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.