RALEIGH Urban 2, £299, www.raleigh.co.uk
The Urban 2 is something of a mixed bag. Built for comfort not speed, it’s stable and sedate over short distances, but too cumbersome for lengthy commutes. In many ways it crosses into city-cum-cargo bike territory (see next issue).
It’s certainly comfy, in a cup-of-tea, pipe-and-slippers type of way — and we’re big fans of the adjustable stem which allows you to move the bars at a multitude of angles to find the perfect upright riding position.
Rather than carbon forks or any such modern shenanigans to dampen the lumps and bumps on our streets, the Urban 2 relies on 28mm wide, low-pressure tyres on 26-inch wheels. The Airlite frame is a lot less jittery than many other aluminium frames we’ve ridden, and the saddle’s so amply padded it makes the suspension seatpost a little redundant.
There’s plenty of city features here too. Load up the sturdy rack with panniers full of shopping or luggage and there’s even a kickstand if you don’t like to lean your bike against the wall. Other nice touches include a guard on the front chainring to prevent your clothes getting greasy, plus full mudguards keep wheel spray away from you (though we did have the multi-tool out a couple of times during testing to stop it rattling).
But all this kit contributes to the Urban 2’s biggest drawback — its weight. Ride it for any length of time and you’ll start to feel the drag. An efficient 24-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain brings few perform-ance advantages to such a bike and you’re unlikely to get up enough speed to make full use of the Tektro V-brakes. The steering’s not too clever either — lean the Urban either way as you push it along and the front end doesn’t budge, so weaving through traffic isn’t really an option. Such a sturdy bike may fare better in the wet when stability's an issue, but as it hasn't rained during testing we're making no promises.
If you're not looking to break any speed records and are in the market for an inexpensive, well-kitted out steed for short hops — one that you can pile high with luggage — then the Urban 2 is worth a gander.
PROS Good townie features
CONS Hefty weight