Raleigh RXC Pro >> $5000 complete, $2050 frameset, 17.3 lbs
There is no debating it: The Raleigh RXC Pro is a race machine, and a snappy one at that. Weighing in almost two pounds under the Ridley, the Raleigh’s build is tailored around the racer looking for a quick bike off the rack. The heart of this race pony is Raleigh’s carbon frame and a high-end Enve fork. The bike is plenty stiff for a cyclocross bike. Turning in and out of corners, the RXC Pro responds well under a heavy foot. Consequently, it is not the most forgiving frame when compared to other ’cross offerings. It’s not the bike in this test that you would want to take out for an all-day adventure.
The concave top tube, with its flattened underside, is conducive to both suit-casing and shouldering. Top tube cable routing is always gladly welcomed in our tech room. Its black-tie paint job reminds us of a businessman on the sidewalk, right before he gets soaked in muddy water by a passing bus.
The one mistake in the bike’s build, in our eyes, is the choice of somewhat heavy Cole C38 carbon clinchers. While the C38s may fit nicely in some buyers’ wheel quivers, we prefer our machines to come with wheels for either training or racing. Unfortunately, carbon clinchers on a ’cross bike fall tragically in between. Product managers could have selected a set of Cole’s aluminum tubular wheels to give the buyer a race wheelset and knocked the price below $5,000.
Conversely, product managers did a fantastic job at keeping the cost low and ride quality high in the drivetrain selection. While some may view it as odd that SRAM Rival appears on a “race bike,” the lower-tier drivetrain components allow Raleigh to spec top-shelf Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes and the Enve carbon fork.
While we may like it, racing in the mud is not that friendly to parts, most specifically a bike’s drivetrain. The last thing we want to be thinking about on race day is how expensive our chainrings will cost to replace. We also want to know that our bike is still going to have brakes at the end of the race, and the RXC Pro nails both of these component choices with flying colors. The Enve fork is icing on the cake; forks are something not often upgraded due to cost, but this one gives the RXC an amazing ride. With the right set of wheels and tires, this bike is ready to take on any course. — LOGAN VONBOKEL