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Raleigh Comparison: 1950 Grand Prix vs. 1980 Sovereign

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Raleigh Comparison: 1950 Grand Prix vs. 1980 Sovereign

Old 01-13-22, 11:34 AM
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BishopPax
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Raleigh Comparison: 1950 Grand Prix vs. 1980 Sovereign

Hello! I'm looking into two vintage bikes and I'd love some input on which would be the better choice. Both are in working condition, and neither seems like anything is rusted/potentially wrong.

The 1950s Grand Prix is white and listed at $120
The 1980s Sovereign is red and listed at $180

I live in an area with lots of hills, so I'm looking for something lightweight that can handle a lot of commuting.

Thanks in advance for the advice!!!
- Bishop
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Old 01-13-22, 01:13 PM
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Pcampeau
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Welcome to the forum BishopPax!

Unless youíre looking at a late 1950s Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix, the 50s Grand Prix doesnít exist. If you are looking at a Lenton, and if it has its original paint, then it wonít be white. The regular Raleigh Grand Prix as we know it originated in the late 1960s and was a heavy bike with a steel cottered crankset and heavy steel rims. If itís white and with original paint then we are most likely looking at a mid-late 70s version with some alloy components. Very commonly, when it comes to old bikes, sellers donít really know very much about what theyíre selling. They usually are not trying to be deceptive, but they just donít recall the details. If it is a mid-late 70s Grand Prix then it will very comparable to the Sovereign (early 80s and red sounds correct). Both are entry level and on the heavy side but should do well for riding and commuting purposes. If the hills are too much then more can be done with the gearing at a later date. The Grand Prix originally had steel wheels even in the 70s but someone could easily have changed them to alloy by now. If youíll be commuting in wet weather, aluminum alloy rims are vastly preferable to steel when it comes to stopping safely. If they both have alloy wheels, pick the one that fits best. If theyíre the same size then pick the one you like best. If they need complete refurbishing then the prices (in my opinion) are a little bit high.

Good luck.

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Old 01-14-22, 05:40 PM
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You’ll need to make 10 posts before you can attach pictures. Once able please add pics and more advice can be given!
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Old 01-14-22, 06:22 PM
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Maybe a circa '61 Gran Sport?
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Old 01-14-22, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Pcampeau View Post
Welcome to the forum BishopPax!

Unless youíre looking at a late 1950s Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix, the 50s Grand Prix doesnít exist. If you are looking at a Lenton, and if it has its original paint, then it wonít be white. The regular Raleigh Grand Prix as we know it originated in the late 1960s and was a heavy bike with a steel cottered crankset and heavy steel rims. If itís white and with original paint then we are most likely looking at a mid-late 70s version with some alloy components. Very commonly, when it comes to old bikes, sellers donít really know very much about what theyíre selling. They usually are not trying to be deceptive, but they just donít recall the details. If it is a mid-late 70s Grand Prix then it will very comparable to the Sovereign (early 80s and red sounds correct). Both are entry level and on the heavy side but should do well for riding and commuting purposes. If the hills are too much then more can be done with the gearing at a later date. The Grand Prix originally had steel wheels even in the 70s but someone could easily have changed them to alloy by now. If youíll be commuting in wet weather, aluminum alloy rims are vastly preferable to steel when it comes to stopping safely. If they both have alloy wheels, pick the one that fits best. If theyíre the same size then pick the one you like best. If they need complete refurbishing then the prices (in my opinion) are a little bit high.

Good luck.
I don't know abut a Lenton Grand Prix, but I do know about a 1952 Rudge Aero Special (which I have), an identical triplet to the 1952 Raleigh Super Lenton and a Humber whose name I forgot. Those had steel rims (Dunlop Special Lighweight), steel cottered chainsets, full 531 straight gauge tubing, and an alloy GB MAES bar on an alloy GB stem. So I'd expect the weight of a 1970 Super Course to be similar, due to the similarity in tubing and major components. Maybe the S-C is lighter due to derailleurs versus the 1950's Sturmey AW or AM, and the S-C had alloy rims. Super Lenton was one of the peak models in the sequence of Raleigh Clubman-style bikes dating back into the 1940s, and while a very few models were DB 531, most were mild steel or straight 531, and steel 26 z 1 ⅜ wheels, so the Super lenton was probably lighter than the earlier Clubman style bikes. When I have it back together my Rudge will have rims, chainset and seatpost replaced with aluminum, for some moderate weight reduction and functionlal improvement.

In any case my guess is there won't be a lot of difference in the weights of the two bikes you are interested in comparing. The riding experiences could be very different however. Get them both!
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