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  1. #1
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I don't get no respect, an R20 appreciation thread.

    I always feel that I have to defend / explain the virtues of my little folder to folks who ride regular bikes and even in here, I often find that they just don't get much respect from folks who ride smaller, lighter, and supposedly faster folders.

    On my errands this morning I was cruising along pretty nicely at 27 kmh / 17 mph and passed a number of folks on mtbs's, and got a few calls of "nice" or "cool" from pedestrians. I should also note that a back injury is keeping me from really putting the hammer down and before this I could get the Twenty up to much higher cruising speeds. It also climbs like a mountain goat on double espresso...wait... that's me.

    If they have a fault it's that they don't fold up as compactly as bikes like the Brompton but if you need a bike that you can store inside, that never has to travel much... they are a great machine.

    Mine has had a few modifications to improve it's stock performance and if anything, changing the steel wheels to alloy ones made the biggest difference. All in all, I have very little $$$ into this bike and it is really delivering some serious bang for the buck.

    So, in a rare departure from naming my bikes after gorgeous women, I am gonna name my 1973 Phillip's Twenty, "Rodney".





    My next folder is going to be another Twenty... I'm thinking I might need a fixed gear with a step through.

  2. #2
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Sixty Fiver,

    I had the same problem of lack of respect for my R20 from some of my roadie mates.....until I brought it to a Saturday morning bunch ride. I had to endure comments before we left, like, "You're not riding that thing are you?" and "Isn't it too slow?". Well ....after attacking the bunch and leading out the front for sprints at over 50kmh, I asked one of the R20's critics if my little bike was acceptable now, with tonue hanging out and gasping for air, he meekly and quietly replied....."yes".
    I also get a few looks when I'm out riding around town and usually younger dudes think it's pretty cool, as for some more modern folder owners whom you seem to think have little respect for our beloved R20s....send 'em my way for an all out challenge....we'll see if they've changed their minds after that.

    Mate, I wouldn't worry too much, let the legs do the talking

  3. #3
    Smiling and Waving thebikeguy's Avatar
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    Alot of people underestimate the little 20.I've got a 1969 model all original except for the front tire.Many times I've passed a roadie just to have them get up onto the pedals to get back around me.All that just so I can pass them again when they burn their legs out trying to get away from me.Priceless!!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Yeah those coloured tyres have a softer compound so give more grip
    Which is important on small wheels as the steering can be a bit twitchy.


    Dont know how you left a roadie...do you rev to 200RPM?
    legs a blur

  5. #5
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I got lots of appreciation from a Brompton rider on the train, for my absolutely bog-standard 20. He said he loved his Brommy, but he was actively looking out for a 20.

  6. #6
    Bicycling Gnome
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    I think the R20 with high pressure tyres should be a fast and comfortable machine. For smaller bikes, there will always be some compromise on performance if a tiny fold is required. People will just have to accept the trade off between speed and a 23x22x10 folded package. Having said that, the Brompton does pretty well there, but if you don't have to take it on a crowded train everyday, the R20 would be faster and an excellent investment. They also have a hell of a lot of class.
    “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  7. #7
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I used to ride my unmodded 20 across London in rush hour, and for anyone who's done that, you'll know that the embankment at 7 am is a racetrack for cyclists. I'd invariably drop the hybrid and MTB riders like hot rocks, but it'd be the full carbon and lycra roadies, and to a lesser extent the fixies that would give me trouble. I'd pick the fastest person I could see, and try to stay on their tail, whilst they would invariably do their utmost to drop the little green 70's shopping bike ridden by a man in smart work shoes. I'd usually get dropped eventually, but could keep up for a couple of miles. I'm anticipating that my 7 speed hot-rod will let me get closer to the right cadence, and therefore keep up. Big Apples should reduce the rolling resistance over the 55 PSI granny tyres too.

  8. #8
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The stock gearing on a 20 is as steep as that on a full sized SA equipped bike so if you have the legs for it, you can hot some pretty decent speeds... they top 80 gear inches in 3rd gear.

    They do have a pretty high degree of cool factor don't they ?

  9. #9
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Sammyboy,

    You got me itchin' to go out right now and chase down some roadies and give 'em a serious lesson in being chewed up, gobbled down and spat out by this maniacal R20 rider.....but I won't.

  10. #10
    jur
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    When I arrived on the 2007 Annual Donna Lungbuster on my R20, the ride report stated words such as "didn't think the little bike was suitable for a ride like this" but as this shows, I dusted the lot of them, broken SA8 hub non-withstanding.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  11. #11
    Senior Member social suicide's Avatar
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    I have 3X as many problems with respect as you!
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  12. #12
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevegor View Post
    Sammyboy,

    You got me itchin' to go out right now and chase down some roadies and give 'em a serious lesson in being chewed up, gobbled down and spat out by this maniacal R20 rider.....but I won't.
    Actually, I think you just cracked the single most important factor in winning. I've taken the liberty of high lighting it in the quoted passage. You can spend as much as you like on unobtanium wheels and carbon wotsits, but that's the magical ingredient. Hence the maniac on the fifty pound, 1970s ladies shopper beats the high tech roadie into the tarmac.
    “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    I've never really understood the fashion for Raleigh 20s and similar beasts. They are very heavy, fold poorly, have a non-standard BB thread and often have that odd headset. They ride reasonably when hotrodded but that is a fair bit of work.

  14. #14
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    I've never really understood the fashion for Raleigh 20s and similar beasts. They are very heavy, fold poorly, have a non-standard BB thread and often have that odd headset. They ride reasonably when hotrodded but that is a fair bit of work.

    True, but it's like restoring a 60's or 70's car, we tend to forget how terrible they really were, but the dreams of nostalgia take over. Then when it's finished we trick ourselves into believing it isn't too bad, even compared to our modern plush cars....."Those creaks and groans??....can't hear them"

    One good point with the R20 frame is, as Sheldon Brown was wont to say...."They're very strong and long lasting". I know they're heavy, however, I wonder how long modern, light folders will last after a few years of everyday service? We regularily hear about components and frames failing on Dahons and even Bromptons, very rarely on a R20.

    I think the R20 has such a large following because of it's annoying, (at times) oddness.
    It's frustrating differences only make the challenge of making something worthwhile out of these outdated little bikes more fun.......for some.

  15. #15
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilV View Post
    Actually, I think you just cracked the single most important factor in winning. I've taken the liberty of high lighting it in the quoted passage. You can spend as much as you like on unobtanium wheels and carbon wotsits, but that's the magical ingredient. Hence the maniac on the fifty pound, 1970s ladies shopper beats the high tech roadie into the tarmac.


  16. #16
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    I've never really understood the fashion for Raleigh 20s and similar beasts. They are very heavy, fold poorly, have a non-standard BB thread and often have that odd headset. They ride reasonably when hotrodded but that is a fair bit of work.
    Nothing of what you have said is incorrect.

    My enthusiasm for folders in general was started by Sheldon Brown through his Raleigh Twenty pages, and from there the links to other R20 sites. The frame is it: Though heavy, it is very sturdy indeed, no flexing.

    Virtually all the pages I have seen have modified their 20s from slightly to extreme, and the mods range from hub gears through derailers to fixies. The mods require a certain amount of ingenuity and imagination, and when done have a certain amount of appeal. Even the unmodded ones have a certain appeal which is hard to define. And they tend to bring out the child in you. Modding your own R20 is a unique work, a bit like a work of art. It takes a creative spark. And when you're done (which, strictly speaking, is never) riding it makes you throb with pride: "I built this bike!"

    I suppose it can all be summed up in one word: Fun.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  17. #17
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    They ride reasonably when hotrodded but that is a fair bit of work.
    The simple answer is, the work is fun. I could probably buy a Downtube Mini for what hot-rodding my 20 will cost me, but it would probably be less of a good rider, though more of a good folder. What's fun for me is thinking "Wow, how awesome would a 20 that could do THAT be". I do it with other bikes too. I don't actually need to fold very often at all, only if all the racks on the train are full, and in that case, the fold is to make it legal to bring it on anyway, not to make it convenient to shove under the seats! So, the total bike will be a little over £200, cheaper than a Merc, and way cheaper than a Brompton, which can't carry so well, and have only 3 speeds. High end folders are way expensive!

  18. #18
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    +1 on Fun. Modding a new(ish) bike with easy to source parts doesn't yield the same hunter-gatherer feeling of pride when you make something fit or find that one elusive part.

  19. #19
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I have always loved this (from Sheldon Brown's Twenty page)...

    In the early '80s, after I'd married and my daughter Tova was born, this bike acquired a baby seat. I chose this bike for baby seat use partly due to its sturdiness, partly due to the step-through frame, and partly because it was adjustable so that either Harriet or I could comfortably ride it.

    Harriet used this bike for her 16 mile commute for quite a while...it was a bit of a "Q-ship" Harriet had a lot of fun blowing off posers on thousand-dollar bikes. When you're a poser with a thousand-dollar bike, and you pass a middle-aged woman on a small-wheel folding bike with a baby seat on it, there's precious little glory, (especially as the only chance these worthies had to pass her was while she was waiting for a red light to change.) On the other hand, once the light changes, and the middle-aged woman on a small-wheel-folder-with-a-baby-seat catches and passes you, you know you've really been passed!


    The first time I saw a Twenty I was just a young lad of maybe eight or nine... my mother's friend had a shiny new Twenty as she needed a bike with a very low step through as her mobility was quite limited due to effects of suffering polio in her youth. Although she needed braces and canes for walking she was able to ride about town on her little shopper and ride with her kids.

    I thought it was the coolest bike then and my attraction for them was rekindled a few years ago when I started reading about Sheldon's experiences with his Twentys.

    Now that I finally have one, I can't see myself not having one... or two.

    They are also great for company as they are so adjustable... my ten year old daughter could probably ride it although she already has her own 20 inch vintage cruiser.

  20. #20
    Smiling and Waving thebikeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alecw35 View Post
    Dont know how you left a roadie...do you rev to 200RPM?
    legs a blur

    No,I think top rpm is somewhere around 65.With the Sturmey Archer AW hub I have no problems keeping a good speed.The only places it is limited is on the hills.They are heavy little bikes.
    Besides alot of roadies are just posers.They look the part but when it comes to performance,well.....

  21. #21
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Agreed! In the Tour de Embankment on an early London morning, spinning fast was rarely the issue. I can spin 170 rpm on a stationary bike, but I never got close to that on the flat with a standard 20. I was overcoming 45 psi granny tyres, and old, neglected bearings, plus not being able find a ratio (amongst the three!) which was quite right. I used to find I was spinning ineffectually fast in 2nd, but mashing like an idiot in 3rd. What I really needed was 2.5, which led to my decision to put in a Nexus 7 in my hotrod. It gets me higher top, and lower bottom, but what I really wanted was better cadence matching in the middle. That, and higher pressure, smoother rolling tyres ought to make me a lot faster, and I could hold my own with all but the very fastest before!

  22. #22
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I put a bigger cog in the rear of my Twenty as with the stock gearing, the 81 gear inches you are pushing in third is all but useless.

    I now run 65 gear inches at the top which makes third my cruising gear and allows me to climb grades as much as 10% from the saddle.

  23. #23
    Smiling and Waving thebikeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I put a bigger cog in the rear of my Twenty as with the stock gearing, the 81 gear inches you are pushing in third is all but useless.

    I now run 65 gear inches at the top which makes third my cruising gear and allows me to climb grades as much as 10% from the saddle.
    What size cog did you put on it?And maybe,if you don't mind,could you explain"gear inches"to me.?I've heard the term but never get it much thought.I've usually just made do with the gearing the bike came with.I usually don't modify my bikes,I like them original.But I've been thinking on changing the cog because 3rd IS pretty useless unless your really flying along(on flat ground).

  24. #24
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I'd have like a 70, I think. My currently planned gearing on my Nexus 7 will give me a 64 and a 75, which is still better than what I had with a 60 and an 81!

  25. #25
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The Twenty comes with a 46 tooth chain ring and a small 15 tooth cog to compensate for the small wheels and how they affect the gearing and like their bigger siblings, have a third gear that is usually good for days when you have a stiff tailwind or are on a descent although it is a little lower.

    The stock gearing gives you a range of 43, 57, and 76 gear inches and swapping in an 18 tooth rear cog gave me a range of 36, 48, and 64 gear inches.

    An example of how wheel size affects gearing -

    Running a 42:16 on a road bike with 700:25 wheels will give you a gearing of 69 gear inches...run that on a 20 inch wheel and you get 49 gear inches.

    A stock English three speed has a gearing of 50, 66, and 89 gear inches if it is running an 18 tooth rear cog and with a 20 tooth or larger cog you can bring that third gear into a more usable range.

    From Sheldon (who will never die) Brown's Glossary :

    Gear Inches

    One of the three comprehensive systems for numbering the gear values for bicycle gears. It is the equivalent diameter of the drive wheel on a high-wheel bicycle. When chain-drive "safety" bikes came in, the same system was used, multiplying the drive wheel diameter by the sprocket ratio. It is very easy to calculate: the diameter of the drive wheel, times the size of the front sprocket divided by the size of the rear sprocket. This gives a convenient two- or three-digit number. The lowest gear on most mountain bikes is around 22-26 inches. The highest gear on road racing bikes is usually around 108-110 inches. Unfortunately, the handwriting is on the wall for all inch-based measurement systems.


    He has a great online calculator:

    Gear Calculator

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