BIKE TEST: RALEIGH REDUX iE
Sleek urban commuter
When you first see the Redux, it looks sleek and well designed with simple but amazing graphics. As Henry Ford famously said about the Ford Model T, “You can have it in any color you want, as long as that’s black!” Like the Model A, it’s all matte black, with the Raleigh logo ghosted in the downtube in gloss. The light has to catch it the right way for you to see it. The Redux name is in blue on the seat tube, as well as outlined in blue on the inside of the fork—subtle and beautiful.
The oversized downtube encases the 500-watt-hour battery for the barely noticeable Brose mid-drive. We ride a lot of these on mountain bikes, but rarely on city bikes. This one is tuned to provide nice, quiet power up to 28 mph with 90 Nm of torque. Internal routing on all the cables makes for a very clean look.
All-aluminum frame and fork set coupled with thru-axles can be light, strong and fast. It can also be unforgiving on long rides, as the incredible stiffness this offers can be brutal over the imperfect roads you’ll ride on. Thankfully, the bike is outfitted with the TranzX AntiShock stem that can move -2 and +1 degrees vertically to absorb vibration and shock from the road, as well as a TranzX AntiShock seatpost. One additional line of defense is the large Schwalbe Big Ben tires, which can also provide a little relief, allowing for longer rides.
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes provide the slowing and stopping power, with long, adjustable reach levers for comfort. Shimano Deore shifters, derailleur and cassette provide sure shifting.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
The Redux is a great commuter bike and for running around town. There are bosses to install a rack in the back and fenders front and rear, as well as a bottle cage. With the 500-watt-hour battery and good power management, it has the range to be a good touring bike as well.
Turning it on requires first pressing the power button at the bottom of the battery. We made this mistake the first couple of times by trying to turn it on from the on/off button on the display. The display awakens and offers you up the most important information in a very easy-to-read backlit LED that shows battery level, speed and power level. The latter is changed by a control pad near your left brake lever.
When you first start moving, you feel how powerful the Brose motor is, and it’s surprisingly quiet. In fact, it’s one of the quietest motors on the market. Brose motors use internal belts to keep motor noise to a minimum. With the fit and finish on this bike, like rubber bumpers snugging up the battery, this bike’s only appreciable noise is the freewheel.
The 1×10 gearing, coupled with a large 48t front sprocket with an attractive chainguide, is ample to keep you from spinning out even on downhill runs. We couldn’t find a hill too steep to be tamed by the gearing and the motor.
A speed pedelec running at up to 28 mph is still our favorite setup for city street riding, because it allows you to ride at close to the speed of the rest of the motorized traffic and is therefore safer for everyone. We love the quick acceleration this bike offers; it’s not a kick-in-the-pants, but it is a thrilling and steady flood of power that can get you up to top speed quickly at stoplights and keep you there.
There’s no built-in shift-sensing, so we found that it’s a great idea to back off your leg input a little as you shift to take some of the pressure off the chain and chainrings.
Charging the battery between rides takes about four hours if the battery is fully depleted. It can be charged on or off the battery, and it uses a Rosenberger magnetic charge connector (our favorite) with a 90-degree angle to make it work well even under the top tube.
The first thing you have to do with this bike is admire it. It’s dark and elegant, with clean lines and those subtle graphics that just make you want to stare at it. Then again, you also will want to ride it because it looks so good.
The TranzX stem and seatpost do an okay job of reducing road vibration and bumps, but this bike is by no means a plush ride. With the aluminum frame’s incredible stiffness, power delivery is fantastic and none is lost to flex, but that same stiffness translates into feeling the bumps you go over. You don’t feel every gum wrapper you ride over, but you will certainly feel the bumps.
Though the bike has somewhat wide tires, they glide across pavement with a relatively narrow contact patch with low rolling resistance, and with the high volume, they also help tame some of the bumps. The Big Ben tires provide great grip when cornering or braking.
By varying the tire pressure in these big-volume tires, you can definitely change the ride quality. Running higher pressure means faster acceleration and lower rolling resistance, getting you to your destination faster, but also a harder ride quality. A little lower pressure will definitely slow down acceleration and increase rolling resistance, but will also provide much-needed damping on the energy transfer from bumps in the road.
Unlike many bikes implementing Schwalbe tires, Raleigh chose not to go with one with reflective sidewalls. With the matte black paint that just absorbs light and the lack of lights included, you’ll have to really retrofit this bike if you are going to think about riding it at night. We suppose if you were going to rob banks at night, this level of stealth might be an advantage; otherwise, it might be detrimental to safety.
Speed control and stopping power provided by the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes is on point, easily handling even emergency stops from running at full clip, which is very important with a speed pedelec in traffic. You’ll have confidence even in rush-hour traffic, with distracted drivers pulling out in front of you.
On short commutes and errands, this bike got us where we wanted to go quickly, quietly, with style and without sweat. On longer rides, especially in Los Angeles where the streets aren’t perfectly paved, the beating from the road caused a fair amount of fatigue. An aftermarket suspension seatpost would be in order if you were going to go on long rides, and perhaps even some thicker, more padded ergonomic grips to help on the handlebar side.
When parking, the rear-mounted kickstand is very convenient. It’s far enough back to not get hit by the pedals when you back the bike up, but doesn’t extend so far back as to hit the ground if you pop the bike up vertically to move it around. When locked up, it really doesn’t look obviously electric unless you look closely, thanks to the integration of the battery into the downtube and the angle of the motor box housing the Brose motor. When you do have to lock the bike up, the Brose display is removable for safety as well.
The Raleigh Redux iE is one of our new favorites in the speed pedelec class. It’s relatively light, nimble and quick, with dashing good looks and a powerful Brose motor. It has great range with the 500-watt-hour battery, a high-performance feel and great components for just over $3000. If you’re a commuter or tourer who likes a quick and somewhat stealthy bike, the Redux is well worth a look.
SPECS: RALEIGH REDUX iE
Battery: Brose, 13.8Ah/496.8Wh
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 28 mph (with assist)
Range: 25–75 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano Deore, 1×10 11-32t
Brakes: Shimano M365 hydraulic disc, 180mm front/160mm rear rotors
Fork: Light alloy, through-axle
Frame: 6061 custom-butted aluminum, City Geometry
Tires: Schwalbe Big Ben, 27.5×2.0”
Weight: 48 lb.
Color Choice: Black
Sizes: SM (fits 5-foot-3 to 5-foot-6), MD (5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9) and LG (5-foot-9 to 6 feet)