Raleigh Roker LTD: At The Finish

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Raleigh Roker

Some thoughts on this carbon gravel grinder as we put in the final miles.

Raleigh Roker LTD: At The Finish-

The unprecedented early Winter weather has allowed for me to put in a lot of riding on an unprecedented bike, the Raleigh Roker LTD, and get in the final miles so I can put my final thoughts down on this one. There are plenty more words written up already on this review which you can go back and catch up on HERE and HERE. Now let’s get on with the final verdict……

Raleigh is to be commended for keeping the geometry of the Roker very close to that of the Tamland. That geometry is still very “retro-progressive” when compared to what other companies are offering under the guise of “gravel/all road” bikes. What I mean by that is that Raleigh decided to go with a geometry that is more akin to a classic road bike, with big tire clearances, a low bottom bracket height, and a nod to a slacker front end rather than slapping the “gravel tag” onto their cyclo cross range, or calling a road racing bike with 28mm tires a “gravel bike” and claiming it is something new. So, old school road geometry with a modern tweak as opposed to taking the easy route. Why should any of that matter here?

Raleigh Roker

The Roker takes carbon fiber stiffness and lightweight to roads it traditionally hasn’t been able to go on before.

The reason it matters is because, unlike the very specialized, niche geometry that has evolved for a very specific endeavor- namely cyclo cross- the Roker does not deny that it is a road bike under all that marketing. What it has proven is that a “road bike” as it is understood today, (read: Pro level smooth road geometry and equipment/features), is very limited in its scope, and bikes that are like the Tamland and Roker are taking cycling back to the way road cycling used to be decades ago. Where roads were not always paved, nice, smooth, or even looked like what we think of as “roads” today.

The Roker LTD is specifically a pioneer in the aspects of its having a lightweight, high performance carbon fiber frame and fork which can swallow up to 42mm tires and has features like three water bottle mounts and fender mounts for inclement weather. Yet it can easily be shod with 28mm tires and hold its own on fast paced, smooth road group rides. Gravel, dirt, or traditional road riding- it all falls under the broad net cast by bikes like this one and the Roker gets it mostly right in terms of performance.

Yes, it isn’t perfect. There are a couple of things I noticed about the bike which surprised me a bit. One is that the front triangle, specifically the top tube and down tube up near their junction with the head tube, seemed to be capable of twisting a bit. Torque hard on the handle bars when doing a standing climb and you might notice this. It sometimes gave the Roker the feeling that it was snaking down the road, and in a way, it was reminiscent of how I have experienced some skinny tubed steel bikes. Not something you’d expect from a carbon bike, but it is easily dealt with if you have experienced that sort of thing before. The other nit I have is a bit more of a concern for me.

Raleigh Roker LTD

Right from the get-go I had my suspicions about that beefy looking carbon fork.

That nit is with the fork on this bike. I have experienced this not only with the Roker, but with some other so-called gravel bikes as well. That being a too-stiff carbon fork designed for smooth pavement riding. The fork on the Roker LTD isn’t the worst I have felt by a long shot, but what I was hoping for here did not materialize.  I was hoping for a fork with some sort of ability to damp out the gravel’s roughness. In my opinion, one doesn’t need the extra complexity and extra weight of a suspension device. That is overkill here. However; these carbon forks are nothing like their steel counterparts when it comes to their ability to smooth out the chatter, and one would think that a carbon fork could be designed to have this quality and have a lighter weight. The Roker suffers a bit from this, but going back to that front triangle, it saves the bike from being a jackhammer since it seems to be doing a lot of work to absorb the chatter found on a typical gravel road. That said, I have already stated in my previous post on this bike that the front end never reaches the ability of the back end on this bike to damp vibrations.

The over-all take on this bike is that it is a really nice bike for gravel. While the frame and fork could stand some refinement, it still is a head higher than many bikes I’ve ridden claiming a gravel road capability. There is no denying the smoothness of the frame in general, the light weight, and the aforementioned geometry, which all make this a top-notch choice for fast paced gravel road pursuits. The component group is stellar, with only the wheels being a let down here. This category of bike really calls out for a wider rim and easy tubeless set up, both of which the American Classic Argent wheels are missing here. I feel Raleigh missed the target on spec with this choice.

At The Finish: The Roker LTD strikes a familiar pose for a lightweight, carbon fiber road rocket, only it has big, beefy tires and disc brakes. With geometry borrowed from the Tamland, it has stability, but a more pronounced, forgiving frame than its predecessor. The electronic shifting and hydraulic brakes are fantastic and all at a weight of 20lbs. Raleigh could stand to refine the frame and design a better fork, but this bike holds its own in terms of ride feel over-all. The wheel spec is a pox on an otherwise fine component spec. In the end it still comes out a winner, with its over-all ride feel and its geometry for rough roads, but it has room for improvement.

Note: Raleigh Bicycles sent over the Roker LTD at no charge for test/review. RidingGravel.com is not being paid nor bribed for this review and we strive to always give our honest thoughts and views throughout.

Discuss and share your questions or thoughts about gravel bikes, gear, events and anything else on the Riding Gravel Forum

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52 Responses to Raleigh Roker LTD: At The Finish

  1. Scooter December 17, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    I think I get why you don’t like the fork, and it has to do with your tendency towards moderately high (for tubeless) tire pressures. In practically every tire review of your’s that I’ve read, I note that you’re running easily 7-10 psi or more than I typically do. Take for example your recent MSO 36mm tire review. You see a bit of “sag” in the tires (with pressures I would consider too high) and you add pressure. It seems many of your comments about noted problems with the tires you’re reviewing would be resolved by a quick psssst or two from the valve stem.

    I’d bet a dollar to a donut that if you dropped the pressure on your front tire to around 35psi you’d have a completely different perspective on the Roker’s fork.

    • Guitar Ted December 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Scooter- Pressure appropriate for you and your weight is going to be very different for me and my weight. We’re likely not the same people or the same in weight. I think on that point you, or anyone else, would heartily agree.

      Typically when I do tire reviews I run pressures from the mid-twenties to as high as 50 psi, just to, ya know, find out how they react for me. That said, all I can do is tell you where I find the best performance for myself, and you have to find where that is for you. That is why I like to reference tire sag, as opposed to an exact pressure, because a tire’s deformation on any given road is going to be optimal at a different pressure for me than it is for you. Obvious, but I guess it needs to be said here.

      That all said, if a fork is too stiff or too compliant, tire pressure will only do so much to mask that.

      Thanks for the suggestion on the tire pressure though. As a rider of over 40 years experience, I think I have a pretty good handle on that. So, I’m good there.

  2. Ryan December 17, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    This is a multi-purpose bike – All Road – Its a road bike for every type of road, not 1 specific road. I think its spec’d great. Clearance is only up to a 40c as stated on their page. The Argent with a 28c Clement tire is going to be the best tire you can get if you want go between both options. If you want a 40c tire get a wider rim but it won’t perform as well with a 28c on it. I have those wheels and they setup tubeless just fine, with that tire actually. It doesn’t look like yours was setup tubeless and isn’t using a tubeless tire?

    I think you’re looking at the whole thing from a wrong angle. This isn’t a pure gravel bike so don’t expect that. This is the bike in reality of what most people will use and want. They want a road bike that can run 23c but also a bike that they can put bigger tires on and go on all roads, as noted straight from Raleigh’s site. This bike is more like the Jamis Renegade (also uses Argent wheels) or Salsa Colossal – none of which have over a 20mm wide internal on the rim.

    I would be pretty surprised if you were twisting the head tube with the way the stem is setup. I’d venture to stay you were twisting the stem.

    I’d love to hear more of the long term review is some details of the bike with 40c tires and wider rims (how wide?), dropping some PSI, changing out the stem, etc. The review as it sits just seems negative and blanket statements. I am pretty excited about this bike and you usually have pretty good insight. Obviously you don’t like the bike but I think most riders who aren’t gravel only riders would enjoy this bike. Jamis and Salsa are selling the snot out of the same bike so I assume Raleigh wanted in on it as well. Seems like a good contender to me.

    • Guitar Ted December 17, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

      Ryan, maybe you didn’t know this, but the geometry the Roker, (and the Tamland) uses, was suggested by myself for the best performance on gravel roads. Raleigh took all of my suggestions and made them a reality on the Tamland first, and now with the Roker, so I have a pretty good handle on what this bike is supposed to be good at right out of the gate.

      I think in light of that, I can say without reservation that I am looking at this bike from the”right angle”, and I also recognize that while the Colossal and Renegade bikes are fine rigs, they are not coming from the same design intentions as the Raleigh is.

      Also, saying “Obviously you don’t like the bike…” tells me that obviously you didn’t read the review very well. For instance, right up above here it says this: “The over-all take on this bike is that it is a really nice bike for gravel”

      That doesn’t sound like I don’t like the bike. In fact, I think its pretty good, and have said so lots of times throughout the three posts and in social media posts on the bike. In fact, I just posted this morning that this bike is “almost perfect”. So, there is that to read and consider.

      I will agree with one thing you’ve said in your comment: It is a good contender. A really good one with a misstep in wheel spec and a few other minor nits, but a contender for sure.

      • Ryan December 17, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

        I’m glad you’ve got a good handle on the bike. I just think your statements are contradictory. You said this is a road bike specifically in your review. A road bike made to go on all roads and you’re presenting it as a gravel bike only.

        I think the wheel spec is fine – it works for everything. People podium’ing in the Dirty Kanza are riding them so they can’t suck too bad. What would you put on there? Just any other wider rim? How wide? What weight? Can it handle 120psi for both small road tires and a large 40c tire (I know my friends NoTubes can’t)

        I’m confused by the review – you say how much you like it and then say the head tube twists and the wheels aren’t good. So basically you just like the Ulterga group?

        You’ve got good reviews that’s why I’m even commenting – this one is just not up to your normal standards. Now I’ll have to go ride one myself 🙂

        • Guitar Ted December 17, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

          Ryan, I didn’t say the wheels were not good. Show me where I said that specifically. I said they weren’t right for this type, (class) of bike. Even wider rims are featured on Pro UCI road bikes and the benefits of wider rims with light tires is something American Classic themselves are very quick to point out the benefits of. So, it isn’t “just a gravel road thing”. You can see the articles discussing this very subject for pure pavement riding on many sites and in many print media articles. It’s a pretty widely understood benefit.

          That said, I am well aware that big races are won and have been won, and probably will be in the future using skinnier rims. That doesn’t make wider rims bad, or not a good choice. Typically rims have gone to an inner dimension of 23mm for all-road/gravel use with bigger tires such as what you find being used in races like Dirty Kanza, and other big gravel events. The Argents have an outer rim dimension of 22mm per their site. That makes the inner rim width even narrower.

          Tires are typically in the 35mm-42mm size range. (The “official tire of the Dirty Kanza 200 is 38mm wide, for instance.) Rim and tire pressures don’t have to be high, but you also can’t expect a spec on a bike to be everything to all people. Raleigh has this bike in their “gravel road” category. This site is RidingGravel.com, so I think it is pretty obvious where the opinions are going to be written from, wouldn’t you agree? Had I been writing for “Road Bike Action” the review would have been completely different. Had Raleigh listed this bike as a “road bike” only, this review would have been completely different. Please quote me exactly where I say this bike is a “road bike” only. Please show me exactly where Raleigh says this is only a “road bike”. That isn’t the case, so that isn’t at all the context this review was written in.

          Let me rewrite a statement you make in your third paragraph to help make this review clearer for you: “The head tube twists a little bit when you stand and wrench on the bars while climbing and the wheels are the wrong spec on this class of bike”. That should be less confusing, since that is exactly what I said in the review, not at all what you wrote in your third paragraph. Make sense?

          I am sorry you don’t think this review is “up to my normal standards”, but thanks for your comments and for reading.

          • Ryan December 17, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

            I can agree with that 🙂 I think how the comment was said about liking everything but the wheels implies that they are bad. I agree that a wider rim would be better for gravel specific. I have used the American Classic 29 Race for that and its been stellar. That said the bike can only come with 1 wheel set.

            This bike is designed for “All Roads” not gravel, they don’t have a gravel category on Raleigh’s site. This is straight from the site “Ride anywhere. From buttery smooth asphalt, gravel roads, and rumbly unpredictable cobbles, a collection of road bikes for every ride.”

            A collection of road bikes, not a collection of gravel bikes. Its a road bike that is more endurance/adventure minded/gravel. It can be a century style bike for pure paved roads or put larger tires on it and hit the gravel. Basically a road bike with big tire clearance or room for fenders.

            I think your review should have stated that having 2 sets of wheels would have been ideal for this bike. 1 road with 25-28c tires and 1 gravel with 40c tires. I would hate wider wheels and 40c tires on smooth roads and 40c tires are likely less than idea on 20mm rims, however I’ve never had a problem with that. I think the Argents are a great “All Around” option that meets in the middle of both.

  3. Pinkie December 17, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    I have argents on my gravel bike. I love them. They set up easy for tubeless and I ride 28 tires and wider.

    • Guitar Ted December 17, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks for the comment concerning the narrower tires. I suspected that might be the case, and you have confirmed that for all reading here, which is good.

      I got the Argents to set up tubeless with three different 38mm and wider tires as well, but it was more trouble than it is with other rim options on the market now, thus my comment about the tubeless set up. Besides, the inner rim width of the Argents is a bit narrower than other options I would recommend for bigger tires, which American Classic’s own marketing/suggestions also agrees with.

      • Pinkie December 18, 2015 at 8:02 am #

        I got my argents set up tubeless easily with really wide tires. I guess that’s because… I’m a girl and read the directions first. Maybe you didn’t read the directions?

        • Guitar Ted December 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

          Nice dig, Pinkie, but if you had read my comment, or my review, you would have noted that I didn’t say that the Argents cannot be set up tubeless. What I did say was that it wasn’t optimal, meaning that the narrow, (22mm outer width) rims make setting up wider tires, (35mm-42mm) harder than it needs to be. Kudos to you for your perseverance, but there are easier set ups out tere. What is more, the wider tires actually work better on wider rims, as per American Classic’s suggestions and my experiences which back that up, not to mention others who see similar benefits. this has led to a wider rim revolution which American Classic itself supports and makes setting up wider tires, (35mm to 42mm) much, much easier.

          Seeing as how we here at Riding Gravel go out to various races, events, and actually put on events, we see how wider tires not only are a performance benefit, but are best used on wider rims. So therefore we are of the opinion that these Argents are not best suited to use with wider tires which many garvel enthusiasts want to use. Your mileage may vary.

        • RGBen December 19, 2015 at 3:46 am #

          When did this turn into a discussion about women reading directions? If you have any further info or maybe some helpful tips about them or getting others seated tubeless, feel free to share over on the Wheels thread on the forum: http://ridinggravel.com/forum/?p=%2F%3Fforum%3D495460

        • RGBen January 5, 2016 at 10:43 am #

          Pinkie,

          You may be interested in the continued discussion about the Argents on the thread here: http://ridinggravel.com/forum/?p=%2Fpost%2Famerican-classic-argent-7841061%3Ftrail%3D25%235

  4. Andrea December 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    Good point on the wheels. Sounds like a pretty sweet ride otherwise. It’d be cool to see a set of I9 TRCX wheels on there… Wider and much nicer engagement.

    • Ryan December 17, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      The slightly wider wheels would be a good option if you were only trying to gravel ride on this bike. The more engagement you’re describing is also significantly more drag when free wheeling. Its cool on a mountain bike but not a road/gravel bike.

      • Andrea December 17, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

        I’ll take an imperceptible amount of extra drag over American Classic’s 8 points of engagement any day.

        • Ryan December 18, 2015 at 9:41 am #

          Andrea – There are more than 8 points of engagement.

        • Pinkie December 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

          Andrea, 8 points? Really, you don ‘t know the AC product at all.

          • RGBen December 19, 2015 at 4:06 am #

            Andrea,

            Thanks for the suggestion. Added those to the Wheel thread on the forum as well. http://ridinggravel.com/forum/?p=%2F%3Fforum%3D495460

            If anyone has any questions or comments about any of the wheels, I’d suggest heading over there. There is already some good wheel discussion over on one of the older threads, including some American Classic info: http://ridinggravel.com/forum/?p=%2F%3Fforum%3D323925

            I hope this all helps in your discussions Andrea, Pinkie, and Ryan. If not, feel free to share any info or experience over there. I’m sure many other riders could use it. Thanks for chiming in.

  5. Dr Moreau December 17, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    GT, like you I have been riding bikes for many decades. Actually, my first bike was a classic clunker – given to me by my dad when I turned six. I learned to ride gravel roads around my house in Ohio well before JFK was elected president. I have at least 250,000 miles in my legs on all kinds of racing bikes. So lets take a look at this bike review from that perspective:

    You criticize the fork as too stiff. Early carbon forks were known to fail, often with catastrophic results. We all like our teeth. Therefore, engineers now tend to make them strong enough to take a lot of abuse. As you know, carbon and aluminum, unlike steel or titanium, have pretty finite wear cycles. For the rider’s safety, making a carbon fork stiff reduces flexing which mitigates the wear cycle. We all remember George Hincapie crashing out of Paris-Roubaix with a broken shoulder. The cause- his carbon fork broke. At the time he was close to the finish and the strongest guy in the breakaway. (Incidentally he had chosen an aluminum steerer on that fork because it was believed it would be stronger than carbon). So don’t diss on strong. If you want a flexy fork spec a steel or ti fork… Both these metals make great springs – carbon does not. I do own bikes with steel and ti forks for this reason – and I accept their noodley properties.

    Now to the wheels. American Classic has been building bike racing gear for 35 years. The Argents are new and I have been riding Argents for 3 years on two bikes – 1000s of miles to date. For my money, they are the best all-round wheels I have ever ridden. They are light, stiff, the hubs roll like mad, the rims are utilitarian for road, gravel, cross, and even a little some mountain biking on rocky trails. The spokes are constructed by American Classic with Sanvik medical grade steel, they have four easily-serviceable bearings, and they don’t go out of true. The cassettes are quiet and smooth. I have beat on a set in cyclocross, and the barb-bead has held the tire on during a few catastrophic flats. Given that gravel riders can hit speeds of 35+; a sidewall puncture could lead to a spectacular crash if the tire does not stay on the rim. The AC holds a tire on the rim amazingly well when it is suddenly deflated (e.g. rock sidewall cut) allowing the rider to stop and repair. In my opinion, one could look far and wide but not find a better all-round wheel than the Argent. Plus, all the local guys I ride with want mine… the bling factor should not be discounted no how.

    • Guitar Ted December 17, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

      As for your fork comments, I appreciate a strong fork as much as the next guy, but I also have witnessed, as I know you have as well, the massive advancements in materials technology that have occurred since George’s crash and even within the last few years. For instance, who would have thought that sub-1500 gram all carbon road tubulars would survive Paris-Roubaix, but yet, they do now.

      In light of the advancements in technology in the last ten years, even the UCI has reconsidered their own weight limit rule saying it has outlasted its usefulness and that it no longer guarantees safe components and bikes due to the multitudinous examples where lighter bikes and components are shown to be strong and safe.

      So, I think it is well within reason to believe that a carbon fiber fork could be made to absorb the chatter on a gravel road. Oh yeah……have you checked out the fork on a Trek Domane? Yep, that’s what I am talking about.

      The wheels: Never said a lick about them being bad, not very good, or anything about them negative other than that due to their narrow inner rim width they make setting up the four tires I tried on them tubeless more difficult to get done and that the narrower rim profile is the antithesis to where rims are going in terms of width to give tires more support and aid in the stable and safe use of lower pressures. This is common knowledge in mtb circles.So, for the right tires and on a pavement or cyclo cross application- the Argents might just be brilliant for someone.

      Wider rims also protect tires from pinch flatting as easily too. In fact, even you example given of a sidewall cut is much less likely when you mount a tire on a wider rim- within reason of course. I don’t think anyone will argue that a rim with an outer width of 22mm isn’t the best case scenario for a tire that is 35mm-42mm wide, which is what most gravel road tires are for width these days.

    • jw December 18, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

      The word on Hincapie’s famous crash always was that it was the steerer that failed/broke. Has that thinking now changed???

  6. KCB December 17, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    It looks like your Roker has the Argent wheelset. But Raleigh lists the Hurricane wheelset on the official Roker spec page…a better wheelset? What’s the range of tire widths you could safely mount to those rims, which Raleigh lists as 22mm wide and 24mm deep? Would it be 28 on the narrow end and 42 on the wide?

    • Guitar Ted December 17, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

      It’s “better” from the standpoint of the Hurricane being stronger/tougher. Otherwise it is a similar deal to the Argent with regard to rim widths. 22mm outer rim width isn’t the best, optimum choice on the wider end of the tire spectrum. Anything 35mm or less, yes, it would be a better match there.

      The thing is, one width will not work for a very wide range of tire widths, as you are asking for, not in the sense that it would be “the best thing” in every case. Of course, you can mount all those tire widths, and maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal for you, but it isn’t optimizing the tire/rim width for the best performance. In almost any set of circumstances related to cycling, there are compromises made. You can either accept them, or do something in a different way, with other compromises that better suits your intentions.

      In my opinion, wider tires would be better served by using a wider rim. Say 23mm internal width.

  7. KCB December 18, 2015 at 12:16 am #

    Great review and website!

  8. Rodney rouse December 18, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    Nice looking gravel bike, I’ve ridden these wheels tubeless for a number of years, not sure why you think they’re the wrong choice?? I had road races on them for 2 seasons, ran them with discs on my CX bike and am currently using them on my training bike- all tubeless and absolutely love them, so much in fact I have given up using tubulars on any of my wheels now

    • Guitar Ted December 18, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

      The comment I made concerning the Argents is due to their narrow, 22mm outer width, which is not going to be the best for a wider, 40mm tire, as spec’ed on the Roker. What is more, that narrow, 22mm outer width makes getting tires set up tubeless that are in the 35mm-42mm class harder than it needs to be when you consider that many rims are sporting 23mm inner rim widths. This allows the tire beads to seat up easier at lower pressures. But even without that, wider rims support wider tires better, so you can run lower pressures, and have less problems with burping. So, in terms of gravel riding, the Argents are not the best choice on a 5G plus dollar rig. Of course, if you want skinnier tires, say under 35mm, then the Argents are perfect, but that runs at odds with what the bike is intended for, and one only has to look at the lower spec’ed Rokers to see why that is true.

  9. Simon A December 18, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Another vote of praise fir the argents here. I found mine stiff light and responsive. They are also wide and tubeless. I am running ultremo zx tubeless at around 90psi.

    • Guitar Ted December 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

      Hmm….really? Wide? The Argents are 22mm outer rim dimension, which is about 19mm inner rim dimension. This with a 35mm-42mm tire is really too narrow. Even American Classic will tell you that wider rims supprt tires better and give tires better performance at lower [pressures. You are way off the mark with your comment here.

  10. The Beard December 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    I have to say I disagree on the American Classic argents as that’s our go to wheel of choice for everyday racing and training where a second bike wouldn’t be available tough and light with great tubless compatibility and even was able to seat the Vittoria – TNT Cx tire with a hand pump on the side of remote gravel road one time after a sidewalk cut. But I do agree that the Raleigh Bicycles roker is the most perfect do it all bike available, nice job Riding Gravel

    • Guitar Ted December 18, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      Again, I would submit that CX tires are not what most gravel racers will be using in loose, coarse gravel, and I have several years of observances in several states to back that up. We reviewed the bike as a gravel road racing/riding rig, and we test bikes in the most severe gravel conditions you can find. If tire/rims, or other facets of a bike do not measure up, we don’t apologize for that. We tell it like it is. If your conditions are tamer, you can be sure that the components we use will measure up. I would submit that you have found that is the case here.

  11. Firecracker December 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    I agree with The Beard on this, we do a lot of training rides which vary from smooth pavement to gravel to completely washed out back road all in the same ride. As an all around wheel set, the Argent is awesome for this combination of conditions. I do understand your desire for wider rims but I think for an all around bike like the Raleigh Roker the American Classic Argents are a perfect choice. Just my two cents and I enjoyed your reading your review!

  12. RGBen December 19, 2015 at 3:32 am #

    Thanks for all of the comments. I appreciate you all taking the time to share your thoughts. There seems to be a lot of interest in the wheels on this one. Therefore, I added a thread to the forum for the American Classic Argents. You can head over here: http://ridinggravel.com/forum/?p=%2Fpost%2Famerican-classic-argent-7841061%3Ftrail%3D25%231

    • Dr Moreau December 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

      Ben, I went there and it said ‘comments closed’. Might want to fix that.

  13. DPCX December 22, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    For what its worth, most of my longer gravel adventures (60-90+ miles) feature anywhere from 8-10K feet of climbing and some really gnarly descending on blown out old logging roads. I’ve been running Argent’s set up tubeless (Clement MSO 40’s) with zero issues. The lighter weight is very much welcome on the long steep climbs. I’m also rolling a Roker and was really surprised to hear the comment about a flexy front end. I can guarantee that the Roker is stiffer than the Tamland any day. I’ve got several big rides in on a Tamland 2, have owned a Willard as well (prior to my Roker) and definitely prefer the sub 20 lb Roker any day. My .02 cents. 🙂

    • Guitar Ted December 23, 2015 at 10:18 am #

      Once again- The review does not say anything to the effect that you “cannot run the Argents tubeless”. By the way, it’s great that you have had such good experiences with your wheels. thanks for giving us that feedback

      To make my point about the wheels perfectly clear to you, I am going to cut and paste my comment from this very thread……

      “The comment I made concerning the Argents is due to their narrow, 22mm outer width, which is not going to be the best for a wider, 40mm tire, as spec’ed on the Roker. What is more, that narrow, 22mm outer width makes getting tires set up tubeless that are in the 35mm-42mm class harder than it needs to be when you consider that many rims are sporting 23mm inner rim widths. This allows the tire beads to seat up easier at lower pressures. But even without that, wider rims support wider tires better, so you can run lower pressures, and have less problems with burping. So, in terms of gravel riding, the Argents are not the best choice on a 5G plus dollar rig. Of course, if you want skinnier tires, say under 35mm, then the Argents are perfect, but that runs at odds with what the bike is intended for, and one only has to look at the lower spec’ed Rokers to see why that is true.”

      End comment quote…

      So, I will also restate what I have been told by American Classic themselves, and that is that wider tires perform better on wider rims, which the Argents clearly are not. So, again- ” I feel Raleigh missed the target on spec with this choice.”

      No one is saying you “cannot do tubeless” with these wheels or that someone may not prefer them, but they are not the right spec on this bike and I stand by those words.

      Now, for your comments on the slight amount of front end twist on the Roker, which I detected when standing and climbing while putting in a lot of effort on the bike- a high stress moment. There can be no comparison to a steel bike overall. That is apples and oranges, but it felt “like a steel bike” in that instance when I felt the torsional twist. Point is, a modern day carbon bike with a purposed design for gravel (or crit racing, or what have you), doesn’t have to have a torsional flex at all. This bike does. What is more, if the front triangle wasn’t flexy, that carbon fork on the Roker would then be allowed to jackhammer your hands to numbness in short order. Next time you ride your Roker, try checking that out by noticing how the handlebars move in a forward arc and back when you hit some washboard or chatter.

      By the way, congratulations on getting a Roker. They haven’t been available for very long, and in fact, weren’t at all when I began this review.

  14. Paul Lohnes January 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    So Ted, did anyone confirm Hurricanes or Argents? Thats a bid deal considering retail on the Argents alone is $700 more than the Hurricanes. I wonder if costs snuck up on Raleigh and they went for a cheaper substitution?

    • DP January 6, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

      They come with Argents. Typo on the website.

      • Paul Lohnes January 7, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

        Thats good to hear. Thanks

  15. Paul Lohnes January 6, 2016 at 5:56 am #

    Thinking being to use the Argents as a set of Road wheels with something like 25m Sworks Turbo tires, and build up a set of nice Gravel wheels with HED Belgium+ rims.

  16. reanimated January 12, 2016 at 8:31 pm #

    I have a question given your comments about the front end – do you think this bike is susceptible to a speed wobble? Has anyone ridden one of these down any paved mountain roads?

    I have two bikes right now, a Salsa Pistola which replaced my beloved La Raza and which I love but is honestly a little too quick steering for the kind of riding I want to do these days (read: it’s a bit squirrely) and a Tamland which I also love but is a pretty heavy bike.

    Is it realistically possible to take something like the Roker and get it down to just one bike using two wheelsets? How well would the Roker work as a mountain century bike?

    And related – does anyone know anything about the Merit Elite? It also looks interesting but I cannot find any reviews for it and it seems way over priced. I was looking at the Defy, but I have decided at this point I will not buy another bike with disk brakes unless it has through axles, and the threaded bottom brackets are just a huge bonus for me, so I have recently become a Raleigh fan.

    • Guitar Ted January 13, 2016 at 7:04 am #

      I really doubt you would get any kind of a front end wobble from this bike. You can get some torsional twist out of the front end, but it requires some heavy input from the rider to do so. Many carbon frames resist even that, but front end wobble on descents on a Roker? I don’t feel it is anywhere close to that.

      Is it realistically possible for a Roker to be both bikes you desire. Yes. Probably.

      The Merit series takes up to a 28, maybe a 30mm tire. If that works for you……..

  17. Enoch January 15, 2016 at 7:35 am #

    Ted , I get what you are saying about the fork. I’m riding a Willard with a aluminum steerer. The carbon legs on both forks look identicle. One of the first thing I noticed was how little give there was in this fork. The legs are so robust that it feels like a Aluminum fork at times.

    I’m glad you didn’t soft pedal anything on this review. Thank You. I thought the wheels were a little out of character for the bike but then again , I have yet to see any factory bike that has a decent set of wheels.

    I would like to hear more about the top tube twist? Is it wiggly or springy? I’m 165 lb rider that stands alot on climbs. Is this something I will notice when sticking it in a hard corner on a gravel road when comming down a mountain at 40 +mph. I’m considering this bike or a Renegade to do double duty(Road/Gravel). I will be replacing my Willard. THe Renegade and ROker are the only 2 Carbon producion bikes that have Low BB , slack Head Angle, and fit big tires 40+

    • Guitar Ted January 15, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

      Thank you!

      At your weight, I think you might only feel it when really mashing on the pedals out of the saddle, especially if you torque on the bars, ala single speed style. Going hard into a descent? I doubt that will manifest itself then, and if you corner on gravel at those speeds, you are a mightier man than I.

  18. SBRHutch January 26, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    I’m still waiting on my Roker LTD?. After reading your reviews I’m glad I have a set of HED Belgium+ wheels. I can set the HEDs up with 40c tires and the Argents up with some 28s for road training. The Fargo with Stan’s Arches and 2.20 Maxxis EXOswill be for when it really gets nasty!

  19. Mike E. March 9, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I know this is an older conversation, but how would you compare the frame/fork stiffness and/or compliance as compared to the original Niner RLT frameset? I have one of those, and while I love the geometry, it is a little more unforgiving than I like for anything longer than 2-3 hours on gravel and am seriously looking at the Roker to replace it as I am hoping it has a much better ride then the RLT.

    • Guitar Ted March 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

      Mike, I’ve never ridden an RLT, but your comment about that bike being pretty stiff is one I’ve noted coming from other owners of that bike. Might I suggest going to our forums and trying out your question there? I’m sure one of our forum users will have some insight for you on this question: http://www.ridinggravel.com/forum

      I can tell you that the Roker vs Tamland feel is similar, yet different. I thought the Tamland’s steel fork in concert with the front triangle in Reynolds 631 was more forgiving in terms of a lot of chatter, but the Roker was also absorbing a lot of chatter in a different way. The Roker’s fork is definitely stiffer than the Tamland’s, which is where the difference comes from, in my opinion. That creates a different feel. So both bikes were doing a similar job, but in different ways, which came off as a different overall feel to me. I happen to like the Tamland better for a couple of reasons, but that’s me.

      How the Roker stacks up to the Niner RLT is something someone else will have to answer for you.

  20. Jered December 16, 2016 at 1:13 am #

    I own a Roker comp. it is not perfect, but it is damn good! I have never purchased a bike with an adequate wheel set. When I buy a complete bike I always factor in the cost of me building up the correct wheelset(s) for what I want to ride. I’ve been dealing with the stock Roker Comp wheelset for the past 6 months while figuring out the right build for how I want to ride. In summary all stock wheelset suck. Build your own!

  21. Wynter January 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    Great article. Could you please talk a little about how the roker, Tamland and WIllard will differ in ride attribute? Especially since the new Tamlands also come with a carbon fork. Is one better for longer distances? Is one more fun? And personal oppinion- if you could only ride one for doing everything which would it be

    • Guitar Ted January 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

      @Wynter- Well, that is subjective opinion territory, and I’d add a cautionary note that all the following is only my opinion.

      The carbon Roker is, well…. I found that the fork was really a bit too stiff. Had that fork worked across the gravel like the steel Tamland fork I may have enjoyed that better. I cannot help but think that many, (most maybe?), carbon forks are just too harsh for most gravel applications versus steel forks.I’ve only ever ridden one carbon fork that I thought was near to being good and that was a TRP fork.

      The Willard is- again- a different ride in that the frame and fork work in an entirely different way than the other two frame and forks here do. If my riding were on more fine, packed in gravel or smoother dirt roads I would be happy with the Willard. It has a tapered steer tube fork for 2017 as well.

      The new Tamland sports a tapered steer tube carbon fork. Probably the same one they use on the Roker. It promises to be a stiffer assembly due to that. I wouldn’t want my Tamland Two to be any stiffer up front, so if the new one is, in fact, stiffer, I would say that was a step backward.

      So if I could only ride one of the three I wouldn’t choose any of them from the 2017 line up. I’ll stick with my 2014 Tamland Two. It’s got a steel fork which I know to ride very well and doesn’t have some of the details that turn me off with the other versions of this series.

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by Riding Gravel 2014