We went up to see Raleigh yesterday and they showed us round their updated showroom and warehouse, before talking us through the highlights of the 2017 e-bike range.
Raleigh are pushing strongly into the e-bike market; along with Haibike and Diamondback, which they also distribute in the UK, e-bikes make up about a third of the company's turnover in the UK, with the figure closer to 50% for Raleigh's parent company, Accell, who are responsible for some of the biggest European e-bike brands. There's lots to talk about, so let's have a look at what's coming your way...
Raleigh Motus and Captus
The city-friendly Motus and Captus bikes have been updated for 2017. There's a new frame, which uses 26” wheels instead of 700c for smaller frame sizes. “With a 700c wheel and a rack battery the saddle will only go down to a certain height when you have a small frame”, Terry Blackwood of Raleigh told us; that's something we've noticed on other small city bikes we've had in for testing. So now the smaller bikes have smaller wheels; they go right down to a 45cm frame.
The Motus and the Captus share the same frame designs, with a high and low-step design available in both bikes. They both gat a Bosch Active line mid motor and use Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Both bikes are available either with a derailleur transmission or a Shimano Nexus 8 hub gear. You can either transmission with either frame design, and Raleigh told us that the hub-geared bikes are increasing in popularity.
The cheaper Captus gets 9-speed Shimano Acera (£,1750) or a Nexus hub gear (£1,900) and comes without integrated lights, whereas the Motus (£2,000 for the derailleur build and £2,150 for the hub gear) gets a 10-speed SRAM Via transmission, lights and a higher-capacity 400Wh battery. The Captus has a 300Wh unit.
The Motus also gets an upgraded Selle Royal Scienta R2 saddle over the previous model. “That's the most popular shape but it people talk nicely to their dealer they might swap it out”, said Blackwood. “That's entirely a dealer decision though!”
We covered the launch of the Stow-e-Way earlier this month (http://ebiketips.co.uk/content/news/raleigh-announce-new-stow-e-way-folding-e-bike-577) but this is the first time we've seen in the flesh. For £1,100 it looks like it should be right at home on a mixed commute.
Raleigh have specced a TranzX R15 hub motor in the rear hub; that puts out 45Nm of torque, so this isn't just a bike for the flat, it should have enough poke for the hills too. The TranzX system also features a USB port so you can hook the bike up to a diagnostic tool for troubleshooting.
It comes with a relatively short seatpost, which means that out of the box it won't fit taller riders, but an aftermarket longer seatpost is available, which Raleigh sell basically at cost price. So if you're taller than about 6' you'll need to factor in getting that too.
The 250Wh battery is big enough to give the bike a decent range without adding too much to the weight; Raleigh claim a sub-20kg all-in weight for the Stow-e-Way. You get integrated lighting and a Shimano Altus 8-speed derailleur transmission. There's mudguards too to keep your city clothes looking smart.
Raleigh Strada TS
We reviewed the Raleigh Strada E last year; back then it was £2,000 but now you'll have to fork out £2,500 for one. Brexit, eh? Anyway, Raleigh have introduced another Strada e-bike below that one, the Strada TS.
The TS model uses a butted alloy frame with a TranzX M16 mid motor. The M16 uses a cadence rather than a torque sensor so it's cheaper to build, but it still puts out 50Nm of torque so it's on a par with the Bosch Active Line and Shimano STEPS City motors. You get a centre-mounted LCD display and a remote for switching modes. You get a 400Wh frame-mounted battery.
The TS doesn't have the rigid fork of the more expensive bike, opting instead for a Suntour suspension fork. It's more of a short travel mountain bike fork than a city fork, so it's a bit beefier and that should mean better steering response.
With a 9-speed Shimano Deore transmission, WTB all-purpose tyres and the fork it's more of a multi-purpose leisure build than the Strada E, which is more designed as a fast urban bike. It's significantly cheaper at £1,700, though, and a swap of tyres is all you'd need to dedicate it to the road.
“What we're generally trying to do with our e-bikes is just integrate them into our line-up”, Blackwood told us. “They're not a separate product range that people either forget about, or it's all they talk about”. So the Pioneer e-bike uses the same frame and build as the standard Pioneer, with the addition of a TranzX F15 motor and a 400Wh battery.
The Pioneer sits above the Raleigh Array we currently have in for testing and for £1,300 – £300 more than the Array – you get a bigger battery, more powerful motor system with plug-in diagnostics and better finishing kit.
The more powerful motor makes it a lot more versatile: “The Array is a great bike for nipping around Cambridge but it's not so suited to commuting in Sheffield”, Blackwood said. The bike is available in this low-step configuration or with a diamond frame, and also comes in lilac.
Raleigh Spirit E
Winning the award for the classiest-looking bike on show was the Spirit E – this stylish roadster uses the same TranzX motor as the Pioneer but wraps it up in a classic frame design. The bike features the Heron chainring design from Raleigh bikes of old, and a metal chain case enclosing the 7-speed Nexus hub gear transmission.
We reckon this is more or less the perfect bike for our home town of Bath: you'll look debonair cruising past the Royal Crescent and you'll still look debonair when you arrive at the University having climbed for 2 miles up Bathwick Hill.
It's a bit more expensive than the Pioneer, at £1,400, thanks to the hub gear and the finishing kit. The Spirit E is testament to how far e-bikes have come in the last few years: you couldn't really get a good-looking e-bike 5 years ago, and the technology is so much more stable and reliable. It's great to see e-bike technology being integrated into bikes like this: it shows how far pedal-assist has become an everyday part of the cycling landscape.