Review: Raleigh Militis 3 Carbon Road Bike
Raleigh Bicycles is one of those companies I think pretty much every one has heard of, right on up there with Schwinn. But if you’ve been around the bicycle industry for any length of time, you know that they’ve also had their share of problems. They’ve been sold, merged and reorganized so many times, I hardly pay attention when their name is a headline on Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
However, lately we’ve been hearing more from them, and they are making sure their continued presence is known. Seeing their name a lot among the single speed/cyclocross scene has helped in growing the current brand, and I was stoked to be offered a chance to ride one of their new road offerings. A few weeks later, the Raleigh Militis 3 arrived in all its flat black, SRAMed out glory. Read all about this top-of-the-line, $6500 machine after the jump…
Does it look good? Sure, this is a beautiful bike. While it hung in the shop, it would immediately draw the attention of everyone who came through. The frame design is very clean, very attractive. However, that could also be construed as the bike looking relatively generic as there’s very little distinguishing about it. Remove the Raleigh name, and this frame could pass for the high end offering from almost anyone. It features all the usual suspects we’re seeing from a lot of people these days; BB30, huge down tube, tiny seatstays, carbon dropouts, tapered headtube, internal cable routing. The lone piece of technology that Raleigh is claiming is called Direct Connect Evolution; the frame is constructed by molding the downtube and headtube as one piece. Logic tells me that this helps in the handling department, however they don’t offer any explanation. Why is this a good thing, or how it makes their bikes better?
How does it ride? All that said, the bike rode almost exactly like you’d expect any race-level $6500 carbon road bike to ride; really well. There was nothing exceptional about it, but I had no complaints either. It weighed less than 15 lbs. with Speedplay X2 pedals. It climbed fast (I was hardly off my best times on a couple climbs, and I normally ride a compact) and went wherever I pointed it. The handling was a little twitchier than I’d like, no riding off the bars to eat, but given the spec and sizing fit, this is obviously aimed at the racers.
What about the fit? The sizing was a major issue for me, as I simply glanced at their chart, found the specs that were closest to my current bike, and shot the email back. Unfortunately, I should’ve looked closer, because Raleigh had sized these models differently. I generally ride a bike with a 53-54cm top tube, with the Militis that was a Small. But their small was outfitted with a 0mm setback seatpost, and a 40cm bar. In setting it up for myself, I quickly realized that I couldn’t get the seat far enough back. They had intended for me to be riding the medium, sizing the bike by cockpit, rather than just top tube. Because of these issues, the size always made this bike feel off. The narrow bars were obvious out of the saddle and my saddle was always too forward. It was close enough to put miles on it, but it left me never feeling 100% comfortable on the bike. I did feel like a crit racer every time I went to the drops, though…
Is it worth it? The spec on the bike is probably where the bike shines the most. It’s a full SRAM Red bike, down to the chain and cassette, as opposed to the usual trick of saving dollars with Force there. The full carbon cockpit comes from FSA, and the wheels are the Mavic Ksyrium SLR with the Exalith braking surface. Even with those components, I think that $6500 is a bit of a stretch for this bike’s value. However, a quick search found most dealers already selling it at $5999, which is a more reasonable ballpark.
Buy it if: you’re a racer concerned with getting the biggest bang for your buck. You’ll get a full Red group, and a killer set of wheels. The frame will perform, but you’ll never say the sentence, “Remember that Raleigh frame I crashed ten years ago? I wish I still had that…”