I had some nice pictures taken outside, today, but they were too large. So here's a mediocre snapshot taken in the hallway just now.
Yes, just another Raleigh Twenty thread. I've been dawdling over this project since last summer. I had a local bike shop build me a new front wheel around the old hub, and ordered a new rear wheel with a Sturmey Archer X-RF5 5 speed hub to replace the original 3 speed. 70 PSI Primo V Monster tires. New stem and handlebars, cork grips, cheap BMX pedals, new seatpost. The saddle is the stock saddle that I took off my Dahon. I've got Brooks saddles on my other bikes, but this actually isn't bad, for now. New cables and brakepads, of course. Overhauled the headset, and replaced the handlebar quick release with some headset spacers. Now the quill type stem won't turn sideways for folding, of course, but I can live with that.
The main thing that still needs to be dealt with is the bottom bracket, and the original cottered cranks that go with it. But at the moment it actually seems to be working quite well. So last night, I said the heck with it, put on a chain, adjusted the gears, gave everything else a once over, and this morning I took it to a local bike path for a shake down ride.
This was just a test ride, and I wanted to stay off the roads until I was sure there weren't any major problems. I ended up doing just 7 miles, 4.5 of them on the path.
My main reaction is pleasant surprise. Yes, there is plenty of time for problems to show themselves, but this bike really has a very nice ride for what it is. The steering seemed a little skittish for about half a mile, then my reflexes adjusted, and it began to seem quite stable. The ride is surprisingly cushy for a small wheeled bike with no suspension. Part of this is probably due to the wide, medium pressure tires I picked, but I think the frame has to get a lot of the credit.
I started reading some bad things about SA 5 speed hubs shortly after I ordered a wheel built with one. There's plenty of time for things to go wrong, but my first impression was a good one. I must have gotten the adjustment right. The shifting is smooth and quick, and each gear runs quietly. The range I've got now is about 41 to 92 gear inches, which is probably not ideal for an around town, running errands, sort of bike. Once I do get around to overhauling the bottom bracket, I'll probably replace the cranks and put on a smaller chain ring. If I decide to put the cottered cranks, with the integrated chainring, back on, then I'll put on a larger rear cog.
All in all, this confirms for me why these are such popular project bikes. Mine will be used mostly for short trips around town, which is why I've made rather modest component choices. I can see, though, why it would be tempting to turn one into a real road bike.