Review: 2009 Raleigh Rush Hour Single-Speed Bike

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

The year was 1887 when Sir Frank Bowden purchased interest in a small bicycle business on Raleigh Street in Nottingham, England. The company, which would one day grow to an international bicycling force called Raleigh UK Ltd., began with a humble single-speed model, a bike with no freewheel but tires capable of treading the rolling dirt tracks and cobblestone streets common of the era.

Fast forward 122 years. It is 2009 and a new type of single-speed bike is in fashion. Now called fixed-gear bikes — fixies for short — the pared-down and freewheel-less models are popular with urban riders looking for an ultimate connection to a machine.

Raleigh Rush Hour Bike action.jpg

Fixed-gear tomfoolery on the Raleigh Rush Hour

Indeed, you cannot coast on a fixed-gear bike. As long as the wheels are moving, so is the cog, the chain, the cranks, the pedals, and, consequently, your feet, which may be caged or clipped in via the cleat of a bike shoe.

A fixie can be a wild ride, a thrill where your body is locked to the motion of spinning wheels on a road. But once mastered, a fixie provides a unique type of control, as a rider can accelerate and slow down with the pedals. Some fixie riders eschew brakes altogether, learning to slow and skid to a stop when needed with pressure applied against the always-propelling cranks.

Raleigh offers the full fixie experience with its Rush Hour, a single-speed road bike that’s been on the market since 2006. The 2009 model I tested is updated with anodized parts and a new fork. While it bears little resemblance to the bikes of old in Nottingham, England, the Rush Hour’s aesthetic nods to a time when bicycles were more than anything a utilitarian means of getting around.

Raleigh Rush Hour Single Speed Bike

Raleigh Rush Hour bike

There is no glitz to the Rush Hour. It is black and has almost no noticeable logos or brand markings. It has no braze-ons or bottle cages. The frame and fork are steel, making the bike a solid rig — though still somewhat lightweight at about 21 pounds — on the road.

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Posted by Nick - 06/25/2009 12:31 PM

Wow! That is super cool, I bet one can haul butt on that thing!

Posted by Gary - 06/26/2009 11:54 AM

I think commuting on a fixie is nuts. I’d just be walking more of the uphills. There is a reason Campanganolo invented the derailleur. My hill is a mile long 7% grade and I can barely manage it in with a 30×28 If I had to spin that gear everywhere just to climb hills it would take me 2x as long to get anywhere.

Also, a rack with a pannier vs a messenger bag means less body weight/pressure on those hatchet saddles, so a less painful ride.

In 10 years you are going to look back and at your knees and say “What was I thinking?”

Posted by Chris Ostlind - 06/26/2009 12:12 PM

My son has been riding his fixie for the past five years, to and from school and work in altitude challenged Salt Lake City.

The young man (19) is without accident to this point and is finishing in the evening scrambles in the top five consistently.

There’s real reward in the genre and it does not depend on the invention of the Campy gear set for success.

Chris Ostlind
Lunada Design

Posted by judyta - 01/02/2010 11:30 AM

hi,
i was trying to find this bike in uk or any european country..impossible! anyone know why is for sale only in us?

Posted by t.c. worley - 05/30/2010 12:07 PM

Been riding this bike for a while, even on rides as long as 40mi. Its reasonably comfortable, but I find the Paddy Wagon a bit more so. This is a pretty bike though. Like the red accents. Wish there was an option for water bottles, and I dislike the temporary, adhesive cable hangers. Saddle is junky too. It really is meant to commute on and for that it does just fine.

Posted by fredro - 07/26/2010 05:44 PM

just got mine couple of days ago (2010 model)…..awesome entry level bike. Been a MTN biker for 10 years, decided to try a fixie….LOVE IT!!!
Already switched out the pedals for Demolition Platforms, Soma Late Riser, And Oury Grips…

Posted by Gil - 10/07/2010 02:03 PM

I am a convert to fixed and will never go back to making freewheeling my dominant technique so all that are unsure just try it for awhile

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