Raleigh Tamland Two: First Impressions
Raleigh Tamland Two: First Impressions- by Guitar Ted
The Tamland Two from Raleigh was introduced here in this post, and now I have had a few initial rides on this new gravel road design. Is it really all that different than anything else out there? Does the geometry really matter when it isn’t that far off from other offerings? These are questions I hope to answer, or at least attempt to, in this post.
Fit & Feel:
The Tamland Two seemed to be a good fit for me on paper in the 58cm size. By the way, Raleigh has revamped sizing for all their road bikes for 2014, going with even sized numbers and tweaking a few other things. However; when I pulled the bike from the box, the 100mm stem looked like it was going to be too long. That turned out not to be true though, and I was easily able to dial in a basic fit from my personal numbers. (I am 6’1″ with a 34″ cycling inseam, by the way.)
The feel of the Tamland is a bit unique. The slightly slack seat tube angle and lower bottom bracket give you the sensation that you are leaned back and down into the bike more than “on top” of it, which I find cyclo cross bikes tend to feel like. The reach to the bars was easy enough, and I still had adjustment left on the seat rails. (I am a bit shorter in the torso, for the record.) Seated, I could easily unclip and set my left foot on the ground without being on my tip-toes. This is very reminiscent of how a Salsa Cycles Vaya feels, in that regard, if you are familiar with that bike.
The ride feel of the Tamland was immediately apparent within the first few miles. Being quite familiar with Clement MSO 40mm tires, I set them up with 35psi front, 40psi rear, as is my usual way with them. However; I was having a serious case of the doubts within two miles as I felt that the rear tire was softer than I remembered 40psi feeling. The rolling resistance and pedaling feel was what I had always felt with these tires, but the feeling of smoothness was uncanny. I eventually pulled over to check the tire with a squeeze, fully expecting to find that I needed air, and me without a pump!
The thing was, the tire was fine- just as it always feels with 40psi. This feeling of smoothness has persisted past my first ride, so I can only conclude that it is the Reynolds 631 and the design of the butting schedule for these particular tubes. The smooth ride feel continued in the front of the bike as well, showing that it wasn’t just the rear end of the bike, but the entire front end and the fork were working in concert to damp vibrations and mitigate bigger impacts. The feel is similar to some older steel forked bicycles I have ridden and is worlds different than the Volagi Viaje which I reviewed for this site here. Interestingly, one might think the fork blades would be fluttering as bumps were encountered, but while the blades move, they aren’t as active as the ride feel might suggest they would be.
So while the Tamland Two is smoother than most bikes, that doesn’t tell you much about whether or not the geometry is worth it here. In terms of handling on gravel roads, so far I think the Tamland is firing on all cylinders with this lower bottom bracket, slightly slacker head angle, and longer fork offset. Purposely pushing the bike into loose patches of gravel on my recent rides shows me that the stability necessary to keep the wheels underneath you and give the rider confidence that the bike won’t swap ends is there. I just don’t know to what degree yet. More riding time will be necessary here.
My conclusions so far are that Raleigh has produced a lively feeling, comfortable, stable rig for gravel riding, and it has the potential to be the best bike I’ve tried yet on gravel. It isn’t a cyclo cross bike in terms of feel and handling, and it is livelier, and more comfortable, (unloaded), than any touring bike. Going forward I will explore some of the other features of the Tamland Two, try some other tires, and get to the bottom of the design to see, if in fact, this is the best gravel grinder rig out there today.
Note: Guitar Ted bought this bicycle and is not being paid nor bribed for this review by Raleigh, or any of the component manufacturers represented on the build. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.