Urban Velo

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.

The 2011 model has just been unveiled, with a new look and a few minor parts changes. 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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  1. Scott McClainAugust 3, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I have the Track Bar model of the Rush Hour and love it. I too made some mods to make the bike more of a road bike. I swapped out the stem and track bar for a traditional bar. I added hooded road brake levers. With the addition of clipless pedals I have taken the track bike and created a single speed road ride.

    I have to agree with the tire review. I have yet to flat (knock on wood) after some rather nasty road conditions found early on morning.

  2. TonyAugust 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    looks good I’d be interested in your impression of both the pedals and the footstraps

  3. fredroAugust 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    i got the Non-flat bar version…….and also swapped out 3 key items. Drops were removed for Soma Late Riser, Oury Grips, Demolition Pedals, And Selle Italia C2 Gel Saddle. And also, i get complimented continuously by others. Love the bike, awesome deal for a entry level bike. Next year probably just swap out the frame (my brother is eyeing it), for something a little more intermediate…

  4. DennisAugust 3, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    like the pedal/footstrap setup, but not the chain tension. yikes.

  5. Urban JeffAugust 3, 2010 at 10:38 pmAuthor

    Yeah, totally embarrassing to notice my chain had gone so limp for the photo shoot. Chalk it up to performance anxiety! It’s since been re-tensioned.

  6. bradAugust 3, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    That chain doesn’t look that slack to me.

  7. Urban JeffAugust 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Well, it wasn’t dangerous or anything. It’s funny, I stopped in Kraynick’s and he looked over the bike and generally seemed pretty pleased. Then he was like, “Looks like your wheel is a little off to the left.”

    Later, I was thinking, how can the old man’s eyes be so good that he can see a 2mm difference in alignment from a few feet away? Then I thought, he probably just saw the chain wasn’t totally straight.

  8. Justin RichardsonAugust 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I got the 2010 Rush Hour 2 months ago without the Flat Bars. It has been an amazing bike. I continues to turn heads and get compliments. I’ve only switched out the grips, it is a really smooth clean ride.

  9. Burley Travoy maneuverability » CycleliciousAugust 5, 2010 at 9:02 am

    [...] Urban Velo reviews Raleigh’s Rush Hour flat bar. [...]

  10. strawdog18August 5, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I’ve had mine for a couple months and am thoroughly enjoying it as a commuter bike BK Downtown. I prefer the free vs fixie going over the bridges everyday, though. I’m about ready to swap out the pedals since I don’t feel stable on them. I also want to do something about the handlebars/grips since the nicks on my top tube from overrotation are already flecked with rust.

    UJ, your tires look freakishly sparkling white. . .

  11. SpakAugust 7, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    took until the third time looking at the picture
    awesome ;)

  12. GeeAugust 13, 2010 at 7:56 am

    What is that on the top tube? Looks perfect for locking the bike to poles.

  13. Urban JeffAugust 13, 2010 at 9:30 amAuthor

    It’s a Yanco Pads mini.

  14. Yanco Pads Mini « Urban VeloAugust 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

    [...] The Yanco Pads Mini is basically a stubbly little top tube protector. Designed for locking your bike without scratching the frame, and for keeping the handlebar from turning into the top tube. Check it out on my Raleigh Rush Hour Flatbar. [...]

  15. New Raleigh Rush Hour « Double Hub CitySeptember 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    [...] September 20, 2010 by micahheatwole Leave a Comment Check out the new Rush Hour by Raleigh. While you are at it, read a review of the  previous model from Urban Velo. [...]

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