Raleigh USA Clubman Commuter Bike


Reynolds 520 Butted Chromoly Tubing frame with a 4130 Chromoly Lugged Road fork.


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[Jan 27, 2010]




not the best wheels or brakes
footstraps too short

A comfortable, fast, commuter.
Daniels bikes were the cheapest around by miles, but since they specialize in beach cruiser rentals you might have to do a little tuning of the gears after you get it home.
Commuting 6.5 city miles each way to work, this bike has been comfy and fast. More compliant than an aluminum bike and tougher than a carbon bike. Plus steel is much more repairable and recyclable than carbon. I predict mountains of cracked carbon bikes filling up landfills in the near future while the steel bikes keep on rolling, before being recycled way in the future. I had a 2004 jamis quest (a superb bike, which was sadly stolen) and after 15thousand hard miles its carbon fork was going a bit noodley. I would have got another quest, but they are now getting very expensive.
The bike is a little heavier than an equivalent racing bike, and a touch more flexy, but thats where the comfort comes from. For a chinese made frame it has surprisingly tidy welds. At times when being ridden very hard with fullish panniers it begins to lose its composure and start to lose control, but in normal use it feels solid enough.
The geometry is just a touch stretched out for me for all-day riding on the hoods, but is fine for a thirty minute each-way commute. At some point I might get a shorter stem. (I am 6foot, riding a 59 incher).
The fenders are unnecessary in usually sunny LA, so I removed them, but they are predicting rain so I may put them back on. They are nice to have, but add weight/drag/noise if not needed. The fenders lack mudflaps which make them less effective. The brooks saddle looks great, but I already had a saddle I was happy with, so I swapped it out and sold it on craigslist for $90. I had a brooks on my old bike in college and loved it, but that one had a flatter top, the new one seems a bit more rounded.
I have large feet, and the supplied footstrap arrangement was way too short, and caused me to pedal with my toes, after a while this became very uncomfortable. I replaced the pedals with spd's, If you can ride in bike shoes and change at work into regular shoes, then modern clipless pedals are way better/easier to get in/out of, and provide a much more solid connection to the bike.
The brown bar tape is thin and retro cool, but doesnt provide much padding.
In hindsight I would have been better saving a few bucks and buying the 2009. The 2010 comes with more polish, fenders and a retro handlebar, which may not be an improvement in functionality. Also, I think the 2009 is a better color than the 2010's brown.
The brakes/rims have been a bit grindy and don't stop all that quickly, but they get the job done, and they dont lose any power in the rain. The gears work fine, and the compact crank is ideal for fast city riding.
The wheels are shiny, but not of the highest quality. I think a generic saddle and better wheels would have been a better choice.
In conclusion-- for the price I paid there are few bikes out there which come as close to being the perfect fast commuter. Sure they could have made some different compromises in component selection, but at the end of the day, it is a superb riding frame with good-enough parts and it has gotten a bunch of admiring glances. In some ways it is groundbreaking - a superbly useable, uber-cool, daily rider which gets you there fast, in style and comfort.

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