Interbike Mini-Review: Raleigh Alley Way

raleigh alley wayRaleigh’s pale green Alley Way turned a lot of heads in Las Vegas this year. More companies seem to be throwing a leg over the idea of practical commuting or town bikes. The Alley Way is a new addition to Raleigh’s lineup for 2010 that makes few compromises between form and function.  

The frame comes in Small, Medium and Large. It’s made of Reynolds 520 butted steel. The Large I was riding had an effective top tube of 620mm, a head tube angle of 71 degrees and seat tube angle of 73 degrees. The seat tube was 495mm long with a generous standover clearance of 826mm, which made mounting and dismounting easier. Nothing surprising with the geometry, and with the swept 700mm handlebars, it created a comfortable, more upright riding position that was perfect for cruising around town.

Raleigh added some great features to the Alley Way. Some of the most notable are the matching pale green fenders and custom handlebar/stem combo. The stem and handlebar is a one-piece integrated chromoly design. The bike’s fork has both rack and disc brake mounts, and attached to those disc brake mounts are Shimano BR-M416 disc brakes with Tektro levers

raleigh alley way

Aside from the near timeless design of the frame there is more to pique your interest. The Alley Way features a Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub powered by a Gates Belt Drive. The drivetrain system claims to be maintenance free and perfect for the grab and go bike. A Brooks B-17 saddle along with leather grips certainly add to this bike’s aesthetic appeal while Vittoria Randenour Cross tires with reflective sides add to your safety. And probably the most underrated feature has to be the integrated bell on the left brake lever.

The Alley Way is a smooth and quiet ride. The 8-speed internal hub was plenty capable and very convenient. Being able to change gears without pedaling at traffic lights was a welcomed feature. Disc brakes will of course give you fewer excuses to drive your car when the weather isn’t ideal. The Brooks B-17 saddle and leather grips exude style and class. Raleigh’s pale green integrated stem and handlebars along with the coordinating fenders exemplify a subtle elegance that is undoubtedly European inspired. The bike was even featured in this year’s Urban Legends Fashion Show.

The Alley Way is a beautiful example of a bike that melds old world style with modern technology. It rode as smooth as it looks. The internal 8sp hub shifted clean and quietly with a wide enough range of gears that made starts easy and cruising quick. Tectro levers and Shimano mechanical discs worked flawlessly during the short test period.

The Gates Belt Drive was of course quiet. Working with the Alfine hub, the drivetrain was noticeably smooth and seemed efficient enough. I can’t remember any squeaks during the couple days of riding and tension never slackened.

My only qualm about the Alley Way is that it looks too good. If that was my bike I would be nervous everywhere I parked it. At the Mandalay Bay crits the bike was scratched a little when it was grouped to lock. If Raleigh sold matching replacement fenders and the handlebar-stem combos I’d feel a whole lot better about parking it around other bikes. Although I’m not sure I would use this for my commute, I sure wouldn’t mind having this in the stable for rides around town for a morning scone and coffee, or to a farmer’s market with some nice tweed panniers.

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