Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Evil Twin

Jon sends in some photos and description of a bike he refers to as The Evil Twin.

Late last summer, I moved to an area in South Carolina with an excellent 15-mile bike/jog path system known as the Swamp Rabbit; my big-framed Raleigh DL-1 was the perfect bike for this trail. In fact, I enjoy riding my Tourist on the Rabbit so much that I wondered what it would be like to experience it on a 'path racer' version of the DL-1. A little research revealed that early English path bikes shared much in common with Raleigh's 28" rod-brake roadsters: similar frame geometry, 28" wheel diameter, rear-facing dropouts, front rod brakes and internal-hub 3-speeds. So, as Autumn progressed, I began acquiring parts on eBay, by mail-order and from the local bike shops. By Christmas I had most of the required hardware in hand, much of it from the UK- a Williams 46-tooth chainwheel with cottered cranks, a Sturmey-Archer SC3 3-speed coaster-brake hub with a Sturmey top-bar-mounted lever shift, a set of DL-1 rims, a honey tan Brooks B-17 saddle, cork grips, French Lyotard alloy rat-trap pedals, and a vintage Raleigh stem with an add-on front rod-brake lever to mount on it. The inverted North Road-style handlebars came from a '60's-vintage 26" Raleigh, the tires are new Schwalbe Delta Cruisers and the three-note horn is a NOS Rampar accessory part. I found a decent Tourist frame from Sam Fitzsimmons in Baltimore- late '70's-era judging by the head bracket, which, instead of the "Heron" outline, had a simple hole for a DOT-mandated reflector. I wet-sanded the whole frame down, touched up the chips and scratches with black enamel, polished out the whole thing, and added a set of repro Raleigh Sport stickers to get that vintage vibe. Rims were stripped and powder-coated black. The ranger tan Acorn roll bag gives it a nice period attitude.I did the bolt-on stuff in my apartment, but Joe Badeime at The Great Escape, my LBS, rebuilt the hub, built the wheels and did the final build and adjustment. How's it ride? General handling is much like my big roadster; with a big turning radius and smooth ride, but the unsprung B-17 seat is a little stiffer. The larger crankset means I feel the hills a little more, but in third gear it has long legs. Now I have two DL-1s, Original and Extra Spicy. Because it's more comfortable, I will still ride my "stock" DL-1, but it's a kick to experience a late-1970's bike with path racer genes that go back 60 years earlier.





8 comments:

adventure! said...

Nice job, Jon! Love the look. Wonder how much the total cost was? It be nice to see that compared to the Pashley Guv'nor, the only "modern" bike I know of that's similar. I've been attempting to do something similar with my '50's Rudge Sports, but without rod brakes or 28 inch wheels.

Anna Maria said...

Very nice, thanks for sharing.
Anna @ sewa mobil jakarta

SeattleO said...

Love the overall look--I'd say the path racer conversion was a success! I too am slightly customizing an old three speed, but on the cheap. I'm all for originality, but the flipped North Roads are just too cool.

MT cyclist said...

Last year I missed out on a nice looking DL-1 on Craigslist. It was listed for around $100 and was snapped up immediately. No surprise there. Just curious: Are 28-inch rims available anywhere?
That's a great looking bike.

galen nikolaidis said...

You have a very nice bike! If you encounter problems in your brakes, then stop wasting time experimenting it. Ask help with the real expert. brake repair would be happy to assist you. Thanks!

Unknown said...

NICE JOB! You've wet-sanded the whole frame, than polished it out, in other words, made it less shinny, i like the idea, also, did you powder-coat the rims in sort of an egg shell finish?
What tops it out is the 1930's 3-speed quadrant gear shifter changer lever, and beats a Gov'nor in that it could really pass for a vintage machine, Good Work!!

Jon Albert said...

Total cost was a little more than HALF the cost of a new Guv'nor; the fun part was the hunt for parts- many came from the UK via eBay International. Watch eBay and Craigslist> 'bikes'> 'Raleigh' for 28" inch rims, as well as candidate DL-1 Tourists. 700 rims and tires are nearly the same diameter and can work well too. The gloss level is almost back to original, I used Kitt Headlamp Polish but didn't remove ALL the frame chips and scratches to give it a nice patina. Rims are powder-coated in a SATIN black- gloss didn't make sense given the abrasion the front rod brake would exert on the rim.

Jon Albert said...

For anyone wanting to build an authentic-looking Raleigh path bike replica, an excellent historical reference is RALEIGH: PAST AND PRESENCE OF AN ICONIC BICYCLE BRAND ISBN 9781892495686 by Tony Hadland, about $35.