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.


  1. I like it! Kudos to Raleigh for opting for the traditional brake levers and downtube shifters. It will be interesting to see if this bike will succeed in a niche market.

    I recently finished a restoration of a 1987 steel-framed road bike for my wife. Aside from the saddle, it's all period authentic and mostly original. Having been introduced to road biking on a thoroughly 'modern' bike 3 years ago, she swore she'd never ride something with downtube shifters or fewer than 9 sprockets at the rear hub. However, now that she's given it a try, she has begun to understand my appreciation for high-end steel frames, and even declared that the Suntour shifters and derailleurs paired with Suntour 13-26 freewheel are precise and easy to use.

  2. I saw a Raleigh 753 frame in Team colors & excellent condition being used as a fixie here in Melbourne, Australia. I waited around for the owner for a while to see if I could rescue it from them (it was my size) but they didn't show before I had to go. What a waste.

  3. BTW If those DiaCompe levers are the same as the ones I've tried—and they look to be—I predict they'll be coming off most of these bikes: I found them very hard & uncomfortable to use. As did the person I gave them to. I'd be trying to find some original Campagnolo or Sun Tour levers. YRMV

    1. I have those modern Dia-Compe levers on two bikes and like them, quite comfy for me. But brake levers are like saddles I guess, they either work for you or they don't.

      Looks like Raleigh is targeting the Eroica crowd with this one. 3k for a complete bike seems pretty reasonable.

  4. I have never understood the desire to cover a beautiful design with random decals, isn't a well made head badge not enough and let the lines speak for themselves. More desirable than anything from mayor manufacturers for an age.

  5. This is definitely pretty neat stuff. And just coincidentally, I spent a little time yesterday looking at Raleigh Professionals from the 1970s online, and came to the conclusion that the "blue mink" and silver paint job was the absolute high point for Raleigh paint jobs. Personally, I don't really go for the Raleigh Team paint scheme. But that is really just quibbling. It is super exciting to see Raleigh coming out with a brand new bike based on classic design!!!

  6. Chater-lea cranks , nice bling !

  7. With fears of climate change there's been a lot of talk quite rightly about sustainability , but have we ever considered how long some of our cycle 'bits' will last? In the late 1970's I was a member of my local cycling club and we had a club night every month at which (in pre ebay days!) members would sell surplus 'bits' At this time I brought second hand Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear mech and pedals The pedals have been in use since with serviceable bearings I strip and regrease them every few years, when I brought them I was told they were about 10 years old so that's 50 years or half a century of use and there as smooth as ever. The rear mech I thought was long lost but when my dad passed a few years ago I found it in his shed and have now mounted it on a bike. At the time these parts were really expensive new £50 a piece from what I can remember but clearly worth every penny. I've told my wife that Pharaoh like I want to be buried with them so I can enjoy them for eternity in my cycling afterlife, being a non cyclist she was somewhat incredulous!

  8. Soo Coooool!( even to somebody born in 1980 )