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First Impressions – 2011 Raleigh Record Ace

Right, then…

I’m a little late in posting this due to holidays and such, so I guess it’s time to do a first impression report on the Raleigh.

OK, to date I have 77 miles on her.  The first 26 was a shakedown ride.  The remaining 51 was more of a “real” ride.

Now, the bike.  But first, a warning:  I am not what society calls a “roadie”.  Yes, this is a road bike and I ride it, but that’s it.  I have not ridden any other type of road bike, so I cannot tell you the difference between Reynolds, Columbus or True Temper tubing.  Nor do I have first hand experience with aluminum, carbon or titanium frames, outside of the fact that the first is really stiff, the second can break at times, and the third is expensive.  My other bike (a Dawes Galaxy), while quite a nice bike, is a touring rig, so it is going to ride and handle much differently.  That said I feel that the Raleigh is somewhat light and crisp (relatively speaking – it is steel after all).  I’d reckon the weight to be 20 to 21 lbs.  The bike responds to inputs (steering, power) somewhat quickly.  I have not noticed any frame flex when I accelerate.  Steering is responsive without being twitchy.  While descending, it feels like the bike is in a groove – I can pick a line and hold it nicely.  I’ve heard some bike reviews use the phrase “laterally vertical, yet stiffly compliant” (or something like that).  I’d use that to describe this bike if I knew what the hell it meant.  Let’s just say that the frame is somewhat stiff, but does not chatter my teeth when going over rough road surfaces.

As for the drive train, the bike originally came with full Ultegra, but that included a 53/39 chain ring, which is just too tall for this dude.  I had the LBS install a 50/34 Sora that I pulled off of the Dawes.  Yes – blasphemy, I know.  Maybe someday component weight will become an issue and I’ll replace it with an Ultegra compact.  Overall, everything works well – it goes when I tell it to, with no chatter or missed shifts.

The Record Ace comes with Weinmann CR19 Double Wall rims, which are fine, I guess.  They’re round and mount nicely to the bike.  I believe they are 28-hole rims, which helps me in that I weigh ~225 lbs, so I’m not worrying about rim failure.  I did upgrade from the Vittoria 23’s to 25 Gatorskins, which I’m told helps with the ride, a bit.

I was originally concerned about the Brooks Swallow saddle.  It looked like it was called Swallow, because that’s what my ass was going to do to it, when I sat down.  Not so.  In fact, I find it’s more comfortable than the B17 I have on the Dawes.  Further, after 77 miles, the seat appears to have started breaking in (much to the amazement of the LBS that sold me the bike).

Then, there are the aesthetics.  At the risk of coming across as shallow, one of the things that attracted me to this bike was its looks:  The lugged frame, the pearlescent white paint, the brown saddle and bar tape – it all comes together in a very pretty package.  Admittedly, I would have liked to have seen a better job matching the bar tape to the saddle, but that’s me being a PITA.

Overall, I like this bike – a lot.  Further, I like the fact that I have about 40 more cycling years left in me and that – saving anything really bad happening – this bike will be around for all of them.  Mind you, if you’re looking for the fastest, lightest, bestest bike out there, this isn’t it.  If you want something that really really nice, and provides a sweet, comfortable, stylish ride, then this might be the bike for you.

Headwind….

Right, then…

What’s this shit with headwind?  I mean, I know it exists, but I’ve not been able to get away from it lately.  Case in point:  Today I rode down to San Jose and back with a headwind the entire way.  Now, if I’m riding into the wind and I make a 90 degree turn, I now expect to be riding abeam (to use a sailing term) to the wind.  But no – there I was, heading into the wind.  So, basically, I had wind all they way down and all the way back.  That means that the wind was coming from all directions.  The only conclusion, then, is that I was riding in a vortex, which was irritating.

Speaking of irritation, Less Than Optimum Weather has returned.  Rain is expected tomorrow with wintry conditions and snow in the foothills on Wednesday.  I know we need the rain, but what a pain in the balls.

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