Raleigh Record Ace

Enthusiast: Trad Traveler; $1,900.

Raleigh Record Ace     Photo: Photograph by Inga Hendrickson

Saddle Up

Brooks leather saddles have been around since 1866 and are still made in England. The longevity is a testament to their high quality. Heavier? Sure, but you won't find a cooler-looking classic saddle, and the leather eventually takes on the shape of your rear end, resulting in a comfortable, custom perch.

Sure, chromoly road bikes are heavier, but when it comes to long distances, steel really shines. No other material delivers such a smooth, nuanced ride, which is why it is so integral to cycling's long, artisanal history and is enjoying a renaissance. The elegant Record Ace's lugged construction and leather Brooks Swallow saddle are decades-proven, while the Shimano Ultegra components provide modern performance. As one tester put it, "it's an awesome bike for anyone looking for a classic ride." The characteristic flex and weight of steel means it's not as nimble a climber as other bikes here, but it descends beautifully. A note about leather saddles: They eventually feel as good as they look, but almost all require a long break-in period. 26.8 lbs (56 cm); raleighusa.com
PEDALING RESPONSIVENESS: 3.5 HANDLING: 3.9

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