Raleigh Bicycles is one of the oldest names in cycling. Founded in 1885 in Raleigh Street, Nottingham, England, a lot has changed about the company since that time; major changes in ownership along with developments in bicycle design, materials, production and manufacturing methods.
Raleigh has been active in the sport of cyclocross over the past few years, sponsoring athletes like Robert Marion and his American Classic Cyclocross team. and the Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team. But, the company has also also made inroads to the “All Road” aka gravel cycling market, with the release of bikes such as the Willard, Tamland and Roker.
This Roker belongs to Rusty of the Gravel Cyclist crew. We haven’t written much about Rusty for some time; he was struck by a motorist on February 2nd, 2016, as he rode his bicycle to the Ocala Cycling Club’s gravel ride. Left for dead by the motorist and his smashed bike stolen (never recovered), Rusty was close to death. Thanks to his strength, perseverance and support of his wife, family and friends, Rusty recovered from a series of painful surgeries to make a return to riding again in what must be record time. Depending on Rusty’s thoughts on the matter, we may share the story of his recovery at a later date.
Beginning life as a Roker Comp model, Rusty stripped the bike down to frame and fork, and upgraded the drivetrain to Shimano Ultegra 11-speed mechanical with hydraulic disc brakes, and other personalized features such as a full Ritchey WCS cockpit and American Classic Race 29’er wheels (Team Gravel Cyclist is sponsored by American Classic).
Rusty chooses a 46 / 34 chainring combination on his Ultegra 6800 series crankset. Shimano’s 46 tooth chainring isn’t nicely sculpted to fit the profile of their crankset as is with their 53, 52 and 50 tooth chainrings (remember, Shimano’s latest cranksets all share one BCD). Rather, the 46 tooth chainring relies on a series of chainring caps with matching bolts to round out the look of the crankset. For details on those parts, check this manual from Shimano, page 22 – part # Y1P498090.
A medium cage Shimano Ultegra 6800 mechanical derailleur handles shifting duties, although Rusty chooses a close ratio cassette for the times he rides in Florida. An 11-25 cassette is pictured above, but he’ll switch to an 11-32 for mountainous gravel races such as Pisgah Monster Cross.
Pictured above, American Classic’s Race 29’er wheelset, with Hope 6-bolt 160mm floating rotors.Shimano’s excellent RS685 hydraulic disc brakes provide gobs of stopping power with excellent feel and modulation.
Ritchey’s C260 stem provides a solid and secure clamp onto the Logic II handlebar and carbon steerer tube. The 260 nomenclature comes from the stem’s bar clamp that wraps a full 260 degrees around the handlebar, to evenly distribute clamping stress. Three steerer tube bolts and a curved slot at the rear of the stem further reduce clamping stress.
Manufacturers take note – the Raleigh Roker has a LOT of tire clearance – more than any other factory, non-custom gravel bike we have seen. In these photos, Rusty is using the Clement X’Plor MSO configured tubeless. These tires stretch beyond their 40mm wide branding when fitted to the American Classic Race 29’er wheelset but there is still plenty of room.
Another friend of the Gravel Cyclist crew has run 29’er x 2.0″ MTB tires on his Roker. In that configuration, clearance is tight and mud could be a problem, but it is noteworthy. Big tires aren’t just for mountain biking – try riding and racing some of gnarly gravel descents in Western North Carolina or West Virginia!
- Frame: Raleigh Roker Comp, size 56cm (56cm top tube) finished in Alaskan Railway Blue with 142mm x 12mm thru axle.
- Fork: Raleigh Roker Carbon, tapered 1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″ with 15mm thru axle.
- Headset: Raleigh 1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″.
- Stem: Ritchey C260, 110mm, 31.8mm clamp.
- Handlebar: Ritchey WCS Logic II, 42cm center to center.
- Handlebar Tape: Lizard Skins.
- Front brake: Shimano RS685 hydraulic.
- Rear brake: Shimano RS685 hydraulic.
- Shift / Brake Shift levers: Shimano 6800 mechanical / hydraulic.
- Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800 mechanical 11-speed.
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800 mechanical 11-speed, mid-cage.
- Cassette: Shimano Ultega 11/25 or 11-32 11-speed.
- Chain: Shimano Ultegra 11-speed.
- Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 11-speed, 172.5mm with 46 / 34 chainrings.
- Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000, external cup bearing.
- Pedals: Shimano XTR PD-M980 race.
- Wheelset: American Classic Race 29’er with American Classic valve cores.
- Front tyre: Clement X’Plor MSO 700c x 40mm, filled with Orange Seal Endurance formula.
- Rear tyre: Clement X’Plor MSO 700c x 40mm, filled with Orange Seal Endurance formula.
- Saddle: Fizik Arione.
- Seatpost: Ritchey WCS aluminum, 27.2mm x 350mm.
- Bottle cages: Cateye BC-100 – old school cages from the 1980’s that have yet to lose a bottle!
- Computer: Not fitted at time of photo, Garmin 800. Rusty mounts his Garmin onto the top tube, which is quite different from the accepted norms.
Bike assembled by Top Gear Bicycles of Ocala, Florida.