Saturday, January 27, 2018

Banjo Brothers Rack Top Bag and Raleigh Twenty

It was unseasonably warm here today, making it up to 62 degrees (F). With such warm temperatures, that meant a day to slip in a ride around the area.

I received for Christmas a brand new Banjo Brothers Rack Top bag. I specifically asked for this item because I thought it might go well on my Raleigh Twenty. Many of the old Raleigh folding bikes had "carry-all" bags strapped to the rear rack. These bags sat on top of the rack and acted like a bin for carrying books, groceries, or what-have-you.

Sure enough, the Rack Top bag was a success on the Raleigh. The bag uses long, velcro straps to tie down to the rack top, while there is also a small pull-strap to steady the bag to the seat post or frame of the bike. In this case, the strap is a little helpful, but the velcro straps are pretty secure by themselves.

The bag is of a tough, nylon cloth type construction, with some reflective touches on the outside edges. The zipper has two sliders on it, and it zips open and closed smoothly. The Banjo Brothers logo is prominently displayed on the top of the bag.

The bag has a good amount of storage space. I was able to fit my cell phone (a big brick of a thing); my wallet; my glasses with their case; my keys; and some mail quite easily, with room to spare.

Overall, I am happy with this bag, and it fits nicely on this bike. This Raleigh Twenty from the early 1970s has a nice, utilitarian feel, but is still a blast to ride. Just make sure you remember your pedal ground clearance is very low. I think this is a going to be a great, useful set up for hobby riding around the area, or even taking on vacation with me.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter Riding with a Raleigh DL-1

It was a cold, windy day here. However, most of the road salt has dissipated because we recently had two warm, rainy days. While it was cold, the clearer roads gave me a chance to take this 1963 Raleigh DL-1 Export Model out for a ride.

The large wheels and wide tires go well over gravel roads - much more so than a regular Raleigh Sports bike.

After about 75 minutes, it was time to head home and get warm again. But it was my first time out on the road in about a month. I've put my Raleigh Grand Prix on a roller for practice indoors, but there's no substitute for real, over-the-road riding.

Monday, December 4, 2017

DL-1 Night Ride Rig

Here's a look at my 'night rig' for the DL-1 Export Model. It's basically two light systems: the original Dynohub with headlamp and tail lamp, and a pair of more modern, rechargeable LED lights.

The old-type headlamp has a halogen bulb in it, while the original rear light is a stock bulb.
The modern headlamp is a Cree LED with three beam levels and an emergency flash mode.
The rear modern lamp is an Ascher LED with two beam modes and two emergency flash modes. The Ascher recharges with an LED cable while the Cree uses a an AC adapter type head.

The LEDs do the majority of the work, but I do run the original lamp set at the same time.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pleasant Surprises - Warm Days in December

This time of year, you need to take all the warmth and daylight you can get in order to ride. We're into the short days of the year, and coming into the "cold season". It gets cold here, but not truly frigid. Nevertheless, it's still cold enough to make riding a pain sometimes.

So when you get a 60 degree day in December, with lots of sunshine, you take it and ride as much as you can. I took an extended ride today on the 1963 Raleigh DL-1 Export Model.

It's a very smooth-riding, pleasant bike.

The leaves and various debris is really falling now, so you have to be careful of anything that can cause a flat. But the ride is still welcomed, especially considering we could have snow already and, salt on the road could end riding for awhile. I'll take every day like this I can get this time of year.

I even got a chance to put this bike on the work stand outside in the sun and give it a good cleaning and maintenance check.

Whenever you do an in-depth re-build on an old bicycle, about a month or so into riding the bike, you should put the bike back on the stand and check several things:
  • Check wheel trueness, both lateral and for hop/drop
  • Check spoke tension even if the rim is pretty true
  • Check the front and rear hubs for play in the bearings
  • Check the internal gear hub oil level
  • Check for oil on the rims if you have oil-filled hubs
  • Check that the brake pads are "wearing-in" properly; adjust brakes as needed
  • Check that the tires are seated correctly still 
  • Check the headset for looseness/fork for play
  • Check that the saddle, seatpost, and handlebars are still tight
  • Check the bottom bracket: for any play in bearings and check crank cotters and arms for play
  • Check chain line; chain tension; and check for undue wear to the chainring and cog
  • Check for any "rattles" - fenders; chainguard; rack; etc.
  • Check dynohub for tightness of wires to terminals; check lights for function
  • Check shifter chain for proper adjustment.
Basically, you're "checking" all the places things can begin to "wear-in" wrong. You want to correct any issues now, while you've only got about a month of riding on the bike. This can prevent damage that may occur if you keep going and something is out of whack.

It sounds like a lot, but really you will probably only find one or two things that are off. I did a check on this DL-1 and found all that was needed were: adjust brakes for wear-in and tweaks to the rear hub cone as well as the bottom bracket bearings. Everything else was rock-solid.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Shorter Days of the Year - Raleigh Twenty

We've had a fairly mild late fall and start of December so far, which is a good thing. I've been able to ride more than usual - often 4-5 nights/days per week. I've been mostly riding Raleighs this fall: a DL-1 Export Model and a Sports.

But today, I took out something a little different - my Raleigh Twenty folder. This little bike is compact, but has the feel of a regular bicycle. It rides a lot like a Raleigh Sports, aside from the somewhat different turning characteristics of the smaller wheels.

But this bike really is a lot of fun. I do recommend the Twenty as a first vintage folder for many people - they have some quirks but generally clean up and re-build a lot like many other old Raleighs. They also can be had at reasonable prices, and parts are still mostly available.

To me, the Twenty is the classic folding bike. Many were made, they ride really nicely, and they combine the cachet of an old folder with a very roadworthy package. The Twenty is a great place to start if you're looking for an old folder, and it's also a great place to expand if you're already a collector of the full-sized vintage Raleighs.

I plan on riding as long as I can into the winter. Once we get snow and salt on the road, that's it, but for now I'll keep going. This Raleigh Twenty will be on the road with my other bikes, as long as I can keep at it.