For a while now I have wanted to try a pre 1960’s road bike , not really sure what the fascination was but I managed to find one a few weeks ago that looked well qualified to fill the post , so I made the decision to purchase it .
I must admit upon opening the box it arrived in I was unsure if I had done the right thing , but once I looked past the poorly positioned guards and badly de laminated tyres I could see it had great potential .
Once I had got it all built back up I went for a short ride around the cul de sac just to see what I had let myself in for but I was actually quite surprised it felt quite smooth and seemed to do all it should do at walking pace . The first job was to organize some new tyres as the old ones were well past their best and I would never go far on them no matter what . So I decided to go for some Schwalbe hs130’s as I wanted a degree of puncture protection at least and these offered that .
Once the tyres arrived and were duly fitted in one of my early morning tinkering sessions I decided it was time for a slightly longer test ride , so off I went on the maiden 1.5 mile ride along the local cycle paths . The first thing I noticed was how much smoother it was with some new rubber fitted and inflated at 75 psi .
I also found that at least 6 of the 8 gears seemed to be working fine and I figured that with some re positioning of the 4 speed sturmey archer trigger box the other 2 gears would be found . Yes I did say 8 gears, it’s a mixture of a Sturmey Archer 4 speed hub and then instead of just 1 external gear this has 2 with a Benelux rear mechanism and down tube lever giving me 8 gears .
Sure enough a slight re position of the lever and hey presto all 8 gears report for action .
One of the main hurdles I had against buying a 1960’s bike was the idea of a riding a really heavy bike that could only be ridden safely in the dry due to steel wheel rims and next to useless brakes . When I was searching for a suitable bike I noticed this machine had the correct period and size 26 x 1 1/4″ alloy wheels and the previous owner had fitted koolstp brake pads all of which should give quite adequate braking , which I am happy to report has so far .
I have no idea what model Raleigh it is as at some point it has been repainted a rather unfetching shade of brown , but a couple of people have said that the lugs look the ones used on Lenton models which were Reynolds 531 tubing . When I weighed the bike on my cheap set of baggage scales it clocked in at just over 15kg so I was well pleased at that .
The frame number looks to be 169513T which seems to be coded to 1951 which fits in with the 1952 date stamp on the rear hub assembly . It has all the correct period lighting units powered by an untested dyno hub built into the front wheel .
My next job is is to connect the dynamo up and tidy the cable runs and improve the general appearance of the bike by removing the black tape which is keeping these attached to the frame with some steel clips .I doubt the dynamo powered lights will give out much lighting so I will have to sneak some modern lights on for safety reasons and the Basecamp bc-403 might have to be fitted .See http://goo.gl/vb0mux for details .
Once the above is all done I will start looking at finding a slightly longer handlebar stem to give me a slightly longer reach than I currently have .