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Old 04-28-12, 03:32 PM   #1
minisystem
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My favorite project to date: Raleigh Sprite 3-speed conversion with retro lights

I stripped down my mom's mid 1980s Canada-built Raleigh Sprite mixte last spring and built it back up as a 3-speed (formerly 5-speed derailleur system). It had its maiden voyage last September, but I just mounted and wired up the lighting system last night and took some pictures today. I realized I ordered the new wheelset on April 27, 2011, so it's been almost exactly a year in the making. I've always been enamoured with the Raleigh Superbe, so that served as the inspiration for 3-speed-izing and dynamo-izing the Sprite, rather than restoring it.

The rear wheel has a new Sturmey Archer SRF3 3-speed hub with trigger shifter (very nice) and the front has a Sanyo H27 dynamo hub, which is remarkably good looking for the $35 it cost. The brakes, stem and crankset are original, and polished up nicely (probably shinier than their original finish!). The wheels, pedals, seat post, saddle, handlebars and brake levers are new. The frame and fenders are in their original black and the finish is quite well perserved considering the 25+ years the bike's been sitting in a damp barn basement.

The light set consists of a Sturmey Archer headlamp and a Luxor taillight. Sadly, the Sturmey taillight that completed the set was stolen from my wife's previous bike (long story), so I had to resort to the Luxor, which still looks pretty nice, despite belonging to a different era and style of bicycle. The guts are upgraded with LEDs and a supercapacitor-based standlight. The taillight is ridiculously bright, which I'm very pleased about.

A couple of other noteworthy things: the lamp bracket (which I described in another thread) is custom as an original Raleigh-style headset bracket didn't work with the SR stem. Also, the 700C wheel upgrade meant there was a brake reach problem. I really liked the original Tourney brake set so I opted to have a drop bolt fabricated to get the original brakes to work with 700C wheels (for less than the price of long reach Tektros, I should add...). It's barely noticeable and, thus far, seems to work well.

Now it just needs some serious miles put on it to make sure everything holds together/

Unfortunately, this bike is for my wife.

The pictures: Full set on Flickr.








Last edited by minisystem; 04-28-12 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:16 PM   #2
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No beamshots?
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Old 04-28-12, 04:28 PM   #3
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That is one classy bike!

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Old 04-28-12, 04:35 PM   #4
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Looks neat-as-a-pin, in the way that only black bicycles can. Very nice work.
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Old 04-29-12, 08:08 AM   #5
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No beamshots?
Ha. No. I did make an intensity profile of the XM-L optics to compare it to the original optics, though. The headlight beam is very big and floody. Good for riding around the city, but probably not much use on a dark trail. The taillight is really bright. I would argue it rivals some of the super bright boutique taillights out there, with good off axis visibility. That claim has not been tested empirically though...

Took it for a quick night spin last night. The only issue was the lamp bezel rattled a bit, which was easily remedied by slipping an elastic band over the opening to provide some dampening. My fancy bracket also has a tendency to shift around on the stem. Not sure what to do about that. Clamping the stem's nut down too tight causes the headset bearings to bind. Maybe some threadlocker? or a rubber washer of some kind?
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Old 04-29-12, 08:12 AM   #6
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Great looking bike! It's hard not to like those Raleigh mixte bicycles, but I'm a sucker for the mixte aesthetic.
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Old 04-29-12, 09:09 AM   #7
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Sharp. Clean. Tidy. Very pretty.
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Old 04-29-12, 09:27 AM   #8
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Wow that's a super clean and extremely functional do all bike. Well done!
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Old 04-29-12, 09:36 AM   #9
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BTW, let me know how that saddle turns out for your mother. I have one on my Cannondale and even after riding it for about 350-400 miles, it is still hard as a rock. In the future, I'll stick with Brooks saddles as I have yet to find one that wasn't comfortable for my arse. For the record, this isn't based on only one saddle either - I've ridden B17, B17 Narrow, Imperial, Imperial Narrow, Flyer, B66 and B72 - so I'm speaking from actual experience.
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Old 04-29-12, 09:56 AM   #10
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BTW, let me know how that saddle turns out for your mother. I have one on my Cannondale and even after riding it for about 350-400 miles, it is still hard as a rock. In the future, I'll stick with Brooks saddles as I have yet to find one that wasn't comfortable for my arse. For the record, this isn't based on only one saddle either - I've ridden B17, B17 Narrow, Imperial, Imperial Narrow, Flyer, B66 and B72 - so I'm speaking from actual experience.
That VO saddle was on sale, which is why I picked it up. I figure those big springs ought to help. My wife had a B66 short on her old bike that she eventually got used to. She's literally spent 10 minutes on this bike, so it's too early to say how this saddle will be.
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Old 04-29-12, 10:19 AM   #11
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Very handsome, one of the best!
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Old 04-29-12, 10:52 AM   #12
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I've wanted to do this EXACT SAME BUILD for quite a while now. There was one of these chained up all winter on a major street in here in Halifax, and it was really beat up. I contemplated "rescuing it" several times but figured it would have been too much work. There was another one on Kijiji for sale, but was way overpriced for me. Only major thing I would do different would be a chain guard, and I wouldn't need the dynamo. But other than that I want it. lol. Nice job!
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Old 05-01-12, 08:25 AM   #13
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I've wanted to do this EXACT SAME BUILD for quite a while now. There was one of these chained up all winter on a major street in here in Halifax, and it was really beat up. I contemplated "rescuing it" several times but figured it would have been too much work. There was another one on Kijiji for sale, but was way overpriced for me. Only major thing I would do different would be a chain guard, and I wouldn't need the dynamo. But other than that I want it. lol. Nice job!
Last summer I rode by the exact same black Sprite Mixte frame that was locked to a pole down on the waterfront. Totally derelict, stripped of both wheels, but everything else was still there and the frame didn't looked damaged. I was tempted too.

A full chain guard would be nice. The Sprites had a chainring guard on the crank, which I removed as I've never really been a fan. Not sure what would fit or look good for this. Ideally, it would be matching black.
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Old 05-01-12, 08:40 AM   #14
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The 26" chain-case from Yellow Jersey should fit. You'd need to fashion two mounting brackets from pipe clips and make sure the chainring is 48 teeth or smaller to fit.
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Old 05-01-12, 08:46 AM   #15
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Well done. That looks great! I recently finished a very, very similar build for my mother.

Happy riding to your mom.
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