Tuesday, September 2, 2014

1969 Raleigh Sports

Jon submitted this way back.

Over dinner this last Holiday during a family visit in Palm Springs, my wife's brother asked me what I had been up to, hobby-wise. When I described my developing interest in old Brit 3-speeds, he mentioned that his 12-year-old son, Martin, had been given a 3-speed bike by an older neighbor who had had it since college, but that he couldn't ride it because the gears didn't work. Since we were visiting there the week between Christmas and New Year's, I suggested that they drop it by and I would have a look at it. The next morning the bike was parked out front, faded, dried out and indeed weathered from exposure to the California sun and heat. It was a 26" DL-22 Raleigh Gent's Sports; according to the Sturmey archer hub date, a 1969. It had a 1970 Berkley campus license plate. The shift cable was hanging loose, it had a huge, faded beach cruiser seat, dried out '90's-style ergonomic grips on 'townie' bars in a clamp-style BMX stem, and no fenders. The original Raleigh block-style pedals were completely "roached". So I disassembled it wheels-off, degreased everything, gave it a good wash, polished out the frame, fork and chrome as best as I could, and gave it a good lube. The local bike shop fabbed a new cable for the 3-speed. To get a more sporting attitude, I replaced the pedals with BMX-style pedals, added diamond-pattern rubber grips and replaced the old cruiser saddle with a diamond-tufted BMX saddle. Since the fenders were gone, I also removed the chain guard, again to get a little racier look. We saw their family again New Year's Eve and when I gave him his bike back, he was very pleased with the redo. When I got back home, I sent him a chrome frame pump to go on his braze-on pegs, and reminded him to save the chain guard and keep the Berkley plate on because they are original to the bike. So I spent a relaxing vacation bringing another Raleigh 3-speed back to life, and Martin now has a set of wheels to cruise with his pals, which he does regularly; I'm told that he is careful to store his bike inside when he's not on it, all of which I have found very gratifying.


Jay Tyan said...

Wow, looks great! it's amazing what a change of character these bikes get when you remove the sheetmetal and put on different handlebars. It's nice to hear your relatives were lucky enough to happen upon such a nice Sports - my '58 (shown in the last post) had previously been abandoned outside in Michigan, haha. I had to completely disassemble, inspect, and repaint mine this past summer just so I would feel comfortable riding it daily, rain or shine. I'll wish Martin and his Sports a lifetime of great adventures!

George said...

Wow, very nice! A couple years ago I found a 3 speed labeled Cavalier on the head badge. The S-A hub is from 1964. Your story encouraged me to spruce it up and get it going. Thanks for the story.