Monday, 16 September 2019

Raleigh Mustang e-Comp review

Mark continues our sporadic 'Best Loved Kit' series with a review of the Raleigh Mustang e-Comp. 

For some time, I had been considering going over to the “Dark Side,”....ie getting an e-bike. Much as I love cycling, I tend only to ride on flat routes, as climbing just makes me depressed about how unfit/weak I am. Way back in 2008, I had a cerebellar stroke, although I recovered, it knocked the stuffing out of me. My once powerful leg muscles are now soft and jelly like, the guy who used to ride 44x17 fixed on club rides, and push new riders up steep hills has long gone....going out on a beginners group ride a couple of years ago, I watched guys 10 years older than me, and beginner ladies pedal merrily away uphill chatting to each other, as I coughed wheezed and searched for my lowest crawler gear.

Moving on, this year I decided to bite the bullet, and get the best e-bike I could afford. Halfords were doing a good trade in deal, which brought the price down from £2100 to about £1300 once extras added, about £1600 for the Raleigh Mustang.

I chose it because it is lighter than most of the sub £3000 ebikes... (still a hefty 18kg....although my Pashley weighs about the same without a battery and motor!) It also has a decent (claimed) range of up to 85 miles, plus a bottom bracket motor.

The spec is....Kinesis built alloy frame with carbon fibre fork, SRAM Apex 1x11 gearing with 42 tooth biggest sprocket. 650b gravel spec wheels, Shimano Steps motor and 400w/h battery. SRAM hydraulic disc brakes and drop bars.

So, what’s it like to ride/own?

The bike is a fairly understated affair in all black, not necessarily the prettiest of machines, but to be fair, the looks have grown on me. There are 4 possible settings....Off...Eco....Normal...High, the STEPS motor is fairly low drag, so once above the 15.5mph legal cut off it’s just like riding a heavy standard bicycle...Oh and it absolutely flies downhill...saw 42mph on display coming off the North Downs!

Starting in Eco mode, you feel a little assistance, just a little help.....Normal is probably about the best, and depending on variables....wind/terrain/weight etc, should still be good for 40 plus miles.
High....rapid acceleration lots of help, although can feel a little jerky when assistance cutting in/out at limit.

I have used the bike over the last 3-4 months for a mixture of commuting (25+ mile round trip), leisure, shopping, and touring, including with camping kit. One thing that is frustrating is the rather low cut off speed, most fit cyclists can maintain 18-22mph on the flat, so you are still not able to keep up with the skinny Lycra boys and girls!.... many roads in London have a 20mph speed limit now, also so I feel that would be a more logical limit, enabling better integration with traffic...or even 25mph....(decent club cyclist speed.)

I can actually do my commute in the same time....(about 1hr5) on my lightweight single speed on a good day. Where the Raleigh really scores, though is against a headwind or uphill... same time, predictable commute time.

Steep hills?.....”I am Contador!” Lol!....
Flying up with minimal effort, you still have to pedal, of course, but no longer exhausted at top.
There are a few niggles though...
The main one being the bottom bracket is far too low, especially for a so called “gravel bike”....On a rutted stony track, the pedals ground out far too easily...and don’t even think of trying to pedal around a corner when leaning!
The sizing....Not much choice... for me a 50cm or 54cm?......Went for the 54, as thought 50 a bit too small.... it works ok, but have now fitted a shorter reach stem....much better!
Disc brakes...work well, but short pad life, and expensive to replace!

To sum up?....Raleigh have produced an excellent touring bike....it’s stable, carries load well, perfect for maybe an older cycle tourist?... It’s comfortable especially after putting the Brooks B17 on....oe saddle ok, but needed padded shorts.

On the whole though? I really like it, encourages me to ride more often... I’ve even given it a name.....Due to its looks, and Dark Side nature?....
Folks....meet Darth Vader!

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