Back in April, the GearJunkie crew tackled the beastly Maah Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota in a two-day mountain bike blitz. We reached out to a few bicycle brands to see what new models might be a good fit for the trip. Raleigh answered the call with its mid-line 29er, the Talus 29 Elite, which retails for $1,750.
The backbone of the bike is a custom butted aluminum hardtail frame with a hydro-formed top-tube and downtube and a 29” wheelset. Pair these with a FOX F29 RL 100mm travel fork and you’ve got a great, reasonably priced choice for trails with cross-country terrain and beyond.
My first real ride aboard the bike was a doozie. The 97 miles of remote and often disappearing singletrack on the Maah Daah Hey Trail was a true test of the bike’s abilities. The Talus Elite is a big bike and rolls down the trail with stability and confidence. Frame geometry is more tuned for relaxed navigation of anything in your path rather than slice-n-dice, singletrack action. It’s the kind of 29er that garners comments like “This thing feels like a monster truck.”
Sometimes a monster truck is just what you need, and on my trip this bike was a champ. Rutted descents were no issue. Fallen limbs and trees were a mere annoyance. A somewhat set-back position allowed me to confidently roll most obstacles in my path.
With its slightly more upright geometry, the Talus blurs the line between a true cross-country and a trail-category bike. This comfy model loves long days and may be the ideal setup for an endurance racer.
A true podium chaser it is not, however, with a weight that lands in the 30-pound zone. Look to the Talus 29 Carbon Elite if you want to get serious about going fast.
Top tube stand-over height is on the tall side. My size large demo left little room for my 32” inseam to comfortably stand over. The height makes remounts tricky on some terrain. This may not have been an issue on the medium frame.
Some standout parts: The FOX F29 RL fork is a really nice touch. 100mm travel is perfect for this “workingman’s racer” as one company spokesman called it. A 15mm thru-axle front hub gives the big 29er hoops a decidedly more solid, assured feel.
Triple chainrings and Shimano Deore derailleurs worked flawlessly and allowed me to ride up anything my courage would allow. Geax AKA tires are aggressively grippy and fast-rolling. It isn’t a mud tire but is really good at most everything else.
Overall, the component choices were a solid, if not racey, mix of Shimano and Avenir (Raleigh’s house brand) parts.
I’ve enjoyed all of the 200+ miles I’ve logged on this bike and believe that it’s a solid choice in the under-$2,000 arena. While you can find lighter, faster bikes for racing glory, this is a great mid-level bike for anyone looking to either tear up the local trails, strike out on a long epic like the Maah Daah Hey, or even pin a number on for some weekend warrior racing fun.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.