The Observer chooses the Criterium Race as its bike of the week

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Raleigh is almost 130 years old. But a decade ago, it was on its knees. You’d never have dreamed of buying a Raleigh – unless of course you came across a vintage Chopper. But in 2012 the huge Dutch corporation Accell stepped in and gave the historic brand the breathing space and, more crucially, the funds to refind its mojo. The Raleigh race team was relaunched to spearhead R&D and the fruit of all that labour is now peddling its way to a bike shop near you. The latest generation of frames are award-winning, and this Criterium Race is a perfect example. It’s lightweight carbon and offers the best balance of stiffness and weight available at this level. It’s a super ride – and the satisfaction of being on a great British bike will last long after the burning in your thighs has eased.

Credit: Martin Love, The Observer

find out more about the Criterium Race here>

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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>