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Old 08-10-07, 09:42 PM   #1
flameburns623
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Buying a used older-model Raleigh?

Hi folks!

I already own not one , not two, but three different 'department store' brand bikes. The bikes I currently own are a 1970's All-Pro bike from K-Mart; a 1990's Huffy Broadmoor bike from Target; and a Wal-Mart Next bike. I bought the Broadmoor brand-new on sale years ago, but the other two bikes were bought used. I bought the All-Pro very cheaply--$3.50 and a thrift shop, marked down from $5.00 for 'customer appreciation week'. The Next bike I bought for $20.00--which he really didn't want to accept--from a kid who salvaged it from the trash as a fix-up project that he never quite got around to fixing-up.

I have the chance to buy a very inexpensive Raleigh bike. Bike is for sale for $20.00. Gears seem to work (derailleurs shift the gears, front and back); brakes work; wheels turn freely. The tires are flat and the bike is damned tall--I'm 6'00" tall with a 32" inseam and the top bar on the frame just brushes my crotch. The seat is shot--they've covered it with a cheap Bell-brand gel-foam cover but I lifted that and the seat beneath is just the metal skeleton--whatever served as padding previously is long gone. I'm going to assume the tires themselves are dry-rotted and need to be replaced. Oh--the tires are EXTRAORDINARILY narrow--one of my department-store bikes is a 1970's road bike with narrow tires and the tires on the Raleigh look skinnier than these. The Raleigh seems lighter than my K-Mart All-Pro road bike--I think the Raleigh must have an aluminum frame whereas the All-Pro is definitely steel.

Part of my concern is that--depending on what the bike ends up needing--I might spend a fortune just finding parts for the Raleigh. It is a British-made bike, apparently, and an older model of a British bike--are compatible parts readily available in the USA? I can recoup the initial investment by selling off one of my other bikes--I could sell the Wal-Mart bike for right around the same amount the thrift store wants for the Raleigh. (Of course I dumped a lot of money into the Next bike to get it running--it came to me vandalized, and I had to replace freewheel, rear derailleur, and crankshaft--and the bike is still a 'prima-donna' bike that gives me some sort of trouble every second or third time I ride it. I love the 27 gears that the Next bike sports, but I scarcely ever get to use them, with the bike going down almost every month). The Next bike has better traction on soft surfaces than the All-Pro has, and with even narrower tires, I would tend to bet the Raleigh would be even pickier about what sort of surface I ride it on. I really don't want two road bikes, but I actually enjoy riding the All-Pro bike more than the Next bike, and think I might enjoy swapping between the All-Pro and the Raleigh. I'm going to try to post an image of a bike that resembles the Raleigh I looked at--but the bike I saw had foam rubber on the handlebars. If the foam is 'original equipment', I'm gonna guess the bike I saw is a later model than the one pictured. This one is close enough, though:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/retroral...rand-prix.html

I think the distance between the seat-post and the handlebars on the Raleigh bike is much closer than that on my Next brand bike. On the Next--even though it has flat handlebars instead of the knurled-under road bike version handlebars--I feel a little too stretched-out--as if my nose were in Illinois and my rear were in Kansas somewhere. One of the reasons I've come not to like the Next bike so much as I thought I would. I think that having the handlebars closer to me would feel less like I'm doing push-ups at the same time I'm riding the bike. Or mebbe I'm trying to rationalize buying the bike. Any thoughts, folks?
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Old 08-11-07, 07:15 AM   #2
duffer1960
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This is a lower-end bike. Carbon steel tubing, steel rims. On the other hand, given what you're comparing it to, you might not mind. Raleighs were popular and well-regarded in their time. (FWIW, I ride mostly low-end bikes and I'm happy with them.)

Fit is most important, more important than whether it's Huffy vs. Paramount quality. I've read here that Raleighs tend to have relatively short top tubes. I like a shorter reach as I'm not a high-wattage rider. My wrists get sore if I ride 'stretched out'. Only you can decide. As for the tires, you can substitute 1-1/4" width for a more agreeable ride. (Do the rims have a hooked bead seat so you can pump 'em up all the way?)

A bargain at $20? You'll spend much more getting it into shape. Tires & bar tape at least. That could be only the start. Make sure the bearings aren't dry & be prepared to spend for services or DIY tools. Spokes are probably too loose, you'll need to tighten & true the wheels. $200-$300 total at a LBS is my guess. Find a backyard mechanic who might do a better job for less. I know from experience that LBSs won't take the time to do good work on what they see as a 'junker'. DIY was my alternative but that's not cheap either after you buy the tools, and what you'll end up with is still a low-end bike. I guess, if you like the fit, then measure it, and look for something similar that's newer or higher-spec or already in good condition.

Good luck, let us know how it goes
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Old 08-11-07, 08:03 AM   #3
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I could look this up on google but--what, really, is the difference between 'carbon steel' and steel generally? I think 'carbon steel' is supposed to be lighter but dunno why that is. I vaguely recollect that one needs carbon to make iron in to steel anyhow. So how is 'carbon steel' different from regular steel?
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Old 08-13-07, 03:39 PM   #4
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By 'low-end' bike are you suggesting the Raleigh is not really much better than a department-store bike? My goal in buying the bike is to glean some notion of how a bike of fairly respectable quality is somehow 'better' than a department-store bicycle. So far--putting about 65 miles or so per week cumulative on my 3 bikes--it's really hard to imagine that a non-department-store bike could be SO much better. As I said in my OP, the Next bike is my most-troublesome bike--but that bike came to me severely vandalized. I really am not surprised that it has tire issues, chain issues, and so forth. The other two bikes, especially the All-Pro, run very well and require very little attention.

Thanks!
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Old 08-13-07, 08:26 PM   #5
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I found a Raleigh Technium frame on ebay, and have been very pleased with it. My guess is that it is a mid 80's model; probably not as old as the bike your looking at. It has aluminum top and seat tubes, but the chain and seat stays are steel (figured out using the magnet test). I converted it to SS, and loaded it up with new budget components, carbon fork, and 700c's. It is a great sort of beater bike, gets me all around campus. I'd probably spend 20 bucks for the bike your looking at. Sounds like a fun project. If Mr. Sheldon Brown rides 'em, can't be too bad, huh?
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Old 08-15-07, 04:08 PM   #6
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After looking at the different bikes on the Retro-Raleigh page, i think this bike looks closer to the one I saw. If it hasn't already been sold I will probably pick it up tomorrow and will know more about what make it really is:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/retroral...d-limited.html

Thanks to those who have replied thus far!!!
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Old 08-25-07, 09:13 AM   #7
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Well, the bike I saw was sold by the time I got back to it. Oh well. I will keep my eyes open for a cheap, used, name-brand bike in running order. I'm irrationally drawn to Raleighs for the moment, not just cause I read so much about them online, but because the local bike shop carries that brand. The owner says that in the winter he takes some 'trade-ins' or has customers with older bikes they want to get ride of. Since the lbs can work on Raleighs if I run into problems it makes sense to keep my eyes open for one of those. Or am I just being silly?
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Old 08-25-07, 09:40 AM   #8
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Depends on how old 'older' is. Raleigh started off as an English maker (based in Nottingham), was eventually turned into Raleigh America or Raleigh USA, had a plant which made the Techniums just down the road from me. Frames are probably now made in China or Japan...

If you are serious about picking up an older Raleigh (one of the English ones, or the older American ones) come visit us in the Classic & Vintage forum. There's a gentleman there who will answer just about any Raleigh question you may have .

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