6 Lesser-Known Bikes Worth a Ride
Raleigh Militis 1
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Raleigh Militis 1
Image: Mitch Mandel
But poor Eric. Riding a Raleigh mountain bike with knobby tires, he worked harder for each mile. Until I tested the Militis 1, I couldn't see a Raleigh without recalling those hot days waiting for him on seemingly every hill in New England.
Now that I've been thoroughly impressed on uncounted test miles by this all-business race bike, it's finally time--long overdue--to set aside my prejudice. The Militis (Latin for "warrior") is Raleigh's least-expensive carbon road bike (all models use the same frame), and, compact crank notwithstanding, it's ready for any race course. (Search: Best racing bikes) The bike's spec sheet includes everything a competitive rider wants: BB30 bottom bracket (PressFit 30 for 2013), full carbon fork with a tapered steerer tube, and Shimano's reliable 105 derailleurs, shifters, and brakes. The rims, Weinmann DP18s, don't carry premium branding, but they're quick to accelerate and felt stiff.
The bike is more than just a collection of nice parts hung on an undistinguished frame: Raleigh has put the Militis through five years of testing and development. Early experimentation with one-piece and tube-to-tube construction methods yielded bikes that failed to fully satisfy Raleigh's sponsored racers. The latest version uses a head tube and down tube molded as one piece, ensuring that the bike is stiff through the front end. The remaining tubes are joined using carbon welding. The result is a rear end that's more compliant than on past editions. It proved comfortable on longer rides and fast in races.
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And you will want to race on this bike. Its unassuming black and white paint--accented with red--means you don't at first see the speed hiding beneath the clear coat. On the open road, though, the bike proves responsive to pedaling input. The handling is quick, too--maybe even a touch quicker than some new riders will prefer, giving them a bike to aspire to. On rough roads the bike felt adequately damped, although it's certainly not as smooth as the current generation of Classics bikes. The internally routed cables rattle loudly inside the frame on rough roads, and while the noise bothered one test rider, I'm more tolerant--that one, slight imperfection didn't impede the pure enjoyment I felt pedaling this speedy Raleigh.
Price: $2,500 Weight: 18.3 lb. (MD/LG)
Sizes: XS, SM, SM/MD, MD/LG (tested), LG, XL
Frame: Direct Connect Carbon Evolution
Fork: Carbon monocoque
Component Highlights: Shimano 105 derailleurs, shifters, brake calipers; FSA Gossamer crank (50/34); Weinmann DP 18 Double Wall rims; Formula alloy hubs; Vittoria Rubino Pro tires; Avenir handlebar, stem, seatpost, and saddle
Buy it if: You want a fast bike without the flash.
—Andrew J. Bernstein
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