This is the brand new 2016 Raleigh Criterium Sport, a £750 aluminium road bike equipped with the latest Shimano Tiagra 4700 groupset. It’s just arrived in the office for testing so before we hit the road and get it all dirty, here’s a quick overview of the key features.
While it’s easy to get distracted by the glittery bikes at the top-end, with price tags that’ll have your jaw hitting the floor, there has been a lot of progress in the sub-£1,000 road bike market in recent years. A lot of the technology once only seen on range-topping bikes is filtering down the price ranges, meaning your pound goes a lot further than before.
On paper, this Raleigh Criterium Sport looks very good value for money. You get a really smart looking aluminium frame with full internal cable routing, and a carbon fibre fork with a tapered steerer tube. Those are the sort of details you just wouldn’t expect to see on bikes in this class a few years ago.
Raleigh has given the frame ‘Endurance Race’ geometry, which basically means it’s taller in the front so you don’t have to possess the flexibility of a yoga instructor to get comfortable on it, but not so tall if you do want to adopt a racy position. Raleigh describes the bike as “fast enough to race, comfortable enough to ride all day,” which provides a good indication of the sort of cyclist this bike is aimed at.
Onto this frame Raleigh has bolted the all-new Shimano Tiagra 4700 groupset. It’s a full groupset too, no mix-and-match here. This is actually the first time we’ve seen the Japanese company’s new Tiagra, after seeing it launched earlier this year. We’re pretty excited to see how it performs, and if it’s anywhere near as good as the new 105 (which we loved) Shimano is onto a winner.
Like 105, the new Tiagra borrows a lot of technology and styling from the more expensive groupsets in the Shimano range. In case you’re wondering, Tiagra is Shimano’s fourth-tier groupset, and will feature on a lot of bikes in this price range in 2016.
While it’s still a 10-speed groupset, it does have the same four-arm chainset as first seen on Dura-Ace a few years ago (Shimano doesn’t wait long to trickle down tech from the top-end). This bike has a compact chainset, but it’s available in 52/36 and 53/39 – the 50/34 is right for this bike. That’s paired with an 11-32t cassette, so plenty of ratios for getting up the hills.
The other big visual, and ergonomic, change, is the new shifters. The cables are now hidden, routed as they are underneath the tape. The shape of the hoods and levers very closely resembles 105 and Dura-Ace, and in the hands they feel pretty much identical.
The bike is then finished with an aluminium handlebar, stem, seatpost and saddle from Raleigh’s in-house RSP brand. And it’s fine kit, not flash, but it looks the part. The RSP AC2.0 wheels are fitted with 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres with a K-Guard puncture belt.
The Raleigh Criterium Sport is available in six sizes from 49 to 61cm. The test bike is a 56cm and weighs 9.95kg (21.94lb).
And you like the like of this bike but your budget won’t quite stretch to £750, then the entry-level Criterium at £475 is worth a look. It has the same frame but swaps out the Tiagra parts for Shimano Claris.
It’s a good looking bike don’t you think? We’re (well I am) going to hit the road immediately to put it through its paces, so watch out for the review soon.