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For the love of English 3 speeds...

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For the love of English 3 speeds...

Old 11-18-12, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
It has probably been said here many times that the stock gearing on a Sports and Raleigh's other three speeds was optimized for riding on fairly level roads and suited lower cadence riding... if you ride a stock Twenty or a Sports the gearing will be nearly the same as the cog sizes were adjusted to bring them within a few gear inches of each other and many DL1 models were fitted with a larger cog to equalize the gearing for the 635 wheels.

In any case, it makes 3rd gear fairly useless for a bike that weighs 35-45 pounds and increasing the size of the rear cog improves the low gear and makes the 3rd gear more usable... I like to set up my 3 speeds with the high gear being my primary cruising gear and then I have two steps down for wind, hills, and bigger hills.
Originally, the trigger shifter was marked BL L N H (Yes, it was for both the 3sp and 4sp hubs) and seemed to be intended to be mounted under the handle bar because the letters were upside down when mounted above the bar. I mention the letters because it tells us something about how the old brit's thought about using the gears on their bikes. "N" was for "Normal", and that was how they used it. "H" (High) was considered a downhill gear, and "L" (Low) was considered an uphill gear. The hub was never really used like a car transmission You just left it in "N" 90% of the time and rode as if it was a single speed bike. If an uphill got too steep you went to "L". If it got too steep for that , you got off and pushed the bike (probably why they called them push bikes). "H" was used for downhills if the bike got going too fast to pedal, you used the brakes until they smoked, then you prayed. Allegedly, the "BL" stood for "Bulldog Low", but the people who designed the trigger shifter may have meant it to stand for "Below Low", or something equally innocuous. However, I never knew anyone who actually had a 4sp bike.

Another thing, they were not too reliable. I remember breaking 3=4 spokes a year on my Dunelt, and I only weighed about 100# back then. Flats were a weekly occurrence; and I probably didn't ever ride more than 5 miles in a day. The bike actually came with a patch kit and two bicycle wrenches that fit every nut and bolt on the bike (I often see one of them on eBay, but I have not seen the second one) in the tool bag. It did not come with an oil can, but my dad had one of those. You needed an oil can, because oiling the pedals, hubs and bottom bracket was a weekly chore. Pedals wore out about ones a year. Between that, my dad who thought it was cheaper to braze stuff than replace it (and of course you could not replace it after it was brazed in place), and some bicycle thieves who stole and stripped it. The Dunelt it only lasted about 5 years.

I was the first kid in my neighborhood who had an "English Racer", that was about 1953. It came about because my grandfather bought it for me. He insisted that my bicycle had to be a real bicycle like he had back in the old country (Finland), "Black"! They actually had a hard time finding a black bicycle in Detroit that looked like what my grandfather remembered, the Dunelt was it. I was kind of ashamed of my funny old fashioned looking bicycle, but within a year half the kids in the neighborhood had an "English Racer" too. Still mine was the only black one, because theirs came from Sears or Wards. Mine came from a bicycle store. Mine probably would have come from Wards too, if my grandfather hadn't insisted that it be black.

Still, I kind of agree with my grandfather, real bicycles are black. I am not a purest however, my current Dunelt has a 22 tooth sprocket.

Last edited by graywolf; 11-19-12 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 11-18-12, 02:31 PM
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Hey everyone,

Going to do a little crowd sourcing here knowing that there are a lot of really knowledgeable 3 speeder enthusiasts in this forum...my brother has a Phillips that is a bit of a franken-bike with a lot of character and he's looking to add a headlight and tail light that are similar to the classic bullet-shaped style that you'd see on dynamo-hubbed Raleigh. He's looking for a battery powered version b/c he does not have that dynamo and I'm not real sure where to look for what would hopefully be a quality version. Anyone have any sources for where to look or any previous experience to recommend one of these lights? I'm going to do a bit of googlin', but figured I'd start here. Thanks for any info any of you may have.

--Joe
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Old 11-18-12, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jedge76
Hey everyone,

Going to do a little crowd sourcing here knowing that there are a lot of really knowledgeable 3 speeder enthusiasts in this forum...my brother has a Phillips that is a bit of a franken-bike with a lot of character and he's looking to add a headlight and tail light that are similar to the classic bullet-shaped style that you'd see on dynamo-hubbed Raleigh. He's looking for a battery powered version b/c he does not have that dynamo and I'm not real sure where to look for what would hopefully be a quality version. Anyone have any sources for where to look or any previous experience to recommend one of these lights? I'm going to do a bit of googlin', but figured I'd start here. Thanks for any info any of you may have.

--Joe
Dynamos: You have basically two to three options. One is getting a Dynohub and hooking up LED lights to it, B&M makes a retro version of one of their lights, and Peter White sells them.

Two, you get a sidewall dynamo, again Peter White is your man when it comes to this, and he can hook you up with the mounting hardware. The sidewall dynamos that he sells are in a modern style.

A vintage style sidewall dynamo that actually works well is the Nordlicht, not really available in the US, but Dutch Bike Bits in the Netherlands ships to the US.

Three, Soma sells a battery LED light called the Torpedo.
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Old 11-19-12, 12:02 PM
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Actually, the classic looking Taiwanese made 12v generator light works pretty well and looks retro enough that only and expert is going to tell the difference. I seem to remember buying it from bikeworld.com. Yep, here is the link Bullet Light. The 12v 6w light is brighter than 6v 3w ones. I believe they sell a very similar battery operated light. However, I like the generator light because it is always ready to be used (no dead batteries), and when it is not being used there is no drag

Sorry about the small photo but for some reason bikeforums didn't seem to want to get the photo from my blog (blog photo). The generator can be mounted on the other side, but I chose to use the British Style setup.
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Old 11-20-12, 01:19 PM
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Does anyone know the exact dimension of a Raleigh 3-speed bottom bracket spindle?

I got a 1956 Robin Hood (hub date) and the previous people messed with the bottom bracket. What it has now is a 130 mm spindle, which I think is the right overall length. However, the internal dimensions must be wrong because the adjustable cup is pretty much flush with the shell so there is no lock ring. A lock ring would not fit there so they probably took it off. I saw there are many different Raleigh spindles for sale but they are all slightly different.

thanks,
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Old 11-20-12, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by loubapache
Does anyone know the exact dimension of a Raleigh 3-speed bottom bracket spindle?
Original Sports spindles are marked "16GC" and according to Sutherland's are 135mm long total. The attached pic lists the breakdown

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Old 11-20-12, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
Original Sports spindles are marked "16GC" and according to Sutherland's are 135mm long total. The attached pic lists the breakdown

Thank you so much.
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Old 11-20-12, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by graywolf
Originally, the trigger shifter was marked BL L N H (Yes, it was for both the 3sp and 4sp hubs) and seemed to be intended to be mounted under the handle bar because the letters were upside down when mounted above the bar. I mention the letters because it tells us something about how the old brit's thought about using the gears on their bikes. "N" was for "Normal", and that was how they used it. "H" (High) was considered a downhill gear, and "L" (Low) was considered an uphill gear. The hub was never really used like a car transmission You just left it in "N" 90% of the time and rode as if it was a single speed bike. If an uphill got too steep you went to "L". If it got too steep for that , you got off and pushed the bike (probably why they called them push bikes). "H" was used for downhills if the bike got going too fast to pedal, you used the brakes until they smoked, then you prayed. Allegedly, the "BL" stood for "Bulldog Low", but the people who designed the trigger shifter may have meant it to stand for "Below Low", or something equally innocuous. However, I never knew anyone who actually had a 4sp bike.

Another thing, they were not too reliable. I remember breaking 3=4 spokes a year on my Dunelt, and I only weighed about 100# back then. Flats were a weekly occurrence; and I probably didn't ever ride more than 5 miles in a day. The bike actually came with a patch kit and two bicycle wrenches that fit every nut and bolt on the bike (I often see one of them on eBay, but I have not seen the second one) in the tool bag. It did not come with an oil can, but my dad had one of those. You needed an oil can, because oiling the pedals, hubs and bottom bracket was a weekly chore. Pedals wore out about ones a year. Between that, my dad who thought it was cheaper to braze stuff than replace it (and of course you could not replace it after it was brazed in place), and some bicycle thieves who stole and stripped it. The Dunelt it only lasted about 5 years.

I was the first kid in my neighborhood who had an "English Racer", that was about 1953. It came about because my grandfather bought it for me. He insisted that my bicycle had to be a real bicycle like he had back in the old country (Finland), "Black"! They actually had a hard time finding a black bicycle in Detroit that looked like what my grandfather remembered, the Dunelt was it. I was kind of ashamed of my funny old fashioned looking bicycle, but within a year half the kids in the neighborhood had an "English Racer" too. Still mine was the only black one, because theirs came from Sears or Wards. Mine came from a bicycle store. Mine probably would have come from Wards too, if my grandfather hadn't insisted that it be black.

Still, I kind of agree with my grandfather, real bicycles are black. I am not a purest however, my current Dunelt has a 22 tooth sprocket.
I have ridden 4 speed hubs where the 1st position is an under drive while with the 5 speed you have an AW sandwiched between an underdrive and over drive.

When it comes to reliability you cannot beat an SA AW and I do not know many who have had the problems you had... perhaps the issues you had stemmed from youthful exuberance as the stock wheels on old Raleighs were pretty robust and will stay ride-able even after you break a handful of spokes.
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Old 11-20-12, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc
General rule for Raleigh and clone 3 speeds...under 6' get the 21" frames, under 5'-5"...get a 19" or a step through, under 5'-1" get a Colt or Space Rider...Over 6' can ride a 21" but the 23" are better.

Aaron
Killer good info Aaron.

I check in about .25 shy of 5'11" and have a 21" LTD-3 and a 23" Sports. I ride the LTD more often as it is geared a little lower and the frame size, for me, is all about comfort. Even so, it can still "stretch out" in 3rd.

I ride the Sports when I'm feeling athletic... LOL. [which, thankfully, is still rather frequently]


It hit 63 F today in the Palmetto Piedmont and I took a couple of short fun rides on the LTD.
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Old 11-21-12, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
When it comes to reliability you cannot beat an SA AW and I do not know many who have had the problems you had... perhaps the issues you had stemmed from youthful exuberance as the stock wheels on old Raleighs were pretty robust and will stay ride-able even after you break a handful of spokes.
I did not say it was unridable with with a broken spoke or two, I just said they broke quite often. On the other hand wheels with modern stainless steel spokes almost never break even though I now weigh 11 stone (It is a British Bike after all, they think pounds is money).
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Old 11-26-12, 06:16 PM
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Have we pointed and laughed at this yet?

https://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=261130562372

A NOS pre-62ish Superbe or DL1 for more than $1,000 is a slightly acceptable asking price...but this is a bit of a departure
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Old 11-26-12, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by graywolf
I did not say it was unridable with with a broken spoke or two, I just said they broke quite often. On the other hand wheels with modern stainless steel spokes almost never break even though I now weigh 11 stone (It is a British Bike after all, they think pounds is money).
Sorry, but I agree with Sixty Fiver. I think the bike was abused. Your experience is unusual for an English 3-speed. Frequent flats, broken spokes, replacing pedals. I haven't heard of this, and I've worked on hundreds of English 3-speeds. I've only replaced a handful of spokes.

Once your spokes are loose, they'll fatigue and break frequently. Replacing them one by one doesn't improve the picture. The new ones will fatigue quickly because to put them in, you have to match the tension of the existing spokes, which is too low.
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Old 11-27-12, 09:18 AM
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I have a Raleigh Sports that has seen over 35,000 miles only replaced items have been tires, tubes, brake blocks and the occasional chain. We did have to replace the fork and the off side crank after my brother ran into a parked car one night when it went neutral on him. AFAIK it still has all of the original heavy galvanized spokes, I know that the Endrick pattern rims are original.

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Old 11-29-12, 06:10 AM
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Any thoughts on what's causing the front fenderline here to be so out of whack -- you see this on about 30% of Raleigh Sports.

Is this because the fender here is mounted behind the fork, rather than in front?

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Old 11-29-12, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by akcapbikeforums
Any thoughts on what's causing the front fenderline here to be so out of whack -- you see this on about 30% of Raleigh Sports.

Is this because the fender here is mounted behind the fork, rather than in front?

Just a guess, but your stays look bent and not aligned in the picture. That would cause them to be shorter and possible push the rear of the fender up resulting in the bad fender line. Or the fender could be mounted to the wrong side of the fork crown and/or brake bridge or the brakets could be bent; which would put too much fender over the rear of the wheel causing the unsightly lines. I would take the fenders off, straighten things up a bit and install them with an eye towards achieving a better line. A little love goes a long way.
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Old 11-29-12, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by akcapbikeforums
Any thoughts on what's causing the front fenderline here to be so out of whack -- you see this on about 30% of Raleigh Sports.

Is this because the fender here is mounted behind the fork, rather than in front?
You have it mounted correctly; it should be behind the fork. My guess is the cause was something got caught in the front wheel and pushed the fender struts upward. The fix is to use force. I don't think you need to remove the fender to fix this. Just loosen the axle nuts, then squeeze the fender and the front wheel together in various places until the fender looks right. Then tighten the nuts up again, and you're done.
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Old 12-02-12, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Sorry, but I agree with Sixty Fiver. I think the bike was abused. Your experience is unusual for an English 3-speed. Frequent flats, broken spokes, replacing pedals. I haven't heard of this, and I've worked on hundreds of English 3-speeds. I've only replaced a handful of spokes.
Of course it was abused, it was ridden by a 10 year old boy (me) in 1953. By the time I was 12 I realized that most of the problems were caused by my dad fixing it and figured out how to do it myself (lots of books in the library about 3-speed bikes back then). Of course I did not have the money to buy the parts I needed (the drive side crank and pedal that my dad had brazed together was about $25 at the bike store (about half what the whole bike cost new). My allowance was 25 cents and I got a a half buck for mowing a lawn). Spokes I could afford they were two-bits a piece. It was also stolen and stripped. Frame, wheels, crank, and handle bars were all I got back. Eventually, I was given a friend's JC Higgins (sears) when they move out of town. That one lasted me until I joined the Air Force.

BTW, the JC Higgins (Austrian made circa 1958 or so) also broke spokes quite often although it was being well maintained by me (I actually had a job by then).

Now when you move up to newer bikes, like 60's & early 70's, the spokes had improved a lot.
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Old 12-02-12, 07:12 PM
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71 Triumph

Finished with my 71 Triumph. Rides great. Just need to add a light set.

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Old 12-02-12, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by w1xq
Finished with my 71 Triumph. Rides great. Just need to add a light set.

Looks great too, W1. Nice job!
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Old 12-07-12, 12:35 PM
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1951 Rudge Whitworth now on SF Craigslist:

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/3460054956.html
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Old 12-07-12, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by w1xq
Finished with my 71 Triumph. Rides great. Just need to add a light set.
Nice. Are those updated rims?
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Old 12-07-12, 05:16 PM
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Hello all. I'm sort of new, been lurking a while. Not capable of posting pics at present. Spurred by this thread I found a matched man's and a ladie's set of Raleigh Superbes. I've been looking for the black fluted cable housing that these bikes came with, with no luck. Any ideas?
Brian

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Old 12-08-12, 05:00 PM
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It is Indian, not English, not 3-speed, SS-FW, but its roots are British, an India Hercules clone. The head badge says The King, with a seated Lion, like the Phillips badge.
It has been in pieces for some time, and now I hope to sell it locally as a street picker's bike.

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Old 12-09-12, 11:03 AM
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I've had the best luck by checking eBay UK every few days. Keep looking, it'll turn up

Originally Posted by bmc5733946
Hello all. I'm sort of new, been lurking a while. Not capable of posting pics at present. Spurred by this thread I found a matched man's and a ladie's set of Raleigh Superbes. I've been looking for the black fluted cable housing that these bikes came with, with no luck. Any ideas?
Brian
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Old 12-09-12, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by PalmettoUpstate
Nice. Are those updated rims?
Pametto, no they are the original Sturmy Archer rims.
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