Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1956 Raleigh Sports, the conclusion.

After the initial long ride with the Raleigh, I realized two things. My legs were definitely not used to riding a regular diamond frame anymore and I really liked the way it rode, but it was missing something. This bike was definitely not right for the upright cruiser position. Maybe it's the skinny tires (For me those are skinny, but I know some dudes who find those tires huge!) or the frame geometry, I don't know, but something was just not feeling right.

I hang out with a bunch that ride fixies and I must admit that I love how vintage road steel comes alive again with modern wheels, components and how attractive the purest form of the bike is. One thing that I find very cool is how they use flipped and cut drop bars. I found a pair of alloy drop bars and by using a pipe cutter tool, I trimmed off the excess. I then covered them with fake cork grip tape.

I was a bit worried. One of the reasons I had stopped riding diamond frames was because my hands would get numb quite fast. But so far the combination of the grip tape and gloves seem to work. I did splurge for the grip tape since I wanted a vintage look, $22CDN. What the heck, you only live once last time I checked.

I disconnected the Nexus hub since it didn't need the gears and I am replacing that wheel with a single speed coaster hub soon anyways. The ride is sublime, a bit nimble and that Brooks saddle is still as plush as ever.

So, what is this bike? A wannabe fixie? A violated vintage roadster? A piece of junk? I don't really care what people will think, I'm in love with this bike like you wouldn't believe. What caught my eye the first time I saw it was that dimpled fork. I have loved those forks since I was 10, I had a Raleigh Chopper. The fact that the saddle was also original equipement, that crane chain ring, the racing green, the faded hand painted gold pinstripes, all are factors that makes me able to sit and just look at it for a long time. It not only looks great, it rides great. I am very happy with the fact that I was able to keep the most important (for me) original parts, add some modern rubber and bring it down as close as I could to it's most purest form.

As of today, it sleeps indoors. I hope you enjoyed this build, the spend-o-meter has stopped at $48 CDN.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)


Ken Davidson said...

Well done Gerry. I'll be copying that handlebar treatment for my Raleigh 20 Stowaway - the narrower style may help tame its tendency to oversteer at low speeds!

Classic bike reborn. I've just acquired a ladies' Raleigh Cameo, with the classic swept stepthrough frame. My good lady wasn't at all convinced to begin with, but tried it and whooped that it was so much better than her MTB...

Keep on spannering!

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say that all your work paid off! That bike is gorgeous! :^)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is really beautiful! I love it!

Just found your blog - it's really great, the advice is very helpful - I am just starting out. May I ask you for advice??

I bought a cool old green ladies Schwinn Suburban, in decent shape - I like this bike a lot, put new brakes and cables and tires so far... & shined up the chrome (thanks for the aluminum foil tip!)

But it is slow. I'm not looking for super speedy, this is just for casual riding around town, but right now it's so draggy it isn't fun to ride. I'm not sure what's wrong.

Of course it will always be heavy but is there anything I can do to make it a little easier? Maybe it needs new wheels or maybe just new ball bearings in the wheels? Any advice much appreciated!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hey Linda, congrats on your resto wheels. Check to make sure that your tire pressure is at the max (You can find that info on the side of the tire). If that doesn't change anything, you'll probably have to regrease the wheel bearings. Check on the sidebar of the blog, I have an article on the subject. Also, make sure the tires are not rubbing on the frame or fork. Good luck.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry,
Hey, wow, thank you! I will.
Just been clicking around your blog. Lots of great stuff. I came back here actually to say again, how beautiful this bike you just restored/modified is. I really like the simplicity of it... the changes really suit the original, somehow. Anyway, it's really nice!
And thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry, I just found your story here. It inspired me to build a vintage bike based upon an old race frame. But no modern alloy rims and definitly no Shimano hub!
Instead of that I've been searching for all the old stuff. I found an old Duomatic hub which gets me 2 gears without the fuzz of cables - keep it clean and simple! It looks just fantastic and it works great!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Great to hear about another rebuilt classic. Mine has evolved a bit. I removed the 4 speed and replaced it with a one speed coaster hub. No more cables.

Gerry :)

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