are also for fork clearance. The curve provides clearance for lock-out levers and adjustment knobs)
However the Raleigh pictured is not an MTB, and this is probably nit picky design geekery, but if you were to draw an imaginary line from where the headset meets the top tube down to the rear axle, the top tube and seat stays don’t follow this line, they kink upwards a bit. It’s a small detail, but to my eye it looks awkward.
To be fair though, there’s some well thought out details (as others have mentioned) and I think the pro’s outweigh the con’s – I expect they’ll sell quite a few
Cool. I’d say that’s pretty close to “turn-key.” It needs some good racks and lights, of course – but that is user-preference, and there is a pretty good variety to choose from these days.
The only real “short-coming” I notice right now is the front fender. They should’ve just put another rear fender on the front. A long front fender, with a substantial mudflap makes a big difference when it really starts raining.
Overall, looks like a great attempt by Raleigh. Look forward to the review, Alan.
If you took a picture of sasquatch we’d know that he exists.
Wow, I really like the way this looks! I wish I had come up with something like this…oh wait I did, about 3 years ago ;)
If this is truly a pre production model, then maybe there is still a chance to add a kickstand mounting plate?
Hello Alan, One might think if you got your hands on one of these, you might know when they will be for sale. When will they be for sale?
Should be January or February 2010.
That would be a nice addition.
Very similar to the Trek Soho. I have had my Soho for 2 weeks. The Gates belt drive is very smooth. The Soho is a little more “bare bones” than this bike. No generator included and the brakes are drum brakes on the Soho. Just the thing for sloppy winter riding in Michigan, where we are looking for to a long-promised mild winter.
I love the way all these hothouse flowers can take a beautiful and even radical bicycle built by the bicycle equivalent of GM, and turn it into an Ugly Betty. Whahh! It’s not a $2800 Riv! Whahh! The seatpost is too long! Whahh! It’s a gruesome color!
Pfffttt. Can you even imagine Raleigh, Trek, or any other major manufacturer making one of these even five years ago? The times, they are indeed a-changin’. And for the good, in my opinion. Like most people need safe, well-designed bicycle facilities to be enticed to commute, they also need affordable, simple, easily-maintained bicycles that are a step above department store crap. Raleigh and Trek are finally getting it, and that’s a very good thing. And no bicycle is perfect. They’re all compromises.
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I thought this was a double butted steel frame?
hm . minus the belt chain and the stem handlebar combo – this bike looks like a rip off of this german manufacturer…
i’m pretty sure daily bread has been around for since 2 years.
That’s a fairly standard frame configuration these days; I wouldn’t call it a “rip-off”. Charlie Cunningham was building bikes with a similar configuration as far back as the early 1980s.
Hello Allan , curious which frame size your Raleigh Alley Way test bike is ,in the pictures? and when we can read your review on this much anticipated bicycle ?
Are or will you be doing a review on the 2011 Trek Soho DXL. How much better is the Alfine 8 speed than the Nexis 8 ?
Do you have any advice on sizing for the Raleigh Alley Way? I am 5’7″ with a 32″ inseam and it seems that I am bewteen a S and M from the sizing info on Raleigh’s website. My MTB is a 17.5″ and my raod bike is a 52″. I don’t have the advantage of being able to test ride as I live in the middle of nowhere and will be special ordering the bike. Thanks for any help you can provide.
Since the top tube is so steeply sloping and standover is not an issue, I’d look at top tube length compared to your existing bikes to determine size. The small has an effective TT length of 580mm and the medium 600mm. Since you’re accustomed to riding a 52cm frame, most of which have top tubes in the range of 550-570mm, I’d be leaning toward the small. If you can, I’d find out the effective (horizontal) top tube lengths of both of your existing bikes and compare those numbers to the Raleigh.
Thank you very much for your response. Measuring my top tubes, I think I would lean toward a S, too.
One other thing to consider is handlebar height. Because this bike doesn’t allow any adjustment to the handlebar height without replacing the cockpit, you’ll want to carefully consider how high you want the handlebars. The M frame will place the bars higher, but further away from you, the S will place the bars lower, but closer. Because you’re on the cusp between these two sizes there’s probably no right or wrong here, but it’s another thing to be aware of as you make your decision.
Thanks, again. I think the S is the way to go, especially when I compare it to other similar commuter bikes. I really appreciate your responses!