Sunday, July 28, 2019

Summer Evening Rides

Riding a Raleigh DL-1 type bike over-the-road and on some pretty demanding hills is not easy. The bike is kind of heavy for going uphill, and the brakes are underwhelming going downhill. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it.

This Raleigh export model roadster is geared pretty low - 44 teeth on the sprocket and 21 teeth on the cog. This gives it at least some ability to climb hills, provided you are smart and conserve your energy, and use the low first gear to climb. The old-style long crank arms give decent leverage, and if you corkscrew your way up the hill, you should be able to make it just fine. Your mindset needs to be one of gradually getting to the top rather than thrashing up a hill with this bike.

Going downhill requires awareness and planning. You're not going to be able to fly down a hill and then slam on the brakes for an emergency stop. The best idea is to allow the bike to coast down the hill, but with judicious use of the brakes so that you do not "out-ride your ability to stop". If you ride on particularly quiet roads, you can corkscrew to the bottom as a skier might do on a steep hill.

But with some patience and the understanding that your goal is to make the journey - rather than racing to the finish - you can complete an over-the-road ride with a DL-1 type bikes on some pretty steep hills. And unlike lighter, faster bikes, the DL-1 can take you over these roads, bet they paved or unpaved dirt.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

1962 Raleigh Rod Brake Roadster Export Model

The last of the bikes moved from Virginia to Connecticut was the Raleigh roadster export model, which made the trip at the end of January. I loaded my Jeep to the ceiling with the stuff left to be moved, threw the bike rack onto the back, and loaded up the Raleigh.

Unfortunately, the day proved to be bitterly cold, windy, and snowy. The Raleigh was subjected to corrosive road salt and brine most of the 300+ mile journey. When I arrived in Connecticut, I basically hosed-down the bike with WD-40 to prevent moisture from mixing with the salt.

While this helped to some degree, the bike still had a fair bit of corrosion on it. Over the course of two weekends, I totally took the bike apart. I cleaned all the parts, and put any rusty parts into Evaporust formula. Evaporust is expensive, but it can be re-used and it does a good job removing rust from small parts.

After re-assembling the bike, I decided to put it through it a test by riding over several dirt farm roads in the area. The black flies and deer flies were brutal along these roads, but the bike made it through just fine. It's a little dusty from riding, but the corrosion from the road salt is long gone and it's back on the road.

 The pictures in this post are from the dirt road ride. The DL-1 style roadsters excel on this kind of road, though you still have to take it a bit slow because of all the loose stones and the rather marginal rod brakes. But you can still ride these roads, and the rod brake roadster is far preferable on dirt and gravel compared to the Sports-style light roadster or the clubman-style racing bike.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Schwalbe Delta Cruiser White Walls - 26 x 1 3/8

I recently got a helpful tip from a reader here to check out the Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires, which now come in a white wall pattern. I will admit the tread is not necessarily the most traditional, but the Delta Cruisers are rightfully well-regarded tires that provide a little more cushion than the basic Kenda or Duro offerings.

My 1958 Raleigh Sports needed new white wall tires (it's the only Raleigh with white walls I own, but in 1958 white walls were certainly appropriate).

These white wall tires have the usual Delta Cruiser quality and that little extra size and cushion compared to more basic tires. They're not as cushy or large as the Panaracer Col de la Vie tires, but they're certainly a bit more forgiving than most tires in the 26 x 1 3/8 (650A) size.

So check out these tires if you're looking for  a bit better white wall than Duro or a Kenda tire. There's nothing wrong with the more basic tires, but these Delta Cruisers may be an option if you need to deal with bumpier roads like I do.

Monday, June 24, 2019

1951 Raleigh Clubman - A Classic 3 Speed Road Bike

About this time last year, I bought a 1951 Raleigh Clubman and stashed it in storage at my family's place not far from where I would eventually be moving to in Connecticut. The bicycle sat in a box for a few months, and this spring I began gradually getting it back together.

I made a few changes and upgrades as I worked on the bike, and eventually I was left with what I think is a pretty nice Clubman. There are a few items that need some tweaking, mainly I think I'll replace the narrow saddle with a Brooks Flyer (the B17 with springs). Our roads here are rough enough that the springs will probably be helpful.

The bicycle really is a lively performer - it's deceptively light for a steel framed bike and everything is quite well-made on it. The aluminum Bluemels fenders are a great touch, and I prefer aluminum over the old celluloid type (celluloid tends to crack).

While this project is not 100% done, I think I'm almost there. The main item now is to go to a bit more comfortable saddle.

As an interesting side note, I ended up making a custom, fixed-length Sturmey Archer shifter cable for this bike. I managed to locate my Bell Systems Type-B crimper and some brass tube stock. Using the crimper, a cable blank, and the brass tube stock you can make your own Sturmey Archer cable that is a fixed-length type, just like the originals. These will not have the "cinch bolt" type mount back by the rear wheel that the generic type shifter cables today have. The job isn't hard, but takes attention to the measurements.

The test ride for this bike was a baptism of fire, of sorts: a ride of several quite hilly miles to a lake in the next town over and back again. The bike performed nicely, though as I mentioned before, the saddle could use a little more cushion on our bumpy roads. When I lived on relatively short flat streets in suburban Virginia, a test ride would have been a 10 minute out-and-back loop never more than a short walk from home. But here in a more rural environment in western New England, riding is more done on the open-road instead of on looped little streets. So why not test it in the true road-going fashion?

The ride position is somewhat aggressive, but nothing terrible. The John Bull grips are very comfortable. I added a little Newbaum's cloth tape to give a second spot to grip on the bars so I can vary my ride position a bit.

I'm pretty happy with the bike - it's certainly different from the vanilla Raleigh Sports or the heavy Raleigh Tourist/DL-1 bikes. Each type has its place in a good collection, and they each have a different ride personality on the road. All we need now is some more good weather.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Humid Evening Ride to East Shore Road

A successful, but humid evening ride over to East Shore Road in Morris. Got a little rained on along the way, but nothing to soak me. The Panaracer Col de la Vie tires add a little extra cushion, and that comes in handy along some of these roads. But at the top of the hill along East Shore is a very nice little park.