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Raleigh spins out three urban bikes as tribute to ’84 Olympic track medalist Nelson Vails

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Raleigh Teaba modern aluminum track racing urban fixed-gear fixie city bike details
courtesy Raleigh

Back in 1984 at the Olympics in LA, American cyclist Nelson Vails won track racing silver in the sprint on a Raleigh. We caught up with Vails and a super limited edition replica of his winning bike back at NAHBS. Now thirty-three years later Raleigh Bicycles is commemorating his transition from a New York City bike messenger to a medal-winning elite track cyclist with a trio of affordable urban bikes. Starting with a couple of track-style frames, Raleigh worked with Vails and his longtime NY friend & graffiti artist Zephyr to design the three fixed/singlespeed bikes for another generation of riders to pound the city streets. There’s the top level aluminum pursuit Teaba, the steel flat bar Back Alley & drop bar steel Rush Hour to suit all tastes, each with a subtle dose of Zephyr’s style…

Nelson Vails – the Cheetah – made a bit of history, not only as a Harlem bike messenger heading to the Olympic Training Center, but then as the first African-American cyclist to win an Olympic medal. Now more than three decades later after slaloming yellow cabs before sprinting for the line in the Velodrome, Vails is again working with Raleigh. Of course his cycling roots are what drove the concept for the collaboration with Raleigh on the new bikes, and they tipped his friend and fellow New Yorker Zephyr to bring a bit of street style to the new bikes – the Teaba, Back Alley & Rush Hour.

Zephyr himself is a pretty serious bike racer, and worked with Vails to develop an iconography based on their time in NYC in the 70s. As Vails put it, “each of the symbols is a story from when we were kids in New York. This collaboration has been unbelievable, and the bikes are a special piece of history meshed with everyday functionality.”

Teaba

Raleigh Teaba modern aluminum track racing urban fixed-gear fixie city bike complete

Teaba was Vails’ first real nickname on the streets of New York and is a modern take on the bike he raced to many wins. At $1100 it is for sure the most high-end out of the trio, and pairs a lightweight shaped & butted aluminum frame with a carbon track fork. The bike gets a pretty solid build kit opting for durable alloy kit (with a bit of drillium), a flip/flop fixed/singlespeed rear wheel, and a set of bullhorn pursuit bars. As on all three, the Teaba comes with brakes that can always be removed if not needed.

Raleigh Teaba modern aluminum track racing urban fixed-gear fixie city bike Zephyr

The design of the Teaba combines the Zephyr illustrations on the seattube with a dual-themed race-winning & taxi checkerboard around the traditional downtube logo. The bike comes just in this yellow on black in four sizes from 50-60cm. Unlike the two steel bikes below which are available now, you’ll have to wait until the fall to get ahold of a Teaba.

Back Alley

Raleigh Back Alley modern steel track urban fixed-gear fixie city bike Zephyr detail

The Back Alley is trying less to be a race bike and more the everyday beater that most cyclists wield as their urban weapon of choice. Its $400 pricetag is what you’d expect from a bike destined to be locked up to lampposts and liable to suffer the indignities of rough NYC winters. Its graphic design is mostly the same as the Teaba with Chuck Taylor, dime, subway token, TOGA bike shop & Cat’s Paw Hill icons on the seattube.

Raleigh Back Alley modern steel track urban fixed-gear fixie city bike complete

The Back Alley opts for the most basic of construction – hi-ten steel. That won’t make it light, but will survive the urban jungle. Component wise it still gets some decent workhorse alloy components, a flip/flop rear wheel, and a 620mm riser bar that will likely get cut down to ludicrously narrow widths to weave through traffic. It also gets removable cable guides for a clean fixie setup. Like the Teaba it comes in this one color combo and four sizes, this time from 51-60cm.

Rush Hour

Raleigh Rush Hour modern steel track urban fixed-gear fixie city bike 3/4

Lastly there is the Rush Hour that takes the same base hi-ten bike as the Back Alley but builds it into something more of a traditional track bike. Deep drop bars combine with the same fixed or free rear wheel setup, and Zephyr’s graphics. Simple, straightforward, and still $400, it gets the same 51-60cm size range.

RaleighUSA.com

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lop
lop
6 years ago

Why on earth would anyone pay $400 for a hi-ten bike of any kind?

Smallwood
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

What would you buy for school/work if you had a $400 budget, O worldly one?

Enter-net
Enter-net
6 years ago
Reply to  Smallwood

See below duder.

Beat_the_trail
Beat_the_trail
6 years ago

For $379 you can get a Trek FX, have 21 speeds, an aluminum frame, the best warranty in the business, and rack mounts.

Enter-net
Enter-net
6 years ago
Reply to  Beat_the_trail

This times a hundred bazillion.

dontcoast
6 years ago
Reply to  Beat_the_trail

Agreed, the FX is a better entry/budget bike for a majority of riders.

But some people want a single speed that looks a certain way. Choices.

The FX buyer isn’t the same person as the Rush Hour buyer (I’ve sold lots of both)

Sure they could get a State for $299, but again, choices.

MaraudingWalrus
6 years ago

The Teaba looks nice enough. Appears to be the same frame as the Rush Hour Pro/Macaframa (which I have) which is generally well-regarded.

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