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What is/was the best Raleigh road bike of the 1970s?

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What is/was the best Raleigh road bike of the 1970s?

Old 07-01-20, 03:06 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
Would the op really know the difference?
Even if you think not, thatís no reason not to give the best possible answer.
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Old 07-01-20, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Oh, yeah, Super Tourer. Iíve owned a couple of those, too, but theyíre essentially Competitions with upright bars, which means really lousy geometry for that weight distribution. They call for drop bars and more weight on the front end, but then you might as well find a Competition, which are far more readily available.
My '74 Super Tourer went from this when I got it:



To this after all the work I did on it; swapped to Soma Late Riser bars.



I've thought about putting newer drops on it with modern levers, but, right now it's the only more upright not-serious-riding bike I've got.
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Old 07-01-20, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Even if you think not, that’s no reason not to give the best possible answer.
I don't think there is a "best possible answer".

Is it going to be used for commuting, racing, errands, touring, a conversation piece ?

The op stated the following....

.."I have a 73 Supercourse tt, and I love it. I rides so nice. Fast, responsive. Best purchase of any kind I ever made." ..............

............."There's not necessarily a NEED for the best Raleigh model out there, as much as a desire not to get something known to be inferior to one of the better ones only to have more problems with it. Am looking for my first vintage Raleigh & want it to be a really good one, to last a very long time. With that said, I'm preferring one of the better models. I've read around online & the Professional, along with others mentioned, are known to be better. And no, no one's putting anything in my head, it's what I've surmised from the reading I've done, questions I've asked, etc. Just want the best for the money I spend.".....................



The 73 Super Course and Professional are two completely different bikes, different frame geomtries and different tubing, not to mention the components. If he likes the Super Course so much and thinks it is "fast and responsive" (in my opinion, neither is true), he may not like the tight frame geometry and twitchy steering of a true racing bike like the Professional. Had the op asked "what is the best racing bike" or "what is the best general purpose bike", this may be a useful thread to the op and others with similar questions.

My humble but restored Raleigh Super Grand Prix is a "really good bike and will last a long time". It's perfect for some of my needs such as running errands, commuting, blowing off steam and loaning to friends. I don't mind locking it to a parking meter for a couple of hours. My Holdsworth is also a "really good bike and will last a long time", but I don't use it the same way I do the GP.

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Old 07-01-20, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
The op stated the following....

.."I have a 73 Supercourse tt, and I love it. I rides so nice. Fast, responsive. Best purchase of any kind I ever made." ..............
Just FYI, I almost fell into that trap. The fellow with the '73 Super Course TT isn't the OP. Usernames are similar.

I do agree though. "Best" is both subjective and dependent on end use - and we still don't know the OP's end use, other than it must be "a really good one, to last a very long time." We're going around in circles trying to answer the question without enough data.

-Kurt
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Old 07-01-20, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Just FYI, I almost fell into that trap. The fellow with the '73 Super Course TT isn't the OP. Usernames are similar.
-Kurt
oops....thanks for pointing that out.
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Old 07-01-20, 05:58 PM
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If I were in the OP's shoes, I'd look for some features:
531 frame, at least 3 tube
alloy rims preferably 700c, but 27" would be ok.
no plastic derailleurs
cotterless crankset
preferably 24 tpi steerer
preferably dropouts with a hanger
no sewups (most have probably been changed already)

So, the most practical at a decent price and meeting most critera would be a 74 or later SC, a Grand Sport, a Competition, or an International.

As for the NR rear derailleurs, I have 4 bikes with them -- an Evans, an International, a B. Carre. and a Motobecane Grand Record. All except the Moto have 6 speed freewheels and 7-8 speed chains and shift pretty decently -- maybe I just don't know any better. The Moto has a French thread hub and a 6 speed Maillard freewheel and it shifts like crap -- it has the floating chain issue which can be alarming. I have a wide chain that I've yet to install to see if that fixes the problem. I'd change to an ISO hub and put on one of those Shimano freewheels, but It has the original Normandy Luxe red label hubs and SC 58 rims and I hate to replace them.even though they are 27".
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Old 07-01-20, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
I have two 23-1/2" 1978 Super Grand Prix frames (Made In England). Both have 71mm BB shells and are tapped for 26TPI and built with 20-30 seamed tubing.

I also have two 23-1/2" 1972 Super Course frames.Both have 68mm BB shells tapped for 24TPI and built with Reynolds 531 Plain Gauge tubing.

SGP frames weigh more than SC frames.
I currently have both 25.5" frames apart for overhaul, the clean, bare SC frame (no fork, no bb or hs, not even a headbadge), weighs 5lb 7oz.
The SC fork weighs 1lb 15.6oz
The SGP frame, which still has its headbadge but is otherwise bare, stripped of all parts and cleaned, weighs 5lb 2.8oz
The SGP fork weighs 1lb 15.8oz.

I did weight the 23.5" frames when they were apart, both of them were 4lb 9oz each. I didn't write down the weight of the forks on those two bikes for some reason.
Sitting side by side, both triangles are the same on these frames.

The BB on the SC measures 68.29mm, the BB on the SGP measures 68.53mm.checked with a digital caliper.
(Without removing the BBs on the two 23.5" bikes I can see those are also between 68 and 69mm.)

Both are standard BSC threaded, 24tpi. (I just put the SGP all back to original, for a while I had it outfitted with full Shimano 600, including the Shimano BB and cups.
I moved the whole 600 group directly over to a 1980 Panasonic frame, cups and all.

Back in 1978 when I bought my 25.5" SGP, a buddy of mine bought a red one a few weeks later, (Both of mine are blue), his had the 72mm BB shell and 26tpi threading, but his frame was a 21.5" model. Fully assembled, with all factory components the SGP and SC are nearly identical in weight, within a few grams with the same tires and tubes.
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Old 07-02-20, 05:24 AM
  #58  
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As to the original question, I'd have to pick the 74 Super Tourer if your including the whole decade, if not I'd lean toward any of the 531 models in 1978.

As to weights, I've found the same thing with various bikes over the years. Back in the day, when bikes were in big demand, we pretty much assumed that factories were using last year's models to make up which ever model they needed for the next year.
I've seen SGP frames with both 68mm BSC 24tpi threading, and 72mm 26tpi Raleigh threads. Most have had the 68mm BB shell and BSC threads. I currently own a '78 Raleigh Super Grand Prix, and a '78 Super Course. The SC has Suntour dropouts, the SGP has stamped dropouts. The SGP has fancier lugwork than the SC as mentioned above. I've rebuilt a few dozen vintage Raleigh bikes over the past 25 years or so and have kept a list weights over the years, the SC frames vary greatly in weight, as do the SGP frames.
I've seen SGP framesets that feel like gas pipe and a few that are light as aluminum. I had a 1976 SC a few years ago, the frame weighed in at 4.98lbs. my SGP weights 5 lbs 4.4oz, its the lightest 25.5" one I've found so far. I've seen SGP frames range from 4.4lbs up to 6.3 lbs but in various sizes. I only weighed frames that were completely cleaned and degreased as a BB shell or tube packed with grease adds a lot of weight.
My '78 SGP and my '78 SC are slightly different in the rear triangle, with a bit more chain stay length on the SC.
Back in the day, when these bikes were new, I was working in a bike shop that sold a ton of Raleigh road bikes, I can still remember hearing the owner complain about the variations in the bikes we unpacked. They advertised Brooks B17 leather saddles but few bikes actually came out of the box with them, the same with the B72 that was supposed to be on the Sports models. Most all came through with Brooks padded mattress saddles.
The SC models usually did have Cyclone rear derailleurs, but the front derailleur was pot luck, with the catalog spec'ing the Suntour V up front.
The SGP was spec'd with Suntour Barcons, but they often came out of the box with down tube shifters. Both the SGP also often came out of the box with low flange hubs, as if they had boxed it up with a set of SC wheels. I also remember one SC coming out of the box with Campy hubs.
The average buyer didn't know the difference, but we often swapped parts around if doing so made the bike closer to the advertised model. What was really bad was when a bike came out of the box with one high flange and on low flange hub. We started keeping a few of each on hand just so we could make a quick swap during assembly.
All in all, I think the brochure was more of a suggestion not a rule as what a bike came through with.
I hadn't really realized how different same model bikes could be till more recent years when I had a few dozen framesets hanging in the garage. All were hanging from equal heights, yet when I stood back I could see how different each one was. Something that I also remember about the Super Course models in '77 through '79 is that the forks often came out of the box wearing 531 tubing decals, where as they weren't advertised as such. Weight wise though, those with the 531 decal didn't weigh or look any different than those with the plain "R" logo on them.
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Old 07-02-20, 09:05 AM
  #59  
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I have a 1971 Gran Prix , a 1978 Super Gran Prix and a 1977 Competition Gs. The Competition GS is light years ahead of the other two. All three are good bikes but as you move up the product chain they just get so much better! IMHO Joe
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Old 07-02-20, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
I don't think there is a "best possible answer".

Is it going to be used for commuting, racing, errands, touring, a conversation piece ?

The op stated the following....

.."I have a 73 Supercourse tt, and I love it. I rides so nice. Fast, responsive. Best purchase of any kind I ever made." ..............

............."There's not necessarily a NEED for the best Raleigh model out there, as much as a desire not to get something known to be inferior to one of the better ones only to have more problems with it. Am looking for my first vintage Raleigh & want it to be a really good one, to last a very long time. With that said, I'm preferring one of the better models. I've read around online & the Professional, along with others mentioned, are known to be better. And no, no one's putting anything in my head, it's what I've surmised from the reading I've done, questions I've asked, etc. Just want the best for the money I spend.".....................



The 73 Super Course and Professional are two completely different bikes, different frame geomtries and different tubing, not to mention the components. If he likes the Super Course so much and thinks it is "fast and responsive" (in my opinion, neither is true), he may not like the tight frame geometry and twitchy steering of a true racing bike like the Professional. Had the op asked "what is the best racing bike" or "what is the best general purpose bike", this may be a useful thread to the op and others with similar questions.

My humble but restored Raleigh Super Grand Prix is a "really good bike and will last a long time". It's perfect for some of my needs such as running errands, commuting, blowing off steam and loaning to friends. I don't mind locking it to a parking meter for a couple of hours. My Holdsworth is also a "really good bike and will last a long time", but I don't use it the same way I do the GP.
True, I've never ridden a Professional. I'm 58, and I consider the TT the second real bike I ever owned. The first one was a Legano that I got around 1972 that got stolen. I don't remember much about it except that it had Campi Valentino Extra components. Anyway, before that all I had were kid bikes and BMX bikes. I have not ridden a modern road bike. Anyway, for me the TT is fast and responsive based on the limited experience I have riding other models. My buddy at the the time I bought it had a Gand Prix, and the TT was much nicer and faster than that, again, just my opinion. I have fought the urge to buy and restore a Professional, or for that matter to get a modern road bike, because what can I say? I just love what I have now.



My ride.

Last edited by jblackmd; 07-02-20 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 07-02-20, 09:15 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by the sci guy View Post
My '74 Super Tourer went from this when I got it:
To this after all the work I did on it; swapped to Soma Late Riser bars.
I've thought about putting newer drops on it with modern levers, but, right now it's the only more upright not-serious-riding bike I've got.
I love it! I also put similar handlebars on my Super Course. But not serious? Sure it is! Just look at it!
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Old 07-02-20, 10:31 AM
  #62  
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Raleigh Professional is the best.

Raleigh Record is trash.

Grand Prix is one step above trash.

If you're looking to buy, go Pro.
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Old 07-02-20, 11:26 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Raleigh Professional is the best.

Raleigh Record is trash.

Grand Prix is one step above trash.

If you're looking to buy, go Pro.
One man's trash........
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Old 07-02-20, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
If you're looking to buy, go Pro.
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Old 07-02-20, 11:41 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Raleigh Professional is the best.

Raleigh Record is trash.

Grand Prix is one step above trash.

If you're looking to buy, go Pro.
In a blind test ride of the Professional vs. Record, the best ride would be the ambulance....
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Old 07-02-20, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jblackmd View Post
I love it! I also put similar handlebars on my Super Course. But not serious? Sure it is! Just look at it!
lol, i just mean I don't ride it hard like I do my other bikes. In this setup it's not exactly group-ride ready.
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Old 07-02-20, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by the sci guy View Post
lol, i just mean I don't ride it hard like I do my other bikes. In this setup it's not exactly group-ride ready.
Heh. I don't have any other bikes, but if yours is anything like mine it's just begging to be ridden hard!
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Old 07-02-20, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
deleted artwork
No, no, no, not THAT kind of goPro, you know, go Pro, as in go Professional. :-)
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Old 07-02-20, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
No, no, no, not THAT kind of goPro, you know, go Pro, as in go Professional. :-)
"Note to self: Get picture of Professional with GoPro on it, post to BikeForums as joke."

-Kurt
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Old 07-03-20, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I think it's a matter of front-end geometry specifically fairly steep head-tube angle, which doesn't play well with upright bars and weight more distributed over the saddle/crankset than over the bars. The ST (and the last Competition I had set up with upright bars) just did not handle well on fast descents or climbing out of the saddle. I was really fighting the front end. I've had that experience with some Super Courses that I've converted to upright bars, but not all!
I had a similar experience with a 1977 Super Course a number of years ago, I took a bone stock original SC and changed out the bars and saddle. I used a B66 saddle, and a set of alloy north road bars, and I used an already matching set of steel fenders off a Raleigh Sprite. The result was a great looking ride, all in matching Raleigh red, but riding it was the like trying to balance a marble on a square of glass while jogging up and down stairs.
The bike was unstable and hard to ride in a straight line. On steeper downhill runs it bordered on dangerous. I played around with a few different stems, and various bars but was never happy with it. At the same time I had an original Super Tourer and was never able to match the ride of that bike. I ended up putting the SC back to stock just recently. The bike had no directional stability. The best set up I found was a shorter stem, and a pair of 2" riser bars from a mountain bike. I changed both the stem and bars at the same time so I can't say which had the greater affect on the handling, but neither was enough to make me leave it in that configuration.
I've tried the same sort of conversion on various other bikes as well, its been my experience that the lesser models with greater rake and greater head tube angles make the best upright conversions.
Also, in the larger frames, I found that there's far less 'flex' in the mid to lower end frames than on the extra thin full 531 tubed frames.
As a larger rider, in my prime, I broke dozens of frames, cranks, crank axles etc. on higher end models but rarely broke any lower end components or frames. I was never and aggressive rider, just a casual rider at best, if they broke under my use, I can only imagine how many failed under stronger riders.
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Old 07-03-20, 08:27 AM
  #71  
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We lost the OP 3 days ago.
Brent
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Old 07-03-20, 09:12 AM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by vintagebicycle View Post
I had a similar experience with a 1977 Super Course a number of years ago, I took a bone stock original SC and changed out the bars and saddle. I used a B66 saddle, and a set of alloy north road bars, and I used an already matching set of steel fenders off a Raleigh Sprite. The result was a great looking ride, all in matching Raleigh red, but riding it was the like trying to balance a marble on a square of glass while jogging up and down stairs.
The bike was unstable and hard to ride in a straight line. On steeper downhill runs it bordered on dangerous. I played around with a few different stems, and various bars but was never happy with it. At the same time I had an original Super Tourer and was never able to match the ride of that bike. I ended up putting the SC back to stock just recently. The bike had no directional stability. The best set up I found was a shorter stem, and a pair of 2" riser bars from a mountain bike. I changed both the stem and bars at the same time so I can't say which had the greater affect on the handling, but neither was enough to make me leave it in that configuration.
I've tried the same sort of conversion on various other bikes as well, its been my experience that the lesser models with greater rake and greater head tube angles make the best upright conversions.
Also, in the larger frames, I found that there's far less 'flex' in the mid to lower end frames than on the extra thin full 531 tubed frames.
As a larger rider, in my prime, I broke dozens of frames, cranks, crank axles etc. on higher end models but rarely broke any lower end components or frames. I was never and aggressive rider, just a casual rider at best, if they broke under my use, I can only imagine how many failed under stronger riders.
I haven't had those issues with my SC as far as the bars go. It rides very solidly. I switched out the bars in 1991 or 1992. Now, I have experimented with a few different saddles and I always come back to the B17. The only issue I've noted of late is that after an hour or so my left hand starts getting numb, but I switched the handles out toErgon GP2's which allow for mnore changes in hand position and has a nice finger rest.
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Old 07-03-20, 11:01 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
We lost the OP 3 days ago.
Brent
I hope we hear back from him.

-Kurt
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Old 07-03-20, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Raleigh's general pecking order (prior to 1977, but roughly the same order even afterwards) is as follows, from top to bottom. This applies to the US market only:

SBDU Team Professional
Team Professional / Professional
International
Gran(d) Sport / Super Tourer
Competition
Super Course
Grand Prix
Record
Two corrections;
1. Competition was above the Gran(d) Sport(s).
2. Gran(d) Sport(s) - I've got a Gran Sport, a Grand Sport, and a Grand Sports (all made in the same year!). Heck, I've even got a Grander Sportier...
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Old 07-03-20, 12:26 PM
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vintagebicycle
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Originally Posted by jblackmd View Post
I haven't had those issues with my SC as far as the bars go. It rides very solidly. I switched out the bars in 1991 or 1992. Now, I have experimented with a few different saddles and I always come back to the B17. The only issue I've noted of late is that after an hour or so my left hand starts getting numb, but I switched the handles out toErgon GP2's which allow for mnore changes in hand position and has a nice finger rest.
The best set up I found on the '77 SC was with a 70mm stem, (vs the 110mm it came with), and a pair of 4" straight riser bars.
The worst ride I had on it was down a hill up where I lived in PA, it was about 5 miles or so of steady drop at about 11% grade. It was the longest ride I took it on, and was I was about 40 miles from home on it. On a fast decent the bike started to get handlebar shake, this was with the Nitto north road bars and the 110mm GB stem. I was letting it roll a bit and a change in pavement surface set it off. I did save it but it made me rethink the whole set up. I was moving along at a pretty good clip when it happened, I saved it by skidding the back tire to one side and bringing it back in line again.
I went through a half dozen bar and stem changes before settling on the alloy riser bar and shorter stem. It made it okay, but not good. I put the bike back to stock and still ride it today. I bought it new, I doubt if I'll ever sell that one. I had a similar result with an upright conversion on a Panasonic DX4000 which I built a Nexus 7 speed wheelset for. The bike had no directional stability with the upright bars and the hub made it feel like a tank. I had a Dawes Galaxy and a Carlton Corsa Strada that I converted to upright bikes and both of those worked out very well. I also had good luck doing the same north road bar conversion with a 100mm stem on a 1971 Raleigh Competition on which I used a pair of vintage alloy north road type bars, a short stem, a B72 saddle, and an Sturmey Archer S5 hub shifted with two SA trigger shifters.
That bike was a bit small for me, so when I got the chance to upgrade the frame, I swapped everything over from the 23.5" frame to a 25.5" frame from a 1978 model.
The bike was great with the '71 frame, but terrible with the larger '78 frame. I didn't keep it, a buddy rode it and fell in love with it so we made a deal. I basically swapped it for a '66 GMC pickup truck with a slide in camper.

I never felt the B17 did well for me on an upright bike, that model seems best used on a bike where your more or less pushing against the saddle vs. sitting atop of it.
The B17 is my first choice on any vintage Raleigh. Comfort wise, I always felt the Ideal 80 was a better fit for me for some reason on my drop bar bikes.
As I get older, I'm getting away from drop bars and strongly prefer a straight bar conversion and have a few projects sitting waiting for me to get around to them.
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