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Don Gillies : 1970's Raleigh Collector

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Don Gillies : 1970's Raleigh Collector

Old 11-03-04, 12:19 PM
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Hi, I'm new to this forum.

I'm 42 years old and got my first ten-speed in 1973, at the age of 11. I was hoping to get a raleigh international, 1972 model, but then i found out how much it cost at the time ($325, about $1500 in today's dollars), and my heart sank. It was all the money in the world to me, plus $20. I had started to think about the idea of a Gransport ($250), when my parents intervened and found a used raleigh grand prix ($90) for me, and on my maiden voyage, 1 block from our house, i went down a sewer grating and pretzled the rear wheel !! Lucky I had a grand prix !!

I was the first person in my school to own a bike helmet, a Bell Biker, in the 6th grade. My parents got it for me, I think, for my first birthday after I got the bike.

Two years later I was a subscriber to "Bicycling" magazine and loved to do weekday and weekend tours with the "Prairie Cycle Club" in Champaign-Urbana Illinois (home of the University of Illinois). In 1977 I got a second bike, a SEKAI 2500, and there was love at first sight. Again, at $240 (about $750 in today's dollars), it was a lot of money for a high school kid, but it had a red double-butted tange frameset, black brakes and chainwheel, and i just loved that bike to death. In 1980, I got a used paramount from the newspaper, for "only" $300. The add said, "Schwinn Paramount, Camping equipped!" I was the first on the phones and the first to visit and so the seller luckily sold it to me. In a town of only 100,000, most of the bikies knew me as that lucky kid who got the paramount for only $300 (This one was in NOS condition and they listed for $1000 at the time...) !!!

In the 1970's, i knew almost every bicycle brand, and every part, and how good it was, and whether it was a "good deal". I especially prided myself in being able to spot a "good deal" bike in the middle part of a manufacturer's product range - not always easy to do !!

My interest in bikes has waxed an waned over the years. In 1985 my SEKAI 2500 was stolen, and nothing similar was available (the company, a house-brand from a seattle importer of japanese bikes, actually died in 1986.) I ended up buying a TREK 500 which was better in every respect than the SEKAI 2500 but it didn't have a "soul".

In 2002 I decided that I would like to collect some of the bikes in the 1970's that I never got, or ones that had been stolen. I've been slowly purchasing some raleighs, and i've settled on the peak year - 1974, and have collected most of the reynolds 531 bikes in that range. While I have spent maybe $3000 on the parts and bikes for this effort (including 3x raleigh international bikes) I have also taken on maybe 200 hours of repair and restoration work to make these bikes work almost like new.

So my main interest now is repair and restoration of 1970's-era road bikes. One of my idols is Steve Maas who has written excellent articles about the subject on his web site here :


I have met steve and have talked with him about some of his techniques and i'm planning to put together a similar set of pages describing my own restoration efforts.

- Don
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Old 11-03-04, 02:10 PM
'Bent Brian
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Welcome to the forums! My first road bike which I got back in '69 was a
Raleigh Grand Prix. I sold it a few years later then bought another Grand Prix in the mid-late 70's. That bike (frame) hangs in my garage today. I wore out the components on the second Grand Prix. I then moved up to a Trek 1000 about '90 or so. This spring I switched to a RANS Tailwind recumbent and the Trek hasn't been out of the garage save for a quick cleaning). There is something nice about those old lugged frames.

'bent Brian
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