Saturday, September 06, 2008

1956 Raleigh Sport project bicycle build

Well I haven't been the best of blogger lately. A crappy summer and all of a sudden the weather is nice. I've been selfish and spent my time riding and enjoying the nice weather. Yesterday I got my hands on 2 bikes that I plan to turn into one. So in trying to gain the forgiveness of my faithful readers, I will share this build with you. :)

So the story goes like this, a friend of mine had a pile of bikes he wanted to get rid of and called me to come and pick them up. I had no clue what he had, neither did he, but I rushed to his place and I was quite happy with what I found. The first was the CCM cruiser. Despite it's very bland looks my eyeballs zeroed in on the rear hub immediately, a Nexus 4! Four inner gears with a coaster brake, even the shifter was there, I couldn't believe my luck. That's until I turned my head and saw the Raleigh. Wow, the Brooks leather saddle caught my eyes right away and just by the general looks of it, I knew I was dealing with some very sweet vintage British iron. The rest of the pile was brought to the community bike shop.

When I first got my hands on these, I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to do with them. I had hunted for a Nexus for the past 3 years to put on one of my custom bikes, but now all those wheels are built up and painted. I wanted to try out the Nexus a bit before rebuilding an entire wheel for one of the customs with it. So I finally decided to use the Raleigh as a test bed for the Nexus and build it up. I took the CCM cruiser for a spin to make sure that the hub and shifter worked properly before disassembly. To my great relief, it worked fine.

Whenever you set up yourself up to start a project like this, there are many things to take into consideration. It's not just a case of slapping some parts from one bike to another. You most also decide to what extent you are willing to go. For this build, I decided I liked the original finish too much to repaint it, besides I have neither the means or the time to recreate the original art and decals put on there by the workers of Notthingham 52 years ago. I will simply lay a few coats of clear over the existing finish. I will also keep the signature Raleigh dimple fork, one of my favorite features of these bikes.

The Raleigh is equiped with 26 X 1 3/8 wheels, at first glance this size would seem to be the same as any 26 inch wheel, wrong! 26 X 1 3/8 is a little taller than balloon cruiser or mountain bike 26 inch wheels. The frame is also not wide enough to accept 26 X 2.125 whitewalls. I have no intention to lace the hub to the original rims, this would be time consuming and there is also the fact that there is one or two kinds of tires that fit on 26 X 1 3/8, that is if you can find them. I have gone and bought two 26 X 1.5 slicks that will fit inside the frame and fork.

The other thing to consider at this point, are the axles of the new wheels going to fit in the frame and fork? Axles today are pretty big compared to back then. I will use a quick release hub in the front, the smaller diameter axle will fit so I don't have to grind the fork stays openings. I will also have to verify that the back drop outs are wide enough to accept the Nexus hub.

There are a bunch of things to consider when doing this type of custom bicycle build, but in the end it's all worth it. I will post a progress report within the week...promise. The spend-o-meter now sits at $13 CDN.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

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