Monday, July 2, 2012

Raleigh DL-1 Tourist

When Jon sent his Schwinn Traveller, I said it was a great story. But you (and I) ain't seen nothin' yet, as Jon just sent in his actual ride and the story behind that.
Here's the second part of the story... my Raleigh Tourist DL-1. This came from an eBay seller in Shaker Heights (Cleveland); it had been GIVEN to him by someone in the area, next door to a job he was contracting six blocks away, in University Heights- actually it was on the curb with the garbage (along with a companion women's Raleigh) to be taken away. The only reason the seller didn't take the other one was that he didn't want to be greedy. The only thing he knew about its previous ownership was that it has been stored for 30 years. Based on the hub date and the details, it appears to be a 1974 Tourist. My pal Andrew, who grew up in Cleveland, drove me there to get it. As soon as I got it back, Patrick, the new owner of my Traveler, took it, removed the 'Rampar' lighting set (installation looked like someone was decorating a Christmas tree) adjusted the cones, lubed everything and pronounced it good. I brought it home and spent a day detailing it; tires are a little cracked but good (original Raleigh/ Dunlop 28" 'Roadsters'), it has a few minor chips and scratches and some minor pitting on the rims, but the decals, chrome, paint, pin stripes all are excellent, even the paint INSIDE the fenders is clean and shiny. A few applications of Proofide on the saddle and we were good to go. What you see is the result; size (and style)-wise, this fits me MUCH better than the Traveler did, and clearly this bicycle has not seen high mileage. Riding one of these is different than riding smaller-framed 26" 3-speeds; you learn quickly to appreciate (and respect) the dual concepts of momentum and inertia, given the bigger frame, longer wheelbase, large 28" wheels and rod brakes. Ride quality is markedly more comfortable. On smooth, level pavement, in third gear, this thing is a real locomotive (again, inertia)- slower off the line than the Traveler was, and slower to stop, but higher cruise speeds- once you're moving, you are hauling. Its mass and stability impart an on-road confidence that smaller bikes don't. Learning the brakes takes a little feel, but once you're acclimated to them, they are entirely servicable for routine riding; as Patrick Sullivan advised me, you must be smart about braking. But for me, it's all about the styling. The faster head and seat tube angle, the bigger wheels and frame and longer wheelbase, the North Road handlebar set, and the Brooks B72 saddle all combine to give this bike a visual statement that is at once rakish and classic. Due to careful, deliberate proportions and excruciatingly correct details, it has the same subtle impact and British propriety that makes 'T'-series MGs, Vincent Black Shadows, Dunhill lighters and 'J'-Class yachts so beautiful to look at (and experience). The brake linkage brings to mind the valve linkages on a silver-plated clarinet I once played in grade school, and the Brooks saddle, in its timeless execution, is a design icon by itself. My only aesthetic criticism of this machine would be Raleigh's choice of graphic design in the mid-'70's; sometimes Marketing is its own worst enemy. But the pinstripes are great, and given the originality, no gripes. This worked out well; my friend Patrick got the Schwinn Traveler he sought and this Raleigh DL-1 is a perfect fit for me.
I can't disagree with anything written above.

No comments: