Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Another Project: Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed

 I picked up this really, really nice 1967 Raleigh Sprite last weekend. It was an eBay sale with local pick up about 30 minutes from my hometown, and when I saw the excellent condition of the bike, I bought it. Below are pictures of the bike as it came to me, before I have done anything to it. It is starting out in great shape.


One of the things that you learn as you work on old bikes is that condition is king, not necessarily rarity or cachet. I think every bicycle restorer goes through a time when rarity, age, and cachet start to take over, but the more you fix bikes, the more you look for projects that are in nice shape but not necessarily very rare or valuable.


This particular Raleigh Sprite is in extraordinary condition: original cables and housings, original and functional plastic shifters, excellent paint and plating, and good originality. The rubber parts are somewhat crunchy - it's possible the bike was stored in a climate controlled basement or storage room where there was a furnace or a dehumidifier that released ozone or caused dry air. But it is to be expected for a bike this old.


The pinstripes and transfers are also in good shape. Usually the pinstripes fade and disappear first, and then the transfers start to get chewed up. Finally you have bikes with degraded paint or chrome. This has none of those issues. 


The mechanical pieces that I have cleaned so far also show minimal mileage. It looks like the bike was ridden a little bit, then stored away somewhere dry for the rest of its life. The leather saddle is a little dry, but also in good shape. It should do well with Proofhide. 

I already have the bike partially taken down and have cleaned and re-greased the bottom bracket. It had low mileage. 

I'll probably only do a partial tear-down, clean, re-grease, and maybe a little touch up paint in the few spots that need it (very few indeed). 

It's a great looking bike and I think it will be a great rider.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Summer Weather

 Summer is here. The days are long and pretty warm. It's always a good time to head out for a ride - lots to see.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Why Internal Gear Hubs?

 Why would someone keep a barn or a garage full of old, steel bikes with internal gear hubs? 

The answer is that they are fun, generally well-made bicycles capable of both practical transportation and light-duty sports riding. 

They generally have accessories like chain guards, fenders, and saddle bags that add to the practicality and style of the bicycle, and they often have a comfortable, upright riding position that allows you to ride in regular clothes. Though by no means light, they are not unduly heavy, and they allow for good exercise without large barriers to entry. By changing the rear cog, you can easily modify the gear ratio to your liking.

 They also can be quite affordable, with some 1960s and 70s era bikes still being sold for cheap at yard sales and estate sales, or online at Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay. A set of basic bicycle tires may cost you more than that yard sale 1975 Raleigh Sports you come across. More advanced hobbyists will enjoy looking for older and rarer bicycles to add to their collections.

The internal gear hubs are not difficult to use one you know how to adjust them, and they run with commonly available oil through the oiler port. The common hubs, like Sturmey Archer AW, are often very reliable with just a basic cleaning and oiling. Replacement parts for many of the bikes are commonly available.

So don't be intimidated if you are looking to get started in old bikes: an old three speed is a great way to get started, and it's a great way to stay in the bicycle hobby. They have something to offer both the beginner and the more advanced hobbyist. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

A Few Thoughts as Spring Turns to Summer

 It is hard to believe that we are already at the start of summer, 2022. The longest day of the year is close at hand, and with that comes a few thoughts for fixing and riding old bicycles.

First, there is no time like the present to get out and get riding. The days are long and the weather is warm, which calls for getting out and onto the road with your bike whenever you can. This beats 95 degrees and humid (August) and it beats 20 degrees and freezing (January).

 Second, if you have a warm, dry day, now is the time to get any paint work you have done, before the heat and humidity of summer strike. Paint dries better when it's 75 and dry than it does when it's 95 and very humid in August (and good lucky getting it to dry when it's 20 and freezing in January). I've spent several afternoons recently prepping and painting some parts from my bins that needed it. 

Third, when you ride, stay visible, even with the longer days. Summer usually means increased car traffic, and that also means more interactions between motorists and bicycles. Keep your lights charged and your lamp batteries fresh. Make sure your reflectors are in good condition. Even though there is more daylight, drivers still need to see you and to share the road with you. Don't be afraid to use a public road, but be selective with your roads and don't take an undue risk by riding on a high-speed, dangerous road.

Finally, have an app on your cell phone that provides weather updates. Summer often means thunderstorms that can develop and sweep in quickly. Make sure you get an alert if you have lightning strikes within 5 or 10 miles. You don't want to be caught out in a downpour or get tangled up with downed trees or lightning.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

75th Anniversary - 1947 Schwinn New World



This 1947 Schwinn New World is 75 years old this year. It's a great bicycle, and we're having some nice weather in which to ride it.