Raleigh Rush Hour Flatbar – So Far, So Good
It’s been months since I first rolled out on the Raleigh’s Rush Hour Flatbar, yet people’s reaction to the bike is still the same… Last week another random driver leaned out of the window of his car to say, “Nice bike!” My friends have the same reaction, even those who’ve seen it several times can’t get over the Raleigh’s good looks. And my own first impressions stand—it’s a pretty bike that rides really nicely.
Since the initial write-up, I’ve changed a number of things about my setup. Namely the three contact points—the saddle, the bar/stem/grips and the pedals. The first thing to go were the stock pedals. It’s not that they were insufficient in any way, in fact, they’re pretty nice. But once you’ve ridden the new style pedal straps, which are both more comfortable and feel more secure, it’s tough to go back to old-school toe clips. I went with some VP 001 pedals and Pryme Footstraps (review coming soon).
I really didn’t want to remove the très chic one-piece handlebar/stem combo, but begrudgingly, that’s exactly what I did. As some readers commented on the initial review, the problem with one-piece units is the lack of adjustment. While I was pretty much fine with the length and angle of the stem, I felt like a slightly shorter one would suit me better. But mostly I wasn’t enjoying the completely straight handlebar. Every time I went for a ride I found myself wishing for a few degrees of sweep, and after a few miles my wrists were noticeably uncomfortable. So on went the Thomson X2 stem and some generic 31.8 riser bar (that I stripped and polished silver to match).
Next on the chopping block were the stock grips. Again, they look very cool, but the synthetic leather gets really slick when your hands start sweating. So I opted for a set of PDW Speed Metal Grips, which just happen to match the anodized blue headset and seatpost collar.
My final modification might seem unthinkable, but I took off the Brooks Swift saddle. Even though it’s undoubtedly one of the primary selling points of the bike, I guess I just don’t seem to break in saddles as fast as other people. And I don’t like to wear padded bike shorts on every ride, so I switched to a basic padded saddle. And to be fair, right out of the box, the Brev.M classic saddle is both good looking and extremely comfortable. While I was at it, I switched to a zero-setback Thomson Elite seatpost.
Although I’ve made some changes, it’s not to say that I disagree with Raleigh’s parts spec, or that other riders should follow my example. And much to Raleigh’s credit, the parts that I left unchanged are nothing short of impressive. The Sugino crankset and Weinmann wheelset have been bombproof so far, and the Vittoria tires have yet to flat on me (knock on wood).
At the heart of it all is the frame, of course. The oversized steel tubes strike a nice balance between stiffness and vibration damping. The geometry seems to be working for me, and the bottom bracket height is high enough that I’ve still yet to clip a pedal through a corner (again, knock on wood). After suffering a few nicks from overturned handlebars early on, the battleship gray paint job is holding up remarkably well, with nary a scratch or chip since.