A sporty, fun, and functional do-it-all bike with great components, for well under $500!
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The Takeaway: With its sleek styling, powerful disc brakes, quality Shimano gearing, and puncture-resistant tires, the Raleigh Alysa 2 (check it out on Amazon) is an excellent choice for women looking for an all-season city bike.
- It’s light and zippy, weighing in at just 26 pounds
- The disc brakes are unbeatable, especially in rain
- Easy to upgrade with a rear rack and fenders
- The pedals and handlebar grips could be better – but are simple to replace
Not too long ago, I was trying to convince my girlfriend to trade in her cute but underused single-speed bike. It was simple and stylish, but it had just never felt right for her. She wanted something more versatile, and being a casual rider, a road bike with skinny tires and drop handlebars would have been too intimidating. Alternately, a more upright bike like a cruiser would have certainly been too cumbersome for her several mile commute. She also needed a bike that she could use on fitness rides, trips to the grocery store, and hopefully that quick overnight bike camping trip we keep talking about!
I knew right away which bike I would show her at my shop: the sleek Raleigh Alysa 2. I’d sold dozens of these bikes to female riders over the past few years, and have received nothing but positive feedback. When my girlfriend laid her eyes on the bike, she liked it right away, and came back from her test ride with a big smile on her face: she loved the bike! This was easy, I thought to myself, as I had put yet another happy lady on a Raleigh Alysa 2.
This is a hybrid bike, although Raleigh refers to the Alysa 2 as an “Urban Fitness Hybrid Flat Bar Road Bike.” In essence, this type of bike combines the best features of road and mountain bikes. As a long-time bike shop owner and Raleigh dealer, the Alysa 2 (and the unisex/men’s equivalent model, the Cadent 2) has been my go-to hybrid for several years now – keep reading to see if it this could be the right bike for you. Start by watching the Alysa 2 video below:
Frame and Styling
The Alysa 2 is built on a lightweight aluminum frame and fork, with women’s-specific geometry. In general, most women have longer legs and shorter torsos than men, and Raleigh took this into account when designing this bike. The 2018 color is Gray, but I would call it “semigloss sparkly dark metallic gray,” and depending on the lighting, it can look a little bluish.
The bike has thoughtful light blue and teal accents on the frame and wheels, making it undoubtedly classy, in an understated sort of way. And check out the head badge – a really nice touch! The Alysa 2 is not a flashy bicycle, which means it’ll probably appeal less to thieves, but it’s certainly attractive and your friends might get a little jealous.
As with most of their bikes, Raleigh has ensured there is plenty of room to install fenders (or rainguards) on the Alysa 2, and they also included mounts for a rear rack.
Wheels and Tires
With its 700c wheels and 35mm-wide tires, the Alysa 2 rolls smoothly over pavement and handles the occasional off-road trail and gravel road with confidence. The black wheels are double-walled for strength, and will support any additional weight you might want to carry on a rear or front rack. The wheels are quick release, so they can be taken off without tools. If you’re looking to do more off-pavement riding, the tires can be of course be swapped out for something with a more aggressive tread, like the Continental Ride Tour or Schwalbe Marathon. When buying replacement tires for this bike, make sure and get the correct size, which will be 700x35c in the U.S. or 37-622 in Europe.
If you’ve ridden a mountain bike lately, the handlebar, shifters, and brake levers of the Alysa 2 will instantly feel familiar to you. The handlebar is fairly wide and has a slight rise, which maximizes the bike’s stability. The stem (which connects the handlebars to the fork) is short to provide a rather neutral riding position for a balance of comfort and efficiency. The stem can easily be swapped out for one that’s taller, for those wishing for a more upright ride.
These days, many bike manufacturers attempt to cut their costs by using cheaper off-brand components, but not Raleigh. The drivetrain (i.e. gears and chain) utilizes Shimano components, which are known by mechanics to be reliable and durable. The click thumb shifters include an optical readout so you always know which gear you are in. The bike has a total of 24 available speeds: a triple crank up front and an eight-speed cassette in the rear. The crank has a built-in chainguard to keep the chain grime from getting onto your pants or skirt. The Alysa 2 features a gear range similar to that of a mountain bike, to make hill climbing and carrying loads easier. The pedals are made of alloy and steel, not plastic, and provide a wide platform with excellent traction with most types of shoes.
The disc brakes, similar to the ones on a car, come from another well-known bike component maker: Tektro. Disc brakes have much better stopping power than standard rim brakes, and require less lever-squeezing power to stop the bike. Since the mechanism is well contained and doesn’t come in contact with mud or road grime, these brakes excel even in wet and muddy conditions.
As an added feature for riders with smaller hands, the brake levers have an adjustable reach, meaning that the levers can be positioned closer to the grips with a simple turn of a screw. Paired with Raleigh’s cushioned ergonomic grips, the ability to customize the lever reach will make you feel more in control. The sporty yet plush seat is designed with women in mind, and most women find it surprisingly comfortable. The seatpost is quick-release for easy adjustments without tools.
- Fork/Frame: Aluminum
- Shifters: Shimano Altus Rapid Fire
- Crank: SR Suntour XCC-T208 28/38/48t
- Front/Rear Derailleurs: Shimano Tourney TX800
- Cassette: Shimano 8spd (12-32t)
- Brakes: Tektro Novela Mechanical Disc
- Wheels: Weinmann QR17 Double Wall Disc with Formula Hubs, Black
- Tires: Kenda Kwick Tendril 700x35c
- Seat: Raleigh Women-Specific
- Sizes: from X-Small to Large
- Weight: 26.0
Conclusion and Where to Buy
The Alysa 2 provides an unbeatable value for women looking for a sturdy and stylish hybrid bike with disc brakes. It’s a bike that fits the bill for a daily commuter, a fun weekend fitness bike, and everything in between. As a bonus, it’s even available in an X-Small size for women between 5’1″ and 5’3″. I’ve sold dozens of these Raleighs at my shop over the past couple of years, and have received nothing but praise from riders. I’ve performed a bit of regular maintenance on them as well, rarely needing to do much more than to replace the chain – which should be done about every 1,000 miles – and adjust the brakes. I gave the Alysa 2 a rating of 4.5/5 Gears, as I feel that Raleigh could have done slightly better with the grips and pedals. Thankfully, both are easy to replace, see my recommendations in the BONUS section below.
Raleigh bikes are available in select bike shops, as well as online – check out the Alysa 2 on Amazon. These days, Raleigh bicycles are shipped with minimal assembly required (read the post on how to assemble a new bike). Even if you do have some experience with assembling bikes, I’d still highly recommend having it checked over at a bike shop. Any bike shop will be able to do this for you, and it doesn’t have to be a Raleigh dealer, just make sure that you like the mechanic who will be working on your bike.
Other Bikes You Might Like…
If you’re just getting into biking and plan on riding a mile or two at most, and mainly on flat ground, check out a more upright “comfort” bike with simpler gears, such as the Raleigh Circa 1.
If you wish to ride on rougher roads, gravel, or unpaved trails, a bike with wider tires like the Raleigh Redux 1 might suit you better. I like to call this one “a mountain bike for the city.”
If you’re a more experienced rider and want more efficiency and comfort on all-day rides, you may want to opt for a bike with “drop” handlebars, which offer more hand positions – check out the Raleigh Revere 2, a women’s disc brake road bike.
BONUS: Recommended Accessories
To make the Alysa 2 into a truly practical city bike I highly recommend adding some functional accessories: a rear rack for carrying loads, a loud bell, a USB-rechargeable light set, and fenders if you live in a rainy climate. Here are my time-tested favorites:
Wherever you ride and park your bike, you’ll want to protect your investment with a sturdy bike lock (Kryptonite and OnGuard are my brands of choice) and other security accessories. Wheels are commonly stolen in high-crime areas, and you can replace the quick release skewers with security skewers. Similarly, you can swap out the quick-release seatpost clamp with a bolt-on.
If you want to be able to park the Alysa 2 on flat ground, a kickstand is the thing to get. I really like the Lumintrail Rear Mounted Kickstand pictured below, as it’s very easy to mount on just about any bike (won’t work on bikes with flat-mount disc brakes) and you can adjust it for perfect height without any tools. It won’t damage your bike frame, either, because it comes with integrated rubber shims. Because of the shims, however, it’s necessary to re-tighten the kickstand’s bolts once in a while.
I have to mention my two very minor complaints about the Alysa 2: grips and pedals. For one, the pedals have fairly aggressive tread on the side cages, and can wear out soft-soled shoes. In my mind, these pedals would be better suited for muddy mountain biking than city riding. Something like the sleek Wellgo M111 would make a great alternative. The Alysa 2 comes with a pedal wrench, which makes replacing pedals a cinch.
Despite being comfortable, the Alysa 2’s grips can feel a bit loose on the handlebar, especially if the bike is left out in the hot sun. To prevent the grips from moving around, and to provide more long-lasting comfort, I recommend the German-designed Ergon GP-1 grips, which are bolted on the handlebars. For this you’ll need a 4mm Allen wrench (one of the basic tools included with the Alysa 2) which is a very common size you’ll find in any bike multi-tool such as the Topeak Mini-9.