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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
  Raleigh USA 2008 spy photos
By Yokota Fritz 
Raleigh USA is doing their photo shoots for the 2008 catalog. Raleigh Commutes blog master Carey S has been posting photos of some of the 2008 bikes to her blog. You can see


Wednesday, May 02, 2007
  Raleigh Coasting review
By Yokota Fritz 

Raleigh Coasting

About $450.
Steel frame, 700x35 tires.
Shimano Coasting group with 3-speed automatic shifting and coaster brake.
Perfect for casual riding, commuting.

Other resources

Photos from my Raleigh Coasting test ride.
Bicycling magazine on Shimano Coasting: No shifting, low maintenance, all fun.
Sheldon Brown's Interbike 2006 report includes his thoughts on Shimano Coasting.
Visit Raleigh USA for U.S. Dealer locations.
Raleigh Bicycles Blog.
Raleigh Commutes Blog.

I poked, prodded and rode Raleigh's new Coasting bicycle based on the Shimano Coasting group. With the Coasting project, Shimano and its bike industry partners worked to create a bike for the 160 million 'latent cyclists' in America who know how to ride a bike but do not. They're not interested in performance or the latest technology; they just want to ride a bike for fun.

While the Coasting offerings from Trek and Giant are cruisers appropriate for the bike path with big 26 inch tires, Raleigh took their inspiration from the old English three-speeds like the classic Raleigh Superbe to create a hybrid city bike with 700c wheels, a steel frame with a fairly lively geometry, and a practical front rack (complete with bottle opener) for carrying stuff.

Other nice details on Raleigh's Coasting bicycle are a retro leather saddle with big coil spring, the Coasting chain (and wow! what a chain it is), leather grips on the swept-back handlebar, and attractive shimmery paint job. The other Coasting offerings invite the rider to wear flip flops and sun hats; the Raleigh bike has a more refined, casual yet civilized look and feel.

Minor problems

My sample bike did not shift properly on my test ride; we figured out this was due to a problem with assembly. Because bike shop mechanics may not be familiar with the Coasting mechanism you will want to check for proper operation.

Raleigh Coasting: Coffee ride

Sheldon Brown is famously skeptical of the Coasting experiment, calling Coasting “a wrong-headed exercise in form over function.” Coasting adds mechanical complexity to simplify the actual bike-riding experience. Sheldon, though, prefers the ability to quickly get at the mechanical bits so riders can fix them. “Making the bike look simple is not the same as making it be simple. The hubcaps over the wheels cover up the stuff you need to get at to fix a flat tire.”

Sheldon Brown also objects to the missing front brake, which he considers to be a safety flaw. I'm personally not a big fan of coaster brakes either, but I think this may be because I'm not accustomed to them. Positioning the pedals after you stop, for example, is difficult with coaster brakes. I suspect the target market for this bike won't care about the lack of front brakes. Front brakes are required for bicycles in the UK.

Because of the automatic three-speed shifter and coaster brake, no cables clutter up the lovely clean lines of this bike. The hub caps and special fork ends may make it a little more difficult to fix a flat, but Raleigh has equipped the Coasting with flat-resistant Kenda tires.

When I noted the lack of a fender to Raleigh marketing coordinator Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst, she explained that they considered fenders but kept them off due to pricing. “We wanted to keep this bike at a certain price point that would be appealing to that first time rider and unfortunately adding a set of fenders was going to pop the bike into a different price bracket. We put the money into the specific coasting chain, the chain guard with the window, the rack, 700c wheels, the grips and seat and frame silhouette,” Carey told me.

Riding the Raleigh Coasting

Some fat-saddle hybrid bicycles are so overbuilt that they really impact the ride. The Raleigh Coasting bicycle, though, feels just like a bicycle is supposed to feel. I didn't expend a lot of energy pushing past unnecessary bulk. The wide leather saddle with its coil springs very effectively smoothed the ride without getting in the way of my pedaling. The steel frame, traditional geometry, moderate fork rake and Shimano Coasting components quietly and efficiently transfer power to the wheels while giving a responsive yet comfortable ride.

Coasting is perfect for neighborhood trips to the coffee shop, but the Raleigh also is a nice commuter bike. This bike is built well enough for the occasional charity ride.

While bike shop revenues were up last year, actual unit sales are down. The National Sporting Good Association recently announced that cycling for recreation plummeted in 2006, falling behind bowling – bowling! -- in popularity. Shimano and their builder partners have put a lot of energy into Coasting in the hopes of growing the bike market pie. In spite of the slight shortcomings I mention above, overall I think this bike is a winner. Raleigh did an excellent job of designing an attractive city bike that I think will appeal to non-cyclists.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007
  Raleigh Coasting bicycle
By Yokota Fritz 

Raleigh Coasting: Chain
Originally uploaded by richardmasoner.
I took a test ride on the new Raleigh Coasting bicycle. The Raleigh Coasting is a hybrid bike featuring Shimano's new "Coasting" component group, which has an electronic automatic shifter and coaster brakes. Click here to see photos of the Raleigh Coasting bicycle in action. Preview of this bicycle coming Real Soon Now.

I did my 1000 meter Tax Man Scramble time trial on this bike today. I think I did it in between five and seven minutes, sweat free! Woo hoo!

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Monday, March 26, 2007
  Raleigh's Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst
By Yokota Fritz 
Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst is the brand-new marketing coordinator for Raleigh USA, and she blogs! Although a number of Raleigh employees contribute to Raleigh Commutes, Carey is the initiator and the main voice behind that blog. Carey is an enthusiastic cyclist, but she was kind enough to devote some time for an interview about her blogging and Raleigh's plans for 2007.
Carey of Raleigh on a fixed gear bicycleCarey Schleicher-Haselhorst is the marketing coordinator for Raleigh USA.

On Raleigh's reaction to her blogging: Tim Jackson at Masi has gained some notoreity with his "ask forgiveness later" model of blogging about his employer. Carey, it turns out, did the same thing: She created the Raleigh blogs first, then she proposed them to management. "Getting management to buy-in was not very difficult," says Carey. "I convinced Raleigh that there needed to be a personal voice behind the corporation, reaching out to our consumers, dealers, and industry folk. Personally, I find value in having a human voice connected to a company. The ability to validate your passions, ethics, humor, lifestyle, and beliefs by relating with the people of the company you buy into is such a positive thing, not only from a business standpoint, but also from a human one."

Why should Raleigh have a blog presence? "I started the Raleigh Commutes blog in hopes to raise an awareness of the thoughts and feelings that are generated as we (the employees) ride, and to encourage others to share them. I believe in sharing stories; it somehow validates one’s decisions and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Plus, riding a bike to get around is a huge part of how I exist and it’s my hope that through these stories it will encourage others to jump on a bicycle within Raleigh and throughout the world."

On city bikes for commuting & transportation: "Our hopes are high in regards to addressing this growing market. It’s amazing how the commuting/comfort rider has been ignored for the past 5 years due to the overwhelming sales in road bikes, or as it’s sometimes called: the “Lance Bike Boom.” This boom is starting to slow and people are more interested in bikes as eco-friendly means of transportation or as a way to have fun with friends: getting to the coffee shop, socializing, hitting the beach, etc. Teaming up with Shimano, our Coasting bike for 2007 is an attempt to welcome these “non-riders” into the bike world by providing a bike that has a 100% fun/style factor and a 0% intimidation factor – no Lycra, no competition, no training, just pure fun.

"We are also looking at the rise in “commuter” numbers and starting to spec select bikes with fenders, racks, and bells. We all know how the story goes – bicycle commuting numbers rose this past year due to oil prices; it seems people finally kept their keys hanging on the wall at home and grabbed their bikes instead. I’m guessing these riders realized that riding a bike to work was not only beneficial to their bank account and to the environment, but to their physical and mental health as well. So, bike commuters and comfort riders are definitely playing a large role in moving the current bike market, which is incredibly encouraging. As my boss Reed Pike says, “The bicycle is the answer to the world’s problems.” With this in mind, Raleigh offers bicycles that are 100% commuter friendly directly off the shelf. Our hope is to get the potential new commuter excited about riding and to provide top-notch bicycles to the experienced commuter looking to upgrade. The end result, we hope, will be streets filled with bikes rather than cars. Notice that I end all my answers with optimism; bikes are awesome and I hope that everyone involved in this culture and industry believes the same and carries the same optimism."

What has been the reaction to Raleigh Coasting and other "comfort" bikes from Raleigh distributors and bike shops? "The Raleigh Coasting bikes have been received with such great excitement that we have already sold out of our first production run. Coasting bikes should hit dealer floors this week (03.26.07), which will be a relief to the dealers, as demand has definitely increased consumer traffic. I encourage everyone (and I mean everyone) to at least take a test spin on these bikes; they are super cool, relaxed, and stylish. Our dealers are extremely excited to be part of this movement and we are as well."

I'm looking forward to more of what Carey and her co-workers at Raleigh have to write over at Raleigh Commutes.

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  Raleigh bicycle blogs
By Yokota Fritz 
Bloggers who work for Raleigh Bicycles are now blogging about their bikes and about bike stuff in general. I like what I see so far:

Raleigh Commuters: Our stories of the daily addiction.

Raleigh Bicycles blog.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007
  Raleigh Coasting selling fast
By Yokota Fritz 
Raleigh's Coasting bicycle, a hybrid bike featuring Shimano's 3-speed Coasting shifter and coaster brake, is selling faster than Raleigh can build them. According to Raleigh's USA marketing coordinator Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst, the entire first run of both men's and women's Coasting bicycles has already sold out. The next run will be available at USA Raleigh dealers in June.

See Raleigh's website for more information about the Coasting bicycle.


Saturday, March 24, 2007
  Google-branded bikes for Google employees
By Yokota Fritz 
I can't believe Googler Warren missed this: Google is giving away 2000 bicycles to employees in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Googlers will be able to choose from a range of models including a "cool cruiser" - a folding bike for those that only make part of their trip to work under pedal power - and men's and women's hybrids. The bikes are manufactured by Raleigh Europe; the bikes and helmets will be branded with the Google name.

Via Grist. More on Raleigh Bicycles later this weekend.



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