Top Ten 29″er Products of 2011: Raleigh Carbon Talus Pro: by Guitar Ted

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2010 through to the end of November 2011. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2012 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

3. The reviewed products were provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review.(Except where indicated) I was not paid or bribed for this review. I will give/gave my honest opinion or thoughts through out.

That said, let’s get on with this…

Number One: Raleigh Talus 29 Carbon Pro: Raleigh, a company known for its steel heritage, has had 29″ers in the line up since ’07, also primarily made from steel. However; they have been making some nice carbon road bikes in the last few years and for 2012, decided to bring that technology over to their 29″er bikes. The Talus 29 Carbon Pro and Elite models share the same frame, but we got to test out the higher end Pro for a short term test late in the year. For my other posts on this bike see here, here, and here.

Why It Made The List: In 2011, we knew it would be “The Year of the Carbon Fiber Hard Tail”, and we have not been disappointed in that prognostication. There were so many carbon hard tails introduced, it was difficult to keep track of all of them. Most of these were, of course, light weight XC/race oriented, high performance machines. Not to wonder at that, since it makes a lot of sense to pursue that sort of design and handling with regard to carbon fiber, but the Talus 29 Carbon Pro isn’t really one of those bikes. It is the culmination of what Raleigh has been trying to achieve all along with its 29″er line up, and this is why I felt it stuck out as being something unique in the sea of carbon XC/race bikes introduced in 2011.

My Two Cents: More than anything, it is the way that the Talus 29 Carbon Pro handles that made me so impressed with the bike. Raleigh, as I have stated before, has a unique take on 29″er handling that hasn’t always worked. They have come close, (and a couple years ago, the XXIX Pro was one of those bikes), but with the Talus 29 carbon frame, they have nailed it. Somehow that old, floppy feeling in slow technical handling is gone, but the secure, more “trail bike” descending and high speed handling is still retained. Added to that is the smooth carbon fiber feel, with little flex evident, and this ranks as Raleigh’s best ever 29″er.

The Talus 29 Carbon Pro is no slouch in the spec department either, which also shows Raleigh’s commitment to making upper end gear for 29″er freaks. SRAM, Avid, Easton, and Fox are all represented here with some top end kit. I was surprised not to see a 2X10 drive train, but appreciated Raleigh’s recognition that the Talus Pro is more mountain bike than XC racer. The triple crank spec fits this bike’s nature to a “T”.

And in the final analysis, this is what makes the Talus 29 Carbon Pro a standout bike for me: that it is a purposed hard tail mountain bike. It handles with stability and ease, which one would appreciate on any long off road outing, but yet it goes up, and can pick its way around stuff with no real fuss. Sure, really tight, twist single track will require you to modify your approach to turning to squeeze all the potential out here, but everywhere else the Talus was a joy to ride. The lightweight carbon frame and accompanying components were only making it even better.

The Talus 29 Carbon Pro isn’t perfect. It really would have been nice to have a bit more generous rear tire clearances, (like the Origin 8 Paladin I reviewed), and there was a hint of lateral flex in the rear triangle, but that’s really it here. Raleigh has really come a long way with their 29″ers, and the Talus 29 Carbon bikes show this well. They display Raleigh’s take on 29″er handling well, and function not just as a bike one could race, but as something you could ride all day on in almost any trail situation. I thought it was a successful approach to a carbon fiber hard tail, and it puts the Talus 29 Carbon Pro at the top of the heap of products I looked at for 2011.

That’s a wrap on our Top Ten Lists for 2011. Stay tuned for Grannygear’s last look at 2011 coming up next!