Essay: The ride that hooked me for life

By Jeffrey Stern

I remember the day well, boarding the number four bus in Mill Valley destined for San Francisco and there were actual seats available. It’s common to find yourself standing for 90-minutes during this commute. Luckily, I grabbed a window on the east side of the bus for a guaranteed picturesque view of the City during the Bridge crossing. Now if only I could stay awake long enough through the rush hour traffic to enjoy the view. Within minutes I was snoozing, using the glass as my pillow. I likely day dreamt about not being on the bus and doing something else. I’m sure I hated my job and I was scheming of a way out, but I don’t remember the details. The gentle hum of hundreds of engines slowly creeping forward lulling me to sleep is the prevailing memory today.

As I half-woke from the feeling of the sleep-drool starting to pool in the left corner of my mouth and drip onto my khakis, pulling my cheek off the frigid window pane to wipe my mess away and hit the proverbial snooze button for another 30-minutes, a different type of sound came whizzing by – that of a small peloton of cyclists commuting to work, hooting and hollering. The image of them grinning from ear to ear and shouting in excitement as they blew by the hoards of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge at Mach speed is seared into my memory. Growing up mountain biking, I never gave the skinny tired sibling much of a chance. That day my perception of the road bike, and how exciting it could be, changed forever.

A few weeks later I sold my rusty ‘89 Jeep Cherokee and bought my first road bike–a used, jet black, ‘76 Raleigh Competition with downtube shifters built in Nottingham, England and still adorning the head badge to prove it. It was older than my Jeep and over a decade older than me. That made me smile. I pocketed a couple thousand in cash, that made me smile too.


I rode my Raleigh into the city everyday after the drooling incident, attempting to join that fast group only to get dropped on the climb up from Sausalito, but hanging on longer and longer each day. Within in a month, I was tail gunning all the way into the City by the Bay and having more fun road riding than in my wildest dreams. The smiles just kept getting bigger.

Then I started riding the Raleigh up Mt. Tamalpais on my days off or long summer nights and fell back to getting passed on the climbs; not only by cars, but other riders with proper equipment. I didn’t care, I was challenging myself, immersed into a whole new world. It was a bit risky, scary at times when the cars came within inches (I swear a few even touched my baggy mountain biking shorts) and I clearly remember a few near death experiences (that’s a whole other story), but damn it was such a blast.

On the weekends, I began venturing farther north towards Sonoma County on the Competition, into the Redwood groves and along the Pacific Ocean, down the coast for as long as the daylight would allow or as far as I thought I could go without having to call for help (I never had to). For a few months, my mountain bike got dusty just sitting in the garage, not out riding the sinuous trails on Tam. Then the tires went flat from non-use. It didn’t matter though; I was hooked on a new fix. The roadie had stolen my heart.

I’d turned a new leaf on life, my pursuits and adventure; no longer a couch potato, but reinvigorated for pursuing outdoor endeavors and improving my health. The road bike, and that first ride across the Golden Gate, launching me on a new path, a self-defined trajectory against the norms and on my own terms. It was precisely what I needed.

A decade past and the swoosh of the peloton that chilly morning from my window seat on the route 4 Golden Gate Transit bus is still as vivid as the day it happened.

Such a wild ride it’s been that I’m still drooling, except for all the right reasons – the road ahead is just as vast and promising and I can’t wait to continue to roll down it on my ‘76 Competition. This time with proper shoes and comfortable shorts, but the smile is just as big and grows every day in a new way.

Do you remember when you got hooked on riding? We’d love to hear your story! Send us an email at and we’ll publish our favorites! 



Review: Raleigh Grand Prix

This Raleigh with the classic name may in fact be the sleeper bike of 2015. At first glance, it’s a fairly conventional steel road bike but in fact it has a secret identity as a travel bike.

Raleigh Grand Prix-1

At the heart of the Reynolds 520 butted chromoly steel frame is the Ritchey Break-Away system. Look closely and you’ll notice the double seat post clamps. Look even closer and you find a small collar around the downtube by the bottom bracket. The way this bike breaks down to fit into a travel case is almost too simple to work so well. A pair of four and five millimeter allen wrenches is all that is needed to take it apart.

The travel case included with the bike is designed to sneak in under the oversize baggage limit on most airlines. After multiple national and international flights with the bike, I never had to pay an extra fee to fly. Add up the fees for a standard bike (more than $100 these days) and this bike will pay for itself in a few years if you’re a frequent flier. If needed the case can be unzipped and expanded for more room, but you might get hit with a fee. I didn’t chance it, but it might be worth it for that Moroccan rug you just had to buy at the marketplace.

Raleigh Grand Prix-2

The parts on this bike are a complement to the classy steel frame. A full build of Campagnolo Veloce drivetrain bits, silver long-reach Promax brakes and Weinmann rims all have a timeless look. The quick releases are even retro looking without being over the top. Replacement Campagnolo parts aren’t found as easily as Shimano or SRAM, which could cause some hassle when traveling. If that concerns you, it wouldn’t be hard to sell the drivetrain and swap in another group.

I’ve owned a lot of steel bikes and the Grand Prix is fine example of the breed. It’s not the lightest thing out there, or the finest riding, but it is stiff enough for a proper sprint and won’t rattle those fillings on less than smooth tarmac or even some dirt. Room for 32 mm tires (or 28s with fenders attached to the provided braze-ons) is a nice touch, as are the downtube shifter bosses. The cable adjusters on the downtube were a big help for fine tuning the derailleurs after reassembly.

Raleigh Grand Prix-3

I didn’t feel out of place in street clothes or lycra on this bike, and flipping the stem to a negative rise and moving some of the spacers to the top provided a position aggressive enough to join a spirited group ride. As an everyday road bike for fun and transportation, the Grand Prix is an attractive companion, both at home and abroad. I’m pretty sold on this Ritchey system. Now if Raleigh would make one of these with disc brakes, wider tires and rack mounts, I’d be first in line to buy one.

For those not in need of a travel bike, the $1,800 Record Ace has the same Veloce build kit hung on a nice Reynold 631 frame.

  • Price: $2,300
  • Weight: 22.7 pounds
  • Sizes: 52, 54, 56, 58 (tested), 60, 62
  • More info:

This review originally appeared in Issue #37. Subscribe today so you don’t miss any of our insights on new bicycles like this one. 



Congrats to Ashlee Hall, winner of the Raleigh Misceo iE

Congrats to Ashlee Hall who won the Raleigh Misceo iE we raffled off in conjunction with Raleigh Bicycles.


Dear Bicycle Times,

I received the Misceo IE Bike yesterday. It came on a perfect day—my ten-year wedding anniversary. I had decided from the start that I would not share the winning information with my bike-obsessed husband Chris, so the timing was perfect. I had the bike delivered to my friends house, who is also obsessed with bikes. He helped me unpackage it and adjust everything so it would fit me perfectly. I took it for a spin, up a hill, and it turned that hill into a piece of cake!

My friend Brett and I decided that he would bring the bike to another friend’s dinner party, scheduled for the same night. He frequently demos bikes for a bike shop in State College, Pennsylvania, (Freeze Thaw Cycles) so when he shows up with a new bike my husband is always the first to want to try it out.

So dinner time came and my husband and I arrived at the home of our friends while it was raining. Brett and his wife arrived a few minutes later. Brett’s wife played her part, and mentioned that it Brett had a demo bike and she hopes it stops raining. We had a lovely dinner to the sound of a heavy rain, several glances between Brett and I about how we would present the bike if the rain did not stop, but once finished with dinner the clouds parted.

Brett and Chris went out first as the rest of us hung back. Then we saw Chris speed up a small hill with little effort on the Misceo iE eBike. I went down to be with Brett at the car for Chris’s arrival back. As Chris came to a stop I said, “Can you please get off my bike so I can ride it?” Not fully grasping what I said, Brett stated “Chris, Ashlee won this from Bicycle Times Magazine.”

Chris just started to laugh and say that it was a joke. We showed him the proof of emails I had between Bicycle Times, and Raleigh. His smile was so worth our effort hiding the bike. All six of us at the party tried the Misceo iE and were impressed with the handling, speed and comfort. I think the bike will be well used, my husband is going to add a rack and some fenders so I can use it for my around town bike. Thank you so very much for this opportunity.


Ashlee Hall



Enter to win a Raleigh Misceo iE with the new Shimano STePS drive system


Turn the city into your own personal playground with the Raleigh Misceo iE, one of the first e-bikes in the U.S.A. to feature the new Shimano STePs drive system. Raleigh’s heritage of fun bicycles and Shimano’s industry-leading technology combine in this agile eBike that will make your ride an adventure, whether you’re commuting to work or cruising to the coffee shop!



Enter to win one of your own, a $3,200 value, by filling out the short survey below or open it in a new window here. Please read the contest terms and conditions, and don’t delay, the drawing will be held Monday, July 13, 2015.

Create your own user feedback survey


Bicycle Times Issue #33 is here – Take a peek inside


Photo: Justin Steiner. Rider: Karl Rosengarth. Bike: Breezer Greenway Elite

Bicycle Times Issue #33 has mailed to subscribers and will be available on newsstands soon. In this issue we feature $1,000 Bikes for Work + Play, interviews with Ben Harper guitarist Michael Ward and Santa Cruz custom guitar maker Jeff Traugott, plus our regular awesome product reviews.

All this and more, now available through paper and our digital editions. Print subscribers should start receiving their copies next week. You can always visit better book stores and bike shops to buy a copy, or order one online now.

What’s inside


Ignorance is Bliss: A suicidal urge to cycle a game reserve becomes a five-day odyssey into Africa’s Nyika National Park in Malawi. Words and photos by Logan Watts.


Couch Potater to Fifty Stater: How a retired university professor found cycling, love and friendship. By Murray Fishel.


Drinks With: An interview with Michael Ward, a guitarist for Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello who brings his Ritchey Breakaway bike on tour around the world.


Vintage Velo: A custom Gary Fisher mountain bike built for Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and our Staff Playlist, a group of tracks that inspire us to ride.


… And They Ride: We chat with Jeff Traugott, one of the most sought-after custom guitar builders in the world and and a cyclist in Santa Cruz, California.


Made in Taiwan: We tour the factories of some of the largest component makers in the industry, and meet the people that build your bikes and components. By Gary Boulanger



$1,000 Bikes for Work and Play: We ride a very diverse group of six bikes that hit right at the magic $1,000 price point. We were surprised at what we found. By the Bicycle Times staff.

Plus: reviews of the latest from Niner, Brompton, Bike Friday and more.


First Impression: Raleigh Clubman Disc


Editor’s note: Here at Bicycle Times we are as mindful of price as you are. So we gathered together a group of six very diverse bikes to showcase what you can find right now at the $1,000 price point. See our introduction here.

Way back in issue #2, I reviewed the Raleigh Clubman (with rim brakes). I said “The Clubman departs from the go-fast focus with some well thought out details intended for users with practical leanings.” For 2015 Raleigh takes the Clubman to the next level with disc brakes.

In our group of $1,000 bikes, The Clubman Disc stands out with a steel frame, classic looks, and the excellent 10 speed Shimano Tiagra group, a mid-level drivetrain that continues to impress me.


The steel frame uses a modern sloping top tube and hooded dropouts. These “Wright” or “Breezer” style dropouts minimize the amount of flat metal plate at the highly stressed axle clamping zones, and maximize the strong, stiff and light tubing. This is a good things for frame stiffness, strength and longevity, at least that’s what Joe Breeze told me a few years ago, and I think Joe Breeze is a trustworthy place to get my frame building technology knowledge.

Raleighclubmandisc-4 Raleighclubmandisc-10

The saddle pictured is not the stock seat. That is actually the fourth saddle that has been on this bike; the stock microsuede saddle, a WTB Vigo, a Selle Anatomica, and this Fyxation leather saddle. The WTB didn’t match the aesthetic at all, but it was a wise choice for my break in ride. That ride started at 11 P.M., ended the next evening around 8 P.M., and included about 175 miles of rain, dark, sleet, muddy rail trail,  brand new pavement and gastrointestinal issues. It was quite an introduction.

A ride like that is a solid way to get a feel for a bike, and so far, the Clubman could be best described and friendly, competent and quiet. The micro-knobby Kenda Karvs were ideal for the mix of pavement and crushed limestone, and the steel frame and upright position kept me rolling along through bad weather and rough roads.


Stay tuned for the full review in our next issue, Bicycle Times #33, due in early February. Subscribe now to get it delivered to your mailbox or favorite electronic device.






This Just In: Six $1,000 Bikes for Work and Play

$1000 collage

The new year draws near, and for the first issue of 2015, we’ve rounded up six bike in the $1,000 range as a representative sample at this popular price point. We’ve found it to be common dollar amount for a first “good” bike, or adding a second bike (or third or fourth, etcetera) to the stable. Here’s the rundown with some basic stats, expect more in depth First Impression posts to follow soon.


Marin Lombard Introduction—WEB (1 of 1)

Marin Lombard

Price: $999
Weight: 24.8 pounds
Frame/fork material: Aluminum
Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 3×9
Brakes: Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes, 160mm rotors
Tires: 700x35c Schwalbe Road Cruiser

The Lombard is a listed as a “cyclocross utility” bike on Marin’s website, and is a great way to categorize this bike. An aluminum frame and fork keeps the weight down, while reflective decals and rack and fender mounts should make this bike a willing companion on local commutes or long tours.


SpecializedDiverge_2_watermarked630 (1)

Specialized Diverge A1

Price: $1,100
Weight: 24.2 pounds
Frame/fork material: Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum frame with Specialized FACT carbon fork w/ Zertz
Drivetrain: Shimano Claris 2400 STI, with SunRace 11-32 8-speed cassette, KMC chain, and Shimano Claris 50/34T, 175mm crankset
Brakes: Tektro Spyre mechanical disc
Tires: Specialized Espoir Sport 700x30c

The Diverge line is new for Specialized, and illustrates the diffuclting of finding the correct way to label modern drop bar bikes. Disc brake road bike? Utility cyclocross? light touring? Adventure bike? We are slotting this in the disc brake road bike category, with its compact road crank and 30mm tires.


Yuba boda boda

Yuba Boda-Boda

Price: $999
Weight: 39.4 pounds
Frame/fork material: Aluminum
Drivetrain: SRAM 1×8
Brakes: Mechanical disc brake front, V-brake rear
Tires: 26×2.0 WTB Freedom Cruz

As far as we know, this is the least expensive, complete, long-tail cargo bike on the market today. This is a pretty stripped down bike at this price, and will need accessories to really take advantage of the cargo capacity. Yes that is a lot of seat post. Our reviewer has a lot of leg, and Yuba offers the Boda Boda in only two sizes: one a step-through, and the step-over pictured here.


Raleigh Clubman disc-1

Raleigh Clubman Disc

Price: $1,100
Weight: 27.4 pounds
Frame/fork material: 4130 butted chromoly
Drivetrain: Shimano Tiagra 10-speed, 50/34 crank,
Brakes: Shimano BR-R317
Tires: Kenda Karv 700×28

The Clubman is a long standing model for Raleigh, and we were glad to see it move to disc brakes for the 2015 model. The full Tiagra 10-speed drivetrain and Shimano discs are a great spec at this price point. And those painted to match metal fenders give the bike a whiff of NAHBS.


Breezer Greenway

Breezer Greenway Elite

Price: $1,049
Weight: 31.5 pounds
Frame/fork material: aluminum
Drivetrain: SRAM VIA Centro 2×10 speed
Brakes: Shimano M355 hydraulic disc
Tires: Vittoria Adventure 700×32

The Greenway Elite from Breezer comes stock with a solid year round commuting set up: fenders, rack, bell and even a kickstand. The best part? A set of front and rear Trelock lights running off the Shimano dynamo front hub.



Framed Minnesota 2.0

Price: $900
Weight: 34 pounds
Frame/fork material: aluminum
Drivetrain: SRAM X7/X5  2×9
Brakes: Avid BB5 mechanical disc
Tires: Framed 26×4

Framed is a newer bike company, and besides the a full range of fat bikes, bmx and urban bikes, it is also first to market with a women’s specific model, and sells a kid’s 24-inch fat bike as well. It seems fat bikes are becoming more and more popular as a second or third bike, and not just for snow and sand. The big tires seem to strike a chord with a wide range of riders, for a wide range of uses.


Coming up

The full feature review of all six bikes will appear is the first issue of 2015. Don’t miss this, and the rest of the great content, subscribe now!


First Look: Raleigh adds new models, expands for 2015

©Earl Harper

Raleigh looks to have a very interesting selection of bikes for 2015, including new road, adventure and mountain bike models.

The bike above, the Grand Prix, wins my “most interesting” award. If you look closely, the Reynolds 530 butted steel frame uses the Ritchey Break-Away system, so this bike can pack away in an small enough bag to escape airline fees. It also is equipped with Campagnolo Veloce, a rare spec these days, and even more rare on a mid-priced bike. The frame includes rack and fender mounts, and is designed for 28mm tires. The $2,300 MSRP includes a travel bag.

See the rest of the lineup here.


Nominate someone deserving for the ‘Raleigh Bunch’ bike giveaway


Raleigh Bikes is looking to give something back to the community, to pay it forward, to hook someone up. That’s the idea behind the Raleigh Bunch giveaway. A well-deserving “family” (the quotes are theirs, as “family” is open to your creative interpretation), is going to get set up with up to $2,500 in Raleigh bikes. Sweet!

How do you enter? Well you can submit a photo, essay or video through the Raleigh website and explain why your friend or family is deserving of a fleet of bikes. This isn’t even much to ask: the video need be only 60 seconds and the essay only 250 words. And hey, if you can only managed the second best entry, YOU STILL WIN. There will be two grand prize winners.

So head over there and nominate your BFFs. Tell ’em Bicycle Times sent you.


Raleigh celebrates 125 years

The Raleigh Cycle Company was founded by Frank Bowden in 1888, seven years before Ignaz Schwinn hung his shingle in Chicago. Bowden was a lawyer working in Hong Kong who had to return to England because of his ill health. In 1870, a doctor in Harrogate suggested he take up cycling to build up his strength, so Bowden bought a tricycle and set off to France to tour around. His health improved and he decided to try and encourage others to recognize the benefits of this new form of transport.

Bowden also saw the business potential and while visiting Nottingham he invested in a small company on Raleigh Street which was run by three men, Woodhead, Angois and Ellis, and was turning out about three bicycles a week. Bowden offered his business skills (and money) and The Raleigh Cycle Company was founded. An old lace factory on Russell Street was purchased as a new workshop, and when they outgrew that, a new factory was built on Faraday Road, increasing production to about 10,000 bicycles a year by 1900.

Read the full story


Review: Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0


Misceo is a Latin verb that means “to mix or blend.” The idea behind the Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0—a flat-bar, 700c bike decked out with disc brakes and a suspension fork—is to blend the performance and versatility of a mountain bike with the comfort and street-friendliness of a hybrid. This machine is designed to tackle a variety of terrain, including pavement, rough roads and even dirt trails.

Read our review here.


Raleigh unveils limited-edition SSCXWC frame

Heading to Philly for the mayhem that is to be the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships? Grab one of these super-limited-edition Raleigh frames for just $667 (because it’s better than evil). Steel, disc brakes, rack mounts… it’s got all the goodies.


The racing will be held December 7 and 8 in conjunction with the Bilenky Junkyard Cross. Registration is filling up fast and closes this Sunday, December 1, at 5 p.m. There are NO walk-up, day-of, begging or bribing registrations, so act fast!

See you in Philly!


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