Reviews of Phase 1? Compare w/ others
I'm right on the verge of getting my first FS bike, to be used almost exclusively for all-around trail riding in Central Texas. At present, the leading options, in no particular order, are:
- 05 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Disc - $1900
- 05 Raleigh Phase 1 - $1700
- 05 Giant Trance 2 - $2000
- 04 Gary Fisher Cake 3 DLX - $1480
I am intrigued by the Phase 1 but confess to knowing nothing about Raleigh's MTB presence, their quality, their reputation, etc.... Do any of y'all own a Phase 1, and can you provide a few statements on its overall ride quality, product quality, etc....? If not, does anyone know of a comprehensive objective Phase 1 review on the web?
Also, I of course welcome any comments on the relative merits of each of the bikes above. I have test ridden most of them already, but unfortunately all of the test rides are limited to parking lots with only speed bumps and curbs as obstacles. Pretty hard to judge a bike based on that alone.
"Tested: Raleigh Phase II
Too Good To Be True?
By Vernon Felton
WHAT: Raleigh Phase II WHERE: raleighusa.com HOW MUCH: $2,675
Every bike brand has an identity. Specialized Bicycles is viewed as innovative. Cannondale, which has built all its bikes in Pennsylvania, to date, is seen as the “Made in America” brand. Raleigh USA’s brand identity has always centered on value. For years now, Raleigh has been the brand that gave consumers the most bang for their buck. If you were shopping for a Raleigh, it wasn’t because you were particularly drawn to their massive R&D capability—you generally were looking for a quality frame with nice parts and a low price tag.
This year, Raleigh USA is changing things up. Though their bikes still roll into shops with relatively low price tags, the company has made a noticeable effort to step up its technology game. To be blunt, the Phase II you see here is the first model since the John Tomac days that I’d personally consider sexy.
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The Phase II doesn’t utilize an entirely original design, but it’s a very solid configuration all the same. The bike sports a rocker-link driven, four-bar suspension design (rear wheel hits obstacle, which drives seatstay pivot and seatstay, which drives the rocker link, which drives the rear shock). Sorta like a Kona Kikapu. Sorta like a Turner 5 Spot (minus the Horst Link)…Very much like a Trek Liquid. No, the design isn’t new (you can trace it back to Turner’s 1994 Burner). Yes, it’s a very effective design (that’s why so many major players are still using it).
In short, you’re looking at 4 or 5-inches of adjustable rear travel (via two separate shock-mounting slots on the rocker link), a very light, butted aluminum frame and some of the absolute sauciest parts imaginable, including: a five-inch travel Manitou Minute 3:00 fork (with infinite, on-the-fly travel adjustment), Manitou Swinger Air 3-Way rear shock, Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic disc brakes, SRAM X-9 shifters and derailleur, TruVativ Stylo Team GXP crankset, Answer Pro Taper carbon riser bars, Mavic Crossmax Enduro wheelset, and a pair of Crank Brothers Candy SL pedals. While I didn’t have a scale on hand to weigh the bike with, I’d estimate its fighting weight at something like 26 to 27 pounds—very light for a five inch travel bike.
As far as geometry goes, my 18-inch (Medium) test bike incorporated a slack 69-degree head angle (appropriate given the five-inch fork and the bike’s intended purpose), a 73-degree seat-tube angle, a 23-inch (effective) top tube, a fairly sporty, 43-inch wheelbase, a bottom bracket just a smidge under 13.5-inches high and a stand-over height of roughly 31.25-inches.
You choose: 4 or 5 inches of travel via a rocker-link, 4-bar design.
A few years ago, any bike with five inches of travel would have been considered a freeride bike. Not anymore. The Phase II is a solid trail bike: light enough for all-day climbs, yet plush enough to tackle very tough downhills. This ultra-light frame, however, is not meant to be jumped off loading docks all day.
The Phase II is basically a cross-country bike with the extra legs to tackle some bigger hits. As such, it performed admirably. Steering was confident and precise on the descents. Front and rear suspension were well balanced (one of the perks of stocking the fork and rear shock from the same manufacturer). You can easily tune, the basic feel of the rear suspension was easily tuned from soft and active to much firmer (via the Swinger’s adjustable platform suspension). Ditto for the fork.
The Phase II is an apt climber. The rear suspension helps the rear wheel dig on tricky climbs where some other suspension designs would bob excessively and rob you of your momentum. Ascending on this bike, however, requires that you utilize the Manitou handlebar-mounted, infinite-travel adjuster. With the fork at full extension (five inches of travel), I experienced a lot of front wheel flop on steep climbs (the shortish stem and riser bars add to this trait). A quick press of the infinite-travel adjuster button and—PRESTO—problem solved. My weight was shifted from behind the rear wheel to directly over the pedals. The fork’s on-the-fly travel adjustment feature makes all the difference in the world when it comes to climbing on this bike.
I said this before, but I’ll say it again. Kudos to whoever spec’d the Phase II. The parts pick is dead on. The SRAM X-9 shifters and rear derailleur bang out firm, crisp shifts, the Avid Juicy 7’s offer excellent power and modulation and the Crossmax Enduro wheels are light enough to aid in sprinting, but burly enough to withstand a reasonable thrashing. Other small, but appreciated details were the WTB Lazer V Stealth saddle (a cush feel, but still compact enough to allow for manuevering) and the Kenda Nevegal 2.35 (good grip, fairly low rolling resistance).
Having just sung the bike’s praises, I should add that there were a few things with the Phase II that I wasn’t as pleased with. For starters, the seatpost clamp snapped early on. It seems that the seat tube was bored out a tad too much, forcing us to overtighten the clamp (which lead to its quick death). The problem was quickly corrected with a shim made from an aluminum can. Second, the back end of the frame evinced a bit of flex during hard cornering. Kinda understandable given the bike’s light weight, but still, something that could be improved upon. Third, the rear suspension does stiffen up a bit under braking. Naturally, that's precisely one of those times when you want your suspension to remain as active as possible, but this is a trait shared by many of the four-bar bikes that utilize a seatstay pivot instead of a Horst Link. Finally, I found myself dearly desiring an extra inch or more of standover clearance when the downhills got steep and rough. On a medium test bike that is designed to tackle serious descents, I think you are going to want a bit more wiggle room when things get hairy.
Yes, the Phase II is a bargain at $2,675 (spec’d as it is), but this bike is more than a “good buy”. It’s also a very solid performer. If you shied away from Raleigh USA bikes in the past due to the company's perceived lack of "soul" or R&D prowess, you may want to give this bike a closer look. It certainly deserves it. "
That was an article about the Phase II from http://bikemag.com/features/gear/raleigh/
As far as I'm concerned, Raleigh isn't what they used to be, but they make great frames nonetheless (Very neat welds and strong frames). Raleigh also owns Diamondback. They offer great bang for the buck. I've never been a huge fan of Giant. Way too many stories about cracked AC, VT, and Warps... Specialized is also a great company. All 3 companies stand behind their product and offer excellent support. So it pretty much comes down to fit, component selection, color, and preference.
Well, I got hit with a surprise today that I just couldn't (and hopefully don't find out that I should have) refuse.
One of my LBS had an 04 Yeti 575, matching what is now shown as the 575 Enduro kit on Yeti's site.
It fit well, rides nicely, and comes with a more than adequate kit. Got it for basically $1900+tx, and they swapped out the pedals with Time Atacs that I like better for no charge.
Perhaps could've done better on price, but I'm pretty satisfied. Hoping to hit the trail on it tomorrow.
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