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What to look for in a Raleigh Ladies Sport?

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What to look for in a Raleigh Ladies Sport?

Old 03-01-15, 07:26 PM
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Beth W
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What to look for in a Raleigh Ladies Sport?

I held off on this for a while, but I'm now thinking that if the right Raleigh Ladies Sport comes across my path, I'd like to buy one. I have an alert on Craigslist now, and they do come up occasionally.

I'm wondering if any of you have purchased/owned one, and if so, whether you have any advice for what to focus on when sizing up one of these bikes for purchase. There's the usual stuff, such as the condition of the frame/parts, the existence and extent of any rust, and so on. But if there's anything particular to these bikes to take special note of when checking one out, I'd love any tips.

Many thanks!
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Old 03-01-15, 07:49 PM
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I prefer older models, with the mid 50's being the sweet spot. Better chrome, steel, build quality, accessories and aesthetics. Don't limit yourself to Raleigh - Rudge, Humber, BSA, Hercules are all worth a look-see.
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Old 03-01-15, 08:16 PM
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Three speeds adequate on the hills of San Francisco?
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Old 03-01-15, 08:16 PM
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I agree with @clubman, though the older the bike the more likely its seen its share of abuse. I picked up this 73 for my sister a year or two back and it was in extremely good shape (though dirty as can be when I bought it). It polished up well and needed nothing but new tires. I got it for $70 including the original saddlebag, a lock, a mileage meter, and some pant clips!



So yes if you can find a decent older model it will have some advantages, but don't pass on a good more modern one if you can find one complete and in good shape.
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Old 03-01-15, 08:47 PM
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I picked up a 74 in Denver for $100 about 4 years ago for my wife. Same color as above - just needed new tires and cables. Agree with Markk above. I would not pass up a nice 1970s model it you find one. Perfect around the neighborhood bike.
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Old 03-01-15, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
Three speeds adequate on the hills of San Francisco?
That sounds like a major consideration.
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Old 03-01-15, 09:26 PM
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Are you mechanically inclined? I usually take these apart and grease them up no matter how shiny they are. If you want it turnkey pay the extra and get one from a reputable bike shop.
Yes, think about the hills. Raleigh made some great 10 speeds.
The Schwinn Breeze is also a good choice for this kind of riding.
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Old 03-01-15, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Fuzzy2964 View Post
I picked up a 74 in Denver for $100 about 4 years ago for my wife. Same color as above - just needed new tires and cables. Agree with Markk above. I would not pass up a nice 1970s model it you find one. Perfect around the neighborhood bike.
I agree. It also depends on your part of the country, here in Houston Texas where the car is king you can find some real time machines where they were ridden for a short time then parked..
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Old 03-01-15, 10:40 PM
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Thanks, all. I probably wouldn't use it as my daily commuter, but I've got a freakishly flat commute that I can actually mostly do in three speeds. I'd probably follow Lovely Bicycle's advice and have a bike shop gear it down a little for the hills if the included set isn't low enough.
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Old 03-01-15, 11:04 PM
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I found one of mine at the curb on trash day and the other rotting quietly against my neighbor's fence. I'm keeping the green 23" for myself when I finally need a step-through frame and the blue 19" I'll be fixing up for my wife for use in the 'hood. Regearing is pretty easy. I found the legendary 22T cog for my men's 23" and shortly after that learned that a Shimano Nexus 24T fits the Sturmey hub so now use that. Saving the 22T for one of the ladies' bikes.

These bikes are actually pretty sturdy. The blue one had been left outside for a decade or more and I was certain it was rusted beyond redemption but it seems to have survived. Needs tires and cables, probably a chain, but everything else looks fairly okay.

Free '69.


Free '78.
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Old 03-02-15, 06:52 AM
  #11  
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One thing to note is that they generally came in two sizes: 19 1/2" and 21" measured along the seat tube from the center of the bottom bracket to where the seat post comes out of the frame. Perhaps it's a statement of the obvious, but you want to find one that fits.

And too bad you live 3,000 miles away from me as I have two lady's Sports I plan to sell in the spring (both 21" frames).
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Old 03-02-15, 08:37 AM
  #12  
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If it will be only for occasional riding, the older bike will be more interesting, the "vintage vibe". Other than that, color & finish condition are most important considerations.
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Old 03-02-15, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Beth W View Post
Thanks, all. I probably wouldn't use it as my daily commuter, but I've got a freakishly flat commute that I can actually mostly do in three speeds. I'd probably follow Lovely Bicycle's advice and have a bike shop gear it down a little for the hills if the included set isn't low enough.
I'm glad you know about her. I have often cited her post about fixing up an old Sports to create the ideal city bike.

I've heard about The Wiggle, to avoid the San Francisco hills, though it seems to cover a very small area.
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Old 03-02-15, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
Three speeds adequate on the hills of San Francisco?
At a minimum, factor in the cost of replacing steel rims with aluminum. I can't imagine going down SF hills with wet brakes and steel rims!
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Old 03-02-15, 12:13 PM
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Braking is a major consideration on these. I always switch the front brake to right lever as the front brake works so much better than the rear one on these. New brake pads that are angled to match the rims also helps. Some of the spokes have inevitably worked themselves loose as well.

Rear hub sometimes needs to be flushed/cleaned/re-oiled in order to shift properly.

I just sold one of these that I got for free the other week for $80. Not a lot of demand for these so you should be able to get a good price on one.
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Old 03-02-15, 12:30 PM
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For me, I value a vintage bike for the overall experience. It's a lot like people who have fun
riding racing bikes even though they're not racing. Or the people who like ultra quality touring bikes
even though they're not biking to Alaska, just around town. In practical terms, they would get around just
fine on a $89.99 Chinese bike from Wal Mart, but the overall experience of owning and riding it would
be far different. It's the feel of riding it, the aesthetics, the character. I would suggest buying
the best specimin your budget will allow. Nothing wrong with a 70s model, but sure, I'd like a 50s
better. As for swapping out components, I'd keep it to a minimum. I value preservation over customization.
Sometimes customization isn't very intrusive. Like, if you have one of the side brand Sports with Endrick
rims, a change to CR 18s is hardly noticeable. But, if I had a Raleigh with Sturmey archer special sections
in good condition I would never replace them. It's part of that bikes charm.
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Old 03-04-15, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
And too bad you live 3,000 miles away from me as I have two lady's Sports I plan to sell in the spring (both 21" frames).
Don't feel too badly -- I'm pretty sure the 21"s are too big for me.
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Old 03-04-15, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
At a minimum, factor in the cost of replacing steel rims with aluminum. I can't imagine going down SF hills with wet brakes and steel rims!
Indeed. I've been through that already with my KHS, which is a mid-1980s model and came with one aluminum and one steel rim. I had the steel one replaced, less because of the material and more because the bearings had worn a groove in the hub...
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Old 03-04-15, 03:47 PM
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When your looking at the bike, examine the seat tube at the junction of the down tube. If bike was abused, or an heavy rider used it, the seat tube tends to bend slight forward. You'll find this more often in pre-war and loop frame Raleighs. It helps to stand back and use a straight edge to line things up
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Old 03-04-15, 05:17 PM
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As pointed out, steel rims and wet are an issue. Changing the brake calipers and levers might also be useful if you venture into hilly terrain.

AW hubs are pretty bullet proof unless really mistreated. Check to be certain it will shift thru all three gears. There's a spring in there that could be tired if the bike was sitting for an extended period of time with the hub in low gear. If the hub 'skips', that usually just requires a simple adjustment of the 'indicator' adjusting barrel. Changing the sprocket is quite simple, there's a circlip that must be popped off (use a small, flat-blade screw driver) and the sprocket should come right off. Pay attention to any shims, and note the dish of the sprocket you take off; be certain to put the new one on with the dish in the same orientation (in or out).

Do check, as mentioned, that the seat tube is straight, and, of course, that the seatpost and stem will come out.

Oh, and be very wary if it has a 3-speed coaster brake rear hub. I don't remember the nomenclature, but the original (TCW?) was a real menace, and the replacement (SC3?) had it's own teething problems.
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Old 03-04-15, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Beth W View Post
Don't feel too badly -- I'm pretty sure the 21"s are too big for me.
You might be surprised because the short seat tube on a womans frame allows for more leeway for fitting. Seat post clamps can be reversed and select roadster bars will tighten the cockpit. I built a 21" frame for a good friend who's under 5' 2".
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Old 03-04-15, 06:57 PM
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A couple of thoughts (I'm going to assume that either you're willing to work on the bike to put it in shape, or have someone who can do the work for you):

1. While condition is important, don't shy away from a bike that has some rust on the chrome. Raleigh chrome is excellent, and will normally clean up readily.

2. If the Sports has a weakness, it is grossly overgeared, normally with a 17 or 18 tooth sprocket on the rear. I've virtually standardized, for personal use bikes, to changing the rear to a 23 tooth sprocket. This essentially puts third gear in what used to be second (direct drive), second gear is dropped to what used to be first, and first gear is now useful for climbing hills. The new lowered third gear will still get you going 15-18mph on the flat while turning the crank at a speed that is brisk but not some crazed racing pace. To do a 5-6 tooth jump means replacing the chain, because the original chain will be to short for the new gearing.

3. In your bike hunt, don't shy from what my old boss at the bike shops used to call the "B line" bikes. Usually branded Triumph, Dunelt, Hercules, etc. The frame is plain old quality seamless steel tubing rather than the Raleigh 2030, and the rims won't be as fancy, but the components are usually the same as the Sports, the style and frame angles are identical, and you're widening your search. And while some of the members here wax lyrical about 50's Raleigh's, 98% of what you'll find available are from the 70's (there's a date on the shell of the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub). 70's Raleigh's are still fine bikes. Back in the day, their quality was still highly thought of. Pre-1970 bikes are getting rare enough that they're rapidly disappearing with the antique collectors.
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