When you see a retro-looking bike, one image may come to mind: self-righteous hipsters in porkpie hats yelling at cars as they struggle up hills on their fixies.
The Raleigh Record Ace is not meant for those dudes. Its retrotastic styling brings to mind everything from Major Taylor whipping around tracks in the 1920s to Jackie Earle Haley shakily riding around a track in the 1970s film Breaking Away. (If you haven’t seen it, see it; it’s one of the best sports movies of all time.) And the $1,900 Ace is without a doubt meant to go fast; attached to its round, lugged-steel tubing is a high-tech Shimano Ultegra groupset. The break components don’t quite measure up to the Ultegra … but then again, brakes make you go slower, not faster.
Keep in mind that just because carbon fiber rocket machines are available on the mass market, most of us don’t need them. Given a certain set of circumstances — say, a 2,200-mile Gallic race featuring near-identical cyclists over a period of a few weeks — a more modern, streamlined frame design would have an advantage over the somewhat rotund tubing of the 20.15-lb. Ace. But for those of us who don’t weigh our food and sandpaper down our brake handles, the upside of a machine that gives you bike wood before every ride far outweighs even the most stealth bomber-ish CAD tweaks. Besides, shaving 10 pounds off your ass — it’ll suit the Ace’s Brooks saddle — will make you a lot faster than shaving .3 ounces off your handlebar tape.