Product Review

Raleigh Sojourn

http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-road/sojourn-11/

price: see your local dealer

raleigh sojourn

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I've managed to put over 400 miles on this bike alone this summer which I'm pretty proud of, even though I know there's a lot of you out there that ride way more. That said, I spent a lot of time getting close & comfy, and down & dirty with the Sojourn, and here's the skinny-

The bike itself is stiff, sturdy steel. Like I said before, I normally ride a 56cm and wasn't sure if I should go low with the 55cm or high with the 57cm, and went low. I ended up switching out the stem for something a little longer that Cole had lying around- a standard Bontrager, and I also moved the seat a little farther back and everything was alright.

The 2010 model didn't come with a front rack. I'm not positive and I could be wrong, but I think the 2009 model did and I wonder why they dropped it? I used a big, fat Old Man Mountain front rack on this one. It comes stock with a really nice Tubus rack on the rear. Fear not- the 2011 model sports a matching Tubus rack! Problem solved.

Disc Brakes were new to me, but they're fairly easy to dial in once they're on & together, and they stopped on a dime. I've got no idea how long they last, but I haven't had a problem yet.

The wheels are solid. Besides the riding around where I live, I rode this bike on our tour this summer- on & off road. Not major off road, but the road underneath got a little loose at times and I plowed through like a tank. The tires show little to no wear. Everything in that end is all good with me except for the fenders.

They went with SKS fenders...personally, I would've went with Planet Bike or a better model, but they didn't. I've never used SKS fenders before. The rear fender was fine because it has four stabilizing poles, but they slacked on the front fender and only put two stabilizing poles on it. They wouldn't stay in place for anything. Arms were constantly falling off of the fender. I eventually lost one arm and used some of Topeak's Fly Paper- their glueless tire patches and used one to hold the right arm on. Those lasted 3 days each, but everything worked way better with them. So there's a testament to Fly Paper! Thanks Topeak!

I was stoked on the Brooks saddle and bar tape from the get go, and they weren't a disappointment. The tape is really comfy. The seat took 300+ miles to break in before it started to shine, but it's breaking in very nicely and is quickly forming to my bottom. I don't know how I'm going to give that up!

I used Crank Bros. Eggbeater pedals instead of the stock pedals. The stock pedal is a black platform with a very small toe clip- nothing to really slide your foot into, but they'd give your toes a little more power. I also believe it came with a chain guard which I chose not to put on- subsequently a shoelace got caught on a VERY short ride & ripped... so there ya go. I didn't put the reflectors on either, but I did have front and rear lights from Planet Bike. We didn't ride in too much darkness, but the one night we ended up having to they sure came in nice!

The gearing range was great- no complaints there- There was one hill that I was sketchy on, but any inadequecies making it to the top were all me... but I made it to the top of that hill! This bike was my first experience with these types of shifters- bar end type, and they have their ups and downs.

I think this type of shifting mechanism is out of the way to switch gears. I got used to it, but it's still out of the way. maybe it's the way I ride- I don't use the drop bar of the drop bars that often because of a shoulder problem and I find the position to be uncomfortable, but handy at times. Those times are few & far between. I found the top bar and the sides to be very comfortable though.

I also added an Aerobar for extra comfort. Highly recommended. It lets you stretch out, relieve your neck, and ride long hours in comfort. However, with the arm rests you lose most of the room for anything mountable- like a computer, gps, etc. I had my gps rigged and it worked great.

Overall I think most of my gripes- minus the fender deal- are just that- personal gripes/opinion and you might feel different. All around it was a comfortable bike to spend almost a week straight on, not to mention the time I've spent on it before our trip... and I'm still finding it to be a pretty comfortable ride! It's dialed in just to my liking.

The Brooks saddle is molding to my bottom, just as your Brooks saddle will mold to yours. I don't know how you could give something like that back- it feels personal now!

Gloves or not, full fingered or half, the tape will change colors and mold to your grip. I'm bummed that I ripped my tape on one of my several crashes, and that's the worst of the damage.

I'll give this bike a full fist in the air because my other hand will be on the bars! Next time, I'll try and drop my gear to less than 50 lbs. too! Minus the front fender, It's been a very dependable, comfortable ride. Good job Raleigh! The 2011 model looks top notch!!!

If you like to go on really long rides, you'll really like this bike.

Brandon