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Which would you choose?

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Which would you choose?

Old 05-02-10, 07:44 PM
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Which would you choose?

First off, perhaps I should introduce myself. The name's Harry and I am fairly new to cycling. Of course I had a bike or two as a child but didn't ride a whole lot. Then I got into motorcycles back in college and it wasn't until a couple years ago that I started riding bicycles again. Someone gave me a hand-me-down department store mountain bike and I enjoyed it for short hops around town but it was brutally uncomfortable and the chain loved to fall off at the most annoying times. This taught me to despise derailers and I intend to never own another bike that has them.

So, last year I bought a brand new fat-tire beach cruiser. Single speed coaster brake. I did add a front brake for redundancy. It's perfect for New Orleans which is flat enough not to require gears. At some point I discovered the existance of the internal geared hub and was fascinated. This summer I have a job in Baltimore for a few months and rather than bring a car I decided to buy a bicycle first thing after I arrived.

After cruising craigslist for a couple days I had two candidates: a vintage Raleigh Sports for $140 and a "100th Anniversary" Columbia 3-speed (unknown model but looked very similar to the Raleigh geometery wise) for $150. I went with the Raleigh purely because the seller agreed to deliver it. It turned out to be a 1967ish, nearly all original, and I've been riding it all over for the last few weeks. She's not nearly as comfy as my cruiser back home of course, but the handling is much sharper and the IGH is everything I hoped for. Don't get me wrong, I love the Raleigh and am very happy with it, but now I am wondering about "the one that got away."

Comparing the two, in hindsight my one complaint about the Raleigh is the Whitworth fasteners. The Columbia's standard fasteners would be much easier to work with and replace if needed. Also the Raleigh seems fairly "common" for a vintage bike whereas the Columbia is apparently less common. Information on them is quite scarse on the web and even here there is nary a mention of them. Anyone care to clue me in on what I'm missing out on? Did Columbia use the same Sturmey-Archer hub? Which would you have chosen?
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Old 05-02-10, 08:13 PM
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You picked the right bike.

Most likely either bike would get you around town for occasional cruising, but the Columbia is most likely a discount store bike with lower quality frame and bearings. My guess is that the Columbia was no more than $129 new.

Without pictures I am not 100% certain, but every Columbia I have seen has been a pretty low quality bike.
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Old 05-02-10, 08:25 PM
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Without knowing anything else, I'd say the Raleigh was a better choice as well.
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Old 05-02-10, 08:50 PM
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Welcome aboard Harry, and good job on picking the right bike!

I've seen plenty of examples of the Columbia Tourist with Sturmey Archer hubs, I believe that's how they were built. A few things in the Columbia's favor: Ease of maintenance on the bottom bracket - some specialty tools are needed to service the Raleigh. Columbias' also had some interesting color options and are sometimes found with chrome fenders and chain guards.

Despite that, I'd probably have taken the Raleigh also, they're great bikes! Do you plan to take it back to New Orleans when you return?
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Old 05-02-10, 09:09 PM
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It looks to be unanimous, Raleigh was right.

Chris: The Columbia was bright red, don't remember any chrome to speak of. The Raleigh is black, which is more my color anyway. As for bringing it home or not I really haven't decided. It's a little too big for me; I can just barely straddle it. I am starting to get fairly attached though, the more I work on it. Guess I'll wait and see. As for the bottom bracket, it does look to be a hassle. I am thinking of converting it from grease to oil, but that's another thread...
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Old 05-02-10, 09:32 PM
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Um, have you been to Retro Raleighs yet?
https://sheldonbrown.com/retroraleighs/index.html
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Old 05-03-10, 07:37 AM
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I had a Columbia once, a basic old-school hardware store bike. All repairs with a channel-locks, crescent wrench, screwdriver, and 3-1 oil.

Good choice on the Raleigh, a higher level of quality, and you have us to help you with things you may need.

Welcome.
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