Raleigh has six gravel bikes in its 2016 range, which is topped by the Roker Pro and the 2500 Roker Race. As you’d hope for from the most expensive bike on test the Pro is nstantly likeable. It’s not the lightest machine here, and only gets SRAM’s Apex-level alloy chainset rather than Rival or Force, but it has an immediately fresh and clean feel.
The head angle is quite slack, which should slow the steering down. But the solidity of the
142x12mm front thru-axle helps to keep the steering sharp, and it still feels quick and responsive through RALEIGH ROKER PRO £2000 › Raleigh’s Roker looks like a racer that enjoys a bit of rough the bar. Its chunky chainstays and 142x12mm rear thru-axle transfer
your power well, but the curved toptube and flat wishbone seatstays mean that drive doesn’t mean discomfort even over rough forest roads. It wasn’t knocked off its stride by rutted and rubble- ‘repaired’ farm tracks, either
A lot of the credit for the Roker’s impressive ride quality has to go to the American Classic tubelessready wheelset and Schwalbe G-One tyres. The latter are listed as 35mm but thanks to the wider rim blow up to 39mm. Simply adding valves would turn them tubeless, which would make them lighter, smoother and puncture-resistant in a single stroke. But even with inner tubes the fat, fast-rolling carcass feels great on the road when it comes to
sustaining speed, and off road the stipple tread offers much better grip than you’d expect, even in the wet. The FC350 chainset’s 44-tooth ring is the biggest on test, but this is offset by a super-wide-range 10-42 cassette. The result is that you’ll hit 60kph before you spin out, but can still grunt up walking pace cyclocross climbs if you’re determined.
The flipside is the bigger gaps between gears, which can irritate when you’re riding hallow slopes or rolling terrain on the road.
All our testers appreciated the simplicity of purely sequential gearing offered by a single ring, so you never have to work out which ring and sprocket combination delivers the next ratio. As with the other bikes here, it also results in a clean look, and reduces the chance
of grass or other off-road debris clogging the frame, while there’s no chance of anything getting caught in the front mech as there isn’t one. This is why single chainrings have
become so popular in cyclo-cross races. SRAM’s Rival hydraulic disc brakes also come into their own in filthy conditions. Their fine control and modulation is noticeably better
than rim brakes in the dry – and in a totally different class if you’re dealing with wet, dirty rims.
There are a couple of potential Achilles heels on this otherwise weatherproof machine. For some reason there are no front mudguard mounts, which is especially odd as the rear is ready for ’guards and a rack. We also aren’t fans of the open cable entry holes in the frame and a large aperture for the internally routed front disc brake line, both of which could potentially let water in. You could seal them with something like Sugru mouldable glue, but we’d have liked a neater solution. But those are minor negatives on a machine that offers a comfortable, lively ride, a racy riding position, quick steering, keen brakes and
a wide range of gears.
The result is a versatile ride if you don’t want to be restricted by a pure road bike.
Find out more about the Roker Pro here >