Bike Test: Raleigh Kodiak IE
Kodiak is an island in southern Alaska that was originally settled in 1784 by the Russians, then taken over by the U.S. when we bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867. Originally, many in the U.S. didn’t think it was a good purchase, but then Secretary of State William Seward pushed for it. We bought Alaska for $7.2 million, which amounted to about two cents an acre.
Looking back, that was definitely a good deal for an area rich with resources. Raleigh’s new bike with the Kodiak name picks up on this theme as a good deal with good components.
The Kodiak IE is one of Raleigh’s newest bikes, and it’s aimed at intermediate riders. The full-suspension bike is built around a Bosch CX 250-watt motor and 500-Wh battery combo for solid performance at a good price. The 6000-series aluminum frame is burly in design with a pierced seat tube, making room for a four-bar-actuated RockShox Monarch shock.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
This bike is designed for slightly experienced beginner or intermediate riders who love to ride flowy trails and slightly technical stuff that needs full suspension. The power and range make it good for all-day riding, and the light-ish weight makes it fairly easy to throw around a little.
Getting going on any bike with a Bosch CX motor is a cinch. We set it up on e-MTB mode, the new mode between Tour and Turbo that automatically adjusts, steplessly, from Tour (120 percent added electric assist) all the way up to Turbo (300 percent added power) based on current input of your legs’ torque. The harder you pedal, the more assist it gives you. This way, if you’re on a mellow climb or flat area, you don’t have to turn the assist level down. If you get to a really steep section, or you and your buddies are having a little race, you don’t even have to touch the controller, you just pedal harder. This is one of our favorite innovations of late, and new test riders are always surprised at how intuitive it is.
Of course, you can select Eco, Tour or Turbo individually for a more consistent power output. The CX motor’s 250-watt output is plenty, and typical of that motor it starts power delivery with a thrilling whoosh when it first kicks in. Bosch fans especially like that aspect, and there are times in technical sections where that whoosh is helpful when going through areas where you have to start and stop pedaling often to avoid pedal strikes.
Shifting with the SRAM NX drivetrain is as smooth as any bike we’ve ridden. There’s no hard clunk, thanks to the microseconds the motor cuts between shifts. It’s so short, it appears seamless. The motor samples torque input and many other factors on the order of 1000 times per second, and Bosch keeps tweaking and improving the response times and making power delivery and range better.
The Nobby Nic tires are aggressive, grippy and right on the cusp of plus-sized tire. Cornering, acceleration and stopping were all very controllable, even on loose dirt and sand, thanks in part to these tires. Also well-spec’d on this bike are the Magura hydraulic disc brakes that feature quad pistons in the front and dual pistons in the rear that easily stop the bike on a dime.
Riding fire roads and flowy singletracks on this bike is perfect. More technical stuff, especially really rocky terrain, starts to show some weaknesses in the bike. The bars aren’t quite wide enough compared to most of the bikes on the market today, offering a less stable feel. One of our test riders also thought the stem could be shorter to keep a more balanced feel.
Test riders all agreed that the Reba fork isn’t beefy enough for the rest of this bike, limiting the ability to tune it for more technical terrain. It’s more than enough for fire roads and great if you’re not used to bikes with more aggressive forks, but it’s a limiting factor as your riding skills improve. Head angle and fork offset do make this bike mellow and controllable on descents. Overall, geometry is really comfortable, and overall it feels right at home on the trail.
We think the fork spec as well as the lack of a dropper seatpost are all part of keeping the price low. This isn’t a bad thing, as most intermediate riders want to customize their bikes with other parts anyway. A dropper post is a personal preference, and there are a lot of choices on the aftermarket side.
When we rode the Kodiak on a technical ride with loose, rocky terrain, at times it didn’t feel up to the task. We always want to push the bikes we test, but we try not to break them. The Kodiak didn’t feel like it was at a breaking point by any means, but it didn’t feel right at home there, either.
There is a Pro version of this bike that’s spec’d with a RockShox Pike fork and SRAM’s e-bike-specific EX1 eight-speed drivetrain, as well as other niceties like a dropper seatpost. It doesn’t have a price yet, but expect it to be well north of this Kodiak’s $4600 price tag.
The new Kodiak IE is a lot of bike for the price, and one we feel is more oriented for beginner- to intermediate-level riders. The bars are a touch narrow, but that’s an easy upgrade. The fork is good for lighter riders and smoother/less technical rides. Overall, components are excellent, and you have a company designing and standing behind the bike that has an excellent track record for many decades.
RALEIGH KODIAK IE
Frame: Aluminum alloy 6061
Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX, 250W
Battery: Bosch 500Wh, DT Mount
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Topspeed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: 35–65 miles, depending on use
Drive: SRAM NX, 1×11
Brakes: Magura Fifty4, hydraulic disc, 203mm w/4-piston front, 180mm w/2-piston rear
Controls: Bosch Purion
Fork: Rock Shox REBA, 130 mm Solo Air
Shock: RockShox Monarch, 130mm
Tires: 27.5×2.6” Schwalbe Nobby Nic
Weight: 52 lbs.
Color choices: Grey
Sizes: Medium (5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9), Large (5-foot-9 to 6 feet)
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