With the gravel bike market continuing to mature, carbon race bikes that are light and even aero are constantly hitting the market. There is, however, something to be said for a more classic approach.
Raleigh is one company offering bikes that have the classic touch of steel. Although the company has left the cyclocross market, it still has a number of gravel offerings that have been a part of its lineup for years.
The Raleigh Tamland is classic in more way than one. It was first released in 2013, long before the boom of gravel bikes hitting the market in recent years. The Tamland frame is made of steel, providing a non-carbon option for a gravel crowd that still seems to embrace the material.
Raleigh recently updated the Tamland, and we obtained a steel Tamland 1 for review this gravel season. Find out how the steel steed handles modern gravel in our long-term review.
The Raleigh Tamland gets its name from Brick Tamland, the not-so-bright newsman played by Steve Carell in Anchorman. Although Brick Tamland may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, the Raleigh Tamland has proven more than capable on gravel roads over the years.
The Tamland 1 frame is built with Reynolds 631 Chromoly custom butted steel. The head tube is tapered, and the frame has been modernized with 12mm thru-axles and flat mount disc tabs.
The original Tamland featured a steel fork, and that has been updated as well. The fork on the Tamland 1 is monocoque carbon with a tapered alloy steerer, and it has one set of bolts.
Back in 2013 when we first saw the Tamland, there was still some mystery surrounding a “gravel-specific” design. Now, after several years of Sea Otter bikes being almost exclusively gravel bikes, there are different distinct sub-categories of gravel bikes emerging.
The Tamland 1 could probably best be classified as a “traditional” gravel bike with a slack front, relatively low bottom bracket and long wheelbase. The head tube angle on our 58cm frame (57.5cm top tube) is 71.5 degrees, and the 44.0cm long chainstays and 52mm fork offset create a wheelbase of 104.9cm.
The reach on the 58cm frame is 38.5cm, which is maybe a smidge short, and the stack is 60.2 cm, which puts the handlebar up in a relatively high position.
Raleigh designed both the frame and fork for running plush, wide gravel tires. The company claims clearance for up to 700c x 45mm, and the 40mm stock tires fit quite nicely.
The bottom bracket is a Praxis Works M30 with external bearings.
With its adventure inclination, the Tamland 1 has mounts in a tasteful amount. There are bosses for two bottles, rear rack and fender mounts and one set of bosses on the fork.
Raleigh currently offers the Tamland in two builds. The Tamland 2 has a SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, and the Tamland 1 I reviewed has a Shimano 105 build with mechanical disc brakes.
In interviews this gravel season, Ted King and Sarah Max shared their thoughts behind whether to go 1x or 2x for gravel. I opted for the 2x of the Tamland 1 to have a wider spread of gears for riding hard and climbing the steep hills found in parts of the Midwest.
The Tamland 1 comes with Shimano 105 R7000 front and rear derailleurs. The crankset is an alloy Praxis Works Alba M30 with 48/32t chain rings. The rear derailleur is paired with an 11-32t cassette, giving a sweet 1:1 gear ratio for those steep climbs.
The Tamland 1 comes with TRP Spyre-C dual-piston mechanical disc calipers with 160mm rotors. Shift/brake levers are Shimano 105 R7000.
Raleigh ships the Tamland 1 with wheels built with HED Tomcat alloy tubeless clincher rims. The Tomcat rims are 21mm wide internally and are the slightly heavier, pinned OEM version of the HED Ardennes alloy clinchers we reviewed a while back. Hubs on the wheels are unbranded 28-spoke, 6-bolt.
Tires on the bike are 700c x 40mm Donnelly X’Plor MSO tubeless clinchers. The rims come pre-taped and valves are included, making tubeless set up a bit quicker.
The rest of the build is rounded out by a Raleigh alloy 110mm stem, 44cm handlebar with 12-degrees of flare and 27.2mm seatpost. The saddle is a WTB Volt with steel rails.
The Tamland 1 is a relatively affordable steel bike, and so not surprisingly, it is kind of heavy. Our test bike weighed in at 23.2 pounds without pedals and 15.2 pounds without wheels.
The Tamland 1 package has an MSRP of $2,000. The Tamland 2 model with hydraulic disc brakes and a Rival 1 build costs $2,400. Raleigh now sells direct-to-consumer and through Amazon, and pricing often varies from MSRP. (The 2018 models are currently on sale through Raleigh's website.)
The Raleigh Tamland has the trappings of a modern gravel bike—slack front, long wheelbase, high stack, ample tire clearance—and with that design approach, it was comfortable to ride. The relative high stack and slack front provided a comfortable platform out front, and the long wheelbase kept things stable.
I liked that our 58cm model came with a slightly flared 44cm handlebar to help provide stability when the terrain got a bit rougher. The steering was responsive without being twitchy and the combination of the slack front and high volume tires helped keep the bike going straight through chunkier gravel and rutted roads.
As with many gravel bikes, the Tamland 1 could double as a cyclocross bike, but it is best suited to fast, open riding. The slack front and long wheelbase make it tough to weave around those chicanes unless maybe you get really good at those nose wheelies.
Although not suited to tight corners, I did find the Tamland 1 relatively responsive, especially once I got going. If you find yourself in a Paris-Roubaix velodrome sprint, the Tamland might be a bit tougher to get up to speed, but if you are up to speed and roaring to the finish at the Land Run 100, the bike responds well when you call it into action. All of which was not bad for a bike that weighs in at 23 pounds.
It is worth noting that if you like the feel and setup of the Tamland, the Noble GX5 gravel bike provides more or less a carbon version of the Tamland at a cost $900 more than the Rival 1 Tamland 2. Raleigh also offers alloy gravel bikes in the Willard and Amelia.
At the Tamland's price, the HED wheels were a reliable choice. We reviewed the Ardennes favorably, and the Tomcats were easy to set up tubeless with a charging pump, and they kept the tires on when deflated. The Donnelly X'Plor MSO tires proved capable on the roads I rode the bike on, but your needs in terms of tread and volume may vary. Fortunately, the wheels make a tire swap pretty stress-free.
It might be stating the obvious, but with the Tamland 1, tire pressure significantly affected the bike's ride quality. I started out with the relatively stiff Donnelly MSO tires up near 40psi (I weigh 165 pounds) and found the ride a bit harsh. After dropping the tire pressures, the ride was much more comfortable. Find yourself on bumpier terrain and you'll want to go even lower on the pressure for that comfortable ride.
Raleigh offers the Tamland in two builds that are distinct from one another. In several bike profiles from the Dirty Kanza, riders talked about the choice between a 1x and 2x, and I faced a similar choice in choosing a build to review. Like fellow Madisonian Erica Mueller, I opted for the Shimano 2x build wanting the combination of the big ring for flats and the 32t front ring for steep climbs.
After riding the Tamland 1, I think the SRAM Rival 1, hydraulic disc build is worth the additional $400. Mechanical disc brakes are easier to service when away from town, but hydraulic brakes provide more consistent stopping power. And after listening to the Shimano 105 rear derailleur slap around on rough terrain, I found myself wishing I had a clutch Rival 1 derailleur back there.
The Raleigh Tamland 1 performed well at handling the rigors of gravel riding. The platform was comfortable and the bike stable over a variety of terrain. Although I tested it at the entry-level build, bumping up to the $2,400 Tamland 2 is probably a good option thanks to the clutch derailleur and hydraulic disc brakes.
If you are looking for a steel bike proven in the gravel category at a relatively affordable price, the Tamland is definitely worth a look. It is comfortable and stable for long grinds and sneaky responsive if you want to have some fun while riding at the party end of the gravel mullet. With the tasteful number of mounts and the cush 40mm tires, the Tamland would also be great for calling into service as a weekday commuter or bike for longer adventures.
For riders interested in partying at the business end of gravel races, the weight is probably the biggest thing holding the Tamland back. The bike will responds fine, but you will find yourself carrying up to 5 or 6 more pounds of bike weight up hills than your competitors. That will likely add up over the course of a 100+ mile grind.
For a closer look at the Raleigh Tamland 1, see the specs and photo gallery below.
Raleigh Tamland 1 Steel Gravel Bike Specs
Weight: 23.2 pounds (actual, w/o pedals); 15.8 pounds (actual, w/o wheels, pedals)
Frame: Raleigh Tamland, 58cm, Reynolds 631 Chromoly Custom Butted steel, 12mm thru-axle, flat mount disc
Fork: Raleigh monocoque carbon, tapered alloy steerer, 12mm thru-axle, flat mount disc
Bottom Bracket: Praxis Works M30
Shift/Brake Levers: Shimano 105 R7000
Brakes: TRP Spyre-C, mechanical disc, 160mm rotors
Crankset: Praxis Works Alba, 48/32t chain rings
Front Derailleur: Shimano 105 R7000
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105 R7000
Cassette: Shimano 105 CS-R7000, 11-32t
Wheels: HED Tomcat alloy tubeless rims; 28-hole, 6-bolt hubs
Tires: Donnelly X’Plor MSO, 700c x 40mm
Handlebar: Raleigh 200 Series, 12-degree flare, alloy, 44cm
Stem: Raleigh 3D forged alloy, 100mm
Seatpost: Raleigh 200 Series, alloy, 2-bolt
Saddle: WTB Volt Comp
More info: raleighusa.com and Amazon