Review: Raleigh Grand PrixOriginally posted on January 5, 2016 at 8:25 am
This Raleigh with the classic name may in fact be the sleeper bike of 2015. At first glance, it’s a fairly conventional steel road bike but in fact it has a secret identity as a travel bike.
At the heart of the Reynolds 520 butted chromoly steel frame is the Ritchey Break-Away system. Look closely and you’ll notice the double seat post clamps. Look even closer and you find a small collar around the downtube by the bottom bracket. The way this bike breaks down to fit into a travel case is almost too simple to work so well. A pair of four and five millimeter allen wrenches is all that is needed to take it apart.
The travel case included with the bike is designed to sneak in under the oversize baggage limit on most airlines. After multiple national and international flights with the bike, I never had to pay an extra fee to fly. Add up the fees for a standard bike (more than $100 these days) and this bike will pay for itself in a few years if you’re a frequent flier. If needed the case can be unzipped and expanded for more room, but you might get hit with a fee. I didn’t chance it, but it might be worth it for that Moroccan rug you just had to buy at the marketplace.
The parts on this bike are a complement to the classy steel frame. A full build of Campagnolo Veloce drivetrain bits, silver long-reach Promax brakes and Weinmann rims all have a timeless look. The quick releases are even retro looking without being over the top. Replacement Campagnolo parts aren’t found as easily as Shimano or SRAM, which could cause some hassle when traveling. If that concerns you, it wouldn’t be hard to sell the drivetrain and swap in another group.
I’ve owned a lot of steel bikes and the Grand Prix is fine example of the breed. It’s not the lightest thing out there, or the finest riding, but it is stiff enough for a proper sprint and won’t rattle those fillings on less than smooth tarmac or even some dirt. Room for 32 mm tires (or 28s with fenders attached to the provided braze-ons) is a nice touch, as are the downtube shifter bosses. The cable adjusters on the downtube were a big help for fine tuning the derailleurs after reassembly.
I didn’t feel out of place in street clothes or lycra on this bike, and flipping the stem to a negative rise and moving some of the spacers to the top provided a position aggressive enough to join a spirited group ride. As an everyday road bike for fun and transportation, the Grand Prix is an attractive companion, both at home and abroad. I’m pretty sold on this Ritchey system. Now if Raleigh would make one of these with disc brakes, wider tires and rack mounts, I’d be first in line to buy one.
For those not in need of a travel bike, the $1,800 Record Ace has the same Veloce build kit hung on a nice Reynold 631 frame.
- Price: $2,300
- Weight: 22.7 pounds
- Sizes: 52, 54, 56, 58 (tested), 60, 62
- More info: Raleighusa.com
This review originally appeared in Issue #37. Subscribe today so you don’t miss any of our insights on new bicycles like this one.