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Old 02-17-14, 02:01 AM   #1
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1980s Raleigh Triumph Gran Course (pic heavy)

After some conversation over in "What's it Worth?" I decided to pick up this early/mid 1980s Raleigh Triumph Gran Course. More pics were requested, so there will be quite a few here.

In case someone else is looking for info in the future and comes across this, I'll summarize a few things I think are correct here. The Gran Course was apparently only available as a frameset and was intended for the European market (however, mine has a sticker from an American bike shop, so maybe some dealers were able to get a hold of them). It seems Raleigh owned the Triumph brand and produced some Gran Course frames with Triumph badging instead of Raleigh badging (I've read of other examples marked "Triumph" but otherwise matching the Raleigh version of the frame, and the seller I got this one from had a virtually identical one also marked "Triumph").

Since Raleigh licensed Huffy to use the "Raleigh USA" name in 1982, I'm curious whether the Triumph-badged Gran Courses represented a way for Raleigh England to sell those frames through American shops without violating their agreement. Anyone know more about that?

So here it is: 531c frame, Suntour Sprint throughout, 3TTT cockpit. To be honest, I'm not in love with the fade paint job. I probably won't repaint, but I might try some lug lining. Also, this thing is fast... and geared high. I don't want to give up the Sprint components, but I've got hills and beat up knees. Anyone have a source for 130 BCD triple-izer chainrings?

One other thing - mine has a chromed fork rather than a painted fork like in the catalog. One guy said it matches the fork on his son's Italian racing bike of the same era. But another person suggested maybe this chromed fork was an option since the fork crown lugs seem to match the head tube lugs. Can anyone identify the fork?

(Click for larger versions).













Thanks for taking a look.
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Old 02-17-14, 02:08 AM   #2
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And here's a few more pics - component focused this time.













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Old 02-17-14, 05:54 AM   #3
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Looks like an interesting, well-built bike. I'd just look for a nice Sakae/SR/Sugino triple and sell (or stash) the Sprint crank. You don't quite have a complete group (hubs, pedals) so triplizing the crank doesn't seem worth it to me.
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Old 02-17-14, 08:25 AM   #4
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Very nice EV. I like the lugwork and the matching fork. My guess is that it's original (after all, these were hand built and likely the builders did not consider themselves slaves to the catalog specs).

Insofar as the gearing goes I would give a try to swapping out the FW with something a little more friendly before triple-izing anything. A cog with 28T would make a big difference just by itself.
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Old 02-17-14, 08:28 PM   #5
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totally cool. Ride the bike nobody else has.
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Old 02-19-14, 01:48 AM   #6
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totally cool. Ride the bike nobody else has.
I like that idea - nice way to put it.

Thanks for the compliments, @clubman & @auchencrow. I'll have to try a wider range freewheel to start (although I think I'll end up with a gear in the high 30 inches, so that might still be a little steep for my knees). Any experience with the ones from IRD?

I think I may need new pulleys for the rear derailer - if I back-pedal even slightly (e.g., to position my cranks at a stoplight) or just wheel the bike backward when I'm walking it around, there's a reasonable likelihood that the chain will slip off the jockey pulley.

Anyone know about the history on the Raleigh Triumphs of this time period or recognize the fork?

Thanks!
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Old 02-19-14, 12:35 PM   #7
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The short cage Sprint gear is only rated for a 26 large cog so 28 may not work. It might be easier to find a 28 tooth shimano wheel just to test the limits of the derailleur in friction mode before finding or building a 28 tooth accushift freewheel so you can run indexing. It may even be hard to find.
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Old 02-19-14, 09:38 PM   #8
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Gotta fiddle with the setup but here's mine. NLerner and Zaphod have these as well
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Old 02-19-14, 09:41 PM   #9
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I think your fork may be a replacement. It's a fun bike, enjoy the bike that 3 others have ;-)
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Old 02-20-14, 07:14 AM   #10
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It's a special bike. I'm glad you're already enjoying it. We may never know enough about it, since it is somewhat rare. Even if the fork isn't original, it's definitely handsome enough to keep.
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Old 02-20-14, 09:32 PM   #11
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It really is a great bike. I trade mine for a beautiful Centurion ProTour and within a month or so ended up trading a few other bikes just to get it back! It's not leaving again. I concur with Tom, even if the fork isn't original, it looks great on the bike. I have mine built up with 10spd Ultegra with 10spd indexing dt shifters. I can't wait for weather to clear up so I can ride again, I'm going crazy
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Old 02-21-14, 01:57 PM   #12
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Hey, @RobE30;, your Gran Course looks great! I noticed something interesting when I looked at yours and mine side-by-side: the seat stay connections are different. Yours has the stays capped and brazed on to the sides of the upper seat tube lug, but mine has the stays terminate further back at the clamp bolt like in the 1984 catalog. (Does anyone know - is this what they mean by "shot in" backstays?) So I expect our frames are from different years.

Tom (@noglider; - I'm trying to use the tags so people will know when they're mentioned), thanks! Good point about there not being much info, but here's what I'm thinking based on the 1984 catalog: the Road Ace, Competition, and Gran Course frames are all essentially the same. All three are 531c with 'shot-in' backstays, Gipiemme forged ends & Prugnat S4 lugs. The Road Ace and the Competition have the same fork description, and it visually appears to match the Gran Course fork (not mine). @Charles Wahl; pointed out here that the only difference seems to be that the Road Ace has a single braze-on for the Shimano 600AX shifters, while the Gran Course (and the Competition) have standard braze-ons on the sides of the down tube. Other than that, while components vary between the Road Ace and Competition (and obviously the Gran Course would be built up with whatever the original owner preferred), the frames appear identical. For the Road Ace and Gran Course, that even includes the paint scheme. So anyone looking to know more about the Gran Course can probably refer to info about the Road Ace or Competition of the same year (but obviously not for components).

And @clubman;, I think I've got an old Shimano mega-range freewheel with a 28t large cog on it, so maybe I'll swap that in for a brief functionality test. Combined with a 38t chainring up front, that should give a low gear around 36.6... not super-low, but hopefully low enough for my knees to survive the more significant hills around here.
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Old 02-21-14, 09:43 PM   #13
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I have the catalog from Michael's Cyclery in Ames, IA, from whom I bought my Gran Course frame in 1985. Michael's Cyclery was the house bike store, I believe, for the Raleigh Team USA. They had both Pro and Gran Course frames in stock that were British-built, and also the International and Competition models that were, by that time, Japanese-built. It's a 3 Mb PDF that I can upload to DropBox if anyone's interested; just email me, and I'll upload it and post a link here. It has documentation of the geometry too, and my scribblings about what the frame measured when I got it. I sold mine to Neal Lerner, because it was basically a smaller frame than anything I've ridden since having anything else. It had a very "sprightly" ride quality, which I really enjoyed.
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Old 02-21-14, 10:49 PM   #14
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Well, that's fascinating. @Charles Wahl;, did you notice that mine is also from Michael's Cyclery? The final picture in post #2 of this thread shows the store sticker. Yes, I'd be quite interested in seeing those docs - thanks!

Here's a point of curiosity for anyone: I measure the chain stays on mine at ~42.25 cm with the hub all the way back in the drop outs. I read an article about chain stay lengths of different classes of bikes and they listed:

Road Racer: approx 41.5 cm or less (down to 390 on time trial bikes)
Audax/Event: between 42 cm and 42.5 cm
Sport Touring: between 43 cm and 44.5 cm


So it seems to me that the Gran Course is a good candidate for possible Audax/Rando use if the hub is set that way. And despite the fact that the 1984 tech specs say "no clearance" for mudguards, it looks to me like I could certainly get larger tires, 28 or 32 even, in there. And possibly mudguards/fenders (depending on your side of the ocean) if I stuck with 28s.

Any thoughts?

Thanks to everyone who's shared their ideas!
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Old 02-23-14, 11:48 AM   #15
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Here's a link to the Michael's Cyclery Brochure, 1985. The Raleigh/Triumph Gran Course that I had was basically a "criterium" sort of frame geometry: 74-degree head and seat tube, and fairly short wheelbase: just under a meter. I'm not sure that this fits the bill for an Audax/Randonneur bike, but everyone's welcome to ride what they're comfortable on! I had 28 mm tires on it for awhile, I think, but nothing larger would fit. Here's the frame data I recorded:

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Old 02-24-14, 03:44 AM   #16
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Hey, thanks! I'll download that the next time I'm on my computer (instead of my phone).
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Old 02-24-14, 07:26 PM   #17
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As Charles said, I'm the lucky owner of the frame set he bought new from Michael's back in 1985. I have it set up with 650B wheels and 32mm Grand Bois Cypres tires. Because the original geometry called for a fairly high bottom bracket, it works fine as a 650B conversion with 170mm cranks. Otherwise, I have a Shimergo drivetrain (Campy 10-speed Ergo brifters and Shimano Dura Ace 7402 RD) and Tektro long-reach brakes. Summer before last, I did a 140 mile ride on mine, and it's super comfortable for that distance, plus it's lightweight and an excellent climber.
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Old 02-25-14, 12:39 PM   #18
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... Summer before last, I did a 140 mile ride on mine, and it's super comfortable for that distance, plus it's lightweight and an excellent climber.
That's very encouraging. Have you posted photos of it with this setup? I'd love to see it!

Did you find that the 650B wheels made enough of a difference to trail to affect the handling at all?
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Old 02-25-14, 01:07 PM   #19
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I've got two Raleigh Competition 12's and we've had a discussion on these a while back: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...d-to-be-a-GIOS
And here's another thread on them that also shows Neal's bike: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-%28England%29

And, of course, a picture, for those who like pictures:

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Old 02-25-14, 02:32 PM   #20
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That's very encouraging. Have you posted photos of it with this setup? I'd love to see it!

Did you find that the 650B wheels made enough of a difference to trail to affect the handling at all?
Well, I've only ridden it with 650B wheels, so I can't compare it to what it would be like with 700c. Using JimG's trail calculator, there's only a 4mm difference between a 700c x 28mm tire and a 650B x 32mm tire with this setup. That said, I do find that 650B conversions and those high-zoot and wider tires soften out a potentially harsh ride that I usually find on a frame with fairly steep frame angles and a high BB.
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Old 02-27-14, 11:08 AM   #21
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Thanks for the links, @non-fixie. Sadly, I'm not seeing the picture in your post.

And thanks, Neal. Any recommendations on a good source for (relatively) inexpensive 650B wheels if someone were just interested in trying them out?
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Old 02-27-14, 11:41 AM   #22
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Sadly, I'm not seeing the picture in your post.
That is rather disturbing news! I've been posting pictures this way since I joined. Did anyone ever see my pictures, I now wonder?

Maybe this works better:
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Old 02-27-14, 01:15 PM   #23
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That is rather disturbing news! I've been posting pictures this way since I joined. Did anyone ever see my pictures, I now wonder?

Maybe this works better:
Oh, those are quite a nice matched set. Interestingly, they're both a much deeper blue than the either mine or Rob's (you can tell it's not just a trick of the lighting by the fact that yours have white elements to the decals where ours have black). Looks great with the white tape and light saddles.
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Old 02-27-14, 01:24 PM   #24
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And thanks, Neal. Any recommendations on a good source for (relatively) inexpensive 650B wheels if someone were just interested in trying them out?
650B wheels haven't been available in this country for long. It's a new trend here, so there don't seem to be many used wheels. As a result, there are very few inexpensive wheels to be had, if any. I think demand is almost outstripping supply.
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Old 02-27-14, 03:16 PM   #25
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... It's a new trend here, so there don't seem to be many used wheels. ...
Sounds like a good excuse to order some rims and start working on my wheel building skills...
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