Welcome to the new Cross Bike Review!

Carlton Team TI

Review: Carlton Team TI

scottmares's picture

Right Out of the Box


Out of the Box FIRST IMPRESSIONS: So the package arrived from kent Washington and for some people getting this bike would not mean that much to them. But I’m old and I grew up racing steel bikes , 32 spoke wheels were racing wheels. This was the norm for me and thousands of other cyclist in the 80’s. So it was a surprise to pull something out of the box that took me back to that time. It was like seeing one of your old childhood friends. So those were my feelings. So how did it look? Amazing. The Iconic ain job that was on the Carlton TI was nothing short of stunning. The combination or Red Black yellow with White accents was breathtaking.

EASE OF ASSEMBLY: So we see a lot of bikes and we have to build a lot of them and it’s interesting to see how they are boxed up and the extent of their assembly. Sometimes we just get a frame in and have to do a complete build. The Carlton TI came to us 95% assembled. Here is what we had to assemble to get the bike going. Insert stem bars, attach the front brake, insert the front wheel and finally insert the seat post. I’m not going to count putting pedals on the bike because you have to do that with all of them. So I have to say this was the easiest and quickest bikes we have had to assemble.

BLING FACTOR: This bike has a lot of bling and it comes from the skinny tubes, lugs and the fabulous paint job. The Bling extends across all genre of cycling cultures. No one is exempt from it. Any time we were in a group, stop light, coffee shop, or just passing another cyclist heads were turning and conversations were started. I suspect that the PDX area has a uptick of neck problems from all of the heads that were whipping around to look at the Carlton TI. The Bike stands even more so in a group ride because 90% of the group will be on carbon or aluminum. We did go on a couple of group rides and the bike was definitely noticed. People wanted to talk to me and tell me what a cool or beautiful bike I was on. Most if not all thought it was the real deal and not a reproduction.  

Road Test Ride


Climbing: Ok so out of the box the bike is a candidate for weight watchers by today's standards and let’s face it just about any bike at the 2K mark is not going to be set up to be an angel of the mountain. But with that said let’s look at the set up. The Campy proton group is a 50X34 with a 27 in the rear. The bike is not a light weight but with the wheels and the frame set it was never meant to be one. So let's just say that you won’t be setting any hill climbing records on strava. Corning With the geometry from back in the day. So the bike will dive and sweep through the corners that you point it into. This is no surprise to us because we peeked at the geometry. Our 61 has a head angle of 73 and a seat tube of 73 as well. So good crit geometry. I would like to state that I am a fan of the 72/72 geometry that was popularized by Greg Lemond. Just as we thought the bike will dive into and swoop out of corners. So If you have been racing a bike with this geometry you will be familiar with how the Carlton Team behaves.

Ride Feel So how the bike feel. It feels really comfortable. The only thing I have to say that I don't like is how flexy the wheels are and how I am totally at a loss on why the Campy brakes don't have a lever to allow you to open the brakes up. The bike is obviously not as stiff as today's carbon frames due to the size of the tubes at the bottom bracket, but we expected that. Again the bike is very comfortable and if you ride a stiff carbon or Aluminum frame you will be able to tell the difference. Overall the feel is very nice for all day tempo riding. Nothing feels like a steel frame.  

Dirt Test Ride





Ride Feel

Trainer Test Ride


Ride Feel

We Didn't Like

What we didn't like Ok I’m going to get right to this. Even Though the fork is cromoly, I would like to see a 531 fork on there. If the factory is already making a 531 frame set get the 531 tubes and make the fork that goes with the bike.. That's all about the frame set. Upon initial inspection I noticed that the brakes were missing the lever to open them. Why does the “New Potenza” brakes not have a lever to open them up with? Campy brakes usually have a lever to oven them up with. I don't understand why they don’t have this feature. Apparently Campy took the mech off the brake and put it in the lever. It's a fat pin that sits at the top of the lever before the hood. You push the pin to open and close the brakes. So great that you can open a brake if you need to with your finger on the levers. But the trade off if you can not fine tune it so you still have brakes. If you break a spoke or your brakes are rubbing you have two options. Open and no brake or close and your rubbing. The other thing is that if you have different sets of wheels the rim with will be different and you will have to use the barrel adjuster for that. So Im not a fan.

Next, I am new to the Campy style of lever so this may be just me. The rear shifter is great! Its responsive, positive and crisp. The front is another story altogether. The throw is long so that you have to move your hand position to the outside of the lever body to get into the big chain ring. The second bad thing about this is when your hand comes back your thumb is likely to hit the thumb shifter thus putting you back into the little ring again. I would like a shorter throw to resolve this problem. . After about 700 miles the wheels came really out of true and presented a problem. Now I am not talking a stray spoke but one complete side of the rear wheel got really soft. 32 spoke wheel should not come out of true and out of tension for a bit. Especially when smooth roads are 99% of what I’m riding on.

Finally, most of the bike was assembled at the factory. We don’t understand why the Ft. Der cable was routed on the outside of the bridge near the bottom bracket? We think it should have been routed between the bottom bracket and the bridge. This would have given it a cleaner, more direct and less resistance in its line.  

The Final Say

We have all heard the phrase “Back in the Day”. When we talk about this time in cycling that was when frame sets were steel and men were tough as nails. Bread and water was what cyclist ate. Wool jerseys and leather hair nets is what was in the peloton. So do you yearn for that time? Want to go retro but not start a build project that will just stall out in the garage? Raleigh has come up with a pretty slick kit to get you some NOS (new old stuff) and out on the road immediately. The Carlton Team is a throwback without having to throwback to the outdated stuff. The frame set is absolutely gorgeous, made with the famous Reynolds 531 tubing this will turns heads right and left. As you look down at the Raleigh team colors you will be taken back in time to that time and inspired to train and ride hard. By putting on a Campy group they were keeping with the “Old School” but with Campy’s new Potenza 11 speed group it will keep you up to date while looking like you're from “back in the day”. There were a few little quirks but I kinda expect some things from a bike in this price point. The Carlton Team MSRP is $1999.99 and because there is only a few things to assemble just about anyone can have this bike shipped to them and will be riding it down the block in less than an hour and back in time.  

Share this Review