Raleigh RSP 200
Cost: £599 -NEW LOW PRICE
Frame: Handbuilt 7000 series aluminium
Fork: Manitou Spyder
Stop: SRAM 7.0 brakes and levers
Go: Nine-speed Gripshift ESP 7.0 rear mech and shifters, Alivio front mech, SR Suntour AP46 chainset, Wellgo clipless pedals
Wheels: Mavic X138 rims on Sachs Centera hubs with WTB Velociraptor tyres
Stuff: WTB dual-compound grips, San Marco NSK Pilot Racing Tecno Top saddle
From: Raleigh 0115 942 0202
Say hello to the handbuilt joys of the RSP200 frameset. Compact dropped top tube, wishbone seatstays, downtube gusset, cut-out dropouts, square-section chainstays and a big webbed chainstay bridge section. A few years ago this was all exotica, and even now it smacks more of goateed Yanks in sheds than the mutton-chopped craftsmen of Raleigh. The replaceable mech hanger and forward-facing seatclamp slot complete the picture, and the handling is every bit as tight as the build.
Those big square chainstays feed power straight to the rear wheel for firing out of corners or up technical verts, but you’re trading total rear-end feel and strength for a beating through the saddle on rough stretches. The Spyder fork loosens up with a bit of grease injection through the appropriate ports, and complements well as one of the stiffest-tracking budget units out there. Rebound can get a bit lairy under big landings or other sizeable strikes, though, so keep weight forward to compensate.
Ride character is dominated by the huge high-rise 27in bars and 90mm 25 per cent stem throwing rider weight back on to the rear wheel. With sharp, short-stem steering and ape hanger bars it’s just begging to be slung as low as you dare through tight singletrack or raaarped through technical stuff with front wheel lofted high. There’s a lot of rider movement to keep weight nailed over the appropriate wheel, but that’s all part of the experience. Rides on the Raleigh tended to be brutal, flat-out rampages. Even when we just meant to go to the shops.
The wheelset is basic, reliable kit that stood up fine to the abuse we gave it, and the Velociraptors are classic technical treads, nailing traction in most conditions and with airspace enough to cut trail chatter and fend off pinch flats.
Gripshift is becoming a rare spec choice after its heyday a few years back, and, to be honest, we weren’t impressed. The chain broke 20 minutes into the first ride and refused to settle thereafter, skipping under changes and eventually being responsible for a wonderful scar up the Test Ed’s calf after a chain-skip/pedal-slip/chainring-slice moment. The brakes were fine though, if nothing startling, and the plastic ESP levers are far more durable than you’d think.
The chainset looks sweet but shifts noticeably slower than Shimano. Clipless pedals are great at this price point. Considering all the names they’ve given it, the saddle was remarkably ordinary, but the WTB grips are family favourites that keep hands in place even in the wet.
– Splendid frame. Handbuilt in Nottingham for abuse anywhere
– Riot ride position. Stumpy stem, moose bars and ultra-direct rear for flat-out fooling
– Sensible spec. Wheels and chainset give dependable performance but allow clipless pedals and decent grips within the budget
– Gripshift attention. We had bad experiences with ours, so check before you ride, and lavish TLC
– Not much else. Upgrade as and when, but enjoy as served
A bombproof handbuilt frame with features you’ll pay through the nose for on some boutique bikes. With well-matched fork spec and a ride position that’s begging you to thrash it from the minute you grab the ape hangers, you’re guaranteed to be grinning on every riotous ride. Gripshift needs fettling before it calms, but the frame is well worth upgrading as you destroy stuff or wear it out. Too rear-end harsh for days out, but a brilliant British bulldog.