Sunday, March 23, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports Four Speed

The 1958 Sports is complete. The level of originality of the parts and the overall bike is high. Some of the perishable, rubber parts are replaced, but it's really quite a nice riding bicycle. It's quite a looker too.

A couple of people have asked about the shifter. The shifter is the early 1950s pattern, brass faced "3 or 4" speed type shifter. It functions reasonably well, though you have to make sure you have "hooked" the shifter's ramp for the bottom gear.

The FW hub has quite a bit of tension on the shifter cable in bottom gear, so the shifter needs to really be "locked" in on the bottom rung or else it kicks back into low. I tightened the spring a bit to make it a little easier to catch, though you still have to feel that "click" to make sure it will stay in bottom.

The original, double ended Raleigh brakes are rock solid and stop every bit as well as my 1974 brakes do. They aren't quite modern in stopping power, but better than most I've encountered.

Overall, it's one of those bikes that rides wonderfully and looks great as well.

The bag is a new, Carradice Zipper Roll in black canvas and white leather. It matches the bike nicely and has the usual, good quality expected from Carradice.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports Bicycle: Progress Continues

The 1958 continues to progress.

I have rebuilt the bicycle with a 1956 Sturmey Archer FW four speed hub because the original SW had the typical "cam out" problem in third gear. The SW was notorious for kicking out of gear and mine was no exception. There is a fair chance the issue is what originally sidelined the bike in such nice condition. The rear cog is a German-made 24 tooth number and the chain a SRAM bushingless, nickel plated type. I love these SRAM chains for their smoothness and ease of trimming.

The rear reflector is an original from the 1950s, but as with all things plastic 55+ years old, it crazed and cracked a bit during installation. I shored up the cracks a bit with some epoxy, let it dry overnight, then painted over the epoxy with a matching, flat black paint.

I also located some reproduction "R" grips. The fit was a bit off because they are reproductions and not originals, but some handy work with a heat gun and some shaping got them right on the bars. I like the "R" touch in the center of the grip. I even located an old, West German made bell that looks and sounds nice.

The white wall Duro tires look attractive. They aren't perfect matches for the original Dunlop White Sprite tires, but they don't look bad at all. They ride reasonably well and are not terribly expensive.

One of the changes I made is the shifter. To accommodate the four speed hub, I had to go to an early 1950s era brass faced Sturmey shifter. This 1958 bike came with the silver colored, painted front shifter that only would suit a three speed.


The gearing of this bicycle is 2:1 on the sprocket and cog, with the extra low ratios that the FW offers in bottom gear. The gear sequence is bottom-low-normal-high. Normal is a direct drive ratio, while high is a mild overdrive, milder than the typical AW hub at least. The gear ratio should be excellent for hilly terrain, and low speed maneuvering on bike trails and streets. The goal here is to build a vintage bike capable of the occasional visit to shops and in town. 

What remains is to set up a proper shifter cable and housing. The original is too short because the SW came with a longer indicator than the FW. I will use a new, universal type cable and vintage housing to get it looking nice, but also functioning smoothly in all four gears. I also have to rebuild the original pedals, which I have and which should run nicely.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bicycle Cotter Pins

Work on the Raleigh continues. But I thought I would make a brief comment regarding cotter pins, a subject that comes up frequently. I like to use the best pins I can get. That means either originals (whenever possible) or very finely made new ones.

My pick for the best pins on the market are Bikesmith "Grade A" cotter pins. Most pins today are just pinched-off rod stock that gets bulged when they stamp it. Bikesmith turns their pins individually from high quality metal. You can even order them with a profile specially made for the Raleigh bicycles. They are quite expensive, but I find they are worth it. They are solid, well-made items that rival the originals in quality. Nothing else today comes close.

You can even get them in French specs for your old French road bike.

I also will vouch for their cotter press, which I find solid and handy. I have several Raleighs around, and it's a great tool for extracting or resetting pins.

 As a side note, during our most recent snow storm, I noticed that Robins really hate snow. Here is a whole bunch huddling at the edge of the Bike Shed trying to avoid the snow.