Thursday, May 18, 2017

Raleigh Grand Prix and MKS Sylvan Touring Pedals


I decided to swap out the old Raleigh quill pedals in favor of a new set of MKS Sylvan Touring Pedals. The quill pedals were a bit small for use with regular sneakers, but the MKS Sylvan Touring are great.



I was impressed with the quality of these pedals. They run smoothly, are lightweight, and cost under $30 on Amazon. They have a 1970s-style look, but with the smoothness of new parts and new bearings. I think these are winners.


Overall, this Raleigh has turned out reasonably well. The Carlton frame has some nice elements: cutaway lugs; wrap-around stays; and a good fit for me.








 When you build a bike, I think it's important to use good-quality parts, especially new stuff. The Velo Orange fenders look nice and are of good quality. They're not all loose and rattly like cheap fenders.





 The Weinmann center-pull brakes are nothing exotic, but they're solid and work well. The Raleigh headbadge is also always a nice touch.






By the end of my ride tonight, a thunderstorm was gathering, so I headed home.










Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Summer Evening


It reached over 90 degrees today, which led to a warm, humid evening. I really like this 1947 Schwinn Continental for those kinds of conditions. The lighter weight of the Cro-Mo frame and several aluminum parts makes it a little less work to go up hills in the hot weather.


The blue paint really shines in the evening sunlight.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Good Weather, Good Bike: Raleigh Sprite 5-Speed

 Nice night for a ride: 75 and sunny. There's plenty of daylight and you can't ask for better weather than this. This 5-speed Raleigh Sprite is a great choice.
 It rained for about three days here between last Thursday and Saturday, but it's well-cleared now and there's plenty of riding to be done.






Even these Mallards are enjoying the weather.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

1974 Raleigh Worksop/Carlton Grand Prix 10-Speed



This 1974 Raleigh Carlton factory Grand Prix is my latest project. I have owned a few 10-speeds over the years, and did not like any of them.


But when I saw this green Raleigh, I really liked it. It was previously being used as a beater bike by someone who rotated the bars all the way back and had bent the rear axle. I replaced the rear axle, replaced both derailleurs, and put a Brook 72 saddle on it. The saddle was sitting in my closet, so I figured I might as well use it.


This cool frame was made in January 1974 at the Worksop factory, which was formerly Carlton and had been bought-out by Raleigh.






What I really liked about this frame was the luminous green color, the wrap-around seat stays, and the cut-away lugs.






I fitted the bike with Velo Orange stainless steel fenders and Sun Tour 1970s-era derailleurs as well.







I topped the project off with a Banjo Brothers Barrel bag. It's a fun bike, but I'm definitely still an internal gear hub person. The derailleurs are working nicely and it has a very wide range of gears. It's also very light compared to a 3-speed and quite quick. It is something different to ride, but I still prefer the Raleigh Sports-style bikes.


Saturday, May 13, 2017


One of the things I wonder about in terms of bicycling is why people gravitate to one 'template' of bicycle or another. I suppose where someone lives has a lot to do with it - people who live near a lot of dirt trails may go for mountain biking, while people with good roads may gravitate toward road biking. That makes sense.

What makes someone go into vintage bikes? Part of it is an appreciation for history, and perhaps for old-style manufacturing methods.


More specifically, what makes some people cling to steel Westrick rims, versus replace them with aluminum modern rims? Perhaps some people are more 'conservative' as to parts and layout on their old bikes than others are.


But I think ultimately the best thought is that you have to be flexible: some projects demand all-out, original parts, while others allow you to build a custom bike up because they arrive incomplete or have been damaged.


When I started with vintage bikes I insisted on only "period, brand, and model correct" parts. I had to replace Endrick rims with Westrick originals where possible. I had to use original lighting, including stuff that was basically a joke in terms of being able to see at night. I paged through catalogs to see what kinds of tires, brake cable housing, etc were used.

After doing this for a very long time (over 20 years), I've settled on a view that says, 'examine the total project as it arrives, and see how it presents itself'.


I wish I could give more guidance than that to the new hobbyist, but that's really it.  Look at your project for completeness, rarity, condition, and why it appeals to you and how you plan to use it. Then decide if you're going to 'upgrade' parts or customize, versus go all-out catalog spec. But overall, you need to like what you're doing.