First Impression: Raleigh Capri 4

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This is quite possibly the lightest bike we’ve ever tested here at Bicycle Times at just under 17lbs.—but don’t call it a race bike. We’re fond of saying that what most of the bicycle industry calls a “road bike” is, in fact, a road racing bike. Such bikes typically have skinny tires (25mm wide or less), a fairly aggressive (read: uncomfortably bent-over) position, and a ridiculously light but stiff-as-a-board frame.

Meanwhile, most roads that we get to ride on are littered with such non-racing features as potholes, gravel, traffic lights—and don’t forget the traffic. Most “road” bikes, as defined by the industry, are as unsuited to riding on actual roads as a Ferrari is to driving to the grocery store.

>But the next step over from road racing on the bike spectrum is the relatively new category of “comfort” or “endurance” road bikes. These bikes may look at first glance like typical road racing machines, but they have key differences to make them more comfortable over long rides and rougher surfaces—or to help them be simply rideable for us mere mortals. You may sometimes see the term “racing” thrown in the descriptions, but think in terms of racing on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, not the butter-smooth, fresh asphalt of the Tour de France.

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Raleigh’s Revenio and Capri models are good examples. Kudos to Raleigh for providing equally spec’d men’s (or unisex) and women’s versions across the whole spectrum, from the entry-level 1.0 (with aluminum frames) to the top-level Carbon 4 models. Prices range from $700 to $3,800.

Capri is the line for the ladies, and what we have here is the tippy-top Carbon 4 model. At first I was a little miffed at the pink color, but then found out that Raleigh actually used a focus group to help choose colors; all the women said “no pink,” but responded positively to this shade, mixed with white and a little black. I have to admit, it’s a badass pink, not some girly, pastel crap—more Pinky Tuscadero than Barbie.

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Raleigh’s also done quite a bit of research on bike fit for women, resulting in a totally different geometry for the Capri bikes, and it shows. It generally takes a bit of tweaking to get a racy road bike to feel comfortable for me, but this one felt “right” on first ride, with no parts swappage or radical adjustments.

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I planned to do some racing on this bike, but definitely not traditional road racing: I had another go at the Dirty Dozen, Pittsburgh’s notorious race up the 13 steepest hills in the city. Last year’s attempt resulted in defeat, largely because of poor tire choice and, truth be told, a lack of fire in the belly. But this year, I persevered and got 3rd place for the women again—and was first up the cobbled monster, Canton Avenue! The DD is a long event, over 50 miles total, and while the miles in between hills are neutral, jockeying for position before each hill is crucial. And of course, it all just gets harder as the day goes on. I was so thankful to have a feather-weight and stiff but very comfortable bike on my side.

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Want to know more about our time with the Capri? Watch for my full, long-term review in the next issue of Bicycle Times.

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