Raleigh have been making their urban Strada bike in a range of builds for a while now, but this is the first time they’ve offered it as an electric bike. For £2,000 you get Shimano’s STePS middle motor system with an eight-speed Alfine Di2 hub, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and a new carbon-bladed fork at the front that’s similar to the one that Raleigh use on the Strada Speed 2.
To fit the middle motor Raleigh have had to redesign the frame, and they’ve take the opportunity to route the cables inside the frame for a cleaner look. There’s no chain case, rack or mudguards so it’s a very uncluttered and classy look with a gunmetal finish and minimal graphics. You do get a kickstand though. Raleigh have opted for a standard dropout at the rear and the Alfine chain tensioner, rather than using a horizontal slot dropout which allows you to get the chain tight without the sprung tensioner. There’s positives to both approaches: a horizontal dropout is neater, but the chain tensioner means getting the wheel out to mend a puncture is easier.
It's certainly a good-looking urban bike
The Shimano STePS system gives you a mid-motor 250W power unit and three assistance modes. The battery is downtube-mounted and swings out from its mount for easy removal and charging. The Strada E we tried had the new, larger display but hadn’t been updated to include the new automatic mode that shifts gear for you based on your cadence and how hard you’re working. Production models should have that, though.
The new STePS head unit is a big improvement
Shimano supply the hydraulic disc brakes, and the seatpost, stem and flat handlebar are fairly generic alloy units; there’s a sporty-profile saddle and standard round grips, and the road/bike interface is a set of Schwalbe Energiser Plus tyres.
Dave says: There’s always a demand for good-looking, stripped-down urban bikes and that trend is likely to make the jump to e-bikes as well. Boutique brands like Electrolyte are already serving the top-end of that market, but the £2,000 price point is likely to be an important one as the e-bike market in the UK grows and the Strada is a great-looking bike for the money.
It’s fun to ride, too. The frame and fork is nice and stiff and direct-feeling; it’d probably be a bit harsh with narrow tyres but the Schwalbe Energiser Plus rubber fitted is big enough to smooth through the bumps and it rolls very well too. There’s plenty of grip and the rounded profile means they’re good in the corners. Stopping from the non-series Shimano disc brakes is excellent too, with one-finger stopping even with the extra weight of the battery and motor.
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes stop you quickly
STePS is a high-quality system and the fact that it’s all designed to be used together makes it a neat solution too. The motor isn’t as quiet as its main rival, the Bosch Active Line, but the power curve feels very natural and in Eco mode you can forget you’re being given a helping hand. Stick it in High and point the Strada uphill and you’ll be in no doubt, though. The twin remotes – one for power mode and one for gear – are easy to use and the new, bigger display is a marked improvement.
The Strada E is a fun, if firm, stripped down urban bike
If you’re after a leisure e-bike that looks good, this is certainly one to look at. Utility-wise there’s no rack or mudguards but you could easily fit a nice set of low-profile mudguards and chaincase – something from the likes of Curana for example – and still maintain the sharp lines of the Strada E, and make it a bit more UK-weather-friendly.