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1973 Raleigh Twenty refurbishment

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1973 Raleigh Twenty refurbishment

Old 03-01-13, 08:45 AM
  #1  
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1973 Raleigh Twenty refurbishment

I might be commuting by train soon, if things go according to plan. My plan is to get a job in Manhattan and take the train in from NJ. Later this year, we'll move to Manhattan, and I may not need this bike any more.

Pictures to follow soon.

My neighbor sold me his 1973 Raleigh Twenty about three years ago. He bought it new in 1973 and used it a fair bit. He decided he wanted a modern folding bike, and who could blame him? The guys at the bike shop said all he could expect to get for it was $20, so I offered him $40. Great deal for both of us.

Headset

The headset makes the handling bad. rhm tells me the fork rake is excessive, too, and that I should try tweaking it.

Brakes

As many people know, the brakes on this bike are unacceptably bad. They are super-long-reach sidepulls which work poorly in the dry and not at all in the wet.

Fork

The fork tips need filing out to allow a modern axle. The original front hub is the Raleigh Sports kind with a small-diameter axle and narrow (less than 100mm) spacing, so I'll widen the fork as well as opening out the tips.

Front wheel

I've already built it: Sturmey Archer 70mm drum brake hub, lightweight aluminum rim, Primo Comet racing tire. The front hub brake should solve the braking problem adequately, though it would be nice to have a rear brake that works. Not sure what I'll do.

Rear wheel

The current wheel is the original with Sturmey Archer AW hub and heavy steel rim. I haven't decided what to do here, Maybe I could put on my cassette hub with roller brake. I think a derailleur on a folding bike sounds annoying, but maybe not. It could save weight, plus the roller brake works pretty well.

Fenders

I will probably keep them, but replacing them with lighter-weight fenders is tempting. Probably not cost-justified.

Crank

Original cottered steel, and again, replacement is probably not cost-justified, but then again, I may have a crank on hand which wouldn't have a high (effective) cost. I may never manage to make this bike light, but a little lightening here and there might make it more pleasant.

Handlebars

If possible, I might put something light on. No strong feelings about whether I use drop or upright handlebars.

Saddle

I'm definitely swapping out this gigantic mattress saddle, also original.
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Old 03-01-13, 09:21 AM
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When it comes to Twenty modifications/improvements, I always think of Sixtyfiver's bikes, he's took the baton from Sheldon Brown and ran with it. Congrats on the new gig, and good luck with it!
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Old 03-01-13, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I might be commuting by train soon, if things go according to plan. My plan is to get a job in Manhattan and take the train in from NJ. Later this year, we'll move to Manhattan, and I may not need this bike any more.

Pictures to follow soon.

My neighbor sold me his 1973 Raleigh Twenty about three years ago. He bought it new in 1973 and used it a fair bit. He decided he wanted a modern folding bike, and who could blame him? The guys at the bike shop said all he could expect to get for it was $20, so I offered him $40. Great deal for both of us.

Headset

The headset makes the handling bad. rhm tells me the fork rake is excessive, too, and that I should try tweaking it.

Brakes

As many people know, the brakes on this bike are unacceptably bad. They are super-long-reach sidepulls which work poorly in the dry and not at all in the wet.

Fork

The fork tips need filing out to allow a modern axle. The original front hub is the Raleigh Sports kind with a small-diameter axle and narrow (less than 100mm) spacing, so I'll widen the fork as well as opening out the tips.

Front wheel

I've already built it: Sturmey Archer 70mm drum brake hub, lightweight aluminum rim, Primo Comet racing tire. The front hub brake should solve the braking problem adequately, though it would be nice to have a rear brake that works. Not sure what I'll do.

Rear wheel

The current wheel is the original with Sturmey Archer AW hub and heavy steel rim. I haven't decided what to do here, Maybe I could put on my cassette hub with roller brake. I think a derailleur on a folding bike sounds annoying, but maybe not. It could save weight, plus the roller brake works pretty well.

Fenders

I will probably keep them, but replacing them with lighter-weight fenders is tempting. Probably not cost-justified.

Crank

Original cottered steel, and again, replacement is probably not cost-justified, but then again, I may have a crank on hand which wouldn't have a high (effective) cost. I may never manage to make this bike light, but a little lightening here and there might make it more pleasant.

Handlebars

If possible, I might put something light on. No strong feelings about whether I use drop or upright handlebars.

Saddle

I'm definitely swapping out this gigantic mattress saddle, also original.
1973 Raleigh Twenty refurbishment
Terrific pick-up. There are two kinds of folding bikes: those that are easy to fold, and those that ride well. The Raleigh 20 is pretty easy to fold and rides pretty well.
Headset: I did come careful measurement and calculated how much I had to cut the headtube to accommodate the headset I planned to use. The head tube was cut and it worked fine.

Brakes: I brazed on pegs for cantis on my Raleigh 20, but the same pegs can be used for V brakes if you choose. The front brake is an old Mafac canti. The rear brake is a Shimano that permits the arms to get out of the way of my legs.

Fork: I replaced the fork dropouts with standard, modern dropouts. Worked fine.

Front wheel: I built a pair of wheels with Shimano Deore hubs and Velocity rims. They work very well. If the drum hub works for you, go for it.

Rear wheel: My rear wheel is a Shimano Deore freehub 135mm wide. I have set it up as a 9 spd rear by brazing a derailleur hanger and spacers on the stamped dropouts. It works fine.

Fenders: I have removed the steel factory fenders. If I were planning to commute in adverse weather, I might replace them.

Crank: I replaced the original cottered steel crank with a TA Cyclotourist triple that I had on hand. At the moment I don’t remember what rings I used on it, but as I recall it has overall gearing from about 20 to 90 in. The front derailleur is mounted on a plate that moves it aft from the seat tube to give the chain more clearance due to the downward angle of the chain as it goes aft to the cluster. It shifts very well.

Handlebars: I left on the stock bars. This bike is actually set up for my wife and her sister and they prefer it this way.

Saddle: I left the original gigantic mattress saddle because my sister-in-law likes it.

Good luck on your project. Folding bikes can be fun.

Before my aunt gave me the old Raleigh 20, I used it as the basis to design my own "folder." In reality it doesn't fold, but comes apart, much like the Richey folder. I built it to take on plane trips, not to fold and unfold twice a day on the train. I have taken it to Cali a few times and to other places. I can also throw it in the back of the car and ride home after dropping the car off at the shop for work/repair. It works for me, but it might not be right of others.
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Old 03-01-13, 09:41 AM
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If you are really going to use a folder for a public transport bike, I'd buy a used Dahon or similar. It is going to be lighter and have better components.

If you want to hot-rod a 20 for the sake of it, go for it.
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Old 03-01-13, 10:01 AM
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+1 to mparker - by the time you do what you discussed above, you could have a better, cheaper platform with a used Dahon.
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Old 03-01-13, 11:28 AM
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Better? No question. Cheaper? OK, now you got my attention.

I souped up a Twenty once before. I didn't like the results. It had drop bars, aluminum rims, BMX tires, and a 5-speed internally geared hub. Maybe it was the fit, maybe it was the tires, maybe it was the wide spaces between gears. I'm interested in finding out if I can like this bike.

Mostly, it's a project. If a folding bike were important to me, I might not be doing this. I probably won't need the bike for more than a few months.

So I'll take your advice to heart, Aaron, and I'll be careful not to spend (too much) more money on it.
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Old 03-01-13, 11:58 AM
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Wow! I went over to the dark side of expensive, easy to fold and rides pretty well Bromptons. Not cheaper, for sure, but one day's use solidified my resolve to sell my beloved 70s Lady Sports. I put it through its paces yesterday -- a 10 mile round trip to REI with two Detours bags to return (loved them, but they did not work on any of my bikes), a stop at the hot dog stand for lunch, a stop to eat my vegan hot dog, and a stop at Trader Joe's to test "shopping cart mode" (Eh. Folding and plopping in the shopping cart is easier.). Except for the fact that I need to move the saddle and handlebars a bit, I loved every moment. I went with the 3-speed -12% and I definitely want to change it to -18%, but I don't think I need more than three gears. This weekend DH and I are going to test using it on public transportation. He is not comfortable with folding/unfolding yet. It's already a piece of cake for me.

I did consider a Twenty. There are a few on CL here and they seem to be fairly common. Just not as practical for jumping on the bus and then riding that last 1.7 miles to Ikea, for instance.

The one I got yesterday was in stock, and not the color I wanted, but discounted and otherwise perfect, so I took it and ordered a second for DH. He gets to ride mine until his arrives. I did not convince him to take it with him today to ride the mile that he usually walks from the bus to work. I may get to ride it more than I thought I would.
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Old 03-01-13, 12:12 PM
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I was thinking a Twenty might be a great Manhattan neighborhood bike.
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Old 03-01-13, 01:43 PM
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After a lively two-week discussion in the folders forum where I was asking for advice regarding getting my first folder in forty years I ended up opting for . . . . . . . a Raleigh Twenty. Mainly because that was my first folder, and I knew what I was getting. (OK, I hedged my bets and also picked up a Montague.) And I'm still happy with what I'm riding, although I'm considering making a second set of wheels. AW hub, but alloy rims. Otherwise, it's going to do just what I want it for. Short hop runs out where I live, the bike to toss in the trunk when I drop the car off for service and shopping around trips where I park the car and unlimber the bike.

In all fairness, it's my fourth-line commuter behind (in order of use) my '91 Schwinn CrissCross, Montague, and '86 Ranger (Phillips) 3-speed roadster.
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Old 03-01-13, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
When it comes to Twenty modifications/improvements, I always think of Sixty Fiver's bikes, he's took the baton from Sheldon Brown and ran with it. Congrats on the new gig, and good luck with it!
Sheldon inspired me to build up Forrest which was about as radical as it gets... plan was to make the bike separable and pack-able rather than use it for quick folds.





On the lighter side, the stock headset is serviceable but the 20 does get much nicer when you convert the stock headset to a modern one and have converted several of these by integrating a modern thread-less headset with the existing Raleigh hardware to retain the adjustment.

Alloy wheels are a definite improvement as are better brake pads although by modern standards, the 406 equipped R20 is a poorer stopping bike and not as good as the 451 equipped British model which has steel calipers and shorter reach brakes.

My other 20 is pretty much stock and has only had it's rims replaced with alloy ones... it is a fine bicycle and most suitable for trips of 10-20 km where one is not pushing the pace while Forrest was designed for centuries and multi day / week adventures but is also a great daily driver.

I am building up a 20 for my favourite mother in law and it will be getting alloy wheels and v brakes (and fresh powder)... the only thing she does not like about riding a 20 is the stopping power and with modern brakes the pull will also be much lighter.
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Old 03-01-13, 03:56 PM
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Sounds like a good plan, Tom. I solved the brake and headset problem by buying a canti-stud equipped fork from Niagara and cutting the headtube and using a standard threaded headset.

The crank may be more trouble- the BB is 26TPI, so a standard BB won't fit, and extra long square-taper spindles are like hen's teeth.

A Brompton could be a good investment- buy it, use it for the few months on the train, then sell it for 90% of the original cost (they don't lose a lot of value). Or find a used one if you can, use it, then sell it for the same amount.
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Old 03-01-13, 04:21 PM
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Please help! My wife's 1967 Robin Hood had a damaged fork beyond repair...does anyone know what size fork she needs which can be purchased online. Does not need to be exact same even a replica version will do
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Old 03-01-13, 05:07 PM
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The difference between Seattle and Manhattan might be enough that a Brompton is perfect for Seattle and a Twenty is perfect for Manhattan. There are tons and tons of Sportses locked up on the streets here, and they are holding up extremely well. The streets are tough, and sometimes you have to leave your bike out overnight. If you have something more valuable, it will be vandalized, but vandals don't go after Sportses, and I suspect they won't go after Twentys, either. And Seattle is hillier so you need a light bike, but Manhattan isn't very hilly if you're south of 110th St, so the heavy bike isn't such a bad thing.

Sixty Fiver was inspired by Sheldon, and if I'm not mistaken, Sheldon was inspired by John S Allen, who was Sheldon's friend. John also inspired me to build my first Twenty. I met him in 1980, and he had a souped up one and recommended I do the same. I tried, but I didn't put enough energy into it. Then I had to move, then I went back to college, so I had to scrap the project. Now I'm picking it back up, in a sense.

The more I think about it, the more I think I'll run a 1-by-X derailleur setup. I don't mind using a cottered steel crank, it would present the problem of using a multi-speed chain on a chainring built for 1/8" chains. Ideas?
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Old 03-01-13, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Robinhood1970 View Post
Please help! My wife's 1967 Robin Hood had a damaged fork beyond repair...does anyone know what size fork she needs which can be purchased online. Does not need to be exact same even a replica version will do
Forks for these bikes are around. You can even get one from a trashed Sports, or you can use a generic fork made for 650A wheels, probably from Niagara or Amazon (which may end up being the same). Your local bike shop could get one for you, too.
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Old 03-01-13, 06:26 PM
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Thanks! Would u happen to know if the tube is a 1 inch? Are most vintage Robin Hood and raliegh bikes 1 inch steering tubes when it comes to the forks? I looking at aftermarket......
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Old 03-01-13, 06:55 PM
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Will a 20 get small enough ( & fold fast enough) for the NJT at rushhour?

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Old 03-01-13, 07:34 PM
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Some ideas here
https://raleightwenty.webs.com/
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Old 03-02-13, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
... BMX tires ... maybe it was the tires ...
Hi,

AFAICT the tires on my cheap folder are cheap BMX tires,
and updating the rear to a decent Scwalble road tire has
made a big difference, so I'm now updating the front too.

rgds, sreten.
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Old 03-02-13, 01:29 PM
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ilynne, I meant to say that I don't think you're on the dark side at all. Sounds great for you!

People insist that this bike can give a nice ride. I'll see if I agree. So far, not so good, but I haven't gone far enough yet.

velognome, the NJ Transit rules that to bring a bike on a train during rush hour, it has to be foldable. You don't even have to fold it unless the staff tells you to. There is no rule about maximum size when folded. It's a messy package when folded, but it works. I took it on a crowded train once.

Robonhood1970, yes, it's one inch, which is extremely standard.
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Old 03-02-13, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Dynocoaster View Post
I've been trying to reach that site for weeks. Now it's back up, so thanks for leading me to try again.
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Old 03-02-13, 02:21 PM
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[QUOTE=noglider;15335630]

NJ Transit rules that to bring a bike on a train during rush hour, it has to be foldable. You don't even have to fold it unless the staff tells you to. There is no rule about maximum size when folded. It's a messy package when folded, but it works. I took it on a crowded train once.
QUOTE]

Ya, was just thinking how crowded it is in the mornings on the platform and train. We've got the new doubles on the Coastline...still nothing dedicated to bicycles. Looks like you could spend some serious $'s getting a 20 up to the task at hand.
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Old 03-02-13, 10:41 PM
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I've got most of what I need on hand already, which makes it seem like I'm not spending money.

I've been following rhm's advice. One of the craziest things he said (well, I don't really know) was that I should straighten out some of the bend in the fork, because Raleigh built this bike with too much rake. He said he suspects they raked the fork according to looks, not handling.

So today, I went down to the LBS where they let me use the tools, since I worked there in summer of 2011. First, I spread the fork, because the spacing was less than 90mm. Then I bent the fork back so there would be less rake. I didn't have the right blocks in the gauge, so I was eyeballing it a lot. I was also in a hurry, so I wasn't terribly careful, but I actually think I got it about right. This is really crazy, because I didn't measure the rake before or after all the bends. I just bent it "some." Ah well. We'll see how this goes.

rhm told me to put it together with a threadless 1" headset, so I have that, and it will be my next step. I also have to file out the fork tips to allow the axle.
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Old 03-02-13, 11:34 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I've been trying to reach that site for weeks. Now it's back up, so thanks for leading me to try again.
I have posted a good deal of information there on headset modifications and agree that the 20 benefits from some fork tweaking... in the case of my P20 I just built a new one that better suited the more aggressive riding position.

Once you convert the headset there will be a marked difference in how the bike handles and should then allow for no handed riding and this works with an unmodified fork.

My daughter would ride her British R20 no handed all the time if I let her as I redid the headset on this bike.

She says this is the best bike ever and this is quite a compliment coming from a little girl who loved her 1973 Raleigh like nothing else.

You can see the differences in the forks here and the conversion on my daughter's bike is fairly invisible.



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Old 03-03-13, 04:03 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Robinhood1970 View Post
Thanks! Would u happen to know if the tube is a 1 inch? Are most vintage Robin Hood and raliegh bikes 1 inch steering tubes when it comes to the forks? I looking at aftermarket......
You also have to be careful of threading. The steerer tube is 1in, but the threading should be of a non-standard Raleigh pitch which means if you buy a new fork, or a non-raleigh used fork, you will have to also acquire new headset cups of the proper thread. You should be able to find a proper size for at any bike co-op, as there were very many generic / low-end "ten speeds" that came with the same size wheels as the Raleigh. Very many huffy/columbia/etc bikes purchased at an xmart in the 70s and 80s were of this size.
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Old 03-03-13, 05:14 AM
  #25  
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Raleigh threading is proprietary so although a bicycle like an R20 has a one inch threaded steerer the thread pitch is not standard, this is why using a threadless headset works as you retain the upper assembly and the ability to adjust the stem height as needed.

If you use a replacement fork you need to use a standard headset which is what I used on my P20.

Other Raleigh bicycles have this proprietary threading so changing a fork also require changing the headset.

I will have to track down the headset conversion details I posted.
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