This week we've got our grubby mitts on the new and updated NS Bikes RAG+ skinny wheeler. RAG+ is short for road and gravel and the plus is an indicator of its ability to take both 700c road wheels and 650b mountain bike wheels. NS Bikes says it's all about offering versatility and maximum tyre choice for any style of rider and riding.
The RAG+ see's some rather important updates made for 2018 in comparison to the 2017 version making this a versatile bike for those looking for one bike that does it all - a commonly recurring theme for gravel bikes these days.
For starters, tyre clearance has been increased from 40 to 45mm when using 700c wheels and there is also the option for riders to run 27.5” mountain bike wheels with tyres as wide as 2.2". NS Bikes have included a cutaway in the seat tube to accommodate all that rubber and keeps the dropped chainstay.
The carbon fork has been revised to now includes mudguard eyelets (but no rack mounts) and the disc mount has swapped to the flat mount variety, mounting the brake caliper directly to the frame or fork, offering a cleaner and more minimalist appearance, and also provides a more compact packaging of the brake caliper, which will be a particular benefit at the rear triangle. Also to note in this department is the fork uses a 15mm thru-axle and not the newer 12mm too.
Cable routing is external and routing has been moved to the bottom of the downtube for a cleaner appearance and easier bottle cage mounting. As is normal for a new model year the paint finish has been updated as well, the bright graphics look great on the muted grey backdrop.
The bike will cost £1599.99, for the money you get alloy frame with threaded bottom bracket and that carbon fork we mentioned. The bike is specced with SRAM Apex hydraulic brakes with 160mm rotor front and rear. SRAM also takes care of the most of the 1x11 drivetrain too with Apex derailleur, shifter and cranks (42t chainring) paired with a Sun Race 11-42t cassette. Cog spacing is the same on the Sun Race cassette and it is actually a little lighter than the equivalent SRAM offering.
The wheels are a combination of NS Rotary hubs and Alex Draw tubeless asymmetrical rims with a 21mm internal diameter branded with RAG+ rather than the manufacturer's decals. The bike is shod with Panaracer Gravel King tyres (700x43c), a tyre we have found to perform well both on and off the road.
Geometry wise, the RAG+ treads, as you would expect the line between road commuter and gravel tourer. There are four sizes available from small (52cm) to XL (57mm) each coming with size specific parts, cranks, bars, stem etc. We've got a medium in for test for which the critical figures look as following - 71.5 degree head angle, 73 degree seat angle, bottom bracket drop of -70mm, chain stays fo 420mm and a wheelbase of 1007mm. NS says the medium bike, without pedals weighs 9.9kg.
There is only one spec of bike available, keeping things nice and simple. We've got a few lower priced gravel bikes of a similar spec in for test at the moment so it will be interesting to see how the RAG compares to its competition with both ride and spec in mind.
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