Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Rides: 1974 Raleigh Sports 3 Speed

The Raleigh Sports is the common light roadster produced in Britain and imported in large numbers into the US. The reason for their success, in large part, is their very nice balance between weight, handling and features. Whereas traditional, rod brake roadsters have longer frames and looser handling, the Sports is more a happy medium between a tighter road bike, and the looser rod brake roadster.

I suppose they have that "Goldy Locks" element of being "just right" for many riders.My particular Raleigh Sports is a 1974 model with a few upgrades. I bought the base model Sports in 2003 for $30 after my modern wonderbike of 27 speeds was stolen during a blackout following Hurricane Isabel. While I was pretty unhappy the previous bike was stolen, the incident may have proven to be a blessing in disguise, as out it came a bike I will most likely keep for the rest of my life. I've a strong attachment to this Sports and I've put thousands of miles on it in the past 10 years, all the while gradually upgrading components.

The bike is a great example of my philosophy involving vintage bicycles. I like to upgrade bicycles using "period" features, though I'm not dead-set on getting parts from the exact year or exact month as the bikes production.  This offers a "middle way" between using easier to acquire modern parts and looking for a dead-perfect vintage part that may never turn up. You get the vintage handling and looks then, but without all the waiting of having everything "1974", or whatever the year of your bike.

People familiar with Raleigh Sports upgrades may notice I've opted to run steel Raleigh "Westrick" rims. While it is true they do not brake or weigh as well as modern CR-18 aluminum rims, I tend to prefer more "period" characteristics in my bikes. The CR-18 rim is a common upgrade, and those rims are pretty well made, even if I have chosen to remain with the Raleigh rims.

This is just about as upgraded as a Sports gets. It took me years to put together a package I like on this bike, but I am pretty happy with it. The Bronze Green paint is attractive and the condition is nice. It's always good to take this one out for a ride.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I also have a Sports model like yours; not quite as clean, but still very nice. I've had it for a lot of years and love it(I have other bikes, but this one is special...although it was made in the '70's, it represents a bygone era when bikes were truly made to last). A real comfortable ride, especially with the sprung Brooks saddle.


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