Review: Raleigh Mustang, 2016

I’ve had this bike a few weeks now and it’s time to write a review.
Firstly, some context: I’m not a cycle journalist and haven’t ridden many bikes. This one will compared with my others, a couple of steel roads bikes and an aluminium cross bike from Kona.
The Mustang is an entry level ‘gravel’ bike from Raleigh. Others in the range have uprated drive trains and lighter wheels. Mine is the 62cm 2016 model with 8-speed Claris transmission. I bought it for commuting and soon changed to a higher ration cassette and fitted narrower wheels and tyres.

Delivered, it came with a carrier and mudguards that I asked for. Off the peg, you would buy it bare of this kit.
My personal top priority is fit. The frame on this 62cm model has a 60cm effective top tube. That’s what attracted of to this bike initially, I stand a fair chance of getting a machine that fits. Raleigh saw fit to spec wider bars and longer cranks in proportion (44cm and 175mm respectively). On paper, at least, something I can work with.
As you can see in the photo above, there is clearance for mudguards with the supplied 35C Schwalbe CX tyres.
My first proper ride included the added rack and guards but original tyres. I went on all terrains: road, trail, canal towpath and Southport was great on all of them. Unless you want to compete, you wouldn’t need a cyclocross bike. Most modern bikes have 10 or more closely spaced ratio gears, this one has 8. The larger gaps are noticeable. It’s inevitable when spread between 12 and 32 tooth cogs. I decided to change that before starting rides to work. I ordered a 13-26 considering the very low 34t chairing.

Now, it feels about right. Handling is impressive, even when loaded up with my bag. The most noticeable feature is improved stiffness over my old steel audax bike. Even though the frame geometry is more slack here, the handling is more nimble, probably because of the stiffer frame keeping the geometry true under load, especially out of the saddle. It’s easy to keep your path true and easy to nip around pot-holes. There are still huge numbers not repaired from last winter, it’s now late September.
Did I mention how much I like the colour? This fees blue almost glows in the ultra violet. I hope the paint is resistant to chipping.
Disadvantages: first, weight. It’s only slightly lighter than the Columbus steel bike at about 12kg. Lighter wheels would help this hugely, as would the next item.
Chainset, square taper bottom bracket and heavy looking cranks look like a good area to upgrade.
Saddle, I had to change this immediately. The Charge Spoon solved it easily. The supplied seat was too narrow and put too much pressure on the edge of the chamois.
Geometry: the front of the frame holds the handlebars very high. I have moved them as low as possible, but it still seems high to me. I can get used to it though.
Wheels : they’re a bit heavy with weight at the rims but also strong. I have a second pair with lighter rims and 28C tyres

Overall, there is one word that summarised this bike- versatile.
Road, trail, grassy paths and even sandy beaches are accessible. It’s a go anywhere bike that can do a decent turn of speed on the road. It’s both solid and comfortable enough for distance sides, including touring.

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