Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Retro Raleigh - A New Team Replica

Forty years ago, Joop Zoetemelk won the Tour de France on a Raleigh, built of Reynolds 753 tubing and painted in the Raleigh Team's classic red, black, and yellow scheme. This September, Raleigh will be releasing a new Team replica that pays homage to the past, but also nods to the current era.

Zoetemelk had the unfortunate experience of having a career that straddled the eras of Merckx and Hinault. He raced the Tour 16 times (and completed it every time), finished 2nd six times, and won it in 1980 (at age 33). Zoetemelk would go on to win the World Championship road race in 1985 at age 38. He doesn't get nearly enough credit as one of the greats of the sport.
So, about the new bike:

Honestly, it's amazing that any major bike company is making a bike like this in the year 2020. And I like it. Reynolds 753 tubing. Downtube shift levers. One-inch fork steerer with Cinelli quill stem. Traditional non-aero brake levers. Selle Italia Turbo saddle. The "modern" comes in with the 10-speed cassette and 50/39 chainrings.

From a few feet back, it sure could fool a person that they're back in 1980. Except for the derailleurs (modern Campagnolo) and brake calipers (dual-pivot - also Campagnolo), it could possibly fool a person up-close, too.
Did I mention Reynolds 753 tubing? Yes, I did. Seriously, I didn't even know that Reynolds was still making it. Some years back the tubing company released a "limited run" of their classic 531 tubing. Perhaps they did something similar with the special heat-treated, thin-walled 753. But the tubing choice sets this bike apart from most other vintage re-creations I've seen over the years -- in other words, some substance to go with the style.

A fun detail - a vintage-styled crank. Squint a little and it looks like '70s/'80s vintage Campy. The 39-tooth small ring offers gearing a good bit lower than the 42t ring of the old Campagnolo cranks, though. I can't see a brand, but it looks a lot like the cranks that are sold by IRD (their Defiant model, maybe?). Though shown here in the studio photos without pedals, I read that the bike will ship with traditional quill pedals with toe-clips and leather straps.

Rivendell "Silver" downtube shift levers - a remake of a 1980s SunTour design. And yes, they will work with modern 10-speed gearing. Notice the homage to the 1980 TdF win on the sticker.

Though the bike uses modern Campagnolo dual-pivot brakes, the levers are from DiaCompe. I'm not sure anyone else still makes traditional non-aero road levers. The levers also have a built-in quick release, which is a good touch with the Campagnolo brakes, since those no longer have a quick-release built into the caliper to open them up for wheel removal. (Campy's Ergo levers have a small quick-release button to open up the calipers). Another fun detail is in the wheels. Yes, they are modern hubs and current Mavic Open Pro rims - but someone had the clever idea to put old-style Mavic stickers on the rims.

On the whole, it seems like Raleigh took the retro/replica idea seriously. The frame seems to be a good classic design with no obvious shortcuts (and 753 tubing - wow!) and the components are well-chosen to combine good quality with the right "look" for a vintage-styled bike -- or at least, as close as one can get with modern-production parts. There was another Team replica released a few years back (2015?) but this new one seems a little closer to the target than that earlier attempt.

The bikes will be available direct from Raleigh starting Sept. 1 - through their website: https://www.raleigh.co.uk/gb/en/ti-raleigh-relaunch/

Prices only seem to be listed in Pounds or Euros - but I expect the frames to sell for somewhere around $2000, and complete bikes to be maybe a little over $3000. A lot of money, yes, but comparable to other high-end steel frames/bikes today. I know I won't be lining up to buy one - I'd probably keep my eyes open for an original Raleigh SBDU if I were really interested. But I expect there are people out there who want vintage style without the hassles that can come with true vintage bikes.