Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My New Bike Obsession: Raleigh Rush Hour

My lack of posting reflects neither a declining interest in bicycles nor a lack of free time, trust me: I have both. My blog seems to have fallen to the wayside, as I have been too busy scotch taping rejection letters from prestigious law firms to my wall (K. thinks this is emo, I think it's funny) and working at a jazz & pig themed diner.

I've also been meaning to visit this supposed "bike shop" in south Brooklyn and waiting to post on that--so be on the lookout soon. It's actually just a bunch of garages jam packed with refurbished bikes, which should be cool and make for a good post.

This morning I was directed to my new bicycle love: the 2010 Raleigh Rush Hour Flat Bar. When I first saw the Rush Hour as a giveaway on Chrome Bags' site here, I thought that Chrome had customized the bike for its giveaway. When I went to Raleigh's site I was astounded to find out that this is the stock version! It's beautiful.

Of course, being the short-legged female that I am, I hit a wall: the smallest size is a 50cm. Now, this is the age old dilemma of this blog: I'm short, I like bicycles that are probably designed for dudes, and I'm not willing to compromise and buy a lame women's bicycle like this one. I thought about writing a heartbreaking email to Raleigh's customer service department, pleading with them to reconsider their specs, but I couldn't find the number online so I called them instead. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Um, hi, do you have, like, a customer service email I can write to?

Raleigh guy: Sure, you can send me an email at (his email). I answer all the customer service questions. Is there something I can help you with?

ME: (awkward, suprisingly) Um..this isn't really urgent. I'm just wondering, because I saw the 2010 Rush Hour Flat Bar on the Chrome website - is 50cm the smallest size?

Raleigh guy: Hold on, let me just pull some stuff up here (tapping commences at computer, followed by mathematical jargon, similiar to doctor-speak). What is your inseam?

ME: Um, I'm about 5'2" so maybe 27"? I used to have a 50cm that seemed too big for I ride a tiny track frame, that's 43cm.

Raleigh guy (in disbelief): WHOA THERE, do you have 650c rims on that thing?

ME: Haha, yeah.

Raleigh guy: Well, actually the standover height of a 50cm would be about 29 inches so it might just be slightly too large for you - but there is ONE dealer in the Bronx that has ordered a 50cm. Here is the phone number, you should call and speak with a manager to see if you can test ride the bike.

ME: I live in Brooklyn, is there anyone closer that has a 50cm? (now I'm presumably thinking about test riding one which is bad, since that's how I bought my last bike...oops).

Raleigh guy: Let me see here - the closet to you would be Fulton Cycles, R&A, Bespoke Cycles--looks like you're right in the thick of things.

ME: (happy to live near so many shops) Yeah, there are a lot of shops around me - I'm happy and suprised that they are popping up everywhere. There seem to be a lot more riders recently.

Raleigh guy: That's great - keep it on two wheels, right? I need to keep answering the phone. Is there anything else I can help you with?

ME: (sad to be losing my Raleigh friend) No, you've been very helpful, thank you.

Raleigh guy: (we're best friends) OK, well, talk to you soon.

ME: OK, take care.

Given my current state of employment, I actually considered asking the Raleigh customer service guy how he got his job, but I thought better of it. However, we are best friends. I am tempted to go all the way to god-knows-where in the Bronx just to see this machine, but that seems I'll probably do it.

I really like the aesthetic of this bike - especially the leather seat and the leather straps. I like the color scheme and the fact that it comes with built-in chain tensioners, something I wish my current bike had. I have seen fixies with Brooks saddles that look out of place, but Raleigh is putting together beautiful bikes, and not just fixies. I was originally intrigued by Raleigh's new image when I saw this bike in a shop in NYC:

This bicycle, called the "One Way" has been reviewed in WIRED magazine. It's not unlike the diner sandwich of a similar name ("Our Way"): a little classy on multigrain bread (leather accents) but undeniably desirable (grilled cheddar cheese and tomato).

The aesthetic of the Rush Hour Flat bar reminds me a lot of Specialized new Globe Brand Roll 1, as seen here on

Apparently BikeSnob himself ran into a promotion for the Globe Roll 1 & 2, which he remarked looked like "the world's most uncomfortable looking production bike," and I do agree that it looks comfortable.

Unfortunately, the question remains: unless you want to spend a hunk of change on a custom-built flashy track bike or not-so-much change on a boring standard frame, how can short ladies find a sexy track frame in their size?

Now I will fantasize about finding the Raleigh Rush Hour in 50cm and tweaking it to fit me perfectly - after all, people come in all shapes and sizes, so why shouldn't bikes?

1 comment:

  1. I understand your problem all too well. I'm 5'3" (male), and have experienced endless frustration with proper bike fit. I own a Pista 49cm, compared it to a Fuji 43cm, and found the Pista provided a better fit due to a longer head tube height. I have a 27 1/2" inseam and did not find the standover height of 29" to be a problem as sneakers, shoes always make up the difference. The bar slightly rubs against me, but its not protruding or uncomfortable (I've never owned a bike where I cleared the top tube).

    You mention your inseam is 27". If the Raleigh's standover height is similar to the Pista, you should give it a try, you're close.

    The problem I've encountered is the head tube height. As you're well aware, with a shorter torso, we lack the length to lean over and flatten out without crushing our hips. A shorter stem can worsen this problem. Although it brings the bar closer, it also lowers the bar, causing a person to bend and reach further. That's why it can be beneficial to get a larger bike, as long as the standover height and reach is acceptable.

    The real solution is to get a threaded fork/stem (custom). However, if Raleigh equips the bike with a 1" threadless like the Pista, you can swap out the fork and stem for a threaded and raise the bar to shorten the reach, without being so bent over with a smaller stem.

    Good Luck!