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Raleigh 3 Speed Sizing?

Old 04-10-10, 07:29 AM
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CharmCityCycle
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Raleigh 3 Speed Sizing?

Well I was going to be a one bike kinda guy (nice thought right), but my wife thinks that given the amount I will have into my Trek 620 by the time I'm finished with it, that I would be foolish to leave it locked up here in the city. She's probably right. So I need to find something cheap that I can ride downtown to the library, or the movie theatre, or wherever, that I won't have to fret about. I'm thinking an old Raleigh 3 speed would make a good beater/grocery getter. Heck, that's pretty much what they were designed for, and it seems like they can be had for a hundred bucks or less, depending on condition. The problem is, I don't know what to look for in terms of sizing. I haven't seen a single one that has the 23.5-24 inch seat tube that I would look for in a road bike. Did they make them that big? Being that this won't be a remotely performance oriented bike, would it make sense to buy one in whatever remotely close size I can find, and then just crank the seat and bars up? Thoughts? Anyone using one of these for puttering around?
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Old 04-10-10, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by CharmCityCycle View Post
Well I was going to be a one bike kinda guy (nice thought right), but my wife thinks that given the amount I will have into my Trek 620 by the time I'm finished with it, that I would be foolish to leave it locked up here in the city. She's probably right. So I need to find something cheap that I can ride downtown to the library, or the movie theatre, or wherever, that I won't have to fret about. I'm thinking an old Raleigh 3 speed would make a good beater/grocery getter. Heck, that's pretty much what they were designed for, and it seems like they can be had for a hundred bucks or less, depending on condition. The problem is, I don't know what to look for in terms of sizing. I haven't seen a single one that has the 23.5-24 inch seat tube that I would look for in a road bike. Did they make them that big? Being that this won't be a remotely performance oriented bike, would it make sense to buy one in whatever remotely close size I can find, and then just crank the seat and bars up? Thoughts? Anyone using one of these for puttering around?
Biggest Raleigh Sports/Superbe they made is 23", the most common size is 21", they did make a 19" for a couple of years (these are the diamond frames). My "road" frame size is a 25.5" (65cm). I ride both a 21" and a 23". On the 21" Sports I have an extended length seat post and the bars as high as I can get them. I am 6'-2" with long arms and legs.

There are lots of choices out there for a ride to town and leave it bike.

Aaron
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Old 04-10-10, 10:28 AM
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The 23" frame is out there, but harder to find. This time of year, though, people are cleaning out garages and they can be found cheap at yard sales.

I'm about 5'11. I ride a 23" Raleigh Sports and a 23" Triumph Sports. I ride to work, which is 6 miles away, pick my daughter up at daycare in a trailer, go to the grocery store, Target, and Menards. I guess that qualifies as puttering around.

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Old 04-10-10, 11:04 AM
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I'm 6'2" and ride a 23" Raliegh Sport turned psuedo-Clubman, my road bike is a 62cm and both fit just fine. 23" 3 speeds are out there, just keep looking.
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Old 04-10-10, 03:54 PM
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Thanks everyone. I guess I will hold out until I can locate one of the 23" ones.
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Old 04-10-10, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew F View Post
I'm 6'2" and ride a 23" Raliegh Sport turned psuedo-Clubman, my road bike is a 62cm and both fit just fine. 23" 3 speeds are out there, just keep looking.
That's one of the coolest looking bikes I've seen in a while.
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Old 04-10-10, 09:35 PM
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That's one of the coolest looking bikes I've seen in a while.
Thanks, it was my 2009/10 winter project, lots of fun getting the parts together and it's proven to be an enjoyable ride.
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Old 04-11-10, 08:22 AM
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Like Wahoonc, I also ride two different size Sports. My 23" is a typical '74 Sports with Brooks saddle, rear carrier and a vinyl saddle bag. Pretty much stock with the exception of the grips, which are foam. Here's a pic showing mine and my wife's matching '73.



My 21" Sports is more radical; hand built from a bare frame using parts from a 23" Sports. It's powder coated in a semi-gloss black. It's built along the lines of a Clubman much like Andrew's except I retained the fenders and chain guard. I installed a Brook's B17 saddle in honey color with matching grips.

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Old 04-11-10, 10:13 AM
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These pictures will give you an idea of the set up on my two and sizing difference. The Sports has since had a new set of tires added, the chain cleaned and oiled and is getting a set of Wald baskets front and rear. It is going to live at my parents house in town, for pub and beer runs.

The seat post on the Sports sticks out about 1.5" more than on the Superbe.

Aaron



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Old 04-25-10, 08:40 PM
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I have a 1972 Raleigh Sports with a 23" seat-tube measurement. (I bought it at an estate sale 15 years ago, hung it up in my basement and just took it out this weekend for the first time--can't believe the tires will hold air.) Oddly enough, here's the question I was going to ask: Did they make them in a shorter tube length? I guess so. The size I have works for me, but just barely--the standover height gives me only about a half-inch of clearance. I wish it was an inch or so shorter. It'd be nice to find some in in the Minneapolis area who'd want to trade their shorter Sports version. Here's a picture I snapped. By the way, I'm brand new to the forum, and I'm coming back to recreational riding after a long absence.
Originally Posted by CharmCityCycle View Post
Well I was going to be a one bike kinda guy (nice thought right), but my wife thinks that given the amount I will have into my Trek 620 by the time I'm finished with it, that I would be foolish to leave it locked up here in the city. She's probably right. So I need to find something cheap that I can ride downtown to the library, or the movie theatre, or wherever, that I won't have to fret about. I'm thinking an old Raleigh 3 speed would make a good beater/grocery getter. Heck, that's pretty much what they were designed for, and it seems like they can be had for a hundred bucks or less, depending on condition. The problem is, I don't know what to look for in terms of sizing. I haven't seen a single one that has the 23.5-24 inch seat tube that I would look for in a road bike. Did they make them that big? Being that this won't be a remotely performance oriented bike, would it make sense to buy one in whatever remotely close size I can find, and then just crank the seat and bars up? Thoughts? Anyone using one of these for puttering around?
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Old 04-25-10, 09:08 PM
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There was a 21" version of the Sport, that sounds like what you need. That's a very clean example you've got, you just might find someone who wants to swap. Good luck!
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Old 04-25-10, 09:27 PM
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Isn't it true that a 21" works for you if you ride a 22" or bigger road frame? I don't even know why that is, but it seems to be.
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Old 04-25-10, 09:47 PM
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I usually ride about a 59cm road bike, but find I'm comfortable on a 21" English 3. Of course, that's with about 5" of seatpost sticking out...
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Old 04-25-10, 10:12 PM
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It's odd: My Raleigh has a 23" frame and a standover height that's taller than it should be for me; I'm only 5'7". Yet it doesn't feel that big or tall when I'm on it. And if you look at the picture I posted, the seat, which is pulled up a good 6 inches out of the tube, is the right height for me. On the other hand, I have a '78 Schwinn Suburban with a frame size and standover height that, according to all the rules, is the perfect size for me--yet it feels small and the riding position is less comfortable than the Raleigh. So why does the correct-size bike feel small, and the too-tall bike feel okay? Is there something about sizing yourself to a 70s bike that's different than today's models?
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Old 04-25-10, 10:35 PM
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I'm 5'7" and got a Raleigh Superbe 23" by mistake. I thought it was a 21" but the late Sheldon Brown informed me it was a size bigger and I've managed to get used to it even though meant the seatpost going almost all the way into the frame and raising the stem somewhat. I still like it despite going to a 700C wheelset which did raise the standover height. Should have kept it the traditional 700A wheelset but at the time they didn't have alloy rims in the size and a good selection of tires was scarce.
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Old 04-25-10, 10:47 PM
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The Raleigh Sports isn't a 70's bike. It's more like a 40's or 50's bike.
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Old 04-26-10, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The Raleigh Sports isn't a 70's bike. It's more like a 40's or 50's bike.

Tom, are you referring to the style, or to production dates? As far as style, I'd agree. The really generous setback would allow for a larger frame than usual.

Peter - have you seen Electra's bikes? Think about that kind of technology, but not as extreme. That's why you can ride a bigger frame than you typically could on a standard bike.
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Old 04-26-10, 07:34 AM
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Mickey, yes, the style, or really, the design. The bike changed very little over all the time it was produced, and Norman was comparing sizing it with sizing a modern bike.
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Old 05-17-21, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Isn't it true that a 21" works for you if you ride a 22" or bigger road frame? I don't even know why that is, but it seems to be.
Old thread but it has useful information on sizing for English 3 speeds. I ride a 57 or a 22.5 road frame but I'm thinking of picking up a 21 inch English 3 speed. After reading this thread, I'm comfortable that I can make the sizing work.
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Old 05-17-21, 08:03 AM
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Also, keep in mind that the fairly uncommon - but out there - 3-speed, 27"-wheeled version of the Sprite offered after '77 was available in both 23.5 and 25" as well. Hard to find, but one of the best options for a tall rider looking for a traditional Sports without having to build one out of a completely unrelated bike.

-Kurt
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Old 05-17-21, 08:24 AM
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@bikemig, it will be fine for you.
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Old 05-17-21, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Also, keep in mind that the fairly uncommon - but out there - 3-speed, 27"-wheeled version of the Sprite offered after '77 was available in both 23.5 and 25" as well. Hard to find, but one of the best options for a tall rider looking for a traditional Sports without having to build one out of a completely unrelated bike.

-Kurt

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Old 05-17-21, 05:18 PM
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I ride 25" road bikes and have a 23" men's Sports and also a 23" ladies' Sports that is boxed up for future use when I can no longer swing a leg over the diamond frames. I grabbed my men's when I found it because they seemed so rare but lately I've been finding loads of them on FB Marketplace. Seriously worth a look if you're in the market. The ladies' bike I found at the curb on trash day in Wake Forest NC. What timing!

I geared mine down with a 24T rear cog from a Shimano Nexus 3 hub.

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Old 05-20-21, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by IsleRide View Post
You just brought back memories for me. In 1980 and 1981, I was head mechanic at a shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on MIT campus. A frequent customer rode this bike. He was very tall and rather large framed. He had frequent breakdowns and was frustrated. He destroyed cotter pins, spokes, and I think rims. His was the first 3-speed hub I overhauled, as he ruined his pawls. He asked why he had so many problems with his bike. I was only 20 years old, so I didn't know about tact, so I told him it was because of his weight. Now I know to use the word "size." I also rebuilt his rear wheel with a Weinmann concave rim, and I think that worked out well.
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Old 05-20-21, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
You just brought back memories for me. In 1980 and 1981, I was head mechanic at a shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on MIT campus. A frequent customer rode this bike. He was very tall and rather large framed. He had frequent breakdowns and was frustrated. He destroyed cotter pins, spokes, and I think rims. His was the first 3-speed hub I overhauled, as he ruined his pawls. He asked why he had so many problems with his bike. I was only 20 years old, so I didn't know about tact, so I told him it was because of his weight. Now I know to use the word "size." I also rebuilt his rear wheel with a Weinmann concave rim, and I think that worked out well.
Good story. Based on the condition of this one it wasn't his bike!
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