Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tyres: Raleigh Twenty 20, Shopper, Stowaway, Triumph 20, BSA, etc

Most Raleigh Twenty bikes had ISO 451 diameter wheels. Despite the 20 name, this is closer to 21" than the common 406 BMX size wheels. So, is there a decent selection of modern tyres to fit the Raleigh Twenty wheel (451 diameter)? I've been looking out for them and here is a list (if you know of further ones, please post a comment with details - thanks!):

- Kompact (hard packed race)
- K-West (road, commute)
- Small block eight (photo left: hard packed race and trail, well regarded by MTB and cyclocross riders)

- Drop the Hammer (hard packed race)
- Holy Roller (pavement and hard packed race, staggered block pattern, see photo below)

- Minits Lite (fast road, commute, baldies pictured at the end of this post)

- Comet (fast road, commute)
- Champ (file tread)

- Record (traditional)
- Shopper (traditional)

- HS110 (traditional style)
- HS371 Mow Joe (knobbly, photo below)
- HS377 Road Cruiser (heavy touring, 457, not 451, but would probably work)
- HS399 Durano (high mileage road)

- Traditional style 37-451 (SJS Cycles ebay shop)

- Powerblock (bmx racing)

Most of these are either 28-451 or 37-451. You can get full details from the manufacturer's websites. As to retailers, you would have to search around, for example: Chainreactioncycles, SJS cycles, Winstanleys, Dereks Cycles on ebay, West country recumbents and Mailorderbikes, to name just a few.

Rejoice in your rubber!


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cheap n Easy Windproof, Warm, Cycling Vest (Gilet to the posh)

We've had a cold spell recently in the UK. I wanted to ride my hybrid bike over the frosty landscape, but the wind was icy - felt like it was blowing right through me. Enter the cheapskate's answer. The photos below explain how to make this garment. It took me five minutes but it works very well.

Cut a body-width length of bubble wrap. The good old standard stuff that folks use for parcels and packaging. Then cut a hole in it for your neck. I cut one side of the hole more curved than the other, to enable it to go on easily and the back to sit on the shoulders properly.

Here it is on a clothes hanger. Wear it on top of your base layer and under the top layer, bubbles on the inside. It really does keep your core warm even in the cold wind. The open sides seem to allow a fair amount of perspiration to evapourate too. Remember, in cold weather, don't hang about in sweaty clothes. Get inside, showered, warm and dry quickly.

Dahon Wheels but better

I ride a Dahon folding bike regularly. However, the factory wheels have been problematic. Every few months I break a spoke. I'm no spring chicken, mind you. Total weight including baggage in the morning is under the 105kg specified max for Dahon bikes, but not that much under!

So, I tried to find a solution. And I think I may have found one. Paul Hewitt Cycles. They have a great reputation for wheel building. I sent them my Dahon wheels and for a reasonable fee, they serviced and re-built them for me. Apart from spokes and bearings they re-used all the parts that I sent them. Yes, a re-cycled cycle wheel.

I've been riding it for about a month and it has been superb. No broken spokes. Also, an improvement I didn't expect - a more planted assured feel to the ride! Highly recommended.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Renovating a Raleigh Twenty Again: Part 1 - "new" machine

UPDATE Feb 2012: I've given this vintage Raleigh Stowaway folding bike (Raleigh Twenty style) away to a relative for use as a commuter. Eventually, when it returns, I'll strip it and get it powder coated probably in DARK PURPLE....lovely...

For a paltry sum, I picked up another Raleigh 20 folder. This time she's a yukky beige STOWAWAY. Frame number and hub stamp indicate that she was made in Nottingham in the Summer of 1980. This was the time of Blondie (Call me), Michael Jackson (Off the wall) and Pink Floyd (The wall). Lots of photos below:

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Renovating a Raleigh Twenty: Part 6 - Headset, nylon bush & handlebars

The infamous nylon headset bushing. Instead of a top race, this is what the Raleigh Twenty uses for a bearing at the top of the head tube. The bottom end has ball bearings - there are photos of that below.

This is the rear view of the nylon bushing. Note the cutout in the steerer tube that allows the steerer clamp to grip the stem. (Photos of the original headset configuration are here).

Here, the nylon bushing is being taken out. It's all really very curious. I wonder why Raleigh did it that way?

View of the cup at the other bottom end of the headtube. All greased and ready to be assembled.

New balls please! This is a photo of the balls on the crown race, all greased and ready for assembly. They are new shiny ones, 25 of 5/32" size.

I'm going to use the top half of this Madison M:Part Sport threadless headset. That will replace the nylon bushing at the top of the head tube. At the bottom of the head tube, I'll leave the original cup and bearing arrangement, because it's absolutely fine.

Just one spacer above the bearing cap, then the original lock nuts, turned carefully to apply the right amount of pressure - so that the forks rotate freely with no tightness or binding, and no play in the headset either.

Here goes the new stem. It's an alloy quill with an adjustable alloy stem with three bolt handlebar clamp. Madison M:part again. Titec Hell Bent alloy bars, with a small rise.

The bars were too wide, so I had to saw the ends off (to ~56cm total width). Simply filed the ends off after cutting with a junior hacksaw.

Ta Da! The bike, now even more transformed to the 21st century. The difference that the headset makes to the ride quality is amazing. It's now really responsive, but at the same time stable. I can ride hands off. Previously, you had to apply positive force to the bars to turn. Now you can "think" and lean the turns, just like a "proper" bike! In fact, it feels MUCH better to ride now than my commuting Dahon Speed D7 folder. The Triumph Twenty is a small bike with a big bike's personality!

View from the driving seat. Tioga Power Stud bar ends, give a welcome change in hand position.

Trigger shifter is in easy thumb and index finger reach (as is the bell!). Swanky new, but oh so cheap, brake levers. Brakes are really good now, even the back one is not bad, despite the original sidepull caliper and pads. They will improve further when I replace the steel rim with an alloy one.

Looking good. The main work left now is to replace the rear steel rim with an alloy one, just like the front wheel. I'm still musing over the mudguards. Should they stay or should they go?

Proudly sporting the Triumph head badge. Actually, that is the main reason that I didn't want to send it off for re-spraying or powder coating. I couldn't figure out how to take off the head badge without damaging it. It seems to be riveted in place (three rivets I think). Awkard to reach the back of the rivets inside the head tube.

Very satisfying to reach this far, with no hitches along the way. She really is a lovely bike to ride now.

UPDATE: 22 September 2010
Days after the above blog post, she moved to a different town to be used as a commuter by a student cousin of mine. So I won't get a chance to replace that rear steel rim for a while. Meanwhile, my 8 year old son has implored me to buy another one and to keep the old steel bars (because they were "cool" and "retro" - he's EIGHT for goodness' sake!). By all accounts, in virtually daily use, she has been completely reliable thus far.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Raleigh Twenty in a public bike shed

An unassuming bike, locked up in a shed. She's taking shape now. The only major piece left is to replace the rear steel rim with an alloy one. I'm not sure if I'll replace those heavy mudguards with modern plastic ones. The only real advantage is to modernise the appearance. There would be a weight saving, but I'm guessing it's not very big.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Renovating a Raleigh Twenty: Part 5 - Chain

I decided to break the old chain at the half link. Although I'd cleaned and oiled it and it was ok in practice, it was stretched/worn beyond acceptable limits. I counted 93 links in the old chain.

Then I attached a fresh half link to the new chain. I'm replacing with a Wippermann Connex 100 1/2" x 1/8".

Here's a photo of the chainwheel (which as I mentioned earlier I'd straightened a tad). The cotter pins are new and I had applied just a little grease on their flat faces in a bid to prevent them seizing up in future. I tapped them in, rode it, tapped them in again, rode it and finally tapped in again and tightened the nuts. I'm happy that they are in properly now, but not stupidly tight.

The connector link is now in place. This is really so much easier than using a chain tool to re-connect. There are 93 links in the new chain too.

The outer plate goes on next.

The spring clip is then placed in position. With a screwdriver, just slide it so that it clips in place. NB: A reader, JJ, pointed out that the clip is the wrong way around. I think he's right! The closed side should be facing the driven side of the pedals - I must have been confused because the bike was upside down. However, it doesn't matter now, because since then, the bike was stolen from my student cousin to whom I loaned it.

The joined chain. Lovely! One thing I noticed is that since the wheel axle is now nutted a bit closer to the chainwheel (because the new chain is shorter than the old stretched one), the gear cable tension had to be re-set. It didn't take long, but I hadn't thought of that effect of the new chain.

Anyway, she rides so much better now. I could feel the increase in efficiency first from the serviced bottom bracket and then another incremental improvement with the new chain.

Raleigh Twenty on a train

Well, she's not as small as a Dahon and nowhere near the compactness of a Brompton. Here, I haven't dropped the handlebars, or seatpost, so the folded package could be smaller than in the photo. Definitely useable, but not in a busy train I'd suggest. Fairly easy to fit inside the boot of an average car - I have managed to pack both a Dahon Speed D7 folding bike and this Triumph Twenty into the boot of an estate car, without the rear seats folded and with quite a lot of space to spare. This photo was taken before I'd changed the pedals and serviced the bottom bracket.