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  1. #1
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    help me decide which vintage raleigh i should seek out?

    greetings.

    i'm in the infancy of planning to purchase a raleigh, but i'm not too clear on what i want.

    I want something with the horizontal top tube. Upright bars-- northroadish, old-definition "touring" bars, all-rounders-- no drop bars.

    Singlespeed or 3speed. i won't consider derailers on this one.

    i'm 5'11, and almost normally proportioned.

    i want something that isn't very collectible; in short, i want something cheap that won't make me feel guilty if i modify it radically. Something that won't be too hard to find. Basically, this last one is the reason why i've always favored japanese bikes. Still, i'm thinking some raleighs may fit the bill. Probably a "sports" from the 70s?

    I've got at least 2 other projects queued up right now, so it'd be pointless to contact me with any potential sales, or even to direct me to any listings for reasons other than the theoretical.

    thanks!
    -rob

  2. #2
    Senior Member snarkypup's Avatar
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    I like my '69 Sports a great deal. It's a ladies bike, but I'm a lady, so that's okay. They are available, even in Seattle, on CL pretty cheaply if you are patient. Around here, a nice one would run about $175-250, depending on saddle and lights, etc. With a leather saddle, nice paint, a dynamo and a tune up, it might run you $400. A beater would run you under $100.

    The handling is very good: responsive and stable. It's easy to steer and well-balanced. Great for sticking a couple grocery panniers on and riding home. It is not a good bike if you live in a hilly area, without modifying the gearing. Not just because it's heavy, but because it isn't a bike where you put pressure on the pedals and get extra speed when travelling up. The hub just doesn't work that way, and I'll let someone else explain why, because I don't know. But on the flats, I love the wide-open third gear, which feels like flying and is nothing like a higher gear on a road bike. So I haven't modified mine, and am going to use it primarily as a flat-trail, sunny day bike. Nooooo good in the rain, either. The brakes on mine are sluggish even under nice conditions, even with the salmon Kool-Stops. It stops, but the sensation is like stopping a train. Serious downhills, therefore, are also no fun.

    In short, as long as it's not your only bike, a Sports is great fun. I wonder what a five speed upright Sprite would be like? I have never tried one, so I don't know how the gearing compares, but I bet you would have a similarly fun experience on one.

  3. #3
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Look for a 1960's or 1970's Raleigh Sports, 23" frame. If you want to have complete freedom to stuff various rear hubs in it, get a post-1976 Sports - the earlier dropouts had undersized slots made specifically for Sturmey hubs; the later frames require no modification.

    A post-1977 Sprite 3-speed, 23" frame, might also be suitable - and you would have the added benefit of 27" wheel clearance; opening up your rim options from where you'd be with the Sports. These are oddballs though, and I wouldn't wait up for one.

    -Kurt

  4. #4
    Senior Member jonwvara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snarkypup View Post
    Not just because it's heavy, but because it isn't a bike where you put pressure on the pedals and get extra speed when travelling up. The hub just doesn't work that way, and I'll let someone else explain why, because I don't know. But on the flats, I love the wide-open third gear, which feels like flying and is nothing like a higher gear on a road bike.
    Can this be true? I always thought that a gear ratio is a gear ratio, however it's arrived at mechanically. The gearing on my Sports feels exactly like the gear-inch equivalent on a derailleur bike. Or am I just insensitive to mechanical nuance?
    www.redclovercomponents.com

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  5. #5
    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    It's just that the usual AW 3 speed doesn't have a really wide range of gears. You can put a bigger cog on the back or a smaller on the front. You'll loose top speed but be better off in the hills.
    I have spoken.

  6. #6
    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    Oh, and it pays to learn the other less well known British brands, as there are lots of Phillipses and Rudges out there that don't get such a wide audience because they don't have Raleigh's brand recognition. The 3 speed Schwinns are also worth a gander.
    You've seen Sheldon Brown's website, right?
    http://sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html
    I have spoken.

  7. #7
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Add Hercules and Robinhood to the ones above...Raleigh produced bikes that usually go a bit cheaper. There is simply no reason to pay over $200 for one of these...and for $200 it had better be an extremely impressive example (like original Brooks saddle, working dynamo and lights).

  8. #8
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    +1 on the previous post on Raleigh made bikes. I've got a '71 BSA and Hercules from the same time period and they have the EXACT same frame as my friends 72 Raleigh LTD SC. A LTD SC is basically a Sport but came with coaster SA hub. Their also decent weight frames for not being 531. Just another option if you say your going to be modifying it and don't have to worry about pulling a nice rider apart. Both of mine were turning into fixed gear riders but are now going back to single speed and the other will have a two speed kickback. Then again the BSA came as just a frame and fork and the Hercules was pretty trashed and had three layers of paint so I didn't feel bad stripping it completely and doing whatever to it.

  9. #9
    Free and Self-Reliant
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    Why feel guilty for modifying it? One of my recent acquisitions is an early 80s Super Course Mixte frame. I want to paint it pink. It's my bike, dammit. I refuse to feel guilty for what I do with it.

  10. #10
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    I don't feel bad heavily modifying bikes since I hate riding stock bikes. You just get the collectors who turn their noses up and make you feel like you just drew a mustache on the Mona Lisa. I don't feel a bike is mine until I've put my own personal touches to it. Friends don't like friends ride stock bikes is my motto.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
    I don't feel bad heavily modifying bikes since I hate riding stock bikes. You just get the collectors who turn their noses up and make you feel like you just drew a mustache on the Mona Lisa. I don't feel a bike is mine until I've put my own personal touches to it. Friends don't like friends ride stock bikes is my motto.
    That's the funny thing about the very prevalent collector mentality that insists that only "catalog spec" is correct. The first thing a real racer type would do back in the day, at least in hotbeds like NorCal, would be to "customize" their new Masi or Colnago do that it didn't look like the bike in the catalog.

  12. #12
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    I've got a few collectors I ride with on our cruiser ride that have the hoarder collector mentality. They have to have all the colors of a certain model for a certain year. Then once they get all the colors for that model year then they move onto another year. Lets just say they have a pretty large collections. They're big Schwinn guys if that says anything.

  13. #13
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    I think this depends on the bike. Worrying about the original condition of a Raleigh Sports is just plain silly...they're like cockroaches, there's no shortage of them and they were mass produced by the millions. Hacking a braze on off of a Murray Serotta used in the Olympics is something else entirely. I think there's also room for everyone under the cycling community...those who like to do loyal, accurate restorations and folks who build things for other reasons. I'm somewhere in between.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
    +1 on the previous post on Raleigh made bikes. I've got a '71 BSA and Hercules from the same time period and they have the EXACT same frame as my friends 72 Raleigh LTD SC. A LTD SC is basically a Sport but came with coaster SA hub. Their also decent weight frames for not being 531. Just another option if you say your going to be modifying it and don't have to worry about pulling a nice rider apart. Both of mine were turning into fixed gear riders but are now going back to single speed and the other will have a two speed kickback. Then again the BSA came as just a frame and fork and the Hercules was pretty trashed and had three layers of paint so I didn't feel bad stripping it completely and doing whatever to it.
    There were also some really good non-Raleigh brands: Dunelt and Norman come to mind. Designs were still the "standard" English 3-speed, it's just that not all of them were "merged" with Raleigh. Many other companies produced bikes in the same pattern, from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and even the United States (1954 3-speed Schwinn Traveler).

    A local guy here has built a mens' Hercules 3-speed frame into a rather nice rando bike. No blame! There's nothing wrong with building a fine old frame into a bike that is useful to you today. Some vintage freaks don't like it, but their concern is in losing history, not in violating fashion.

    By the way, the best Raleigh 3-speed frame was called the Superbe. Some of them were made of 2040 steel, which is lighter and hence springier than the Sports, made of 1020 (still good stuff). Some Normans was even built of 4030, identical in performance to modern chrome-moly steels. Most vintagists would not be upset at using such a frame, rather at the potential for pieces of it being ground off, or the components being destroyed. There are a lot of frames out there for which suitable parts cannot be sourced, and it's sometimes galling to see them lost to landfills.

    If that old Raleigh paint is in good condition, there's hardly any more robust paint on any bikes. Might want to keep it just for that and for the way it looks in the sun.

  15. #15
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    I also think a Sprite made for 27" wheels would be a good choice, as it won't be quite as difficult to find in a 23" frame, and it gives you lots of modification possibilities: run it with 27" wheels as a single speed or in its original geared configuration or with 700c wheels and fat tires with that gearing. Or get a 27" or 700c wheel with a 3-speed hub and run it as a retro-Sports. I recently set up and sold off a 23" 1960s Record frame set with a rear 700c wheel w/ a 3-speed coaster-brake hub, upright bars, and a front basket. Though it wasn't a lightweight frame to begin with, the final product was zippy and fun.

    Neal

  16. #16
    Senior Member snarkypup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
    Can this be true? I always thought that a gear ratio is a gear ratio, however it's arrived at mechanically. The gearing on my Sports feels exactly like the gear-inch equivalent on a derailleur bike. Or am I just insensitive to mechanical nuance?
    Idon't think it's a mechanical thing, exactly, just a sensation. On a road bike, you can even stand up and really crank the bike up a hill. If you do that on a Sports, or at least on my Sports, it feels like the hub's going to be hurt in some way. It makes unhappy noises when I push too hard. That's all.

  17. #17
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    I think this depends on the bike. Worrying about the original condition of a Raleigh Sports is just plain silly...they're like cockroaches, there's no shortage of them and they were mass produced by the millions. Hacking a braze on off of a Murray Serotta used in the Olympics is something else entirely. I think there's also room for everyone under the cycling community...those who like to do loyal, accurate restorations and folks who build things for other reasons. I'm somewhere in between.
    This sums up my feelings, exactly. There are different bikes and different owners, and different mentalities. Personally, i prefer bikes that are affordable, which also tend to be not-so-collectible (or, collectible worthy, but the original finish and parts are trashed/gone, so no harm). That's probably the mainr eason the sports appeals to me; they're easily found, and no one with a clue will care if i give it drum brakes and stuff like that.

    Don't know if i'll ever be able to accept cottered cranks, though.

    -rob

  18. #18
    Senior Member Andrew F's Avatar
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    I've got a '70 3spd LTD I pulled from a dumpter, it's a great rider. Looks exactly like my '60's Sport but seems a bit livelier? Maybe it's just my imagination. Anyway, the NJ CL seems to be full of the every spring.

  19. #19
    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    Perfect bike to modify... http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/2046246354.html

    Totally rare Raliegh bike. Original decals and paint, Seat and grips should be replaced. Tires are new. Bike needs a little work, would make a cool fixed gear.
    $75.00 must go!!!!!!!!!!


    • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

  20. #20
    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    and one to keep stock

    ►FS: Vintage Hercules BSA. 28 inch Wheels, extras◄ (pacifica)

    Date: 2010-11-02, 8:09PM PDT
    Reply to: sale-82zb5-2039505904@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]



    Hercules BSA. 28 inch Wheels, Old style rod brakes. extras are bell, lock, stand, extra strong carrier. Bike is in mint condition....


    $550 firm.....














  21. #21
    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    Oh man, that $75 Sport really turns me on. It's a 50s bike judging by the decals, more or less. and it's no show boat so you could do all kinds of stuff to it and not feel like you were hurting a rare artifact.
    I have spoken.

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