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Old 07-03-11, 01:13 AM   #1
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A convert... *Evil Laugh*... and a question

My 10 year-old step-daughter asked to ride the Raleigh Sports today, more because she was bored than anything else. We were attempting to get our motorhome out and running, but the leveling jacks refused to cooperate. In the meantime, she rode the bike around the storage area parking lot. Then we went to the park to let the kids blow off steam after a fruitless car ride out to the now-stuck motorhome, and she begged to ride it some more. She says it's "super fun" compared to her current, 21-gear POC. She can barely sit down on the seat, but that doesn't seem to matter.

Now she wants one of her own. I'm going to see if I can find her a cheap-o 19" version, since mine is a 21". I figure that it will fit her for enough years to be worth it, as she's only 10 and won't be my height for many, many years, if ever (her sister, on the other hand, is two years younger and nearly the same size. She's going to be a giant!).

My question is: should I only look at older Raleigh Sports, or are there other decent 3-speeds from the 60's and 70's that she might like? Raleighs go for a lot here, but I see old Columbias and Schwinns all the time, for cheap. They also come in fun colors more often. I've never ridden another 3-speed. Are there other ones she might like as much that I can watch out for, or should I hold out for a Raleigh? She doesn't want a Twenty or other folding bike: she wants a 3-speed full-size bike, like mine.

Here's a photo, to prove it's happening:

07022011ride002 by snarkypup, on Flickr
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Old 07-03-11, 01:44 AM   #2
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I had an Austrian made Sears 3-speed, great bike. I think it was made by Puch, and they might also be sold as Steyr and Daimler.

This lists a number of brands that are out there, though there are more too. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html

Huffy is pretty common, and from what I remember from a short test ride, it was actually a halfway decent bike, though I'd still pick a Raleigh or my old Sears over one.
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Old 07-03-11, 01:53 AM   #3
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Ha! When I was about 12, I asked my mother to upgrade from a Sears stingray-style bike to a 10-speed. She thought 10 speeds sounded a bit racey, and bought me a 3-speed, ladies frame Brittany from Sears. God, how I hated and loathed that bike! I don't know if there was anything actually wrong with it, but it wasn't what I wanted.

Eventually, my dad caved and bought me a beautiful bright blue Peugeot with orange striping of some sort, probably a U0-8. It was quite expensive at the time, as I remember. I rode it through college, but when everyone started getting aluminum bikes, it seemed so heavy and "vintage," that I sold it.

No good memories about those Sears 3-speeds, but I see them turn up in great condition here all the time. Guess the folks who bought them back in the early 80's didn't ride them, either!
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Old 07-03-11, 02:30 AM   #4
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There is quite a difference between the Austrian made Sears bikes, and the ones that came after them. Mine was from 1970, and most of the others I've seen online were from the 60's.
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Old 07-03-11, 02:47 AM   #5
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Robin Hoods, Phillips, Hercules, BSAs?, Triumphs, etc., were all eventually consumed by the conglomerate that owned Raleigh, so if you find any of those brands in a 3 speed, you essentially have a Sports. I've found several at the dump.
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Old 07-03-11, 05:40 AM   #6
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I had an AMF version of the Puch 3 speed, it was a nice bike. I scavenged the hub for another bike and replaced it with a coaster brake wheel before I sold it. I still see the guy riding it in town.

A Schwinn Breeze or Collegiate would be a nice bike, the only drawback is the odd tire size. They are just as heavy as the Raleighs and also built to last. With any 3 speed, you may want to change the rear sprocket to 22 or 24 teeth for the hills.
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Old 07-03-11, 05:49 AM   #7
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Robin Hoods, Phillips, Hercules, BSAs?, Triumphs, etc., were all eventually consumed by the conglomerate that owned Raleigh, so if you find any of those brands in a 3 speed, you essentially have a Sports. I've found several at the dump.
Sunbeam was another, if less common 3 speed type. I had one laying around here for years. Couldn't give it away, but finally did. Oddly enough, I guess I gave it away at a yard sale, minus the fenders and chain guard, which I unearthed last week in my garage.
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Old 07-03-11, 06:17 AM   #8
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I wouldn't worry about the brand so much as the country of origin. England is good. Austria is good. Anywhere in Europe is probably good. The basic differences between a Raleigh Sports and some of the cheaper offerings from Raleigh (sold under a multitude of names) are
--cheaper saddle: mattress rather than leather. You can fix this.
--cheaper rims. Dunlop EA3 rims rather than Raleigh pattern rims. The Dunlops are lighter and narrower and easier to true, so in many ways better.
--fewer doodads brazed onto the frame. Do you really need a pump peg?
--in some cases, the gear cable runs inside a housing all the way to a fulcrum on the chain stay, rather than over a pulley wheel somewhere. This is not so good. But again, you can fix this.

American bikes tend to be heavier, though often well made and well chromed. There's really nothing wrong with a Schwinn Breeze or a Ross Eurosport or the like. The lower end ones can be pretty cheesy.

Japanese ones vary so much that I can't say much about them. I've seen very nice ones, and I've seen horrid cheap ones. Sold for the American market, they may imitate English ones (cottered crank, thicker frame tubes), or imitate American ones (Ashtabula crank, thinner tubes). I'd say if going Japanese, get one that's as English as possible. A Japanese bike trying to look like an American one is the worst of both worlds.
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Old 07-03-11, 06:52 AM   #9
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My 12 year old daughter Adelaide has been rocking the 19" Triumph for well over a year and simply loves it. She doesn't want to move up to a gray 21" Raleigh because she likes this colour and the low bars. She too has a mtn bike too but never rides it.

Keep looking, they're out there.

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Old 07-03-11, 07:16 AM   #10
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Though it didn't come as a 3 speed, the Schwinn Caliente from the 80's is a scaled down road bike that's relatively easy to find; you could convert it to 3 speed/IGH if that's a requirement.
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Old 07-03-11, 07:42 AM   #11
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x2 on the Austrian made Sears. I was surprised how light and well made it was. It is a pleasure to ride. They say Made in Austria right on the headbadge.
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Old 07-03-11, 07:56 AM   #12
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Just to add a few to the list:
Rudge, Armstrong, Norman, Humber. For some odd reason, all of the "Huffeighs" that I've seen have been priced at more than a typical English roadster, but I'd expect a few of them to fly under the radar due to the brand.

Great photo of your daughter snarkypup, that mischievous grin is priceless!
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Old 07-03-11, 08:58 AM   #13
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I'd add my 3-sp Hercules to the list, but it's too far away and needs work plus a repaint, so it's not worth the shipping hassle.

They are out there, though, and according to my wife, "feel like kites compared to those slug MTB's"
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Old 07-03-11, 09:02 AM   #14
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Get them hooked on C and V when they are young.....

My son insisted on riding a heavy mountain bike with suspension, his best friend took a couple of C and V road bikes I worked over to college. My son stopped riding a couple of years back and just recently picked up that tank of a bike. Next time he comes up I'll tell him to try one of mine.

That was really a good lesson for your step daughter, that old does not mean bad, that old bike is likely vastly superior to her current Bike Shaped Object.
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Old 07-03-11, 10:00 AM   #15
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I had a pre-Raleigh Phillips three speed, and rode the heck out of it. I really liked its light and lively feeling compared to US-made bikes of the '50s and '60s, including Schwinn three speeds. In those days you could try your friends' bikes because fitting, sizing, and pedals were not so personalized. Subsequent Raleighs felt and to me, still feel, as good. I'd stick with the British and perhaps the older Austrian ones.

A few years ago I reworked a 1954 Schwinn Traveler 3-speed. Except for the Schwinn frame, Ashtabula crank, and Weinmann brakes, it copied the Raleigh roadster quite faithfully down to the front hub style and blade-front fenders. But, the Schwinn rides well, like a '50s Cadillac or Buick, while the Raleighs to me still feel snappy and responsive.

Snarkypup, I think your step-daughter, likes the feel and responsiveness of that bike. Another three-speed, unless you get a Raleigh, might not feel as good to her. Perhaps the thing to do is to leave her that one, and seek another ladies bike for yourself. I even have experience in this issue: when my dad got my first "big bike," a rebuilt US cantilever frame with an undergeared two-speed Bendix coaster/gear hub and cream-painted steel middleweight rims, I was extremely disappointed that it could not be cranked up to at least the same speed as my old, outgrown 20 incher! The Phillips, borrowed and later purchased from a neighbor, solved my problem. The feel of the replacement bike might be very important to her.
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Old 07-03-11, 11:26 AM   #16
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How about a Raleigh Twenty? They're quirky, fun, 3 speed and fit a huge range of sizes.
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Old 07-03-11, 11:39 PM   #17
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Thanks, everyone! I think I'll just keep an eye out for either a Sports or a Sports clone. As some of you mentioned, that's what she wants, and there are many of them (including some of those older Sears bikes). Anyone got a cut-off on when Sears got crappy? Somewhere in the 70's? CL posters don't usually note if it's Austrian made in the ad .
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Old 07-04-11, 01:42 AM   #18
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Sears sold Puch bikes up to the early 80's, but at some point they started selling Huffys, too. The Puch bikes all have lugged frames, and they'll have "Made in Austria" on them somewhere...if the stickers are still on it.

Schwinns and Columbias don't have the cache of the English bikes, but they're still good bikes. There's still high quality bits made for OPCs thanks to BMX. I don't know if the smaller bikes are different, but all the 70's Adult-size Columbias I've seen use Araya rims.

Avoid Shimano hubs - They're hard to get parts for.
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Old 07-04-11, 06:03 AM   #19
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Raleigh also made the Colt, which was a downsized adult bicycle for bigger kids and teens.

The boy's version of this was a "camelback" (curved top tube) to provide a reasonable standover height while still using the 26" wheels of the adult bikes. I've owned a Rudge version of one of these as a 5' 7" adult and found it to be a very comfortable rider, with the same light, quarterhorse handling characteristics as a fullsized Sports.

If you found a girl's Colt in nice shape and an attractive color, you stepdaughter would have a bike well worth keeping.
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Old 07-04-11, 08:33 AM   #20
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Here is a Raleigh Colt thread. Nice Raleigh style for younger riders.
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Old 07-04-11, 08:15 PM   #21
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Yep, here's one on our CL. Pretty bike (waaaay out of my way, and I think a bit much, price-wise, but tempting for my son someday).

http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bik/2475541240.html

For her, I'd like to find a a full-size Sports. She almost fits my 21". I mean, she can ride it, and if I lowered the seat, she could really ride it. But $150 is a bit much. I've put too much money into mine to pass it on to her (those aluminum rims rebuilt onto the existing hubs were a $250 investment, as I couldn't do the work myself). But if I can find her a similar bike in the $100 range, I think she'd make good use of it.

Right now, I'm kicking around buying myself another vintage 3-speed. I could have gone to see it this morning, seller's lowered the price to my range... I'm being idiotic about it. I don't need it, and I know I'd have to invest another $150 to get it to a really ridable state (okay, I wouldn't HAVE to put cream Schwalbes on it, but I would). I'm having trouble justifying another $250 bike when I already have a beautiful, ridable Sports. This bike is not a Sports, though. It's not a step-through. It's much older, and not even a Raleigh. So it isn't just like what I already have, and yet... Sigh. I may go see it tomorrow. It would be for me, too, not her, which is even sillier.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:47 AM   #22
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I found a very nice blue and white colt a couple of days ago.. very nice.

Too bad you are on the other coast.


27 272 by barnstormerbikes, on Flickr


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Old 07-05-11, 04:55 AM   #23
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Frank,

Other than a little shed dirt and the expected tarnish on a 30-40 or so year old bike, that little girl looks pristine. How many teeth on the chainring? 40 or less? Was it a NH or VT find?
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Old 07-05-11, 05:39 AM   #24
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My 10 year-old step-daughter asked to ride the Raleigh Sports today, more because she was bored than anything else. We were attempting to get our motorhome out and running, but the leveling jacks refused to cooperate. In the meantime, she rode the bike around the storage area parking lot. Then we went to the park to let the kids blow off steam after a fruitless car ride out to the now-stuck motorhome, and she begged to ride it some more. She says it's "super fun" compared to her current, 21-gear POC. She can barely sit down on the seat, but that doesn't seem to matter.

Now she wants one of her own. I'm going to see if I can find her a cheap-o 19" version, since mine is a 21". I figure that it will fit her for enough years to be worth it, as she's only 10 and won't be my height for many, many years, if ever (her sister, on the other hand, is two years younger and nearly the same size. She's going to be a giant!).

My question is: should I only look at older Raleigh Sports, or are there other decent 3-speeds from the 60's and 70's that she might like? Raleighs go for a lot here, but I see old Columbias and Schwinns all the time, for cheap. They also come in fun colors more often. I've never ridden another 3-speed. Are there other ones she might like as much that I can watch out for, or should I hold out for a Raleigh? She doesn't want a Twenty or other folding bike: she wants a 3-speed full-size bike, like mine.

Here's a photo, to prove it's happening:

07022011ride002 by snarkypup, on Flickr
BTW, Mrs. Road Fan has fallen in love with that same helmet!
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Old 07-05-11, 05:43 AM   #25
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Yep, here's one on our CL. Pretty bike (waaaay out of my way, and I think a bit much, price-wise, but tempting for my son someday).

http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bik/2475541240.html

For her, I'd like to find a a full-size Sports. She almost fits my 21". I mean, she can ride it, and if I lowered the seat, she could really ride it. But $150 is a bit much. I've put too much money into mine to pass it on to her (those aluminum rims rebuilt onto the existing hubs were a $250 investment, as I couldn't do the work myself). But if I can find her a similar bike in the $100 range, I think she'd make good use of it.

Right now, I'm kicking around buying myself another vintage 3-speed. I could have gone to see it this morning, seller's lowered the price to my range... I'm being idiotic about it. I don't need it, and I know I'd have to invest another $150 to get it to a really ridable state (okay, I wouldn't HAVE to put cream Schwalbes on it, but I would). I'm having trouble justifying another $250 bike when I already have a beautiful, ridable Sports. This bike is not a Sports, though. It's not a step-through. It's much older, and not even a Raleigh. So it isn't just like what I already have, and yet... Sigh. I may go see it tomorrow. It would be for me, too, not her, which is even sillier.
I'm essentially predicting she won't be happy with something less than yours.

Tell us about that non-Sports. Raleigh and the others had other earlier models that were also excellent - Rudge, Dunelt, Phillips, Norman, Armstrong (even used some 531), and I'm sure there were more that are lost to history.
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