Raleigh’s 2011 line up has something traditional and race-worthy and something brand new and lust-worthy. The classically-styled workhorse of a bike in its alloy geared RX 1.0 will be a no-frills racer’s weapon of choice while the completely revamped singlespeed frame with a carbon frame and carbon belt drive train will add pizazz to one-geared events from coast to coast.

by Jamie Mack

Raleigh SSCXWC – 2011 Limited Edition Carbon Singlespeed Frameset

2011 Raleigh SSCXWC carbon singlespeed cyclocross frameset.

2011 Raleigh SSCXWC carbon singlespeed cyclocross frameset.

Raleigh turned a lot of heads last year with a limited edition singlespeed ’cross frame. The retro colors, solid build and boutique factor of the limited production made it an appealing ride across the country. So, how do you up the stakes even more? How about going to a carbon frame — including the drive train. Yes, while Raleigh’s only geared offering for 2011 will be an alloy framed, retro looking 20-speed, the company’s only SS offering will be a full-color carbon frame with belt drive. Ironic, huh? [Rumor has it that a geared version of the carbon frame will be coming soon!]

The frame itself is a well thought-out carbon frame with geometry similar to the full-production RX 1.0. But that’s where the simplicity ends. The frame will be equipped to accommodate the Gates Carbon Drive System, which replaces the standard chainring/chain/cog with a belt. The carbon is included as strands in the belt to provide strength and longevity to the parts. Multiple belts and cogs are available to customize the ride to fit your legs and the course at hand. The belts do not require the tension of a singlespeed chain system, allowing for less wear and tear on the hubs and other components in the system. The belt drive also necessitates one of the most unique features of the frame: Because the belt is one piece that cannot be broken like a chain, the drive-side dropout must be opened to allow placement of the belt.

The frame doesn’t just rely on the drive system to make it appealing; the entire design is intended to be raced, and there are features incorporated that ’crossers will appreciate. The brake stays are thinned to help smooth out some of the bumps and grinds, and the top tube is shaped to provide a more comfortable shouldering experience. However, Raleigh told us that “Honestly, the thing is so light you shouldn’t have to.” And this was confirmed by Cyclocross Magazine as a frame we were able to weigh came in at under 1,100 grams.

The production frame will include an ENVE fork (formerly Edge Composites) and be setup for the Gates drivetrain. The good news is that the MSRP for the frame will be a reasonable $1,200 and one rider will have the chance to take home the frame dressed in the latest from Shimano (details were sketchy on this, but Raleigh told Cyclocross Magazine that riders would likely be asked to prepare a video entry, so brush up on those YouTube skills). And if you’re one of the lucky riders unable to snatch one of only 40 frames being built this year, you’ll also be supporting the ’cross community because a portion of profits from each frame sold will benefit the frame’s namesake event, the SSCXWC.

Let the drooling begin. (See also our spotlight on the Gates Carbon Drive system. See Photo Gallery below)

The 2011 Raleigh RX 1.0. © Cyclocross Magazine

The 2011 Raleigh RX 1.0. © Cyclocross Magazine

Raleigh RX 1.0

Raleigh is one of the oldest names in bicycles, having been formed in England in the late 1800’s. Over the years the company has gone through multiple mergers and acquisitions, morphing from a small shop producing three bikes a week to a corporate entity with representation in most major markets throughout the world. And while the bikes have changed quite a bit as well, the latest geared offering in the cyclocross market seems to call back to those days.

In a world of flashy, over-decaled carbon bikes, the 2011 RX 1.0 stands out for what it’s not. The frame is simple alloy and it’s coated in a simple retro, yet elegant paint job. And the frame has useful, practical touches that most of today’s designed-for-the-race-course bikes wouldn’t be caught wearing, such as rack and fender mounts.

But that’s where the call back to the old days end. The alloy frame features a shaped top-tube to allow for more comfortable shouldering. And it’s complemented by an Easton EC70 carbon fork, FSA BB30 bottom bracket and Gossamer cranks. The headset is an integrated piece with cartridge bearings, again made by FSA. The bars, stem, seatpost and saddle are the latest from Avenir, although seeing that brand may give some riders a hint of nostalgia as well. And the drivetrain is the dependable Shimano 105 10-speed group, with everything coming to stop courtesy of Tektro retro-style (their words, not mine) cantilever brakes.

Overall, whether you see it as a racer or commuter, the latest for the budget minded racer or a throwback to that “old bike you once had”, the RX 1.0 presents a solid, appealing package.

SSCX Limited Edition Photo Gallery:

Raleigh RX1.0 Photo Gallery: