Bike Forums

Bike Forums (https://www.bikeforums.net/forum.php)
-   Classic & Vintage (https://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php?f=181)
-   -   For the love of English 3 speeds... (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=623699)

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 04:49 AM

For the love of English 3 speeds...
 
It was in post war Britain that the Raleigh Sports really came of age as it was a lighter and "sportier" alternative to the heavier English roadsters and remained in production well into the 1980's.

It was the "All Steel bicycle" and for most of it's production life was fitted with a Sturmey Archer AW hub although through 1957 and 1958 it was fitted with the poorly designed and ill fated SW hub.

The 1950's were the peak of Raleigh production and quality and they were a household name in most of the English speaking world and on this side of the pond they were referred to as English racers.

But they were never racing bikes.

This was a well made and sturdy utility bicycle that was designed to last 100 years and they did not see many changes during their production life... latter models have alloy stems and brakes and the Superbe was always completely fitted out with generator lights and a locking fork which brought it's weight up to 42 pounds without a full chain case.

I know this because I owned a 1978 model and only sold that when I could no longer ride in an upright position due to a back injury.

My Superbe roadster... my friend now enjoys this bicycle and it has been his daily driver for several years and still looks even better than it did when he received it as it now sports a new honey brown B66 saddle and matching Brooks saddle bags.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikepics/Superbe1.JPG

I also owned a beautiful 1948 Rudge roadster which was Raleigh made but because of my back issues decided to sell it to a young lady who is longer of leg than I and enjoys this bike immensely.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...llefarone1.jpg

So for the first time in many years I found myself without an English 3 speed and that could never do as my daughters and I love riding our English three speeds together.

I have a beautiful 1955 Raleigh Lenton fixed gear road bike, but it is not a 3 speed...

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikepics/reg2009c.JPG

So I set about building up an English 3 speed that I could ride...

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 05:07 AM

A friend gave me a bedraggled 1954 Raleigh Sports a few years ago and I just had not found the time to extract a frozen stem and set to work on bringing this bike back to life.

Over the past few weeks have been working on my new ride.

In 1954 the Sports was fitted with the now obscure EA1 wheel (597mm rim) and as my Lenton is fitted with these I know the challenges of finding suitable tyres. The wheels on the Sports were not the beautiful stainless models and were rather thrashed... the front wheel was beyond repair.

I knew the bike would accept a 650A or 26 by 1 3/8 wheel and tyre as the difference between this and the EA1 is only 8mm but the options for high performance 650A tyres is pretty much nil.

I pondered building up some 650B wheels but thought I should try using a 700c wheelset first, having seen that a number of people have performed this conversion.

The bike came together rather quickly (once I removed that frozen stem) and I took pictures throughout most of the process... I don't think I have taken this many pictures of any bike I have built or owned.

Some befores...

As received...

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ghsports5a.JPG

A work in progress...

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ighsports3.JPG

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ighsports1.JPG

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ighsports5.JPG

Rideable enough to take home to my new shop.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...portstest2.jpg

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 05:23 AM

We went on our first ride yesterday afternoon and it was absolutely wonderful... riding usually relieves a lot of back pain as it does not engage my muscles as walking, sitting, and standing do but this was something else.

Perhaps it was the saddle...

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...rtslycette.JPG

Or the new bars and plush tape... I did upgrade the bars, stem, and brakes as well.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...portsbars1.JPG

The old fashioned brifter...

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...rtsbrifter.JPG

The bike itself came together so nicely... all the parts were things I had kicking around... the 700c wheels, the proper English Bluemel fenders, the new brakes and old levers were all here.

And once again, I have an English 3 speed... that I can actually ride... and if one did not know better they might think this bike always looked this way as it accommodates the wheels and tyres so nicely.

And it rides like a Raleigh should... beautifully.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ighsports5.JPG

I expect this bike to see 100 at which point I will be 89.

lecky 02-22-10 06:27 AM

Lovely bike and story.

foozle 02-22-10 06:38 AM

Beautiful Bike. I have rebuilt a '71 Schwinn World Traveler into a touring single speed. All cleaned up well and the new stuff went together well. Except the fenders were a lot of work. I also had large tires 700x35's Yours look tight as well. Any trouble aligning the fenders?

Andrew F 02-22-10 08:30 AM

Beautiful ride....many happy miles!

sekaijin 02-22-10 09:33 AM

+1 Beautiful bike and story.

Good inspiration for me and my still unfinished English 3-speed resto project.

Hopefully done by late spring. Stay tuned ...

cudak888 02-22-10 09:52 AM

That put a smile on my face. Lovely build.

Now all we need is a side-by-side picture with the Lenton ;)

-Kurt

JohnDThompson 02-22-10 10:03 AM

Very nice. And speaking of English 3-speeds, is anyone else here planning on riding the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour in May? My wife and I are signed up. I'll be on my 1973 Superbe, and my wife will be on her 1974 Sport.

http://www.os2.dhs.org/~john/superbe/01.jpghttp://www.os2.dhs.org/~john/sport/01.jpg

David Newton 02-22-10 10:22 AM

I love the Sportsters. Great build, Sixty-fiver!

Harvey2 02-22-10 10:30 AM

Beautiful bikes, all of them. In strange twist of fate I now own a 1972 Raleigh Superbe myself.
I don't know much about these wonderful machines yet but I know pretty good quality. Were
These still within the range of the most preferred Superbes?

Very strange twist of fate...

Thanks for all the great pics and your (and everyone's) kind sharing of the history and key differences
between models and years.

Harv

jamesj 02-22-10 10:35 AM

i love this thread...

beautiful machines...

PolishGuy 02-22-10 10:53 AM

Beautiful build and very enjoyable post. I went the same route as you regarding wheels, EA1 to 700c on my Raleigh Trent Sports. The change in wheel size works well and the selection of tires is fabulous. It's odd how I continue to "shop" for my ultimate life-time bike but whenever I ride one of my old Raleigh 3-speeds, I think to myself that I've already found it. But, I still continue to look. PG.

gna 02-22-10 12:35 PM


Originally Posted by JohnDThompson (Post 10435284)
Very nice. And speaking of English 3-speeds, is anyone else here planning on riding the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour in May? My wife and I are signed up. I'll be on my 1973 Superbe, and my wife will be on her 1974 Sport.

My wife and I will be there on our '72-'73 Sports:
http://i172.photobucket.com/albums/w...SCN2273JPG.jpg

http://i172.photobucket.com/albums/w...SCN2228JPG.jpg

I'm rebuilding the wheels with Sun CR-18s right now, and ordered fulcrum stops and shift wheels from the STO.

I can't wait for spring, though I rode my Triumph yesterday, dodging the potholes and the puddles.

sekaijin 02-22-10 02:23 PM

Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour - that is charming. Maybe one of these years.

buck mulligan 02-22-10 02:25 PM

When I get discouraged about the rebuild I'm doing - all the work, all the challenges - it's threads like this one that renew my motivation. Thanks, all!

Zaphod Beeblebrox 02-22-10 02:29 PM

this picture made me smile

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...rtslycette.JPG

That looks soooo comfortable.

clubman 02-22-10 02:44 PM

Beautiful. My kinda ride.

AL NZ 02-22-10 03:00 PM

Tell me, please, Bicycle Repairman, what you know of the Raleigh Tourist.

I bought one here in UK, blue with white head tube, scruffy vinyl Brooks ( ? the low point of Brooks' history), 26" wheels with Westrick rims (very rusty), Sturmey 3 speed (which aint working properly and needs dismantling and cleaning), front dynohub, and all transfers present and "patinated".

So it is pretty original.

And man, is it heavy. I was planning on doing it up but haven't yet.

In 4 months I return to NZ and I am trying to decide whether to ship it home or sell it on

But I am in the early throes of the Disease, and I can still recognise my problem. So I am trying to stop it getting to marriage-threatening proportions, so I may sell it here in UK

Zaphod Beeblebrox 02-22-10 03:18 PM

Is this the year of the 3 speed racer?

I've seen half a dozen threads (not to mention my own build) of folks putting 3 speed IGH's on road bike with drop bars in the last week and a half....seems like there's gonna be a lot of us riding around without derailleurs this summer :lol:

noglider 02-22-10 03:37 PM

I love these bikes, too.

How is the top tube length on yours, Sixty Fiver? I imagine it's not as cramped with drop bars as it is with upright bars. My knees just about hit the grips.

jamesj 02-22-10 03:53 PM

i wouldnt mind doing that with the 3 speed i have now... its a purty bike...

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ighsports5.JPG

wahoonc 02-22-10 04:38 PM


Originally Posted by Harvey2 (Post 10435403)
Beautiful bikes, all of them. In strange twist of fate I now own a 1972 Raleigh Superbe myself.
I don't know much about these wonderful machines yet but I know pretty good quality. Were
These still within the range of the most preferred Superbes?

Very strange twist of fate...

Thanks for all the great pics and your (and everyone's) kind sharing of the history and key differences
between models and years.

Harv

Harv,
Enjoy what you have. I have several 1970's vintage Raleighs, including a nice 1972 Superbe. I think the older ones were of higher build quality, but certainly the 70's bikes were better than the ones that followed.

Aaron :)

http://inlinethumb36.webshots.com/43...500x500Q85.jpg

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 04:40 PM

Kurt - When it's a little nicer I will put the girls together for a side by side shot but this is as close as they will get for now.

The Lenton is an inch taller at the head tube than the Sports but is still riding on it's EA1 wheels which puts both bikes at nearly identical standover heights and the room in the bikepit is almost the same.

The geometry is very similar if not identical... both bikes have relatively short rear stays as they were built for a smaller wheel.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikepics/reg2009a.JPG

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...ighsports5.JPG

I am pretty sure the straight gauge Sports weighs less than the Lenton which is a 531 frame... before I added the fenders and swapped out the bars and brakes it was 26 pounds on the scale from the loo.

The Lenton's did not come with the lovely heron chain wheel but rather have a swappable 1/8 track chain ring on a 3 bolt spider as these were used for everything to commuting to time trials and club racing. The Lenton could have also been purchased as a three speed for a few pounds more.

The Bluemel fenders fit wonderfully on the Sports and there is still good clearance between them and the 700:32 tyres which are some run of the mill Duro Proteks... they have a vintage look and I have had good success with these tyres.

The Lenton uses the same fenders and you can see how much extra clearance there is in the frame.

I am not sure how these new parts would fit into a modern Sports as the geometry on the '54 might be just a little different, I do know that you cannot use the stock steel fenders in a 700c conversion.

And of course, because I built a fair weather and rain bike... it is now snowing.

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 04:44 PM


Originally Posted by noglider (Post 10436820)
I love these bikes, too.

How is the top tube length on yours, Sixty Fiver? I imagine it's not as cramped with drop bars as it is with upright bars. My knees just about hit the grips.

Both bikes fit me like an old glove and they really suit my style as I am not one for pristine garage queens but rather, those old bikes that have seen some miles and bear the patina of age... the Sports frame is really scruffy and will need some expert touching up to protect the frame and the old decals.

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 05:25 PM


Originally Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox (Post 10436739)
Is this the year of the 3 speed racer?

I've seen half a dozen threads (not to mention my own build) of folks putting 3 speed IGH's on road bike with drop bars in the last week and a half....seems like there's gonna be a lot of us riding around without derailleurs this summer :lol:

Some years ago I built up a 1980 Raleigh Criterium into a 3 speed road bike and really enjoyed that... used to enjoy some insanely good sprint power and had it up to 55 kmh before the hub started to protest as it would not take any more load that i was putting into it.

Conversely, running to large a cog in the rear with a too small chain ring can exceed the hubs design parameters... they are really best suited for moderate use and won't limit most people in the speed department.

I also ran a Shimano 3 speed in an mtb frame to use it as a winter bike and this worked famously in some of the worst conditions I have ever ridden in.

The Sports will get a Cyclo Benelux 3 speed kit added when I rebuild the stock '54 hub into a new or vintage wheel... it requires a longer axle but then the 3 speed will become a 9 speed with a very nice gear range.

Will also look to lace a Dynahub into a 700c for the front so I can be self powered.

I have built dual drives for SA hubs and they work really well to expand the capabilities of the SA AW as if you gear for speed you lose at the bottom and vice versa.

Gotta stay as vintage as possible on this one... the new brakes and old Dia Comple levers are very impressive in how well they work.

I figure one of this bikes first good rides will be to ride the 50 miles from here to my mom's. :)

noglider 02-22-10 05:44 PM

What was a Raleigh Criterium? I don't think we had that model in the US.

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 06:01 PM

The Raleigh Criterium came in several versions... the Carlton made versions were mad in England and had Reynolds 501 frames while latter models were straight gauge frames that were fitted out with a full Shimano 600 Arabesque group.

Pedestrian frame and awesome bits here... most Straight gauge Criterium frames I see are just that as they get snapped up for their Shimano 600.

Mine was a latter model and was probably an '83... I laid down some stupid mileage on that bike as a three speed and fitted some of Raleigh's 650 B wheels that they were offering during this period to allow the bike to handle some rougher roads and trails.

bbattle 02-22-10 06:39 PM

Nice build, Sixty Fiver. I'm guessing the 700c wheels make the ride what it is.

I had a Raleigh Ltd.-3 that I cleaned up, repainted, and added new alloy wheels and brand new SA hub. It was still quite heavy and sluggish compared to my other bikes. I sold it to a coworker at a big loss but he rode it a lot and enjoyed it. When he left town, he sold it to a local so the bike is still around. Perhaps I'll see it again.

There's a local man who has been riding his Superbe ever since he bought it new way back. We were relaxing after a fixed gear alley cat race and when he came by we made him stop so we could check out the cool bike. (cell phone pic, sorry)

http://gallery.mac.com/bbattle/10004...11898017280001

headlight still worked, dynamos still on the bike.

Sixty Fiver 02-22-10 07:32 PM

The old Superbe is such a nicely equipped bike and am thinking that if Raleigh had re-introduced the bike as it was (instead of the new hybrid like model) with a few nice upgrades to the brakes and rims it would still be a great seller and would be a competitor to the Pashley roadster.

I have never had a problem selling these bikes through the co-op or through my shop as they are still very popular and everyone seems to know someone that had one and since we have regular tweed rides I now have a vintage geared Raleigh to ride.

My best friend rides a 1980 Raleigh Sports (ladies model) that I picked up NOS... she just loves it.

And because the tinkering never stops, I just swapped out the 18 tooth driver for a shiny new 20 tooth( and put on a new chain) to give me a 49/65/87 gearing instead of the 54/73/97... I can't mash a gear this high anymore and sometimes don't have the full use of my left leg so have to spin like a gerbil on crack.

Increasing the wheel and tyre size requires one to adjust the drive as a bigger wheel equals a taller gearing... the stock gearing on these old bikes was designed for low rpm efforts which are easier when you are sitting upright as you utilize your glutes more.

Most can benefit from the installation of a bigger driver to reduce the overall gearing and allow for easier pedalling and a better hill climbing gear.

It is almost obligatory to take pictures of old English bikes here.

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/bikep...tspubsepia.JPG


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:08 PM.


Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.