Sunday, 4 July 2010

Renovating a Raleigh Twenty: Part 1 - The Bike

The Raleigh 20: An Icon from Nottingham. To me, she is like a lump of clay waiting for an artist! Transforming her into a sculpture, the artist's imagination can run wild! You can find a lot of information about the history of these geeky looking bikes via a Google search. Raleigh churned them out in massive numbers and under various brand labels.

This one is actually a Triumph Traffic Master 20. The frame number and serial number on the three speed Sturmey Archer hub indicate that she was made in 1978. I picked her up for £10 via eBay.

There was no gear cable and no cover on the trigger lever. Lovely chrome handlebars.

Here you can see the rear hub. The Sturmey Archer AW hub was really dusty and when I rubbed it with a finger, there was a satisfying gleam of chrome from the "tin can." Missing gear cable and the indicator toggle is hanging free. Steel rims, so that means poor braking AND acceleration!

Steel sidepull caliper brakes front (shown) and rear. When applied, they rock like a punk doing the pogo.

The back brake is a bit better than the front, even though it has really long reach (~80mm!). That chain guard has got to go!

Good old steel cottered cranks. This is a Raleigh proprietary threaded bottom bracket, so won't be easy to replace with something modern. On the plus side, the bottom bracket seems to be working ok and there's no play. So I think a strip, new bearings and regrease should be adequate.

Chainwheel teeth are not too worn, which is another good reason to keep the crankset. The chain has stretched though, so a new one will be needed.

Headset has standard balls at the bottom, but a nylon bushing instead of a ball race at the top. Hmm, very interesting.

Forks seem to be straight and decent enough. There's a Schwalbe tyre on the front!

Close up of the front hub. I bet that hasn't seen grease for a decade! Note how the mudguard eyes fit over the hub axle. This works because of the hub cone design.

Seat tube is far too short for me.

Well, there you have it. For a tenner, I have a bike that rides. First impressions are that the frame feels solid and she has a lovely feel on the road. The steel rims are definitely impairing performance. Basically, she needs to lose weight and get serviced all round. The big questions in my mind are:

(a) Is she going to get treated to a loverly fresh, new, powder coat?

(b) I really like those sweeping handlebars, so do I really want to ditch them for modern alloy ones?

(c) Do I try to lose the nylon bushing on the upper headset and replace it with ball races?

Questions, questions...

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