Editor’s Note: With these Ride Impressions Twenty Nine Inches riders do not imply that these bicycles are ultimately good, bad, or indifferent for you. We do mean to convey through our many hours of riding lots of different 29 inch wheeled bicycles over a period of years to give you, the reader, an indication of what you might expect from these new rigs. In other words, this ain’t no review, but hopefully it points you in the right direction.
Raleigh Talus 29 Carbon Elite Ride Impressions: by Guitar Ted:
Raleigh has been a long time player in the 29″er market and has been primarily a steel frame-centric company. That all changed this year. Now carbon fiber has hit the line up big time. Two upper end models exist and the aluminum line has been expanded to four models. The Talus Carbon Pro is also offered as a frame only. I rode the Talus 29 Carbon Elite, second down from the top “Pro” model in the 29″er range for 2012.
Raleigh USA marketing manager, Brian Fornes, gave me the run down on the new carbon frames, which borrow from Raleigh’s road carbon frames in that they are constructed using the “Direct Connect Carbon” method. The down tube and head tube are molded in a single piece, while the other tubes are molded in a size specific optimization to make sure the same ride qualities exist throughout the size range. These tubes are mitered and joined with carbon fiber over-wraps to make a complete frame. Furthermore; the down tube and the underside of the chain stays are reinforced with Kevlar to help protect against rock impacts. All cable runs are internally routed as well, leaving a clean, uncluttered final appearance.
Raleigh eschews the current trend toward Press Fit 30 or molded in bearing seats in favor of a more “traditional” outboard bearing set up. The frame sports an impossibly short looking head tube that is tapered, of course, for the tapered steer tube Fox fork.
While several carbon frames have popped up with suspiciously similar lines and look, Brain assured me that Raleigh’s Talus carbon frames are made from molds wholly owned by Raleigh and the construction techniques are unique to their carbon frames.
Component-wise, the Raleigh Talus 29 Carbon Elite has the new Deore 10 speed DynaSys drive train and Shimano brakes which worked flawlessly and should be good performers for anyone looking at this bike. The green anodized Joytech hubs were maybe a bit polarizing for some, but I rather like green, so for me they were considered a good thing. Most of the contact points and controls are Avenir product, which is Raleigh’s house brand and are decent enough items. It’s not a super high end, or lightweight build, but it should be a reliable, great performing set up.
Ride Impressions: Out on Bootleg Canyon’s demo loops, I found the Raleigh to be a snappy accelerator under power. This is a consistent theme amongst most carbon frames- they have great acceleration and bottom bracket stiffness. The trick is getting them to handle well, and to make them comfortable.
How does the Talus 29 Carbon Elite do? Well, it has a nice, more-to-the-stable-side kind of handling that was well suited to Bootleg Canyon’s wide open, fast trails. It got around the tighter corners just fine, but this was a night and day difference to the Origin 8 Paladin I rode before it. Rough grounds did not upset this chassis. No wonder too, as the size Large is listed at 70* head angle which helped make the Talus feel sure footed up front. The Fox fork was equipped with the 15QR here which helped with front end calmness also, no doubt.
That said, the rear end of the bike was definitely muting trail chatter and the benefits of carbon fiber construction were well displayed in this case. One downer though was that the Geax AKA tires nearly took up all of the real estate in between the chain stays. One might get a 2.3″er in here, but it most likely would leave little room for mud clearance. A bike that is this well rounded would certainly become more trail friendly with more generous tire clearances, but as it is, this bike still generates a smile from me for hitting the handling and carbon benefits spot on. Raleigh has less of a racing carbon hard tail here and more of an all-day, great trail bike on its hands. If you want a carbon hard tail for more than just “go fast”, XC duty, this is worth a long, hard look.
P.S. Raleigh dropped off an ultra-rare sample of the Talus Pro 29 to Twenty Nine Inches for a short term test. Look for more coming on this bike soon….
Stay tuned for more ride impressions coming soon.