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My Son's New 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport

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My Son's New 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport

Old 02-10-13, 02:34 PM
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jyl
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My Son's New 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport

My son has the misfortune of having a C&V father. Not that I myself am C&V - although it is true, my misfortune - I mean a father who buys him C&V bikes. Yes, he has to ride 30 year old machines, while all the other kids have . . . well, actually, there are a lot of BSO's and plenty of kids today don't even have a BSO. In this era where the rite-of-passage "first-big-kids-bike" has been replaced by the "first-XBox" or "first-iPhone", I'm seeing many kids go from the little-kids-starter-bike to mommy-as-chauffeur, no ten-speed involved thank you. And we wonder wherefrom childhood obesity.

So maybe the boy isn't so unfortunate after all. A decades-old vintage ten-speed is better than a Walmart vintage 2010, I'd say. He doesn't even have to ride them as-is, fresh from the time warp. We modernize them a little :-)

His current steed is a 1971 Peugeot G50 (juvenile) that was my childhood bike back when gas cost 25 cents and Archie Bunker ruled the rabbit ears. It has been rebuilt with almost none of the original bits, and turns heads when we roll into a bike shop. I posted that story here: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...71-Peugeot-G50

He loves "Leo", so-named for the lion badge, and rides it quite a bit on dry weekends. He has a hybrid for school, as there's no way Leo will live locked up in the rain outside a school all week. But he's getting too big for Leo, as you can see here, so it is time for a new bike.



Enter the Gran Sport. But first, a story.

It was late 1973 or maybe early 1974. I was living with my grandparents in New Jersey while my dad was in Southern California working at his new job. It was a pretty unhappy time for me. My grandparents were great, but even then they were old, and not so fun for a young boy to live with. The high school sucked, that was back in the day when H.S. was unpleasant and dangerous, kids beat each other up and stole money, there were hallways you couldn't go down and ways home you didn't walk. It was gray and cold and I walked in the freezing slush without any friends and missing my dad.

Then I moved to Los Angeles to live with my dad again. The summer of '74 on the Pacific Coast was warm and sunny, and so bright. My dad bought me the Gran Sport, and we rode on the beach bike path, from Redondo to Santa Monica, past the girls in bikinis, the musclemen in Venice, all the crazy colorful SoCal scene. We ate fresh crabs on the beach and in the fall I went to a new school with cheerful kids who became my friends. It was as if I'd died and gone to heaven.

I rode the Gran Sport through high school and into my first year of college at UCLA. Then, in '77 I think, I was tearing down a steep hill, probably doing >35 mph, when I hit a huge pavement heave and lost control, diving into the curb and then tumbling down the sidewalk. Because I was young, I just bounced, rolled and got up, bloody but otherwise unhurt. My Gran Sport was destroyed.

I carried its frame and parts with me for years, but I didn't know how to repair that level of damage (fork smashed, downtube bent). Eventually I carried just the Brooks saddle. About ten years later, that disappeared too.

Another Gran Sport has been on my C&V target acquisition list for some time. They show up often enough, but often rather beat or too expensive, and anyway thr garage is getting kind of full, so I hadn't been hunting for a while. A few weeks ago, my son said he'd ride this year's Seattle To Portland with me, and Tim Mueller posted his incredible Gran Sport. The coincidence of those two events that got me looking for a Gran Sport again, but this time in my son's size. Two popped up, a lagoon-and-white in Seattle and a white-and-lagoon in L.A. And here is the latter bike.



The bike was originally sold at College Ave Cycles in Oakland CA. The frame and paint are in nice condition, save for the Reynolds decals and, sadly, the Carlton decal. The Delrin changers are shot, all the other bits are in a good state and just a polish from looking tasty. However, not all those bits will necessarily be re-united with the frame.

Were this my Gran Sport, it would remain entirely stock and just as I rode mine back in the '70s. But I don't think my son should be limited to plastic Simplex just because his dad is an old bike fool. My plan is to keep as much of the Gran Sport look and flavour as I can, while giving him most of the convenience of a modern roadie.

I'm very open to suggestions. Some ideas that have come to mind - please shoot them dowm and insert your own ideas at will:

- Finding a newer mid-range group or mini-group with 10 speeds and brifters, let's say Campagnolo Daytona or Veloce, with alloy levers and cranks and white hoods (will Ergos look okay on the GB Randonneur bars?)

- Converting to indexed 8 speed Shimano with bar ends, like he has now on his Peugeot (we're fans of 600 tricolor here), and keeping the existing crank

- Fitting aerobars to give him a bit of extra help for the STP ride

- Is 14 y/o too young to be introduced to tubulars? I'd happily build him a lighter wheelset.

- Generally thinking of keeping the white bar tape and white hood look if I can. Though there will be some pressure for a lagoon and white harlequin wrap.

Interestingly, while an adult model, the Gran Sport's frame is not enormously larger than his juvenile Peugeot. Seat tube is about 2" longer and so is top tube. Of course this bike wears 27" rims while Leo has 26" (559mm), and has an adult crank versus the 160 mm BMX crank he's spinning now. So I think it will be a reasonable transition, but he'll need another bike when he grows to full size.

On gearing. When we geared Leo, I wanted to make sure he had a low gear to spin up the hill on which we do repeats (Mt Tabor), rather than hurting his knees. So the Peugeot has 50/34 and, if I remember correctly, 14-28. This time, it may be easier to use a standard, not-compact, crankset, which would give something like 53/39 and 14-28. Do you think that is okay for 14 y/o knees? Or should I make the effort to use a compact crank?

Last edited by jyl; 02-10-13 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 02-10-13, 03:02 PM
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When I was his age I was riding a 1962 Bianchi all over the hills of west Los Angeles w/ a 47-inch low gear -- 52-47/13-16-19-23-26, 26" wheels. I think a 39/28 bottom gear would be fine for him. I would vote for barcons, not necessarily indexed, although I was always happy w/ friction downtube levers (and still am).

Tell us more about that 1961 Specialissima, which is high on my list of dream bikes.
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Old 02-10-13, 04:05 PM
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She's a beauty!
If it were my GS I'd limit changes to just the derailleurs & shifters, and probably go with a period correct derailleur gruppo that I had on hand or could get for a reasonable price. The rest of the equipment is just fine in my book, when in proper working condition.
I wouldn't worry about his knees too much, unless there is a known issue. Take a first shot at gearing based on your and his experience, and be prepared to fine tune.
No need to ditch the Stronglight crankset either; XXCycle.com carries a good selection of 122mm chainrings.
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Old 02-10-13, 04:13 PM
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I'd do Suntour Bar-Cons, Vx-S RD and a new 6-speed Sunrace ramped FW. Because - that's what I did on my Gran Sport.
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Old 02-10-13, 04:23 PM
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Thanks for the referral to XXCycle. What a great resource.

John E, pic of the Bianchi are here. https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...er-Old-Bianchi. I have not started on it yet.
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Old 02-10-13, 04:44 PM
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That looks like a Nervar crank to me.
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Old 02-10-13, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
That looks like a Nervar crank to me.
Well, I certainly didn't recognize it; I'm still pretty innocent when it comes to French componentry... I just aSSumed it was StrongLight based on Raleigh Gran Sport build specs.
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Old 02-11-13, 12:43 AM
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That's a nice looking bike, it's even got the RD hanger too! It has a few things that i've never seen on a gran sport (or grand sports) before. I've never seen a grand sports decal on the chain stays or that Carlton decal either. The Carlton decal on your son's bike looks cooler than the usual rectangle.

I think bar-end shifters are nice. I like the modern Shimano shifters that can switch between indexed and friction. You could always buy shimano pods and mount any shift levers that you wanted too. Brifters are nice too, and I bet all the neighborhood kids would be green with envy.

Good luck! Keep us posted.
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Old 02-11-13, 06:27 AM
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If a triple is an option, I'm planing to drill the 54T Nervar chainring on my Sport Tourer's crankset to accept a granny, sometime in the next month or so. It would not be too difficult to do two at the same time. I don't know if I have enough chainring hardware for a second mounting, but that should be relatively easy to sort out.

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Old 02-11-13, 07:06 AM
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Your son is a very lucky young man to have a father that cares about what he is riding and what he is doing. The Gran Sport is one nice looking bike, I always liked that colourway on any Raleigh. No suggestions on the build choices, that is something personal to me, maybe involve your son and teach him about the components, their function and some history about their evolution, while you are at it. All your ideas seem like they are doable and the ones thrown out here are intriguing to me, too. wow, decisions, decisions.........

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Old 02-11-13, 07:55 AM
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That is quite a nice little bike you have there. As can be seen from the first picture, the one bike is indeed a little small for him, but the new one should carry him for a little while.
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Old 02-11-13, 08:52 AM
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Love the Gran Sport, as one of my riding buddies had one when I was at Ohio State back in the mid '70s.

Personally, I'd go with a triple front and six speed freewheel. Nothing larger than a 48 big ring since you live in the hills and you plan to tour... Probably a 13-24 SunTour New Winner freewheel. Can't go wrong with SunTour derailleurs, say a vintage VGT-luxe rear (I've even seen a Raleigh-badged one on eBay recently) and any front that will handle the triple. I was never a fan of downtube shifters, so I swapped my downtube shifters for SunTour barcons before it left the LBS when it was new! Can't beat quality components! I've been using that combo of parts for over 35 years and 45k miles!

Then, when he's ready for a larger frame, check out your local swap meets, craigslist or bike co-op for the right size C&V frame and swap the good components over!
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Old 02-11-13, 09:22 AM
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+1 on the Raleigh-badged VGT deralleur above. You need to jump on that!

Get some bar-cons to go with it, and then you could upgrade the wheelset and the rest of the drivetrain at your leisure. As far as gearing, something like 30-90 inches would be appropriate for your son. A Stronglight 99 triple would look especially good on there. I'd definately get rid of the push-rod Simplex front derailleur first thing before the plastic clamp breaks and causes a crash.

We should start a thread "C&V bikes that you've fixed up for your kids/wives". Congrats again on the "new" GS. Your son's a lucky boy!
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Old 02-11-13, 09:27 AM
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I went back to eBay and there are a couple of those Raleigh-badged VGT or V-GT derailleurs on there (the variance of different search parameters bring different results!)

And whatever wheelset you want... I'm sticking with 27" until I can't find quality tires any more... I'm finding 27x1-1/8 wheelsets to be a decent 'upgrade'. Or a set of new 27" wheels with good quality components unless you want to build your own. Or just switch to 700Cs now, but please stay true to the bike's vintage look and use polished rims!!!

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Old 02-11-13, 09:31 AM
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I too would go with Suntour stuff and barcons. I love my Gran Sport and have it set up with Cyclone and dt shifters currently, but barcons would be better for touring.

Have you measured the rear spacing? I happened to notice recently that mine (1973) is about 124mm, which I found odd; I always thought it was 120. I don't remember ever cold setting it, but then again there are probably lots of things I did in the '70s that I don't remember.
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Old 02-11-13, 09:38 AM
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Lucky kid! My first big girl bike was a Sears 3spd, then a fabulous used Royce Union for which I paid the princely sum of $50.

I kind of agree on the barcons too. Simply because he has a new, and bigger, bike to master so why through a new shifting system at him.
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Old 02-11-13, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by SuperLJ View Post
I'd definately get rid of the push-rod Simplex front derailleur first thing before the plastic clamp breaks and causes a crash.
It is already cracked through . . .

I really appreciate all the ideas. Index bar end shifters would be what he has now, so you''re right, he'd be used to them.

Triple, hmm, I had not thought about that. pastorbob, thank you, I will mull it over.
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Old 02-11-13, 10:47 AM
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If he likes his Pug so much, why not swap over the drivetrain (shifters and derailers) and the brakes if they fit? Then you can build a set of 700C or 27" wheels to complement the build.
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Old 02-11-13, 11:28 AM
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I think Leo (the Peugeot) is going into the basement for a long nap. In 30 years my son can discover it and give it to his kid, as I did. It'd be nice if it was complete when he does. Who knows, in 2043, will you be able to get a Shimano 600 tricolor mech or an 8 speed bar end?

It would save some money to strip the mechs and shifters, but not all that much. The brakes are just so-so, and the levers aren't silver. None of the other bits will fit or are needed.
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Old 02-11-13, 12:11 PM
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jyl, I love this. And your son is gorgeous, too.

I had a Gran Sport when I was a teenager. And I put tubulars on it and managed them! That's how I learned how to sew. Give a boy a reason to learn, and he'll be good at it.

But in truth, there's no good reason to use tubulars, in my opinion. They're too expensive, and they're too much trouble, and they don't perform as well as their adherents (pun intended) claim they do.
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Old 02-11-13, 12:26 PM
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Great looking bike and kid. It's good to pass along our love for the classics.

My son was never really into bicycles until just recently. Last year, he wanted a fixed gear bike... so I built him an all-new one. He loves it, and is really getting into riding, so this year he said he wanted a bike with gears. I asked him what kind he wants, and he said:

"An old one, like yours."

Brought a tear to my eyes.
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Old 02-11-13, 12:43 PM
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I'd service it for him, and upgrade the derailleurs, but absolutely no indexing, ya heah?
Yep. It's high time to wean the boy from that clicky stuff and get him on a manly friction-shifter bike.

PS. - You could not have done better than to get him the GS. A great bike to grow with.
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Old 02-11-13, 10:31 PM
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Interesting. Just heard from my dad. He confirmed my Gran Sport was a triple. I don't recall it having the chainring guard or the textured diamond inset on the cranks, that this one has. I recall the cranks were rather plain with a single flute. Any idea what crank it would have had? Just for curiosity. I remember it had bar end shifters. It is funny, 35 years on I still remember quite a few details about the bike.

He also said when he bought me the Gran Sport, the other bike he considered was a Raleigh Competition. I guess getting nice bikes for your kids is something that runs in the family.
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Old 02-12-13, 12:37 AM
  #24  
mkeller234
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Probably a Stonglight 93. When I found my Gran Sport the Stronglight crank had three chainrings, instead of the guard ring. Maybe that was a bike shop upgrade?

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Old 02-12-13, 10:25 AM
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My dad found an '82 Gran Sport in the trash last year. The 60cm frame was just a little bigger than I like, but it was a nice riding bike.

Little kids around here ride wretched BMX bikes or cruisers. Maybe a crap MTB. Then they stop riding in their teen years and let mommy drive them around. After high school, no more mommy rides. Been seeing a lot of old ten speeds and MTBs ridden by late teens-early twenties types. Fixies are starting to die out. Cruisers still are going strong. Cars are not affordable on a young adult's earnings.
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