This year I decided to race the BURN 24 Hour in the solo singlespeed category. Why, I don’t know. But I’m signed up, so I needed a rig that would hold up.
Given Raleigh’s penchant for singlespeed shenanigans, the brand was a logical fit. And their new XXIX comes equipped with Gate’s carbon belt drive, something else I’ve been wanting to test. My test model arrived on a sunny Monday afternoon which was promptly followed by a solid week of rain and wet trails. Nonetheless, I got the new bike assembled and waited for a clear day to hit the trails. While I was waiting on the weather I had the opportunity to weigh the bike and take some pictures of the belt drive system. Hit ‘more’ for Specs, Weight and First Ride Review…
RALEIGH XXIX ACTUAL WEIGHTS
My medium test model came in at 26.04 pounds.
RALEIGH XXIX BIKE
For 2012 Raleigh offers this bike in four sizes with a mixture of Avenir (Raleigh’s house brand) and Avid parts , Weinmann rims, Geax AKA 2.2 tires along with the necessary belt drive parts from Gates. Raleigh included some small details like a color matched seat tube collar, headset spacer and orange accents on the wheels which match the orange on the frame. Oh, yes, and a rigid front fork!
RALEIGH XXIX FRAME
The frame is made from 4130 butted chromoly steel and comes with a suspension corrected rigid fork and geometry. The bottom of the head tube is higher up so you do have the ability to swap to a suspension fork if you desire. The bike uses S-bend seat and chain stays to help soften up the ride as well as offer generous tire clearance.
Notice the split seatstay, this is where the Gates belt slips through the frame. Since the belt is manufactured as one solid piece it cannot be attached like a chain, therefore the frame must “open up” in some way to accept the belt. The belt is tensioned using an eccentric bottom bracket with a split shell.
RALEIGH XXIX DRIVETRAIN
The workhorse of this bike is the Gates belt drive system. For 2012 Raleigh spec’d the CDX system for the XXIX model. With its integrated mud ports and open tooth profile the Gates belt drive system should perform well in adverse conditions. Belt drive systems offer some advantages over a traditional setup: It weighs less and does not stretch or require lubrication like a chain.
SPEC & FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The 2012 Raleigh XXIX has a MSRP of $1,200.00 and comes equipped with:
- 4130 Chromoly fork with disc tabs, Suspension Corrected
- Avenir mountain saddle
- Avenir stem, handlebar and grips
- Forged 2pc crankset with 46t Gates belt drive front chainring
- 28T Gates rear gear with 118t Gates belt
- Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes 185F/160R
- Weinmann XM280 rims and 32h alloy disc hubs F & R
- Geax AKA 29×2.2 tires F & R
During my first test ride I was honestly blown away by how quiet and smooth the belt drive system was. I was rolling along the trail nearly silent except for the leaves crunching under my wheels. The bike was stiff and accelerated well out on the trail. It’s not as fast overall as my 20 pound carbon 29er wonder bike, but it really was more fun to ride. Without any gears to worry with I could concentrate on just riding and picking the smoothest lines on the trail. While the bike does weigh 26 pounds it never felt heavy on the trail. However, in all fairness my initial ride was on a pretty flat trail in NC, but with a wheel swap I feel this bike could be a good choice for the independent single speed racer. Stay tuned for a long term review and 24hr race report……