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Raleigh Trace review: A light, refined e-bike for sporty rides on- and off-road

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £2199
(inc VAT)

Raleigh’s lightest e-bike yet is ideal for those who want some exercise, combined with subtle electric assist


  • Lightweight bike
  • Smooth power delivery
  • High quality throughout


  • Not as powerful as some heavier e-bikes
  • Frame-mounted button control
  • Battery must be charged on the bike

If you like the idea of an e-bike that rides like a “normal” bike, the Raleigh Trace may well appeal. It combines a discreet rear hub motor with a modestly sized battery to provide assistance for when you really need it.

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Raleigh Trace review: What do you get for the money?

The main selling point of the Raleigh Trace is that it uses the Ebikemotion X35 drive system from German automotive manufacturer Mahle; this consists of a small, light, geared rear hub motor, virtually hidden behind the nine-speed gears. In the e-bike world, it has a great reputation for being lightweight and delivering smooth power while also allowing the e-bike to be ridden pretty easily when the motor isn’t in use. 

The result is a manageable 16.5kg e-bike with a design that looks sporty, but is also fully equipped for commuting and going off-road on relatively easy tracks and trails.

There’s a wide choice of four frame sizes and the frame itself conceals the modestly sized 250Wh battery within. High-quality, powerful LED lights, very sturdy metal mudguards and an alloy rear rack means that it’s equipped for the daily commute. Off-road capable WTB semi-slick tyres mean it will be at home on canal towpaths and forestry access roads and the like, while the two sets of carrying mounts on the frame and the fork mounts mean it could also double as a bikepacking e-bike suitable for carrying lightweight camping gear.

There are lots of high-quality elements to the Trace: the front fork is weight-saving carbon fibre with a beefy thru-axle fitting and the majority of the power, gear and brake cables are hidden from view, with internal routing creating a super smooth look. Tektro flat mount hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Alivio nine-speed derailleur system and 700 x 40c WTB Byway tanwall tyres complete an impressive spec list.

Clearly, for £2,199 you get a lot of high-quality components, so let’s see how it all performed during my test ride.

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Raleigh Trace review: What’s it like to ride?

I have always loved riding fast, sporty bikes without e-power. If that sounds like your kind of bike, but you want a dash of electric assistance, then the Raleigh Trace is just the ticket.

The Ebikemotion motor gives a modest assist on the lowest power level and a stronger yet still subtle push forward at maximum power. If you want a motor that will propel you along while you tickle the pedals, this isn’t the e-bike for you. 

What it delivers in spades is smooth and quiet power that lets you believe you’re doing all the work. Put a bit of pedal effort in, and the motor will really make the most of it, especially as the riding position is quite racy, with handlebars set forward of the stem. 

It’s a nice bike to ride even with the motor turned off, but the controls could be better. If you want to engage the motor, you need to press a button on the top tube of the bike frame. It’s neatly designed, but the location is questionable: I much prefer buttons to be kept within easy reach on the handlebar grip, so one-handed riding is kept to a bare minimum. 

As the power delivery is so modest, the range the small battery can achieve is impressive: I managed around 30 miles of riding a mixture of roads and well-made off-road tracks. The hydraulic brakes were plenty powerful and the gear changing smooth and quick, with low enough gearing to climb pretty steep hills. Add in the grippy tyres and it feels like a “go anywhere, do anything” e-bike, with the exception that it won’t do hardcore mountain biking.

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Raleigh Trace review: Is there anything it could do better?

I’ve covered what kind of rider the Trace might suit: as long as you keep its limitations in mind before buying, the small motor and battery are not shortcomings, but advantages.

Probably the most fundamental shortcoming for many will be that the internal battery isn’t removable – you have to take the bike to a mains socket for charging, which isn’t practical in every situation. It can be changed by a service mechanic should it ultimately fail, but good-quality e-bike batteries, like the one on the Ebikemotion system, are so reliable these days that they should last several years.

Changing power levels is fiddly due to the odd button location I mentioned earlier, but my only quibble is the design of the rear pannier rack, which is integrated into the structure of the rear mudguard. It looks sleek but more workaday designs of rear racks allow you fit a bag on top, which the Trace’s rack won’t.

Also, it’s worth noting that the Trace doesn’t appear to be compatible with the Ebikemotion app, which can be used with some other brands of e-bike that use the system. I can only assume this was for cost reasons; as we see below the Trace is very competitively priced when measured against other e-bikes using the same motor system.

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Raleigh Trace review: Should you buy one?

Most other e-bikes that use the Ebikemotion system are considerably pricier electric road bikes – they can cost several thousand pounds more, despite having the exact same motor system.

Looking outside of Ebikemotion-powered machines for something lightweight and racy, there’s one obvious choice: if you can live with the distinct pros and cons of a single speed, you need to look at Expert Reviews’ e-bike of the year, the Tenways CGO600.

If you want gears, though, then the Trace is great value. When compared to its similarly priced Ebikemotion-equipped rival, the Ribble Hybrid AL e, the Trace is £200 cheaper. It might lack the Ribble’s range of gears, and app support for that matter, but there’s no question about it: the Raleigh Trace is one of the best sporty, off-road-capable e-bikes out there.

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