08 Aug Hitting the Bike Trails: Raleigh Bicycle Review
Minneapolis is often ranked one of the best, if not THE best, biking cities in the United States. In addition to that, Minneapolis was the only United States city to be included in a list of the 20 most bike friendly cities in the world. It’s easy to see why our home base is constantly ranked so high in the biking world. With over 200 miles of both on-street and off-street bike trails, and over 1,500 “Nice Ride” bikes in the bike sharing system, the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) are a fantastic choice for bike lovers to hit the road.
So, after moving back to St. Paul two years ago, it was about time we got bikes of our own. We had been looking into purchasing bikes for quite some time, but our busy travel schedule kept preventing us from pulling the trigger. However, as more and more bike rides have been popping up on our travel itineraries, we have been getting more anxious and excited to get bikes of our own. So, when Raleigh Bicycles reached out to us with an opportunity to become Raleigh Bicycle ambassadors this summer, it couldn’t have been better timing.
Raleigh is all about making bicycles that are fun. The idea of fun has been inspiring Raleigh for over 125 years and continues to do so today. With so many years of heritage and a great history, we were excited to learn more about the bikes they offer.
After several mountain biking adventures last year, Micah realized that it was something he would like to do more of in the future. I, however, realized that mountain biking was not something that I would particularly like to do more of in the future! That being said, Micah decided on a mountain bike, the Kodiak 1, and I settled on more of a simple, hybrid bike, the Alysa i8. We’ve had the bikes for just a couple of weeks now, so here are our initial thoughts about our bike choices.
Jenna’s Bike: Alysa i8
In all honesty, when I was deciding on which bike to get, I didn’t have much of an idea what to look for. I did know, however, that I like simplicity and that I am not a hard-core cyclist. I didn’t want a bike that made me feel like a cycling imposture, but I didn’t want a bulky, clunky bike either. I wanted a bike that was efficient, sleek, simple and easy to ride—a pretty hard combination to find, in my opinion, but I settled on the Alysa i8 and hoped I made the right choice.
Well, I’m happy to share that I did, in fact, make the right choice! For me, the Alysa i8 is the perfect bike. Throughout the past year, I’ve been on several bikes that have not been ideal for a variety of reasons. One was not sized properly for my height, one had a seat so hard I could barely sit on it, and one had curved handlebars that made my wrists hurt so bad that they were sore for days—all of these instances resulted in me not having control, which made me nervous for future bike rides.
So, when I hopped on my new Alysa i8, I was surprised at how well it fit my 5’5’’ frame and how comfortable I felt on the bike right away. The handlebars are comfortable and in a good position, the brakes are easy to apply, the gears are easy to shift and even though the seat isn’t exactly plush, it’s not uncomfortable either. The ease of riding the bike around the grass and gravel at our lake cabin also surprised me—I figured that the bike was made for more paved trails, but the ride around various terrains was shockingly smooth and easy.
The Alysa i8 is classified as a performance hybrid bike, which means that it can handle longer distances but still be a bike that you can take on a ride around town or on trails that aren’t paved. One unique feature of this bike is that it has an internal 8-speed gear hub paired with a Gates Belt Drive—this creates a mix of efficiency, functionality and simplicity. I’ve read that bikes with these components have a great wear life and are easier to maintain, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs in the long run.
I’ve definitely been enjoying my bike so far. The only concern I have at this point is the seat—I haven’t taken the bike out for a very long ride yet, so I’d like to see how comfortable I am on the seat after several hours of riding. I may have to pick up some padded bike shorts, but either way, I have to say it has been one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ridden in quite some time.
Micah’s Bike: Kodiak 1
Micah decided that he wanted a mountain bike after several trail rides last year got him into the sport. Although he knew he wanted a mountain bike, Micah wasn’t really sure what to look for in a bike either. Thankfully, the Raleigh website has a handy tool where you can input information about your riding habits, interests and style, and then they make bike suggestions based on the results. This led Micah to narrow down his mountain bike search, and helped him decided on the Kodiak 1.
Micah has been enjoying his bike so far, as well. Even though it is a mountain bike, he has been comfortable riding it on the wide range of terrain we have in Minnesota. It handled perfectly at the lake on the grass, gravel and dirt roads, but yet he still felt comfortable riding through the streets of St. Paul near our apartment. The bike has a full suspension system, which means you can adjust the amount of give in the shocks to give you a smoother ride in both the city and out on the trail. He has yet to take it out on an actual mountain bike specific trail, so he is looking forward to seeing how it handles on bumpier terrain, too. However, from how it’s performed so far, it seems as though it will be a great ride no matter where he takes it!
The Kodiak 1 is a good size for Micah and he thinks it’s a comfortable bike—he is able to maintain a comfortable body position and doesn’t get tired when taking the bike out on longer rides. The seat doesn’t have much padding, but it’s nothing padded bike shorts couldn’t fix. As far as the gears go, he has found shifting smooth and easy; the components are more complicated than they are on my bike, but they are still basic, straightforward and easy to use. The frame of the bike is on the heavier side—it’s definitely not the lightest bike he’s been on—but even though it is a bit bulky, the Kodiak is still easy to transport, move and ride.
So far, Micah has been loving his bike and has found it to handle well. He is excited to get out on a mountain bike trail soon to really put it to the test. Micah thinks he made the right choice, too, as the bike fits his style and it works great on a variety of trails and situations.
Overall, we are very happy with our bikes thus far, and we can’t wait to take them out on more rides this summer. We are happy that both bikes can be comfortable in a variety of situations, as we always like to mix things up and try out different types of trails. Stay tuned for more details and thoughts about the bikes after we take them out to Itasca State Park, The Midtown Greenway and more!
Special thanks to Raleigh Bicycles for providing us with complimentary bikes! As always, all opinions are our own.