Friday, March 29, 2013

Raleigh Dawn Tourist Test Rides Continued

I like to extensively test and compare the rides of the various bicycles I own. Each has its own character and unique element set on the road.

The Raleigh Dawn is no exception. It has the feel of a "baby roadster"- rod brakes and an upright riding position, but in a smaller and closer together form. I have found it striking how low to the ground the bottom bracket seems to be. For some reason it gives me the impression that it actually is lower to the ground than my Sports model. I will have to measure them at some point, perhaps it's just my perception. That said, it really does seem to have a "low to the ground" feel. I took the Dawn out a few times on my usual run down to the nearby trails, swamps, and back roads.

This bike really is perfect for the person who wants a rod brake Raleigh with most of the roadster characteristics, but with a smaller wheel and frame size. It's a nice hybrid of Sports and rod brake roadster characteristics.

I will also add that, in stock form, it has the same "gears are too high" feel. The stock Raleigh AW, and in this case AB, cog is an 18 tooth dished type. All of the cogs I've seen are well-made and seem to have a long lifespan. However, the gearing on these bicycles is too high in that form. I ride in a very flat area, but even there, I find I rarely hit third gear. Third is truly a downhill overdrive with the 18 tooth cog.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to change to a 20 or 22 tooth type. You simply (1) remove the rear wheel, (2) use a small, flat bladed screw driver to pop off the ring-shaped spring, (3) remove the 18 tooth cog, (4) slide the new cog on using the three nub splines to line up, and (5) pop the spring back on over the new cog and return the wheel to the bicycle.  You will likely need a new chain, and I suggest the Sachs SRAM nickel finish bushingless type. They are very smooth and easy to work with a standard chain tool.

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