Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the Bootleg Canyon demo loop. Keep in mind that a short ride is not a review, but merely gives us, (and you out there), some idea of what we’re looking at here.

Raleigh XXIX: by Guitar Ted

I’ve been pretty familiar with the efforts by Raleigh to produce a fine steel single speed in the XXIX. I had one of the very first ones back in 2007, and I have test ridden several of the various versions through the years. In fact, Twenty Nine Inches tested the Raleigh XXIX rather intensively just a couple years ago when it first came with a Gates Carbon Drive. (You can read the Final Review of that bike here) How does this new version stack up? Will the recent switch in geometry and fork choice make a big difference, or only be minor progress? Raleigh’s tech got my pedals threaded on, shock set up, and I was off to figure it all out.

Out on the trail, Raleigh’s return to a mid-seventeen inch length chain stay was very nice. The frame felt stiff, but not spine jarring. No- definitely steel here. Of course, the new Fox fork was absolutely solid and gave this hard tail the sort of ride feel and control no rigid fork ever could. Okay, all great changes over the previous version of this bike.

Final Impression: The belt though. What about that? Well, we’ve tested Gates Carbon Drive extensively over the past few years, and with regard to the latest version dubbed Center Track, we’re pretty confident that it works well enough. However; I think I’ve been even more convinced. Allow me a shortened version of the following story…

2007- Gates brings Spot Brand Bikes with Carbon Drive belt systems to Interbike. I didn’t fare very well on a steep up when I ratcheted the belt. Time goes by and various Gates Carbon Drive versions come and go in an attempt to rectify the original issues with ratcheting, tensions being too high, and noises.

On this particular Raleigh, I found myself facing the very same steep up, only with more loose rock and technicalities than in 2007. I am here to say that I scrabbled up that climb, hitting the pedals hard, varying my power output to maintain traction, slipping out, but not going down, and all the way- mashing out of the saddle. In other words, I had a typical, “high stress to parts”, single speed experience,and the Gates Carbon Drive passed with flying colors. Plus, as a bonus the belt tension was too loose as set up from Raleigh.

Nicely done on both Raleigh’s and Gates’ part here. This is a return to the XXIX of old with improvements, and I liked it a lot.