Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Bike: Raleigh Pardner

While I was visiting China a few weeks back, I made a somewhat impulsive online purchase of a Raleigh Pardner fatbike, using their corporate discount code (in a bit of odd coincidence, the Raleigh is presumably made in China, where I was, but shipped from a Central Ohio warehouse, where I live). I had a hankering to try a steel fatbike, got tired of waiting for a used Pugsley to show up, and so decided to order the Pardner before Raleigh's rumored departure from mountain bikes.

A big, heavy box was waiting for me when I got home Saturday morning:

It went together pretty quickly, although I haven't bothered adjusting the hubs yet, if they need it. Raleigh thoughtfully included a few bags of reflectors and dork discs that will never get installed:

There's a lot of open space in my neighborhood, but not many trails. One of my ideas is I can use this bike for local bushwhacking:

For about the price of my old Bikesdirect Gravity Bullseye, I think the Raleigh is a considerably better bike:

The drivetrain is Shimano Acera 3x9 speed, instead of Sram 8 speed:

Remember when Acera was junk? But now it's sharply creased and styled. At least the crank and rear derailer are nice, the front derailer looks like it was made from an Erector set:

 No name Chinese 4" tires on 80mm rims, vs. the 50mm rims on the Gravity:

These no name tires seem a bit better than the Vee Missions that often come stock on cheap fatbikes. Self steer on hard surfaces is still apparent, but not as bad as the Missions.

The brakes are Tektro Mira mechanical discs. A bit of internet research shows that these are, oddly, road pull disc brakes. Maybe Raleigh got them cheap. They have the wooden feel and mediocre power typical of cheap mechanical brakes. Maybe they'll get better as they break in.

Bolt on hubs front and rear. That's a bit of PITA, but in practice I find these a bit easier to use than the through axles on my Jones. As long as I don't forget a 15mm wrench in my tool kit.

The cockpit is Raleigh branded stuff, but it's clean looking and a modern short stem/wide bar combo, unlike the heavy and dated junk on the Gravity. Nothing needs replacing right away, unless I decide I want a bit more rise:

Foam grips for light weight! I haven't weighed the Raleigh, though. It's better not to know.

Even the pedals are decent:

Weld appearance is rough in spots, but it's OK if you have low expectations:

I've had the Pardner out for a few rides so far. It rides decently. I think there might be some steel liveliness here, even if it's hidden under the pillowy tires.

The geo doesn't quite match what is reported on Raleigh's website. For my XL frame, it's supposed to have a 160mm headtube, but it is really only 140mm. I think the fork is longer, because the stack is about as reported. Still, I was looking forward to a reasonable length head tube. The chainstays are also a bit longer than spec, at 465mm vs. 460mm, which I'm sure would agitate me if I didn't just come off my Jones and its lovely 490mm chainstays. Short isn't always best. For me, this bike will be for exploring, bushwhacking, and getting out in the winter, so a long, stable ride is fine. I think as long as I don't try to ride it like a "real" mountain bike (fast and sharp), I'll be able to appreciate the different perspective this fat Pardner brings to my riding.


  1. Noticed that it is now for sale. I was looking at one for similar reasons (prodeal pricing, wanted to give fat Bikes a try on the cheap), what was the deal breaker on this one that had you put it up for sale?

    1. The Raleigh itself is fine. I just bought it on an impulse and now, at seven bikes, I'm in a downsizing mode. I had this image of me exploring virgin winter trails on the Pardner, but I think any winter riding I might actually do could easily be covered by a plus bike.


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