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Raleigh Centros e-bike review

20 Dec 2018
Verdict:

A modern electric Raleigh. Sedate and stately.

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Excellent motor • Integrated battery • Long range • All the extras
Against 
Could be slicker looking • Pricing is good but not stellar

From Saturday Night and Sunday Morning to the Chopper, Raleigh occupies an exalted place in the British psyche. With ups and down over the years, the brand formed a crucial part of many rider’s childhoods.

But will the very grown-up Raleigh Centros e-bike recapture some of the same magic?

Based around a fully integrated Bosch Active Line Plus motor and a hidden 500wh battery, Raleigh claims it’s capable of taking you over 100 miles on a single charge. A very good range for this sort of bike.

Buy the Raleigh Centros e-bike from Tredz

Beyond that the Centros comes with just about every conceivable extra, from kickstand to chain guard, leaving you with nothing to do but get on with riding.

Besides its various accoutrements, Raleigh is also keen to point out that the Centros is designed in Britain and made in Europe. In fact, a purchase will currently get you a free year’s National Trust membership. Very establishment.

The ride

First up the electric bits. The Bosch motor is excellent. Smooth and powerful, unless you spin the pedals at a furious rate it’s also disinclined to whine. Producing 40Nm of supporting torque, like all models in the UK it’s limited to 15 miles per hour.

Its controller, which can also activate the lights, is easy to use, and the display clear and intuitive. The battery, which is locked and hidden within the frame, packs in a sizable 500 watt-hours.

Having got 60 miles out of the Centros in full lazy-boy mode, I’m confident it’ll achieve the promised century when used more economically.

On to the mechanical parts. The Centros’s ride position, although adjustable, is naturally upright, while its backswept bars are also easy on the wrists and back. This head-up style makes filtering through traffic safer, while also being inherently comfy.

Stopping the bike, braking is excellent thanks to hydraulic callipers, while the shifting is crisp and straightforward.

Coming courtesy of the lockable suspension fork the ride is smooth, even over cobbles or along towpaths.

Although this feature adds weight, given the motor assist, it’s not anything to be concerned about unless you need to regularly lift the bike. The saddle is also supported by a suspension post, although this is of a more questionable benefit than the fork.

Similarly, the saddle will suit bottoms less well acquainted with long distances, being wide and plushly upholstered.  

With the electrics off, the Centros is quite easy rolling thanks to the mid-drive motor system which doesn’t add any noticeable drag.

In fact, with it switched off the Raleigh rides just like a heavier-than-average hybrid. Not only will this help if you find the battery flat, but it should also boost the bike’s overall efficiency.

One slight gripe. I’ve seen the bikes of the future, and they don’t have wires trailing all over the front of them. Admittedly the cables from the motor controller, display, lights, gears, and brakes on the Centros aren’t the messiest I’ve seen.

Still, they could be neater. Regardless,  overall the bike is still fairly nice to look at. A bit gangly, but sporting a neatly integrated battery and subtle paint job, it fits the bill for a stylish city runabout. 

The frame

The Centros’s frame accommodates both centre-mount motor and battery seamlessly. Locked into the downtube to prevent theft, the latter provides plenty of range, but also a fair bit of mass. The motor itself sits in a large clam-shell holster, which is graced with neat looking welds.

At the front, a Suntour Nex suspension fork provides 63mm travel, which proved just the right amount of squish to keep the bike comfy.

Having looped around the front of the bike, the gear and brake cables slot into the side of the downtube, later emerging towards the back before they meet the rear calliper or derailleur 

Both the frame and wheels come with traditional quick release fittings. More noticeable off-road, it’s possible to detect the extra flex versus a stiffer bolt through system.

Although this is unlikely to bother most users. Dealing with the Centros’s increased mass, the conventional trick of slightly extending the wheelbase and slackening the head angle keeps steering stable but doesn’t leave the bike sluggish to turn.

Groupset

The Shimano Deore 10-speed gearing is both nice to use and should be long-lasting. The 11-34 cassette is wide, although with the motor assist on you’re unlikely to use either of it’s furthest ends.

Similarly, the single chainset makes sense, cutting down redundant parts, reducing weight, and simplifying gear selection.

If you’re happy with a step-through frame, another hundred quid opens up the option of an 8-speed Shimano Nexus hub gear alternative.

Whichever you choose, stopping the Centros's not insignificant mass, Shimano’s M315 hydraulic disc brakes are powerful. Easy to service and slick looking, the power generated by their 160mm rotors is plentiful.

Finishing kit 

The Centros has a well-featured kit list. A suspension seatpost cushions jolts from the road, while an adjustable stem makes getting the bars into the ideal spot simple. A chain guard protects your trousers, and a kickstand allows easy parking.

Flicking on with the push of a button, a front lamp and matching rear strip in the rack also help keep the rider safe when commuting after dark. Moderately bright, they just about light your way, and being powered directly by the battery means there’s no chance of finding them flat.

Resisting the temptation to cut corners, Raleigh also opts for excellent and expensive SKS brand mudguards. The benefit of these might take a while to become apparent, but trust us, they’ll outlast most unbranded alternatives four or five times over.

Of course, all these extras make the Raleigh a bit of a tank. Happily, with the motor helping you along this is largely irrelevant. Although you’ll certainly notice if you have to carry the Centros up any stairs.

Wheels

Given the Centros’s weight and the added drive of the motor, it’s good to see both chunky tyres and a plentiful spoke count. Made by CTS, the Zepplin model tyres give every impression of being robust, while a reflective strip on their sidewalls helps increase visibility.

At 42c, it’s possible to run them soft to accentuate grip and cushioning, although if anything we would have liked even wider treads. 

Conclusion

The Raleigh’s price tag puts it among some serious opposition from the likes of Specialized and Giant.

But its Bosch mid-motor and well-integrated battery mean it more than keeps up. There are better composed looking bikes out there, nevertheless, the Centros’s parts list and handling ensure a solid score.

One for riders after an upright and stately ride, it’s not the wildest take on an e-bike we’ve seen. But with every extra under the sun it’ll tackle on most commutes with ease, while also being fun enough to warrant use at the weekends too.

Buy the Raleigh Centros bike from Tredz 

Price: 
£2,750

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