Video & Photo Feature: The Ultimate Carbon Gravel Bike? 17.4lbs of lush!

What defines the “Ultimate Carbon Gravel Bike”? Good looks? Performance? Lightweight? There are so many variables. What one person considers to be the “Ultimate” bike of any kind, may not equate to the same in the requirements or opinion of another rider.

My list of requirements, in no particular order, is relatively simple. The bike should possess the following qualities:

  • Big tyre clearance. I don’t just mean for 700c x 40mm. I mean for something in the neighborhood of 29’er / 700c x 2″. Why? Sure, not everyone needs to ride a 29’er / 700c x 1.8″ tyre, but it’s nice to have the option, and, for mud clearance. Pop on a set of Panaracer Gravelking Mud tyres in 700c x 35mm, and I could have gobs of room between any mud pack and the wheels / tyres.
  • Decently lightweight. Not weight weenie light, but somewhere around the 18lbs / 8kg mark.
  • Two chainrings. Sorry single chainring / 1x crowd, I don’t like to compromise when the technology is available for super reliable front shifting. Why compromise with just one chainring and a wide ratio cassette, when I can have it all and a fantastic selection of available gears.
  • Strength and reliability, including a mix or parts that are lightish, but very strong. No crazy wheels with proprietary spokes, but a wheelset that could be repaired by a local shop in the event of a broken spoke.
  • Great handling, especially on gnarly terrain or hairy descents.
  • Comfortable ride but with enough stiffness in the frame to route my diminutive levels of power to the drivetrain, sans loss.
  • Thru-axles front and rear, preferably 15mm on the front (provides more options from the world of 650b mountain bikes).
  • Reasonably affordable.

In the video below, you can see my interpretation (as at December of 2017) of the “Ultimate Carbon Gravel Bike”.

Photos and Editorial

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Raleigh Bicycles is one of the oldest names in cycling. Founded in 1885 in Raleigh Street, Nottingham, England, a lot has changed about the company since that time; major changes in ownership along with developments in bicycle design, materials, production and manufacturing methods.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Raleigh is not a name typically associated with the performance aspect of cycling, but the company has sponsored athletes such as Robert Marion and his American Classic Cyclocross team. The company also produces products for the “All Road” segment of the market, aka the gravel cycling market, with the release of bikes such as the Willard, Tamland and Roker.

The Roker is an absolute gem that is not marketed well and hence, disregarded.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

I first became aware of the Raleigh Roker in 2015 / 2016, courtesy of my friend Robert Marion. Additional research led me to believe the Roker was the perfect bike to meet all of my requirements, except that I was unable to purchase the frame and fork by themselves. You read that right – purchase. Granted, I was offered a superb deal on the Roker Sport model, but I had to purchase a complete bike, which I later stripped and rebuilt with parts of my own choosing.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Starting at the front end, I chose Ritchey’s WCS EVO Curve carbon handlebar. I love the shape of this bar, and it’s low weight and strength make it a solid choice. And being carbon, there is no potential for galvanic corrosion.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Shimano’s ST-R785 Di2 hydraulic brake / electronic shift brake levers handle the chores of shifting and braking. Sure, I could have gone lighter and chosen the latest 9150 series Dura-Ace Di2 hydraulic / electronic shifters, but I wanted to re-use some parts I already had, and keep the costs reasonable.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Hard to go wrong with a Ritchey WCS stem. Bombproof. I optimized it further with a titanium bolt kit. In fact, every bolt on this Raleigh Roker has been substituted for titanium – lighter and no rust!

Also, note the Shimano Di2 climbing switch. I purposely mount it reverse, so I can easily press the buttons with my right thumb as my hands relax on top of the bars.

And, please pardon the steerer tube, I will cut it at some point in the future!

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Slamming a stem isn’t for everybody, but it is my preferred method of bike fit. Cool looks aside?, I’ve always favored a shorter headtube. That and top tube length are the two measurements I scrutinize when looking at a bike’s geometry. Remember, bike fit is personal. What works for me, may not work for you.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Shimano offers the EW-RS910 handlebar Di2 junction box (resides inside the handlebar), but that requires a compatible handlebar with a suitable port. I prefer to keep my junction box external for easy access.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

You cannot put the power to the pedals so to speak, without an appropriate crankset. I’ve chosen the Rotor Bike Components 3D+ crankset for this project. I’ll be providing a full review of this made-in-Spain product in the near future, but in the meantime, rest assured it offers flexible gear options and low weight. Rotor’s machine work is simply stunning.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Should one desire a power meter, Rotor offers an upgrade for this crankset. It can be retrofitted at a later date.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Rotor’s 30mm bottom bracket spindle is huge and stiff. I’ll cover all of those details in the review of the crank at a later date. However, a 30mm crank spindle did pose a problem for this Raleigh Roker.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Raleigh designed these bikes around Shimano’s 24mm bottom bracket axle, which allowed for plenty of room for internalized Di2 wiring. However, the 30mm bottom bracket spindle took up all of the room inside the bottom bracket shell – think axle rubbing on Di2 wires. Thus, I had to improvise a solution.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

With the help of my good friend Dr. Pain, we cut a narrow slot or two into the aluminium bottom bracket shell, in order to tuck away the Di2 cables.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike
Above, Di2 cable routing. The slot is then closed with silicon.

We may? have voided our warranty doing this, but this modification has not harmed the integrity of the bike in any way.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

For pedals, I’ve chosen the Xpedo M-Force 8 titanium model, a pedal I have reviewed earlier. This pedal is also the choice of Robert Marion, cyclocross racer extraordinaire!

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Shimano’s Di2 shifting is superb – particuarly with the front derailleur. Somehow, Shimano lightened up the Dura-Ace 9150 Di2 derailleurs considerably, a nice bonus. Do you need Dura-Ace? No. The lower-tier Di2 Ultegra units offer the same shifting performance but a little more weight and a lot less price.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

The original plan for this Raleigh Roker was to fit it with Shimano’s XTR Di2 system. However, that front derailleur is designed for a 73mm wide MTB bottom bracket. On most road / gravel frames, whose bottom brackets are 68mm wide, the XTR Di2 front derailleur cannot move far enough left to avoid contact with the chain. Thus, I chose Dura-Ace.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Further weight has been cut thanks to a Parlee carbon front derailleur clamp.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

What it lacks in a clutch, the Dura-Ace Di2 9150 rear derailleur adds in gear range. According to Shimano, the latest Dura-Ace Di2 9150 / Shimano Ultegra 8050 rear derailleurs can shift to a 30 tooth cog at maximum. If you check out my video proving otherwise, you’ll see it easily shifts to a 36 tooth cog. Superb!

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bikev

All cables and housing are internalized on the Raleigh Roker.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Post-mounting of brakes isn’t the latest standard, but it is proven and it works. Brakes are Shimano’s R785 post mount units, paired with 160mm Ashima Ai2 rotors front and rear. I used these rotors at the 2017 Dirty Kanza 200, but I would switch to something with a little more surface area, especially if a lot of climbing and descending was involved. A modified Rockshox thru-axle (retapped to increase thread length) keeps the front wheel mated to the fork.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Saving weight is one thing, but safely dissipating heat with functioning brakes is another. A very expensive Carbon-Ti thru-axle holds the rear wheel in place.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Above, stock fixing bolts substituted for titanium.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

A heap of tyre clearance! Other manufacturers, take note!

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Schwalbe’s Furious Fred tyre in 29’er x 2.0″ fits beneath this fork with room to move.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

American Classic’s Race 29’er wheelset is a staple among the members of Team Gravel Cyclist.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Above, the Panaracer Gravelking SK tubeless tyre is one of the best all-around tyres available on the market today.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Above, Ritchey’s Superlogic carbon seatpost is one of their primo offerings. With an over-sized clamp for the carbon rails of the Arione CX saddle, this is a relatively lightweight and reliable combination.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

This particular Arione saddle has been around the block a few times.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bikeraleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Above, a KCNC seatpost clamp with aluminum bolt / clamping mechanism has proven to be a solid bit of gear. The KCNC seatpost grip (in red) prevents seatpost slippage.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

Above, Arundel Dave-O bottle cages are light and retain their bottles. Tested at the 2016 Dirty Kanza 200 by yours truly.

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

raleigh roker review the ultimate carbon gravel bike

JOM’s interpretation of the “Ultimate Carbon Gravel Bike”:

  • Frame: Raleigh Roker, size medium.
  • Fork: Raleigh tapered all-carbon. Hidden from view is an Extralite 8 gram expander.
  • Headset: Ritchey WCS Integrated.
  • Stem: Ritchey WCS 220 with titanium bolts.
  • Handlebar: Ritchey WCS Evo Curve carbon, 40cm center to center.
  • Bar Tape: Deda.
  • Brakes: Shimano R785 hydraulic calipers.
  • Brake Rotors: Ashima Ai2 160mm or Shimano XTR RT99 (with centerlock adapter or a different wheelset).
  • Brake / Shift Levers: Shimano ST-R785 Di2 electronic / hydraulic 11-speed.
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 9150.
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 9150 11-speed.
  • Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-32 11-speed.
  • Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-9000.
  • Crankset: Rotor 3D+ with 46 / 34 chainrings.
  • Bottom Bracket: Rotor 30mm suitable for English thread.
  • Pedals: Xpedo M-Force 8 titanium.
  • Wheelset: American Classic Race 29’er. Carbon-Ti thru-bolt rear, modified Rockshox thru-bolt on the front.
  • Tires: Panracer Gravelking SK 700c x 35mm in the photos, but WTB Resolute and Panaracer Gravelking Mud are among my choices.
  • Saddle: Fizik Arione CX with carbon rails.
  • Seatpost: Ritchey Superlogic 27.2mm x 350mm.
  • Bottle Cages: Arundel Dave-O.

Thank you to American Classic, Rotor Bike Components, Panaracer, Orange Seal Cycling, Fairwheel Bikes, Ritchey Design and Raleigh Bicycles for their support of this project.

Raleigh Bicycles USA

If you own a unique gravel bike you’d like to see featured on Gravel Cyclist, please contact us.

62 comments on “Video & Photo Feature: The Ultimate Carbon Gravel Bike? 17.4lbs of lush!

  1. You sure know how to build a bike!
    Given that gravel rides can be more than just smooth gravel, ie wash board, pot holes, even off road, what are your thought on suspension forks(not stems)?

    1. Thanks! If you search the site, you can see my review of the Lauf fork. It isn’t a product I use, but I can understand why riders like them so much. Speaking for myself, I haven’t found suspension to be beneficial. Bigger volume tyres at lower pressure go a long way to providing a nicer ride, sans the complications, weight and expense of suspension.

      1. Not big on RedShift’s ShockStop? You couldn’t pry them out of my cold, dead hands…I run them on my gravel and road bikes.


        1. Unless you’re running a Parlee bar, which at 35 mm dia. doesn’t quite work. I asked ShockStop if there were any plans to make a 35 mm stem and they said they “doubted it”.
          I think JOM’s comments on running the biggest tire at the lowest pressure is about the best I can do.

          1. Interesting; I had no idea anyone made 35mm drop bars.

            That’s also pretty limiting on things you can clamp to your bars, no? I’m personally not strong enough to suffer from noodley 31.8mm drop bars, so, personally, don’t see why I’d ever want 35mm-clamping drop bars considering the hassle and limitations, but everybody is different.


          2. Limiting, yes! Not sure of the whole reason they went with 35 mm, just like I’m not sure why they use a reverse & angled bolt pattern on their stem, but they are really, really good feeling and well made.

          3. Stems or other forms of other suspension aren’t for everyone. I have to keep an open mind about reviews, but I have no need for suspension on any of my personal bikes.

  2. great post! great deals on the roker comp out there? this is the 54 correct? how tall are you?

      1. I have a feeling your reach is pretty short, no? You ride really small frames for your height, but pretty normal-sized stems and seat very forward, which leads me to believe it’s not for the drop, but to get the short reach. I’m also 5’11” but find riding small frames like this very unwieldy and cramped (and I don’t like all the flex in the super high seat posts). To each his own of course, but I’ve been curious about your reach… At 5’11” though I’m definitely often between frame sizes and sizing can be frustrating.

        1. Paul, my seat isn’t forward… check photos in the article. I have no clue what my reach is, it isn’t something I think about. My fit works for me, and absolutely not cramped. You can see some of my other review videos… my position is good.

  3. Geesh JOM you just put this up today and my buddy is already emailing me how I can set up my Roker Comp perfect. Not the tech guy as you know but I do like all of your ideas and might wait until some of my parts wear out which probably will be awhile before I replace them. I did see that your Sport came 2x whereas my Roker Comp came 1x but has the capability of making 2x. Curious as to where you bought all your Titanium bolts from. What does the Shimano D12 Climbing Switch do or how is it used?

    1. Larry, the Comp’s spec is very different to mine. I was interested in the frame and fork only, so hence, I purchased the cheapest one. But, the Comp’s build kit is pretty nice. And, I do joke around about 1x’s a bit 🙂 – your source for all things titanium. Just triple check your bolt lengths, sizes, threads, etc, before order.

      The climbing switch provides another place to shift gears. So, I have the brake lever shifting and shifting from the top of the handlebars. You could even install a second climbing switch if you were super lazy about front derailleur shifting haha. Brilliant!

  4. What a coincidence to read this the day after I took my Roker Comp up Montebello Road in order to test its 1x 40 – 11×42 drive train up some very steep grades. I do love the frame’s feel on the road and the trail. Appreciate the information on what could be upgraded in the future, but I’ve been happy so far with the stock bike.

    1. The Comp model is a killer deal when you consider what is included… especially on some of sales I have seen. I joke around a bit about 1x’s, but they do have their place, and everyone is free to choose. Enjoy the bike Charles!

  5. JOM
    Very nice build indeed, well done!
    As for Raleigh having no “cache”, or cred, in some people’s eyes?
    Think Raleigh Team in pro peleton back in the day, also they were one of the first to use titanium components, if my memory isn’t failing….like the rest of me

      1. Powerhouse is right! I think other teams trembled with fear when the Raleigh boys got serious….I tried to emulate that emotion by wearing their kit….but it didn’t work, hee hee

        It’s probably been said before but, thanks so much your bike builds, testing, race reports and ALL things gravel you write about, it is much appreciated by this LAGG

  6. I would love to see a weight buildup of this component by component. I have a pretty stock Roker LTD with Ultegra Di2 and it is no where near 17.4 lbs. I’d love to see where you get the best bang for the buck in weight reduction. I think mine in size XL was about 4 lbs heavier than that originally.

    1. Quinn, the best place to save weight is wheels. It may not be the cheapest, but you will noticeably feel the difference, especially if you lose 200 – 300 grams.

      I weighed many of the parts as I went along, but naturally, I didn’t record too many of those weights 🙁

      1. My Roker LTD already came with pretty decent American Classic Argent wheels which are only about 100 grams heavier than the Race 29er’s so I’m not dropping 4 lbs by switching to the wheels you used (or any other wheels for that matter). I’m guessing the Rotor cranks are significantly lighter than the stock Ultegra cranks with a 50-34 combo. I have a Niner BSB RDO that is my weight weenie bike with 1X, FSA SL-K Force wheels, RDO stem, seatpost, S-Works carbon saddle, Ti Egg Beaters, Enve bars, SRAM red hydro drivetrain and it is 16 lbs 13 oz, so not a lot lighter than your Roker build with Di2, 2X, etc, etc. Not that I don’t believe you, I’m just having a hard time seeing how you got it that low when my Roker is so much heavier than that.

        1. Dear Quinn and JOM,
          I’ve got the same model frame and fork as Jayson but mine is built with full Ultegra and TRP Spyre mechanical discs (Full spec is below). Weight is 19 lbs. It might be a little lighter if I washed off the mud and sand before hanging on the scale. It is a fine riding instrument and mine/JOM’s are much better looking than Dr. Pain’s Roker.

          • Frame: Raleigh Roker, Post-Mount Disc Frame, 142×12 TA, size 54
          • Fork: Carbon Adventure Road, Taper Steer, Post Mount Disc, 15mm TA
          • Brakes (F/R): TRP SpyrePost Mount
          • Brake/shift levers: Shimano Ultegra 6800
          • Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
          • Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
          • Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11 speed, 12-25
          • Chain: KMC X11
          • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 6800, 172.5mm crank length, 50/34
          • Bottom bracket: Shimano External Bearing (Model Unknown)
          • Wheels: American Classic 29 MTB Race
          • Tyres: Schwalbe Furious Fred, 29 x 2.0
          • Handlebars: Control Tech Tux Carbon, 44cm
          • Stem: Specialized Comp Multi-stem
          • Headset: Integrated Cartridge Bearings
          • Tape/grips: Specialized Roubaix Tape
          • Pedals: Ritchey WCS
          • Saddle: Fizik Team AG2R Antares R1 Saddle
          • Seat post: Syntace P6 Carbon Hiflex
          • Bottle Cages: Specialized Rib Cages
          • Other accessories: K-Edge XL mount

          Best regards and Happy New Year,
          Dr. Meshugganah

          1. Nice spec there Dr. Meshugganah. I know you well enough to know you’ll still crush me on your 19lb Roker.

  7. an easy way to resolve the problem with the wires and BSA bb30 is to cut/make a plastic sleeve that fits between the cups.
    There are brands (like ceramicspeed) that deliveres such sleeves with the BB !

    1. No, there was absolutely no room for this to happen. Cutting a sleeve would do nothing, you would have to file a proper groove / slot. My solution was perfect for the Roker bike.

    1. Sorry Jason, I didn’t price it out. Some of the items on this bike are review items, which essentially have no price. If I get time, I’ll amend and write what the approximate MSRP on everything would be.

  8. Hi JOM,

    That’s a great review and thank you for the compliments on the frame design. As you mentioned I’m working on a new bike, the Noble GX-5 which will be released at Sea Otter Classic 2018. There’s a couple interesting new features on the GX-5.

    Also if you have feedback for me on the Raleigh Roker I would love to hear from you [email protected]


      1. Anytime Jayson. If you ever want to discuss any of the details I’ll be more than happy to help. Also, if you have questions regarding the Roker feel free. I’ll answer what I can.

  9. Hi JOM,

    Great review but why don’t you go for a Salsa Fargo titanium or something similar as a gravel bike? Are Fargos too mtb for just gravel? They will go anywhere.



    1. Scott… there is a titanium project bike in the works. But I wanted to build a decently lightweight carbon bike first… notice the tyre clearance on the Roker. Nobody talks about this bike, which is why it was of great interest to me.

      1. JOM,
        I was wondering about your love for titanium frames. You mentioned a couple of times in your videos that titanium is your favorite material for bike frames but then you come with a carbon project. Have you swayed toward carbon lately?

        1. Hi. I wanted to try something different and built it as light as reasonably possible. There is a titanium project bike coming later…

  10. JOM, thanks for the review. I found a good deal on a Roker Sport and went for it. I’m thinking of building it up with a SRAM HRD etap. Thoughts?

    1. I would say go for it. Hope I can pump out my long-term part two review of eTap sometime soon. It has performed flawlessly in some very nasty conditions over the course of 2017.

  11. Jayson, why no love for “the best carbon bike I’ve (you) ever ridden”, aka Chebacco? 😉 Just giving you a hard time bloke, a great review of the Roker! When are you back in the states?

    1. If only the Chebacco had the tyre clearance of the Roker… heading back to the USA today… as in I’ll be arriving Stateside on Tuesday morning. Funny how the whole time zomne / dateline thing works.

  12. Hey Jom no problem believing that your bike weighs 17.4 lbs. of lush as anyone that puts ti bolts in/on their bike knows how to shave some ounces/lbs. My Roker Comp is lush compared to the Tamland 1 I bought the beginning of 2017 to see if I like gravel riding/racing first. Yes as the Pony Express story you help put together you know I feel in love with it. My problem at my end being so new to the sport I have no idea on components and how much weight saving I can put on the bike for the best bang/buck. I know my Roker Comp in 56 cm weighed 20 lbs. 12 oz with just the wheel reflectors left on it. With lightest Shimano SPD mountain bike pedals, a heavier Brooks Imperial saddle, 2 carbon water bottle cages, a Lezyne mini pump, and a Garmin mount my bike weighs in at 22 lbs. I know the best bang for the buck is wheels so i plan on getting a lighter set of wheels. I like the way the Raleigh stock handlebars fit as they have that roadie feeling to me. I don’t know if there is a lighter version out there or even a lighter version seat post that is a good bang for the buck. JOM I am flying down for the Dirty Pecan ride in March I would love to see that bike if you aren’t doing a test ride on another bike then. I have 2 other rides lined up so far for 2108 Funks Bottom in Ohio since that is close to my home state of Pa. and The bootlegger 100 from the accounts I have been reading it’s a bugger and I want the lightest bike I can show up for that ride. Thanks for any info.

    1. Larry, wheels, definitely the first place to look for saving weight. Handlebars won’t save you much, but I always prefer carbon because they don’t corrode. As for carbon cages, be careful what you choose. Some cages hold bottles better than others. If you can swing another saddle, that will save a chunk of weight. The stock post on the Roker is heavy, so you can save some weight there. But remember, the lighter the bike, the lighter the wallet.

      As for Dirty Pecan, fab ride. Done it twice, hope to return for the full 150 miler. Funks Bottom is well regarded with one of my guys, and Bootlegger – you cannot underestimate this race. A lot of climbing, very tough. And the descending, some of it is not for the timid.

  13. Hey Jom thanks for that reply and info. I am having a hard time finding the exact set up that you used for your KCNC seat post clamp and collar. For sure I know I want the collar to use at my end to mark the right exact height of the seat post since I plan on traveling a lot with the bike. I see KCNC SC-13 SC-9 SC-10 and these are the seat post clamps but I don’t see the collar listed anywhere. I also read some reviews where the aluminum bolt snapped on some of them even with people torquing them and they were under the torque specs when they snapped. Has that ever happened to you or do you know of others that have had that problem? On the Carbon seat post you used Syntace P6 Hiflex. Did you have to use carbon paste on it and then would you have to reuse it every time you install it again like traveling. Thanks for any and all info again. Sounds like I better do lots of practice then on some downhills gravel riding as yes I am still faint of heart on techy downhill stuff.

  14. Read this excellent article with great interest, as I have recently gone through a very similar process of upgrading a new 2017 Raleigh Roker Sport, 56 cm frame size. I purchased my Raleigh Roker Sport new in November, 2017, and wound replacing every component on the bike except for the frame, fork, headset, and the TRP mechanical brakes. After upgrades, today the bike weighs 18 lbs, 15 ounces. Here are the new components presently fitted to the bike (excepting the aforementioned frame, fork, headset, and TRP brakes): Knight Composites 29 Race wheels with DT Swiss 240 hubs and Shimano XT SM-RT86S2 IceTech 160mm rotors; Panaracer GravelKing SK 35mm tires with 2 ounces of Stans per wheel, set up tubeless; Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7950 50/34t 175mm 10-speed crankset; Shimano Dura-Ace SM-BB7900 English Thread Bottom Bracket; Shimano Dura-Ace ST-7900 2 X 10 Speed Shifters and Brake Levers; Hope seatpost clamp and handlebar plugs; Lizardskin DSP gel bar tape (3.2 mm); Fizik handlebar gel pads; Easton EC70 AX Road Bike Drop Carbon Handlebar 31.8 x 420mm; Shimano Ultegra 10-speed chain; Shimano; Ultegra RD 6700 GS 10-speed rear derailleur; Shimano XT 11/34 rear cassette; Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7900 Front Derailleur, 2×10 Speed; Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Expert Seat; Specialized carbon seat post; Shimano XT PD-M780 pedals; Shimano shift and brake cables and housings; Zipp Service Course SL Stem 110mm. According to my calculations, if I remove the Fizik gel tape underneath the Lizardskin tape, replace the XT pedals with Xpedo M-Force 8 pedals, replace the Ice Tech rotors with Ashima Ai2 rotors, trim my carbon seatpost by 3.5 inches, and replace the XT cassette with an 11/34 XTR cassette, I will wind up right at 18 pounds even (or maybe even below 18 pounds!!). I must say that it has been much more difficult (and much more expensive) than I originally thought first to get the weight of this bike below 20 pounds, and then below 19 pounds. Getting the bike down to 18 pounds even will cost another $500. Nevertheless, factoring in another $500 to reduce the weight of the bike by nearly a whole pound, and including the relatively meager proceeds from the sale of components taken off of the bike, the total cost of this bike will wind up being around $4,350. That’s a lot better than spending $9,000 on a Specialized Diverge S-Works bike, which actually weighs more and arguably has some components (such as wheels) that are not as nice as those on my upgraded Roker. In addition, the Diverge only accepts tires up to 42mm in width, while the Roker looks like it would take up to 53 mm (2.1 inch) wide tires without a problem. Then there is the way this bike feels and reacts when you ride it. It is agile, sure-footed, quick, and rides over the rough stuff with comfort, confidence, ease and aplomb. It’s just a dirty shame Raleigh is discontinuing the Roker. I love this bike.

  15. The Roker Comp: Toss the handlebars, stem, saddle,seatpost and cassette for lightweight components . The Weinmann wheelset it comes with is well made with Novatec hubs and tubeless ready, works well with Panaracer 35mm tubeless, they roll fast. 38t 1x with Shimano XTR 11-40 handles grades less than 20% well. 20lbs as built above.
    This bike is a monster cross king, the long wheelbase, slack headtube with the panaracer tires provide speed,stability and comfort, in the Richmond monster cross gravel race I just completed.
    I just bought the FSA SLK adventure for the Blueridge mountain grades.

  16. Anyone wishing to replace the crappy stock Roker thru axles, these Maxle’s are a perfect fit and they are cheap.
    Rear: UPC 710845798511 12x142x170.5
    Front: UPC 710845768194 15x100x125

  17. Update Bike frame review: I have done 4 major mountain gravel races averaging 60miles each on the Roker so far. This is an exceptional frame for comfort, climbing and especially decending.
    Running WTB Gravel 42 on Stans Crest M3 rims I can bomb heavily graveled decents in total confidence and control (These 42’s roll fast). Slammed stem still affords a relatively upright steering position I have no Shoulder/backache at the end.
    FSA Adventure Crank 30/46 carbon with FSA Bottom Bracket
    FSA Kwing compact carbon bars, 3t team stem
    Canon Ergon CF3 seatpost with Salsa lip-lock seat collar.
    SRAM Rival 22 hydro Trucker SemiMetalic brake pads Ashima Ai2 Rotors (work fine in the mountains with the SemiMetalic pads) Shimano XT M8000 11speed 11/42 cassette
    SRAM X9 Long Cage Exact Actuation Clutch Derailleur flawless 11speed shifting (really)
    SRAM PC Red 22 chain
    Hope pro4 hubs with Stans M3 Crest rims with WTB 42 tires and Maxle thru axles
    Look Keo carbon Pedals.

      1. Yes WTB resolutes 42. I prefer them over the panaracer gravelking 35’s for mountain crushers. Im 165 and run 41 front 42 rear.

        1. Thanks Tom, I’m same weight as you and been running the 650b at 30# with really good luck (knocking on wood). Are you on 700c?

          1. My Chebacco’s chainstays may not allow that width in 700c. My 700c wheelset has older Gravel Kings in 38mm, which swell to 40+. Would it be possible for you to measure your tire width?

    1. Nice to hear Tom! Mark Landsaat, the Roker’s designer (now with his own company, Noble Bikes), often checks in to the GC website. LOVE my Roker.

  18. Gotcha, 45mm exactly (using digital calipers) tubeless inflated to 42lbs.

  19. Thanks for that! My 650b Resolutes measure 43mm on 24i rims @35psi. Same width on my 700c 38 GK’s (43mm). This gives me exactly 4mm clearance per side, which I consider a minimum. My goal was to have my 650b set up for muddy conditions, and my 700c for dry. Wish I could use the 700c Resolutes because they are a fast, grippy tire for all conditions.

  20. Yes that Chebacco is a nice bike and 650b 43mm is fine I’m sure for 99% of conditions.

  21. Jom, I’ve done 8 gnarly mountain gravel races on this rig and Ill never go back to riding my cross bike in gravel races.
    How would you rate it compared to your other test rigs?

    1. Thomas, I generally don’t compare rigs against each other, but I will say, the Roker is THE most underestimated carbon bike FORMERLY on the market. I am glad I got mine, and when I do get to ride it, love it. I’ve applied a clear protective film in key places to help mitigate rock strikes, etc. It is so sweet riding a 17ish pound bike up the climbs!!!

      Raleigh made a serious mistake killing this bike and their associated performance range. Glad you love yours!

  22. Agreed and the 46/30 adventure cranks and 42 cassette make easier work of those 20% grades, I think its that long chainstay and compliant frame just magic.
    Love your blog Jom

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