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  1. #1
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    Raleigh Superbe (1968?)

    Hello!

    First of all, let me say "Thanks!" to everyone who comes here to lend their expertise. It's really great to have so many knowledgeable people sharing their wisdom.

    The story: I got hit by a car last week while riding my late '70s/early '80s Raleigh Gran Sport that I had frankensteined into a perfect, comfortable commuter. Frame is trashed. I couldn't stand to buy a new, off-the-shelf bike so I decided to head down to my city's (very conveniently timed) "Antique Fair."

    The bike: It's a Raleigh Superbe. It appears to be all original, including: Sturmey-Archer 3-speed IGH with shifter, the rack with spring-loaded clamp, working bell, brooks saddle (very sad condition), and locking front fork (?!?). I'm guessing on the year; according to Sheldon Brown's website, the year of manufacture for the IGH is (a) most likely the same as the rest of the bike and (b) stamped as a 1-digit number for 1930s and 2-digit number for 1940+; mine has two numbers stamped on it: "68" and "10." I have the serial # (see photos); if you have a better guess as to the year, please let me know!

    I paid: $100. They had it listed for $259, reduced to $159. I offered $100 and they accepted without haggling (said they were tired of trucking it around, wanted it gone).

    Condition: Overall it only has minor rust and pitting issues and I'm pretty impressed with its condition. IGH shifts but only seems like high and low gear work (I could be wrong?) but it skips/pops out on the highest gear sometimes. No key for the fork lock (what the heck is this thing, anyway?!) but I'm determined to get that working (hello locksmith!) The rear reflector is still in tact but the front seems to have disappeared. Not sure if the speedo is original or not; it looks to be in good shape except that the cable is siezed and the front cover for the dial is missing, but I think I can get it working.

    I plan to make this my new daily commuter bike, but I'd like to know- what's it really worth? Did I overpay, or did I do OK? What features do I *have* to keep original and what should I upgrade/replace?

    Thanks again!

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  2. #2
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    I am by no means an expert on the old 3 speeds but I see them on CL. A Raleigh like yours, very solid bike. Build to last forever. I think $100 was a fair price considering the work it needs. Get the IGH sorted out before you do any riding, don't want to ruin the hub. Could be a simple cable adjustment.

    Fully overhauled and ready to ride, maybe as high as $200? I could be way off, so don't necessarily take my word.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  3. #3
    Senior Member conradpdx's Avatar
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    Bought mine last fall (likely a 71) for $200.00. And I don't feel like I got "had". I just upgraded (this week end) the rear cog to 22 teeth, might go to a 20 though, giving it a few weeks.

    Likewise my seat was pretty much doa, and riding on it definitely killed it. So I got a Schwinn cruiser seat on it now. My B day is soon, hope my wife knows what I want.

  4. #4
    Vello Kombi, baby Poguemahone's Avatar
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    100 is a steal for a Superbe, even if it is missing the dynamo hub.
    "It's always darkest right before it goes completely black"

    Waste your money! Buy my comic book!

  5. #5
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    I was a little sad about no dynamo =/

    Just tore the hub apart, actually looks great! Decided to now about $100 on a few replacement parts anyway, as this will be seeing a lot of miles soon. Glad to hear I got a fair, if not great, deal. Does any place sell replica decals? Going to have the whole thing blasted and recoated but don't want to lose the original look!

  6. #6
    Senior Member conradpdx's Avatar
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    If it makes you feel better there's a 71' that just went up on ebay. Looking at $385.00 starting bid after you toss in shipping on that one.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1971-RARE-Vi...#ht_500wt_1202

    Though it does have dynamo and lights, but it doesn't say that they work.


    Edit: Before you blast it, Personally I'd start with a good cleaning to start I used WD-40 rub followed by Simple Green, then gave it a good oiling (30 weight on a rag), waited a few weeks, then hit it some scratch x and a coat of wax. Came out looking great. Chrome polish does wonders to those parts, after you hit the rusty chrome with some aluminium foil and water (removes the rust and polishes the chrome).

    You'll never get a good bronze green match repaint. Your patina looks pretty good in the pictures. And the decals on ebay are pretty expensive and I hear a big pain in the *** to apply well. With paint and good water transfers you'll easily outspend what you paid on the bike. Personally, I'd use that money to get the front hub, lights, saddle bag, and pump and do a resto on it (and that's exactly what I'm doing with mine).

    But in the end it's your call. As one LBS said to me trying to get me to update mine said "It's basically a British Schwinn, and they made millions of them"....and as I replied, "yeah Model T's were like that too, and look at what they go for now"

    Regardless, like the Model T these bike will always be collectible either Hot Roded out, updated, or left orginal.
    Last edited by conradpdx; 03-28-12 at 10:35 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member conradpdx's Avatar
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    BTW....skipping in third usually means the cable is too tight, ride it and when it skips - loosen it just a little (1/8 to 1/4 turn) check that you still have the other 2 gears, and repeat till you find the sweet spot. If it starts skipping in second, then cable is too loose, same adjustment as above but opposite.

    I haven't done this yet but locking front fork is a nice anti theft feature. It has three positions to lock the front fork in (straight, to the right and the left). When locked it makes the bike impossible to steer, so that someone can't ride off with your bike (yes they can pick up and run) I don't have a key to mine, but a good "old school" locksmith should be able to make you one. you can search the forums for additional info on the keys that will help the locksmith figure it out.

  8. #8
    Senior Member randyjawa's Avatar
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    Unless the paint is really toasted, you might want to ask yourself Should I Paint My Bicycle? You might be surprised at some of the pros, and cons of doing so.

    The Raleigh Superbe is a collectable bicycle and increasing in value all the time. Yours looks to be well worth the price you paid and, were I you, I would get it on the road, ensuring it is safe and dependable to ride, and then ride it for a while. Make your cosmetic decisions after you get to know the bicycle.

    If the bike is to your ride liking and you still feel that the cosmetic face lift is in order, then go for the paint job. One thing, though, you might want to ask yourself if the rest of the bike will match that shiny new paint. This has always been a problem for me when considering a repaint.

    Anyway, good luck with the bike. They make pretty darn good commuters, in my opinion.
    Learn how to find, restore and maintain vintage road bicycles at... MY "TEN SPEEDS"

  9. #9
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    I think for $100 you stole it! Most likely, you will just need to adjust the shifter cable to fix your shift issues. Sheldon will tell you how: http://sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer/adj.html

    That's a great bike, enjoy it!
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the input from everyone!

    I decided to take it in to be sand blasted & powder coated. I know it seems rather hasty, but this bike is replacing my old commuter which was destroyed. Since this bike was in fairly good, albeit unridable condition, I decided to do a complete overhaul of everything at once and get it back in excellent condition. I'd rather not repeat this process in a couple months, so now is the best time to have the patina reconditioned.

    I know the new finish will never be "exact", but there was significant loss of paint on several parts of the bike (especially inside the fenders and on the frame where there were large scratches that had rusted over). The pictures actually make it look a bit better than it really was. I realize that this will make the bike "less original", but my goal is not to flip the bike for profit, but rather to make a solid, reliable all-weather commuter. Some will hate me for doing it, and they're entitled to feel that way. If I could have avoided it then, believe me, I would.

    I will be keeping ANY original hardware that I possibly can. I spent about 6 hours yesterday with some 4/0 steel wool removing the rust from all of the old chrome parts. I used Harris' store to purchase replacement parts when available.

    Currently, I'm struggling with two parts. First, the brakes - they need new cables for sure, but I have yet to find a place that can sell me a proper replacement cable? These are double ended cables that appear to have been custom made for the bike by Raleigh, as the cable, housing, and brake caliper are inseparable without cutting the cable. Anyone have any suggestions on that? Even if I end up replacing the calipers I think I can probably still make the original brake levers work though.

    Second, the bottom braket/cranks. I would love to simply polish it up, repack the bearings, and call it a day, but the chainring needs to be replaced. However, the chainring is not only the most decorative part of that whole part of the bike, but its attached (in a seemingly permanent way?) to the crank. Does anyone make replicas of these parts or do I need to use a 'modern' replacement? If so, I am well aware that I'm in for some headaches with the bottom bracket being an unusual size. The only alternative I can see to using a retrofit BB kit is to get new cranks, but does anyone still make cottered cranks?

    Thanks again for the feedback everyone, I'm even more excited about this bike than when I started!

  11. #11
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    You can use regular brake and shift cables. Yes, you will have to cut them.

    The shifter cable is a little tricky. The old ones have attachments swaged on, so you won't be able to re-use the anchor at the end of the cable that connects to the indicator chain at the hub. You will need a new one like this: http://harriscyclery.net/product/stu...orage-1096.htm

    Or if you don't want to mess around with attaching it, you could buy it whole like this: http://harriscyclery.net/product/stu...1420mm-948.htm
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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