I have no experience with the Raleigh, but have a DS 8.3. I originally wanted the 8.2, but decided to upgrade for the disc brakes. Knowing now what I didn't know then, I would likely have been just as happy with the 8.2. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the 8.3 and its upgrades, but I was totally new to bikes as an adult when I got it, and without the experience of having 24 gears I probably would have no idea what I was missing. I do agree though that currently I don't use nearly 24 of them, mostly about 4, with a few more thrown in when going off-road.
I have a used 7100, which is alright, I effectively got it for free (came with a bike for my wife, guy would only sell the pair), and the DS feels way more solid and 'real' than the 7100 does. Most of that is the adjustable stem having slight play, and the seat suspension, on the 7100, but the DS also really wants to go fast which the 7100 doesn't. It was something I noticed about the DS and the Trek FX line when test riding, I felt like I was disappointing the bike cause it always wanted to go faster and I couldn't keep up...
You'll also see a lot of posts here from Zero Gravity who has a DS 8.4 and uses the living snot out of it. My understanding of the differences in the DS line, most bike lines actually, is that the frame is the same, and the components are all different. So I see my 8.3 as a platform. In the future I want a second wheel set for the real off-road stuff. Upgrade to Deore when/if my components have issues/wear out/are destroyed by my shenanigans, etc.
The Raleigh may be similar/the same, I have no idea, but since you requested owner feedback, there you go!
Last edited by Shawn Parr; 06-20-12 at 06:44 AM.