Urban Velo

Raleigh Rush Hour Flatbar – On Test

Raleigh Rush Hour Flatbar

Although I had seen Raleigh’s Rush Hour Flatbar online and on the tradeshow floor at Interbike, it wasn’t until I unpacked the box in my basement workshop that I really appreciated what a beautiful bike this is. Raleigh has obviously had an eye on the designs coming from the small builders at the Handmade Bicycle Show, and they’ve used that inspiration to create a modern classic that retails for just $820 complete.

raleigh rushhour flatbarThe frame is TIG welded from Reynolds 520 butted chromoly steel tubing. Although it sounds exotic, Reynolds 520 is not one of the proprietary tubesets manufactured on Shaftmore Lane in Birmingham, England. It’s 4130 chromoly steel manufactured in Taiwan to the Reynolds standard. And as you might have guessed, the Rush Hour is not welded by a cheeky old bloke in Nottingham, but by a factory worker in China. That said, it’s definitely a high-quality frame, built to take all the abuse the average bike commuter can throw at it (and then some). The frame is drilled for brakes, but has no cable stops or bottle cage bosses. The track fork ends feature simple, but effective, integrated chain tensioners. The only drawbacks to this style of tensioner is that they use a small Allen key and have to be backed out to allow the wheel to come forward in the dropout to be removed. The benefit is they’re super clean looking and easy to adjust.

The straight blade fork is lugged chromoly steel, and looks every bit as sharp as the rest of the bike. Like the frame, it’s drilled for a brake and comfortably holds a 28c tire (but probably not much more). The frame and fork really take a back seat to the matching chromoly integrated handlebar and stem. The single-bolt stem is about 105mm with a negative rise that ends up pointing just a hair above 90°. The handlebar is 500mm wide (20″) and comes straight as an arrow—no sweep, no rise. At present the lack of sweep feels a bit awkward, but I’m hoping it will grow on me. If it were possible to get 5° or 10° of bend, though, I would take it.

raleigh rush hour flatbarAlthough the frame and fork are the heart and soul of the bike, the parts mix is what really sets the Rush Hour apart from the competition. The first thing most people notice are the 32-hole, baby blue Weinmann DP18 deep section rims. They’re definitely accentuated by the white Vittoria Randoneur tires. The wheels are completed with 14g stainless spokes, alloy nipples and unmarked, polished-aluminum, high-flange track hubs. The hubs feature 5mm Allen key bolts and no cutaways in the flanges.

To true bike aficionados, the Brooks Swift saddle gets just as much attention as the rims, if not more. There’s not much to be said about Brooks saddles that hasn’t been said before—they’re a saddle you have to “earn” by putting in some miles before it’s broken in and comfortable. They’re undoubtedly beautiful, and lend an air of sophistication to any bike. Here, the Swift is complimented by a set of lock-on grips with leather (or leather-esque) padding and matching straps on the toe clips.

The 165mm Sugino RD2 Messenger crankset is another touch of quality—the 46t chainring is remarkably round, which is something of a rarity on sub $1000 complete bikes. Another highlight is the blue anodized Cane Creek headset that matches the unbranded anodized blue seatpost collar. The pedals are a decent quality track model from Wellgo, and the nameless 27.2 seatpost has a machined finish that gives it a high-end look and feel. The bike ships with a pair of Tektro dual-pivot brakes and inline levers, which do the job admirably, as does the 1/8″ KMC chain.

The parts mix is so complete that I only changed one thing after the first ride—based on my local bike shop’s advice, I swapped the alloy lock ring for a steel Dura Ace model. One small nit to pick (or shall we call it one wish unfulfilled?) is that the bike didn’t come with a top tube protector. A small, simple leather one (like this) would be a classy way to keep the handlebar from damaging the top tube. As it works out, I chipped the paint on both sides of the top tube already, and while it’s barely noticeable, it’s kind of a bummer to mar such a pretty bike.

Stay tuned for updates on the Raleigh Rush Hour Flatbar down the road.

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Visit www.raleighusa.com for more information.

About Urban Jeff

I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, my head really hurts. Contact me.

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24 Comments

  1. Pink RobeJanuary 25, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Ooooh, pretty! That’s a very nice looking bike.

  2. JamesJanuary 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I agree this is a great bike. Raleigh is doing some rad things with their Heritage line and every bike company should pay attention to their lead. But then I read, “appreciated how what a beautiful bike this is”… Really? You aren’t editing posts for grammar?

  3. terryJanuary 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    this is a great looking bike, it just begs to be filthy with road grime

  4. ByronJanuary 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    We’ve got a Rush Hour for a presentation we did on fixies, culture, and design — was art in the gallery we presented at and will defer to your review, you covered it so well. Nice work.

  5. VladJanuary 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    So ugly…

  6. Urban JeffJanuary 25, 2010 at 1:08 pmAuthor

    James, I freely admit to being human.

  7. JoeJanuary 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    That’s definitely a classy looking bike, but it seems to conform to style over substance in an effort to appeal to the more-$-than-sense crowd that’s looking for a “sweet fixie” right-out-of-the-box more than a useful bicycle.

  8. Ghostship MattJanuary 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    A top-tube protector would look terrible on this bike (as they do on most bikes). If you have to put one on, use a Kashimax.

  9. CarterJanuary 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    I have to say Joe I almost completely agree. While these flat bar fixies are nice and great to look at it seems as if all of the roots as a commuter are being lost. Where are at least some bullhorns these days?

  10. JoeJanuary 25, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    If it featured a more utilitarian setup it’d probably be a more reasonable deal, but as it stands I’d compare it to a flatbar Masi Speciale Fixed with one less set of cage bosses, a gauche cockpit, and a bling saddle.

  11. Urban JeffJanuary 25, 2010 at 8:40 pmAuthor

    Different strokes for different folks. There are loads of less expensive bikes out there for people who want a less expensive bike. Likewise, there are far more expensive bikes.

  12. JammyJanuary 25, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    That’s awesome it doesn’t have water bottle bosses. I never get thirsty or anything on my commute, if I do I normally have a PBR in my bag. *sarcasm off*

  13. Raab HawkJanuary 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I’m slightly confused by the stem design. Does it eliminate the possibilities of adjusting the height? It looks like a 3 piece spacer kit but the shape of the clamp would make it a proprietary design, making it so you would have to use Raleigh spacers or just use a completely different stem/handlebar combination.

  14. Raab HawkJanuary 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I noticed it was just a shadow but does it still allow adjustability?

  15. MarkJanuary 27, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    This looks like a very functional bike, but the baby blue rims make me cringe. I’ll be very glad when pastel colors wane in popularity.

  16. dougJanuary 28, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Raab, that is very much an adjustable stem. It’s easy to change the height or angle of the bars: All you have to do is head out to the bike shop and buy a new handlebar and stem combo.

  17. Raab HawkJanuary 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I suppose someone who prefers to buy a bike out of the box with a one piece stem handle bar combo isn’t really too concerned with comfort. But thanks for the insight, I’d be lost otherwise.

  18. AndyFebruary 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Looks to have some nice details, but are white tires ever a good idea?

  19. mikeMarch 9, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Raleigh should be ashamed of making a clean and simple bike. Quickly, everyone hate, before someone cooler than us does. Wait, check your grammar first. All!

  20. sygyzyApril 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Just curious, did you remove the rear brake?

  21. Urban JeffApril 12, 2010 at 8:10 pmAuthor

    I did not install it, but it came with a rear brake.

  22. Raleigh Rush Hour Flat Bar «June 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    [...] I have been admiring this bike for sometime.It seems for 2010 it has become even better. The Raleigh has a  frame that is TIG welded from Reynolds 520 butted chromoly steel tubing , Brooks saddle, baby blue Weinmann rims and white Vittoria Randoneur tires. You can read a full review at Urban Vello here [...]

  23. Raleigh Rush Hour Flatbar – So Far, So Good « Urban VeloAugust 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

    [...] the initial write-up, I’ve changed a number of things about my setup. Namely the three contact points—the [...]

  24. Raleigh Rush Hour Flat Bar « anotherSeptember 8, 2010 at 12:32 am

    [...] Posted by doubledutchblog on September 8, 2010 · Leave a Comment  I have been admiring this bike for sometime.It seems for 2010 it has become even better. The Raleigh has a  frame that is TIG welded from Reynolds 520 butted chromoly steel tubing , Brooks saddle, baby blue Weinmann rims and white Vittoria Randoneur tires. You can read a full review at Urban Vello here [...]

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