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Raleigh Sports versus Schwinn Racer

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Raleigh Sports versus Schwinn Racer

Old 11-15-15, 09:05 PM
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Raleigh Sports versus Schwinn Racer

Okay, so I'm pretty sure the Schwinn will be mercilessly bludgeoned, but I'll throw it out there anyway: How do these two 3-speeds match up? Let's say late 60's, just to minimize the year-by-year evolutionary comparison.

Both sport Sturmey hubs, but then we've got Ashtabula cranks vs Raleigh cottered, brazed(?) tubing vs lugged, and bladed forks vs that classic Raleigh setup. Various other minor details. For just standard transport and/or short commute usage, is there a substantial difference? Is the Raleigh functionally superior?

Just curious more than anything. I've got a 70s Sports that I've learned to really enjoy, but I previously had a Racer that went through some quick stylistic changes and was sold shortly thereafter so I never really experienced it as a traditional 3-speed. Now that I've fully embraced the casual 3-speed commute, I'm considering another Racer. Is it a step down from the Raleigh Sports, or just variations on a theme with no real downside?

Let the opinions and/or bludgeonings commence!
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Old 11-15-15, 09:51 PM
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I'd be curious to see what they'd sold for at the time. I would guess the Raleigh was more expensive.
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Old 11-15-15, 10:00 PM
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I have commuted on both bikes (well, a Raleigh-owned Phillips 3 speed).

I love my Schwinn Racer, so don't get me wrong. It is red and awesome. However, unless you're working with a 3-speeded Super Sport, it's not brazed. It's basically a chunk of bicycle-shaped pig-iron. With that Ashtabula fork and crank, you would have to fill the Raleigh frame with sand to get them to weigh the same. (This is a purely heuristic judgement, not to be taken as fact.) Stopping was often a... consideration. There's nothing wrong with a heavy bike. I just would say, this is my training bike. I'm ALWAYS training.

To me, the Raleigh has elegance. The Schwinn is all American. Aside from weight, I don't know much difference ... easier to work on the Schwinn, maybe?

My recommendation: Ride both, and alternate days.
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Old 11-16-15, 01:01 AM
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I briefly had a Schwinn Racer. Someone gave it to me because the fork was bent. The guys in the machine shop put it in the hydraulic press and straightened it for me, so I suppose the solid steel has its advantages.

It was easier to work on than a Raleigh, as it had more caged bearings and an Ashtabula crank, not to mention lock nuts on the front wheel. It seemed basically the same if a bit heavier, and Raleighs ain't exactly light. I preferred the ride of the Raleigh, so I gave it to a coworker. He seems to like it.
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Old 11-16-15, 01:28 AM
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...
...it's a step down in just about every way I can think of. But if you have to commute and lock it up somewhere where it's outside and prey to thieves, it might make more sense.
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Old 11-16-15, 01:36 AM
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I've primarily ridden Raleigh 3 speeds for years, and had a Schwinn Racer for (primary ride this year, until stolen recently). My Schwinn (1963) was earlier than yours sounds, and had a Bendix coaster brake, not a 3 speed.

I found the differences for local transportation and short (5-10 miles each way) commutes is that both bikes were comfortable and functional, "variations on a theme" to use your phrase, and I liked both bikes very much. My experience is that both the Raleighs and the Schwinn weigh about 35 lbs when you include steel fenders, racks, etc. It took a little more work to get the Schwinn up to speed, but I believe that was because my Schwinn only had one speed. .

If you ride the extensively, you might consider what parts you can find most easily. The biggest issue I had with the Schwinn was the original seat, and the narrow (13/16"?) seat post (so modern seat clamps won't fit). I got a wider pipe that would fit the frame, and was wide enough at the top to accept a seat clamp. (The bike was not pristine, and I didn't see an extra 1 lb or so as an issue.) This let me put a more comfortable saddle on the bike.

Other quirks
The 26" (ISO 590) tires for the Raleigh are a little easier to find than the Schwinn (ISO 597). The Schwinn are available, but now seem to be special order and most LBS.

Schwinn used different threading for the Ashtabula crank and cones (28 tpi vs. 20 tpi for other American bicycles), while the Raleigh bikes have their own threading standard (26 tpi vs. 24 tpi for other BB, headsets, etc.) I think it's a little harder to get new replacement parts for the Raleighs. Of course, maintenance and replacing parts may not be issues depending on your annual mileage.

My choice of Raleigh vs. Schwinn depended more on convenience and availability - for local transportation they're both good.
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Old 11-16-15, 05:12 AM
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Had both, now have Schwinn only

For me, I found both to be very close in terms of ride and weight. Can't remember the model/year of the Raleigh but it was a very nice 3 speed similiar to the Schwinn.

Nod goes to Raleigh for better fit and finish. Paint, decals, pin stripping more "elegant." Comparing them to cars the Schwinn looked more like a sedan and the Raleigh was a sports car!

Nod goes to Schwinn for ease of maintenance/parts availability. Schwinn sold millions of bikes from which you can obtain needed parts and the stupid Schwinn size tires are still available mail order or from many lbs in my area. Raleigh had cottered crank and one of the breed I rehabbed had something like 24 uncaged bearings in the top of the head tube and 26 in the bottom or vice versa....a real pain in the..... Also, again my memory doesn't permit me to remember precisely, but I think it also had those self adjusting brake levers. I found them to be another pain in the ......

I recently purchased a Speedster (same as Racer only a bit newer with a different name) that the seller had laced the SA hub to a 27" wheel. Amazingly both 27" (Varsity) wheels fit the frame. Bike is much more responsive and I think easier to make go fast! And you can use "regular" size 27" tires.

I removed the heavy chrome fenders and installed plastic and they fit! Went with a 27" alloy wheel from a World Sport to further lighten the bike and it's a lot more fun to ride than the 26" version. Going to find somebody who can lace the rear hub with a alloy rear as I'm ham fisted when it comes to that area of bike tasks!
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Old 11-16-15, 05:30 AM
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Paint durability goes to Schwinn, in my humble opinion.

I don't think anyone has clarified the Racer would be electroforged and not brazed.

Geometry would be different and I think I'd lean towards preferring the Racer in this area. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 11-16-15, 06:16 AM
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Hard to beat a Chicago Schwinn in the event of a nuclear attack. Other than tires, who cares about proprietary or spare parts? Most Schwinns still have their original running gear and used parts are widely available. It comes done to whether you want American style or a more conservative British style.

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Old 11-16-15, 08:02 AM
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I always liked the Schwinn lightweights. They didn't have all the classic, traditional details of the Raleighs though. I thought it was especially bad when they dropped their traditional 4 ring chainwheel for the wide spoked version. I suppose this style was inspired by the mag wheels common on American muscle cars of the time. Still, well built, solid bikes. I'd snap up an old New World Tourist now if I found a bargain.

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Old 11-16-15, 08:23 AM
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I'd take the Raleigh just because of Schwinn goofy proprietary stuff. Plus a lugged frame over the electro forged sewer pipe is a no brained for me also. A friend of mine had a Sport and it's a good looking bike. I guess I'm not too fond of the schwinns of this time period and style.
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Old 11-16-15, 09:48 AM
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So, according to this site, the 1973 3-speed Schwinn Speedster (I didn't see the Racer) retailed for $74.95. The '73 Raleigh Price Guide I have lists the Sports at $81.95.
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Old 11-16-15, 03:20 PM
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I love raleigh sports, but there is something fun​ about riding a Speedster or Racer.
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Old 11-16-15, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by lord_athlon View Post
I love raleigh sports, but there is something fun​ about riding a Speedster or Racer.
+1 The Speedster is as big and cool looking as a Raleigh DL-1 Tourist, but the Speedster rides so much better. More like a Lincoln Town Car than a Porsche of the same name.

While not small either, the Raleigh Sport I sense is more like an MG roadster; lighter, lithe, and sporty.
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Old 11-16-15, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
+1 The Speedster is as big and cool looking as a Raleigh DL-1 Tourist, but the Speedster rides so much better. More like a Lincoln Town Car than a Porsche of the same name.

While not small either, the Raleigh Sport I sense is more like an MG roadster; lighter, lithe, and sporty.
Heh. I've said to myself more than once that my Raleigh corners like a '64 Lincoln.

So I guess, based on the many similar responses, that really they're just two approaches to the same bike concept. One English (tea and biscuits), one American (coke and hot dogs), each with their own character. And no bludgeons, which is somewhat unexpected.

I guess I'll need one of each! (My priority, though, is moving backward through time with the Raleighs. 77 is just too dang new, and as I understand it the 70s sports don't really measure up to the 50s/60s bikes in terms of construction and quality.)
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Old 11-16-15, 05:43 PM
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I love the "Hat In The Ring" decal that was on the Racers.
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Old 11-16-15, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I love the "Hat In The Ring" decal that was on the Racers.


That's what makes 'em FLY!
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Old 11-22-15, 09:22 PM
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Back when I was flipping, I had a ladies Schwinn Breeze. I thought it compared very favorably with the Raleighs in terms of ride quality. I didn't ride it much, it was too small for me. I set out to find a Racer my size and dammed if they've eluded me every time. So I've never been able to really compare the Racer over the long term.
I don't think the Raleigh is really all that much lighter. Anyone got real numbers?
The seatpost thing is an issue, though you can get Schwinn seatposts with a big top to fit the average seat clamp and you can also get extra long heavy duty chromoly seatposts through the BMX guys if you're both tall and heavy like me.
Funny thing is, Just flipping what I found around town, I bought and sold about forty of the Raleighs and only the one Schwinn. Where did all the Schwinns go? Ida thunk theyda sold in similar numbers in this country.
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