I was looking around for a bike to restore when one of my employees, who couldn't have know about my search, asked me if i was interested in 'an old bike' she had in her shed. Did I want it? If not, it was going to the tip. I asked what it was and she told me it was an 'old-man's bike'.
I said I would come for a look but wasn't too optimistic from her description. A couple of weeks passed and I thought I had better go and see, just to be polite, and if it was something I wasn't interested in, I'd take it to the Re-Cycle charity in the city.
When I arrived at her house, the bike was leaning against a wall probably 50 feet away and I was excited already. It had been stood next to a wood saw for the last ten years and was covered in sawdust, but even so, I could see it was just what I had been after and appeared complete.
I asked what she wanted for it and she said that it was mine and that I was doing her a favour by getting out of the way.
It was in the back of my car in seconds and my wheels probably spun as I pulled away - just in case she changed her mind or there was a catch! When I got it home I wheeled it around my house and went to work on it. Within 20 minutes I was riding it and since then, I have spent only another hour or two on titivation.
It is a 1981 (from the hub stamp) Raleigh Popular, the last year they were made after a run of more than 60 years. I'm not sure if they always had rod brakes or whether they were made like this in the final year to commemorate the past. It has the original tyres, pedals etc. The only thing I have had to replace, rather than just cleaning up/oiling/polishing/painting, is the bell. The only thing that is missing is the printed plate on the gear select.
I would love to restore it at some point but the paintwork, with its gold and red pinstripes would cost a lot to renew.
For now, it's fine as it is and still turns heads whenever I ride it.
By the way, I gave the lady a larged, framed photograph I'd taken (not of the bike) and knew she liked. We were both happy.
Lots more here.