By Josh Patterson
My 12-mile commute to Bicycle Times HQ covers a variety of terrain: city streets, cinder paths, and chunky railroad ballast are all in a day’s ride. When Raleigh introduced the Roper and its singlespeed sibling, the Furley (Both models are named after characters in the 1970s sitcom Three’s Company.), I thought that either of these bikes could make a good daily driver. I opted to review the geared version, as there are some big hills in my ‘hood.
My first ride on the Roper was a misty morning commute to work. The bike performed well, tacking the golf ball-sized gravel with aplomb. Tire clearance isn’t massive, but I could fit 700x38c tires in the frame for my gravel adventures. The stock 700c32c tires work fine for my daily needs.
The 4130 steel frame provided a comfortable ride on the city streets, albeit not as lively as steel frames constructed with thinner-walled tubing. The Roper’s cyclocross-inspired geometry is stable and predictable, without feeling sluggish when you need to dart in and out of traffic. The Roper comes equipped with a Shimano 105 drivetrain with FSA compact cranks. A nice touch: the driveside chainstay has braze-ons for spare spokes. Also, the Roper has a BB30 bottom bracket. The singlespeed version of this bike, the Furley, takes advantage of the large diameter bottom bracket shell to use a BB30-specific eccentric bottom bracket to tension the chain.
Note to readers: We all have our biases. One of mine is that I don’t like drinking out of plastic cups, yeah, it’s weird. Another, slightly more relevant, bias of mine is disc brakes: I feel that all bikes should have them, road, mountain, or commuter. Speaking only for myself, if I were in the market for a new commuter bike I would not consider a bike without disc brakes.
The Roper uses Shimano’s R505 cable-actuated disc brakes. They were easy to setup, don’t rub and get job done without any squealing, even in the wet. Unfortunately, the combination of top-mounted brake levers and in-line barrel adjusters results in a disappointingly mushy lever feel. I’ll be removing these auxiliary levers and barrel adjusters in the near future to remedy this.
So what are my initial impressions? The Roper checks off a lot of the boxes for what I look for in a commuter: disc-equipped, able to take fenders with the stock 700x32c tires, and neutral handling characteristics.
Could the Roper be the perfect all-weather commuter? Winter’s almost here, so we’ll find out soon.