As iconic a bike brand as any, Raleigh are also an icon of British engineering. Everyone knows the Raleigh bikes range.
The Raleigh Bicycle Company began life in 1885, when Richard Woodhead and Paul Angois set up a small bike workshop on Raleigh Street, Nottingham.
A series of sales eventually saw production move from Nottingham to Taiwan and Vietnam in the early 2000s, though the UK headquarters continues to make its home in the founding city.
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Raleigh bikes range
The range at Raleigh is vast. Here’s a look at some of the key models…
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Raleigh Array electric bike
The Raleigh Array is a commuter focused electric bike with a 400Wh battery, wide and sweeping handlebars with seven speed derailleur gears and resilient tyres.
Front and rear lights are built in, as are the mudguards. The brakes are discs to ensure good stopping in the wet, and frame is aluminium.
You can buy it with a straight crossbar, or a low crossbar for a reduced standover height.
The weight is approximately 23kg, so this isn’t a lightweight bike, but for it’s affordable price it makes for an excellent entry level electric bike.
Raleigh Centros Tour and Grand Tour electric bike
An electric bike range designed for relaxed and comfortable touring, the Centros range comes with a Suntour front suspension fork and have a very powerful 500wH Bosch battery that Raleigh say will allow you to ride up to an impressive 135 miles on a single charge.
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes ensure quick stopping even in the wet and on the higher end Grand Tour option, Nexus hub gears keep shifting neat, tidy and reliable.
Go a step down and you still get 10 speed Deore shifting via a traditional derailleur.
Raleigh Felix and Raleigh Felix Plus
The Felix range is a five model line-up of electric bikes that provide a comfortable upright riding position.
All models feature aluminium frames with short travel suspension forks at the front to provide comfort.
Running on Schwalbe Road cruiser tyres, they’ll be a little quicker off the mark than the Tour style with a more road going geometry, though you can opt for a straight crossbar or low step over option.
The battery is a Bosch 300Wh on the standard model, whilst the ‘+’ version boasts a more powerful 400Wh battery.
Raleigh Willow and Raleigh Sherwood
A classic style glider of a bike, fitted out with a kickstand, pannier racks and basket.
With a single front chainring and seven gears on the rear cassette, the aluminium framed Willow will roll well on flat roads and will cope on the shallower, draggy hills. But it isn’t an option we’d recommend if you plan to commute via any significant hills.
Of a similar nature is the Raleigh Sherwood which instead comes with a steel frame.
Raleigh Motus Electric
The Raleigh Motus bikes come available in a range of formats – from sporty crossbars to low step throughs to the compact electric sort.
Created to be the ultimate commuter, each comes with built in pannier racks, mudguards, disc brakes and tyres that will roll well on the road whilst remaining resilient.
They all have a small degree of front end suspension for a little comfort boost, plus front and rear lights to remove potential complications in winter.
The gravel/adventure road bike from Raleigh, the Mustang comes with wide 36c tyres, mechanical disc brakes and a gravel-specific carbon fork with a tapered steerer – the aim of the game being to offer precise handling and plenty of tyre clearance.
The Mustang offers a more relaxed riding position for comfort and stability off-road on it’s double butted aluminium frame.
The Raleigh Pioneer range are designed to be resilient commuters which roll quickly on the road.
The bikes feature an aluminium frame with a triple chainring and seven or eight rear gears to ensure there’s enough range for any journey.
All models come with v-brakes, which aren’t as good in the wet as disc options, but will be sufficient for most riders. There’s a selection of styles, with straight crossbars and low step variations.
Mudguards and pannier racks come as standard, whilst the Trail versions offer a little squish via front end suspension that has 60mm of travel and wider tyres that can tackle more varied terrain.
This steel framed city slicker can be ridden fixed or as a singlespeed.
It comes with aluminium seatpost and bars, and a steel fork. The bike comes with a 42 tooth chainring and 16 tooth rear cog, this should be fine for most riders but you can swap them out once you learn what suits you best.
This ride is perfect for riders who care about aesthetics have flat roads to roll into the city, but if there are any significant inclines you may be craving a smaller gear or more gears to choose from.
Raleigh Stowaway folding bike and Evo electric folding bike
The folding bike option from Raleigh uses an aluminium frame and comes with 20″ wheels and v-brakes plus seven rear gears on the cassette.
Mudguards and a pannier rack come as standard, and reflective graphics on the side give added visibility.
At 14.5kg the Stowaway is one of the heavier folding bike options out there, but this is still lightweight enough to carry up stairs when on the move. When folded, it is very compact, making it a perfect solution if space is tight.
The Raleigh Evo is a electric folding option and folds down to a compact 880mm x 800mm x 440mm size. The Evo has many similar features to the Stowaway but also comes with a 250wH battery which Raleigh say has a range up to 31 miles. Coming in at 20kg, it is a heavier choice but worth it if you need a little extra boost on rides.
Raleigh Strada and Strada Trail Sport
Raleigh’s Strada range is designed to offer rugged adventure potential, and all nine bikes in this collection have different specifications.
There are two key Strada families: the basic Strada hybrid bike and the Strada Trail Sport bikes, the latter coming with 60mm travel suspension forks for more off-road action.
A notable feature across all models is the use of a 650b wheel size. Popular on mountain bikes, and more recently adventure road and gravel bikes, the wheel size can be coupled with wider tyres to smooth out bumps and lumps in the road or trail.
Strada hybrid bikes are all equipped with rim brakes, and range from the lower end Strada 1 with Shimano Tourney to the top end Strada 5 with a Shimano Deore single ring drivetrain which offers simplicity in shifting. All but the Strada 1 come with internal cable routing and disc brakes.
Raleigh kids’ bikes
Some of Raleigh’s most renowned creations have been kids’ bikes, and their children’s starter machines are still some of the most widely stocked.
Raleigh offers a very wide selection, consisting of sixteen different families. Below is a quick run down to help you select one.
We’d always suggest putting your focus on the weight of the bike. Children’s bike designers in the past have been guilty of attempting to replicate adult bikes – adding suspension and lots of gears – elements that aren’t always necessary on kids’ bikes and can make learning to ride harder.
Pedalling a bike which weighs a significant percentage of your own mass is hard.
The kids’ performance range from Raleigh looks to reverse this, with fewer gears, simple designs, and the lowest weight it offers.
- Burner: 12 inch wheels, 4.5kg; a mini balance bike in blue and yellow
- Propaganda: 12 inch wheels, 5kg; a mini balance bike that mirrors the adult Propaganda bike
- Sherwood: 12 inch wheels, 5kg; a mini balance bike in pink with tan coloured grips and matching wicker basket
- Pop: 12-24 inch wheels, 6-12kg; light aluminium frame with playful pops of colour
- Molli: 12-16 inch wheels, 8-10kg; aluminium frame, pink and purple with basket and ‘Molli’ doll
- Buy Now: See the Raleigh kids’ bikes at Evans Cycle from £120.00
Former road models
Whilst no longer a part of the line-up, Raleigh road bikes are still available second hand – so here’s a look at the key models.
The bike which rose to fame when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it his ‘dream bike’ (and got lambasted for being a socialist and wanting such a luxury item).
Still sporting its appropriate red paint job, the Criterium is an aluminium racing frame designed to offer an entry into the world of road cycling. Or to complete commuting or winter bike duties for the kind of rider who has several bikes in the stable.
Calling itself “fast enough to race, comfortable enough to ride all day” the endurance race geometry is relaxed enough for long sportives or commuting, where you often want to be able to stay ‘heads up’ without craning your neck.
At an affordable price, you can get a double butted alloy frame with internal cabling and tapered head tube, Shimano Claris gearing (compact 50/34 chainset and 11-32 cassette – that’s lots of gears!), and Kenda Kontender tyres in 26c – these should provide ample security and grip thanks to the wider than average width.
The Raleigh Militis is the top end machine that was raced by Team Raleigh-GAC until 2018 when the UCI Continental team became Vitus Pro Cycling Team.
Designed to be ridden in competitive environments, it provided the rider with a chassis that allows them to get long and low.
Raleigh tells us there’s no plans to launch a new one but there are still some 2017 models floating about and available to buy.
Raleigh bikes: history and production
Founders Richard Woodhead and Paul Angois commenced Raleigh in 1885, and in 1888 their Raleigh safety bicycles (an alternative to the Penny Farthing) attracted the interest of Frank Bowden – a long distance tricyclist looking to replace his own machine. Bowden got more than he’d bargained for, eventually taking ownership of the company and giving it the name it carries now.
Raleigh experimented with a number of product groups; for example motorcycles in 1899 and the three wheeled Raleighette in 1903. By 1913, the business was the biggest bicycle manufacturing company in the world.
In 1960, Raleigh was purchased by the Tube Investments Group – who already owned a number of bike brands. The names merged, to become TI-Raleigh – a superpower which laid claim to 75 per cent of the UK market – boasting brands such as Brooks and Reynolds.
Growth continued, eventually expanding to incorporate branches in the USA, UK, Canada and Ireland. Then in 1987, Derby Cycle bought Raleigh and its American arm.
The US frames were already manufactured in Taiwan, but the UK frame making equipment was sold in 1999 – production moving to Vietnam.
Come 2012, Derby was acquired by Pon, a Dutch company which also owns Gazelle and Cervélo, then later that year a second change of hands saw it come under Accell, the current owner whose other brands include Lapierre and Ghost bicycles.
In January 2017, it was announced that Raleigh will be distributing Lapierre bikes in the UK, from September 2017.
With a history of supporting professional cycling – including sponsoring A.A. ‘Zimmy’ Zimmerman on his way to becoming World Champion in 1987 and taking Joop Zoetemelk to a Tour de France win in 1980 – Raleigh re-entered the realm of pro cycling by launching Team Raleigh in 2010.
The riders competed aboard Raleigh’s Militis road bike – a special eTap edition of which was assembled at the Raleigh UK headquarters, back in Nottingham, in 2016. The frames were still made in the Far East.
However, in more recent years, Raleigh has moved its focus back to hybrid, electric and kids bikes, ending its sponsorship in road racing.