With roots dating back to 1887, Raleigh is one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world. They have a long history of producing bikes in England, but nearly all of the models currently available in the U.S. are produced in Asia.
In recent years, Raleigh has really gone after the steel-framed transpo segment of the market. Within their “road” and “hybrid” categories, I count approximately 15 bikes with steel frames, at least 8 of which could be be successfully used for commuting or utility purposes. Among these, the Detour Deluxe jumped out at me as a fully-outfitted commuter at a great price, so I approached Raleigh USA about getting one for review. It arrived in December and I’ve been riding it regularly for the past couple of months.
The Detour Deluxe elicits comments wherever it goes, with people describing it as “sharp”, “clean” and “good looking”. The minimalist graphics, internal gears and brakes, integrated pannier rack, internal wiring, and metal fenders and chainguard painted to match the frame, all work together to create a strikingly clean, businesslike look.
The Detour Deluxe frame is constructed of TIG-welded Reynolds 520 chromoly steel. The welds are reasonably clean and the powder coat is smooth and consistent—both are on par for a bike in this price range. The drive-side vertical dropout is bolted on, allowing for a belt-drive upgrade if so desired. The chain is tensioned via an eccentric bottom bracket. The main frame includes 2 water bottle mounts, openings for internal wiring, a kickstand plate, a wheel lock mount, an integrated metal chainguard, and an integrated pannier rack (more on that later). The straight blade fork includes a roller brake mount, cable stop, and mid-fork rack mounts. Overall, this is a well thought out transpo frameset that leaves little to be desired as a commuter.
The Detour Deluxe comes outfitted with a mixture of mostly Shimano and Tektro components with a few generic parts in the mix (crank, seat post, stem, handlebars).
The drivetrain consists of a Nexus 8 internal gear hub matched to an Alfine 8 trigger shifter, a chain drive, and an alloy single crank with a 42T chainring and alloy guard. This is the basic Nexus hub, not the premium “Red Band” or Alfine model. For all intents and purposes, this smooth shifting hub performs as well as the Alfine, though the Alfine and Red Band are purported to be more efficient and better weather-sealed. Once the cable adjustment settled in, I had zero mis-shifts, and like its upper-end cousins, I was able to shift this hub smoothly while stopped, coasting, pedaling, and even under a fair amount of power while climbing (not necessarily recommended). As always, Shimano internal gear drivetrains are novice-friendly and a joy to use in the city.
The Detour Deluxe’s front and rear brakes are both Shimano Roller Brakes. “Roller Brake” is Shimano’s proprietary name for their internal hub drum brakes. Prior to actually using them, I was fairly skeptical about these brakes. The Sturmey Archer drum brakes on our Pashleys were so lack-luster that I was not expecting much from these Shimanos. I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised. These brakes don’t have the power or modulation of a good cantilever or dual-pivot caliper, but they’re certainly safe and sufficient for city riding. No, I wouldn’t recommend bombing down a mountain pass with a touring load on these brakes, but they’re perfectly fine for bopping around town with a commuting load. The primary advantages of Roller Brakes are that they’re nearly impervious to wet weather, they require very little maintenance, and they don’t cause rim wear.
The Detour Deluxe’s Shimano front hub has a built in generator that’s hard-wired to the Basta headlight and tail light. The mostly-hidden internal wiring is a nice touch. The lights are what I’d consider “first-generation” LEDs. In other words, there are more efficient dynamo-powered lights available, though at a fairly steep premium (the Schmidt Edelux, for example, is nearly $200; 25% the price of this entire bicycle). Like most modern dynamo-driven tail lights, the Basta has a steady-on beam and includes a stand light that shines for a few minutes after stopping.
The non-branded seat post, stem, handlebars, and crank are perfectly functional, if not that visually exciting. The bars have a 27 degree sweep and zero rise. The ergonomic grips are comfortable and just about the perfect width for my hands. The Tektro brake levers work fine and the left-side lever includes a built in bell.
Stock saddles are often terrible, but I was surprised that I didn’t at all mind the supplied Avenir saddle. It’s a little soft and a little wide for my tastes, but those who are accustomed to wider saddles like the Brooks B67 may like this saddle.
The AXA Defender wheel lock is a nice touch. It’s only good to slow down grab-and-dash opportunistic thieves, but it’s handy for quick trips into the coffee shop or library where you can keep the bike within sight. A cable that attaches to the lock is available as an optional accessory. I like the fact that the frame has braze-on mounts specifically for the lock.
Even though I always prefer double-legged center-stands, the supplied kickstand is plenty strong for up to, and including, commuting loads. Unlike many factory-supplied kickstands, the leg on the Detour Deluxe’s kickstand is long enough to hold the bike nearly upright (this is a good thing—it baffles me how many bikes come supplied with kickstands that are too short).
Oh, the rack. I’ll say it up front; I don’t mind the rack. It has its limitations, but overall, I give it a tentative thumbs up. The issues are: it has no platform so rack trunks and cargo nets are out; it has no lower attachment points so it requires panniers with locking hardware such as those from Arkel and Ortlieb; and, if you don’t like it, it can’t be removed. The pluses are: it rides low, so the weight almost disappears behind you; it’s long, so it provides a ton of heel clearance, even with over-sized panniers; it’s stronger than it looks because it’s integrated into the frame; and, it’s included in the price of the bike.
I asked Raleigh, and the official weight limit of the rack is 55 lbs. This is the standard weight limit many manufacturers list for their factory-supplied rear racks. I was able to carry loads up to the weight limit with no issue. The Detour Deluxe isn’t being sold as a cargo bike, so I didn’t run any over-limit tests.
Offering the Detour Deluxe with this integrated rear rack was a gutsy move by Raleigh. On the one hand, it makes the bike stand out from the crowd, and it certainly seems to have attracted some attention. On the other hand, there are going to be those who don’t like the rack because of its limitations; for them it could be a deal killer.
The Detour Deluxe is a pleasure to ride. The handling is stable and predictable. The combination of a straight blade fork and a sloping top tube make for a modern, stiff ride. I personally prefer a more compliant frame, but most people will appreciate the rigidity of this frame, particularly those who cut their teeth on modern aluminum or carbon racing-influenced bikes. The geometry is optimized for rear loading which makes sense for a commuter with an integrated rear rack. With its high-trail front end, this bike is not particularly well-suited to a front cargo rack (that said, I’ve been riding a high-trail Surly with a porteur rack for a couple of years with no issue). Overall, the handling is dialed-in and easy, with or without a load.
- Frame: Reynold 520 Butted Chromoly w/CNC Dropouts
- Fork: 4130 Chromoly
- Shifter: Shimano Alfine 8-speed Trigger
- Rear Hub: Shimano SG-8R31 Nexus 8-speed Internal Gear
- Front Hub: Shimano DH-3R30-N Dynamo
- Brakes: Shimano BR-IM50 Roller Brake
- Rims: Weinmann XC260 Double Wall
- Tires: Kenda K1053 700x35c
- Cranks: Forged Aluminum 42t w/Alloy Guard
- Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
- Headset: Ahead 1-1/8″
- Stem: 2D Forged 17 degree
- Handlebar Alloy Flat 27 degree Sweep
- Brake Levers: Tektro Comfort Alloy
- Grips: Avenir Comfort
- Seatpost: Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2x400mm
- Saddle: Avenir City 100 Series
- Price: $799-$820
At $800, the Detour Deluxe is one of the best values on the market for a mid-priced, fully-outfitted commuter. It’s a well though out package that leaves very little to be desired. With its internal gear hub, internal brakes, dynamo lighting system, fenders, chainguard, kickstand, bell, and integrated rear rack, the Detour Deluxe is ready to roll right off of the dealer floor. The one question mark is the rear rack. It may be a deal stopper for some, but for those who can work within the limitations of the rack, this bike is hard to beat at this price point.
Disclosure: The Raleigh Detour Deluxe discussed in this article was supplied by Raleigh USA specifically for this review. For more information about our reviews, read our review policy.