SOC 14: Raleigh Shows off Prototype Full Suspension 29er

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (2)

It’s been a while since Raleigh has offered a full suspension bike. But with the brand’s resurgence of the past few years, and pumping out awesome bikes, Raleigh is ready to take another crack at it with their new prototype 29er full suspension.  Currently in development and being tested with the Raleigh Clement racing team, the Gulf Racing colored fully shows a lot of promise for Raleigh’s future in mountain biking…

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (3)

Like most frame manufacturers, Raleigh worked closely with Fox to develop a suspension platform that was perfectly tuned based on the shocks available through Fox. Currently using the 2nd oversized air can, the bike offers 100mm front and rear travel.

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (4)

After testing multiple designs for the suspension arch where it connects to the shock, they settled on this design as it tested much better. While the piece adds  30g to the design, it results in an impressive 15% increase in lateral stiffness. All of the suspension bearings will be ABI Enduro Max bearings with a Black Oxide coating for corrosion resistance. However, the bearings will be standard size so in a pinch you could replace one with an off the shelf part. Bearing selection was more than just picking the sizes off the chart, as Raleigh provided the actual load numbers to Matt Harvey from ABI to select the perfect bearing suited to each pivot.

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raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (11) raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (12)

At the rear is a 142x12mm thru axle, but it has a trick up its sleeve. You may have come across a rear thru axle that wasn’t perfectly aligned which makes the axle hard to get in and out or worse – damages it. To address the issue and ensure perfect alignment, Raleigh’s designer Mark Landsaat created a system where you loosen the driveside hanger, then thread the axle into the frame. That positions the hanger exactly where it needs to be, and you tighten the hanger down for perfect alignment every time.

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (9)

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (10)

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (8) raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (7)

Using an aluminum main frame and chainstay, the prototype 29er uses a carbon link and carbon seat stay to complete the package. Other frame specs include the traditional tapered head tube, and 73mm threaded bottom bracket.

raleigh full suspension 29 mountain bike prorotype (1)

The front derailleur uses a low direct mount that rides on the swingarm for improved shifting through the travel. Currently the bike as shown sits just over 25 lbs as Jamey Driscoll of the Raleigh Clement team rode it in the Sea Otter XC race. This bike is still very much a prototype with a number of cnc machined parts, but the pilot run of production samples is starting now, with full production expected later this summer. Final availability is expected by Interbike.

 

Comments

Andy - 04/13/14 - 12:32pm

I hate to say it since I’m not the one taking pictures, but everyone seems to miss getting a picture of tire clearance on the seat/chainstays. It’s an important thing, especially on bikes like Raleigh where they always seem to barely have any clearance.

Fatso - 04/13/14 - 12:54pm

@Andy

Photos 2 and 3 show some tire clearance. The tires are 2.25 and on a 29.5mm internal rim (www.amclassic.com) That tire and rim combo is closer to a 2.3-2.35 tire and there is still a shade bit of room left if you wanted to go bigger. Everything is relative to rim/tire combinations. Giving a set number of 2.4 per say is at best a rough estimate. If you used 35mm wide rim you might have a hard time fitting that 2.25 tire in there.

Its also designed for 100mm front and rear travel – its a more XC race style bike. Any tire over a 2.25 is probably over kill or not applicable for the application.

Mark Landsaat is a fantastic designer and I bet this bike rides very well. Raleigh has done a good job in their resurgence. Good designers, spec on builds, sponsorship, advertising, price, etc. Its hard to align all of that at one time.

I wish the top tube and down tube were joined at the head tube, the space there looks weird to me. I’m sure there is some engineering or cost reason to have it as is but that is just my aesthetic opinion.

Ilikeicedtea - 04/13/14 - 1:57pm

Someone should have let them know that the FSR patent has expired. That way they can build a full-on Specialized replica.

Allan Hann - 04/13/14 - 2:49pm

Cough* looks epic! Cough*

Chsad - 04/13/14 - 3:02pm

1. That seems like a pain to have to loosen the other side. They can’t line up drop outs?

Sardinian Rider - 04/13/14 - 4:19pm

Specialeigh,with and head tube straight from 2009.

Antipodean_G - 04/13/14 - 4:50pm

@Sardinian Rider: “with and head tube straight from 2009.” Errrrr what?????

Andy - 04/13/14 - 4:57pm

@Fatso: Very good points. I agree with you on the style and that a 2.25 is a good max size for this bike – my fave shop sells Kona and Raleigh so I’ll be looking at this once the racing season is over and I’m ready to replace my Hei Hei.

Dave - 04/13/14 - 5:07pm

Future closeouts coming to a bike shop near you

john - 04/13/14 - 5:53pm

Nice specialized epic…

Andy - 04/13/14 - 9:02pm

So sad, this is literally the most unoriginal mountain bike of 2014. It’s like they just got lazy and copied a specialized and made it 10x more boring.

Chader09 - 04/13/14 - 10:38pm

While it may share some similarities to a Specialized, they missed they missed the most important part. They made a linkage driven single pivot instead of a true FSR design. It’s funny since the patent has expired and anyone can use it now.

'Ol 'Shel - 04/14/14 - 12:26am

The lower curve in the DT came about because designers wanted to use a vertical shock without driving the TT up too far. Using it on a bike with no shock in that location is kinda odd. Bent tubes can be as stiff as straight ones, but only if they weigh more. Their use in truss designs is always a compromise.

Tim - 04/14/14 - 4:35am

Yes, it’s boring. But so what? It probably will cost less than similar bikes that are more flashy. Good idea on the thru-axle at the rear.

Higgins - 04/14/14 - 8:21am

Spent a long weekend on this bike last fall in and around the Seattle area. As most commenting above have yet to even see this in person you might want to keep this bike on your short list for IB or a Demo session in your local area you might just be surprised we couldn’t stop smiling all weekend long…

Mark Landsaat - 04/14/14 - 12:47pm

Just want to pitch in with some of our thoughts behind the design. Given Raleigh’s focus on Cyclocross racing it made sense for us to pursue an XC race oriented suspension bike. We already sponsor two MTB teams and for this year Raleigh/Clement riders Jamey Driscoll and Caroline Mani will start competing in MTB events in addition to their CX schedule.

The design as it stands has several things that should be very appealing to XC racers. It’s light weight, it’s pedal efficient and it has really good stiffness.

We have had 4 prototypes underneath a variety of riders for several months and the feedback is very positive. I spent time riding with Jamey this past week at Sea Otter and he is really positive about how fast the bike feels, how good it handles and how good the suspension feels.

When we started the design of our suspension bike we wanted to create a bike that is light weight, pedal efficient and stiff. Based on both kinematics and testing data, we created that on paper and we are now getting feedback from our riders that confirms our kinematics and our testing data.

If anyone has questions about the design, post them here and I will answer them.

Brian - 04/14/14 - 4:40pm

Thanks for chiming in Mark, my first mtb was an M80 back in the late 90′s, so it’s good to see something from you guys. I’ll try to summarize the questions from the comments above. Why the pivot on the seatstay instead of using the now available FSR design? Why not connect the toptube and downtube at the connection of the headtube? Why the lower bend on the downtube in front of BB?
…and my own question, any plans on a full carbon frame?

Mike - 04/15/14 - 1:37pm

@Brian

From my own observations I would assume the following

FSR is not equal to being the best suspension linkage out there for every specific type of riding. I like my FSR linkage for doing some stuff, but its still not the most stable peddling platform. For racing XC I use a DW platform.

Toptube/downtube. Making them come together would mean shorter headtube which reduces service area, which would in turn equate to slightly less stiff head tube.

Downtube bend, is to accommodate for the upper bend that is giving the front wheel clearance. It also connects to the front of the BB, there by allowing more surface area for the seat tube to connect creating more stiffness in the frame.

These are just my observations. I’m not a frame builder or an engineer or such…

Brian - 04/15/14 - 4:43pm

@Mike

I was just responding to Mark’s (the frame designer’s) invitation for questions with the questions that had already been stated previously.

I did not mean to imply that FSR the best, rather that this frame comes so close to being an FSR bike but instead uses what amounts to a linkage driven single-pivot. I’m not saying that’s bad, but people were curious along with me about why he chose this particular style of susp.

the top tube and downtube could join before reaching the headtube by increasing the diameter of the downtube. This would increase the amount of surface area for the tubes to connect and increase stiffness. See the Spec. Epic headtube junction for example, or for an extreme example the headtube junction on the Yeti SB95.

Mark Landsaat - 04/15/14 - 8:50pm

Hi Brian, here’s my point of view on this. I believe the FSR design is one of the best on the market today, but there’s lots of other designs that can produce great riding bikes as well. Our goal was to create a pedal efficient, stiff and light weight design and the single pivot four bar we use achieves all our goals.

Pedal efficiency is driven by main pivot location. with the current trend to compact double or even single chainrings it is very easy to optimize a pivot location for pedal efficiency. Especially since the size of the chainrings is smaller as compared to say trying to optimize for a triple with a range between 22-42. a pivot location on the chain line is mechanically neutral. This does not take rearward momentum created by the rider into consideration, but this too can be included in the kinematics layout. the main advantage of a fixed pivot location (in my opinion) is that is doesn’t change it’s position and therefore pedal efficiency is more or less consistent throughout the complete range of travel. In summary, on a short travel bike that is using a compact double or single chainring, we don’t see any drawbacks to this design in terms of achieving great pedal efficiency.

The toptube and downtube are connected on the smaller sizes. Jamey is a tall guy and his prototype is an extra large size with a taller headtube than the smaller sizes.

Although structurally a straight tube from bottom bracket to the headtbue would be the best choice, we have to compromise. The curve at the headtube results in a stronger headtube downtube connection due to the less sharp angle between the two and it creates clearance for suspension fork crowns. In addition to this the curved section results in a lower profile at the headtube where the downtube connects, thus allowing us to achieve lower stack heights for smaller sizes. Finally the curve at the bottom bracket opens up the front triangle. This creates the room necessary to fit a large water bottle in the frame.

With regards to the last question, I’m afraid that I cannot comment on that currently. Hope this answers your questions.

Gary - 04/16/14 - 1:48am

How about some info on those Clement tires?

Brian - 04/16/14 - 10:30am

Mark, thanks for the answers, and the willingness to provide them. Looks like a sweet ride, looking forward to seeing more.

Mark Landsaat - 04/16/14 - 11:39am

Hi Gary,

Nice catch on the Clement tires. Those are FRJ prototypes. The FRJ will be a new Clement MTB tire, it’s a fast rolling XC tire that will be available in 27.5×2.2 and 29×2.2. We have had them in our office for a while now and from what I understand they are ready for production at this point. I can’t speak for Clement though, so someone from Clement should pitch in for official release information.

Mark W - 04/16/14 - 2:02pm

Hey Mark L…

All those great ideas you had back at K2 finally starting to see the light of day… Good to see! Looking forward to my own “long term prototype testing” – I’ll even buy you a beer for it!

Where do you put the 9v battery??? ;-)

Mark W

Graham - 04/28/14 - 2:27pm

I hope this has a short rear end… like less than 17.3″ or so… so it can play with the other good new-school 29er suspension bikes

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