Raleigh's lightweight, steel-frame beauty
Sure biking makes commuting more healthy and eco-friendly, but cyclists looking for almost frightening speed will like Raleigh's Record Ace, a bike that seems to catapult through streets. You can look good while careening too, thanks to the modern road bike's vintage-inspired styling that extends from the clean lines of its frame to its beautiful Brooks saddle.
The original all-steel bike brand, Raleigh (founded over 100 years ago) introduced the Ace in 1939, paused production in the '90s, and brought back the lugged steel design this year in favor of the "better road feel" that steel lends. With a longer life span and similar weight to aluminum or carbon, the steel bike is light enough for urbanites to climb stairs with and strong enough to survive pothole-ridden roads or cross-country treks.
Of course, a quality frame demands quality components and this model comes equipped with a Shimano Ultegra groupset—which I put to the test on many occasions. The brakes allow you to stop at a moment's notice (such as when a cab pulls out in front of you), and provides a rebellious (read: badass) squeal for full effect. Switching gears is a snap, and Shimano's Hollowglide construction provides even greater stability. The upshot is a bike that Bicycling magazine describes as "much more nimble" than city or hybrid models.
While the price tag is a little steep at $1,900, Raleigh has made an off-the-shelf bike with the types of essential racing components and a stripped-down weight usually only found on custom builds. It sells from Raleigh dealers around the world.