Three things we love about the Mustang Comp by Cycling Plus

Mustang comp

Its evocative name If you were around for the early days of UK mountain biking, you will have seen the original Raleigh Mustang, its exotically painted tubes promising uninhibited exploration. Before the drive for lightness, comfort and more performance, early mountain bikes opened up a whole new world. With a drop bar, 1x transmission and balloon tyres, today’s Mustang maintains some of the original bike’s ethos.

Its all-round ability Raleigh’s Gravel Road geometry, with its long wheelbase and lower bottom bracket, offers oil tanker-like stability over rough terrain. A shortish stem
ensures positive steering, and there’s clearance for even bigger rubber, or full mudguards, and rack mounts too. Fitted with 26mm-wide American Classic TCX tubeless-ready rims and Schwalbe’s 35mm G1 gravel tyres, it rolls quickly on tarmac and has plenty of grip on everything short of wet mud, as well as excellent cushioning.

Its component spec SRAM’s Rival 1 hydraulic levers and disc brakes ensure heaps of modulated power, but the real bonus is the drivetrain. Despite our doubts, the 44t chainset and 10-42t cassette covered all bases. From long, steep climbs to fast descents, we didn’t want for gears, and the gaps were reasonable too. It’s simple, reliable and child’s play to use.

To find out more about the Mustang Comp click here >

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Raleigh’s Roker looks like a racer that enjoys a bit of rough

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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.

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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 >

Roker Pro wins the Guardians adventure bike test

imageIt is a well-worn joke among cyclists that the ideal number of bikes to own equals n + 1, where (n) is the number of cycles you already possess. However, a new category of bike has arrived in the shops that threatens to disprove that equation. The new genre is known as the adventure bike and for a few pounds more it promises to be the only bike you need. You’ve guessed it: the textbooks about the right number of bikes to own may have to be rewritten.

The adventure bike should be capable of shuttling you to work, carrying you on countryside bridleways and transporting you over long distances for sponsorship money. Granted, many bikes could do all these things but the adventure bike should convey you with less effort and fewer mishaps.

The adventure bike recipe should include all or most of the following ingredients:

1. Tyres with a little bit of grip that are at least 27mm wide, to cushion you from bumpy terrain and give you traction on the soft stuff

2. Disc brakes to stop you promptly in all conditions, including mud.

3. Relaxed frame geometry that’s gentle on your lower back and shoulders.

4. Eyelets for fixing mudguards and maybe some panniers, too.

Optional ingredients include: fixings for a third water bottle; a top tube that is cable-free and flattened for easier shouldering over obstacles; and thru-axles to keep the wheels firmly in place.

raleigh roker pro in ashdown forest
The Roker Pro takes a break in the Ashdown Forest. Photograph: Ian Tucker for the Observer
This bike’s winning feature is its Sram Rival 1X gearset. This dispenses with a front derailleur, which saves weight, ends chain rub and drop and simplifies gear changing and maintenance. Occasionally, I felt like I needed a higher or lower gear but this can also happen with a double chainring. The accompanying Sram hydraulic brakes offer great power and modulation. The 35mm Schwalbe Gravel 1 tyres soak up bumps and have enough grip for most off-road surfaces. In addition to the excellent components, the bike feels well put together – there were no unexplained noises and no mechanical tune-ups were needed to keep it going. Plus the top tube is a hand-friendly flattened shape for when you have to lug it over footbridges and stiles. Pretty light too.

Verdict
A winner. Will deal with pretty much anything you throw at it

Credit: Ian Tucker the Guardian

Find out more about the Roker Pro here>