We've tested the Mustang Comp, the top of Raleigh's aluminium framed gravel bike range
Raleigh has gone big on gravel bikes for 2016, with three ranges and eight models. Top of the tree is the new Roker, which comes in two carbon framed models, while the new Mustang and the Maverick – an older range continued from previous years – are aluminium. The company has also majored on SRAM’s Force 1 and Rival 1 single-ring groupsets.
The Raleigh Mustang Comp is top of the aluminium bike tree and comes with a Rival 1 drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes and a huge gear range courtesy of its 10-42 cassette.
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The Raleigh Mustang Comp’s frame has a typical gravel bike geometry, with a long wheelbase and a low 71 degree head tube angle supporting its tapered fork. The latter has carbon blades and an aluminium steerer and comes with a 15mm thru axle.
The frame runs on a rear thru axle too, in this case 142mm x 12mm. There’s a sloping tapered top tube and the chainstays are long at 440mm – another typical gravel bike feature to aid stability. There’s a bridge between them just behind the bottom bracket, which I found tended to collect mud. On more than one occasion I had to poke the accumulation off with a stick to keep the rear wheel running smoothly.
The rear derailleur cable runs externally and naked through cable guides on the down tube and under the bottom bracket. Although this routing could potentially lead to contamination by mud and reduced shifting performance, in reality I did not find this a problem.
The Raleigh Mustang Comp comes with SRAM’s Rival 1 groupset, although the 44 tooth chainset is SRAM’s lower spec S350. It sits on SRAM GXP bottom bracket bearings. The SRAM 1 cassette has a spread of sprockets from 10 up to 42 teeth, giving a monster range from almost 120 down to 29 gear inches. This gave plenty of scope to tackle off-road gradients while still being able to keep up a good pace on roads and gravelled tracks.
Its wheels are American Classic TCX, which are a disc brake specific, tubeless-ready design with a quoted weight of 1895 grams a pair and a very wide 26mm external width. These come with 35mm Schwalbe G One tyres, which have a tread pattern of quite small, low profile circular knobs. These worked well on the gravel tracks for which they are intended and rolled well on tarmac, but on muddier sections tended to clog up, resulting in a lack of grip and some snaking.
I took advantage of the American Classics’ tubeless-ready design to ditch the tubes and switch out to more aggressive loose condition tyres with wider, more prominent knobs. These grippier tyres, coupled with the stability offered by the wide rims made for a more assured off-road ride.
The Raleigh Mustang Comp’s long wheelbase helped to maintain stability despite the tendency of the supplied Schwalbe G One tyres to side-slip in muddier conditions. It’s not a light bike and this could be felt on steeper ascents: I found I sometimes ran out of steam despite the low bottom gearing.
The hydraulic disc brakes which come with SRAM 1 worked well, stopping the bike promptly when required and providing good modulation. They have a nice light touch and comfortable hoods, which I appreciated on longer descents.
The Raleigh Mustang Comp felt fast-rolling on the tarmac and the long wheelbase, wide tyres, carbon seatpost and well-padded saddle made it comfortable too.
Raleigh’s 2016 gravel bike range boasts a host of modern features which make riding off road an enjoyable experience. The inclusion of a SRAM 1 groupset is definitely a highlight of the Raleigh Mustang Comp. There’s good shifting, an absence of chain slap over rougher ground and little likelihood of chain loss. The hydraulic disc brakes which come with SRAM 1 are an asset too providing assured braking with a light touch.
It’s also great to see a quality set of tubeless-ready wheels with a wide section. It’s another nice piece of future-proofing, particularly with the thru axles, which are rapidly becoming a standard for disc braked bikes. The tyres too are a quality offering. Although not quite up to the rigours of British winter bridleways, they’re good for drier conditions and paved tracks and are easily swapped out for a more aggressive tread pattern and tubeless running if you find you need these.
In summary, the Raleigh Mustang Comp provides a good-value package with quality components, which will serve you well if you’re looking to adventure off the tarmac a little.
For more details visit the Raleigh website.
The Mustang Comp is a nice off-road ride and equipped with quality components including a full SRAM Rival 1 groupset and excellent American Classic wheels. However it's held back by its weight when climbing, and the tyres aren't the best for typically muddy British conditions.