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his and hers raleigh roadsters

August 17, 2010
Vintage Raleigh Roadsters


This past weekend, we found a pair of ‘His and Hers’ vintage Raleigh bikes. They were listed on Craigslist as a set and were said to be from 1960. The seller was only the second owner; his father-in-law had purchased the bikes new in the 60s and then gifted them to his daughter and her new husband around 1980. They were now looking for someone to give this pair of beautiful bikes a new home. We were more than willing to oblige.

Since bringing these beauties home, we’ve found out the following:

His Raleigh:

According to this site, you can date the bike by the year number inscribed on the derailleur hub. The number on this bike is “67″, so that would make this a 1967 Raleigh Sprite. The seller, however, told us that he’d had the bike converted from a 5-speed to a 3-speed when he first inherited it thirty years ago. We’re assuming that this type of conversion would have required a new hub. If this is the case, the hub is not original to the bike and doesn’t accurately tell its year. It is a Sturmey-Archer hub as would have been the original.

Her Raleigh:

This bike’s number on the derailleur hub reads as “68″. This 1968 Raleigh Sports is in great shape, clearly having been used less than the Sprite. The brakes need new pads but the gears shift smoothly and the bike is overall less scratched and worn than its Sprite counterpart. It also came with the original saddle bag that needs some repair.

Both:

Both bikes came with the original Brooks saddles (already broken in!) and with fenders and a chainguard. The Ladies’ Sports also has the original rear rack in ‘bronze green’ on it. They have the Raleigh decals that read “The Raleigh, Nottingham, England” and the words “Made in England” stamped in italics on the top tube and down tube respectively.

We’re both pretty enamored with our new bikes and mine will become my daily commuter. (T. has a Trek Soho 3.0 that he uses as his daily city bike). We’re looking to restore them to good working condition since they have been used infrequently over the last thirty years and their last tune-up seems to have taken place around 1980, when the son-in-law and his wife received the bikes. I’ve already visited my local bike shop for some tips and we’ve perused the internet for more information; I will post changes and upgrades as they are made.

Have you restored a vintage bike? Do you ride a Raleigh? Do you know of good resources online (or in book version) on this topic? I’m very grateful for any tips or suggestions!

Vintage Raleigh Roadsters
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36 Comments leave one →
  1. G.E. permalink
    August 17, 2010 02:39

    I’m sure you’ve already found this site (but just in case): http://www.jaysmarine.com/TH_raleigh_serials.html

    I have a ’75 Raleigh Super Course MK2 that we picked up off of CL as well… it’s in okay shape, but needs to be restored (rust removal and so on). It’s more of a road style bicycle, but I’m looking forward to restoring it as well. I’m looking forward to see what you do to your city bikes as they look to be in fairly decent shape in the pictures.

    I also have a ’76 Raleigh Triumph 3-speed city bicycle. It’s also in okay shape (actually, better shape than the Super Course), but needs some help. Finding the time and financial resources can be a challenge, especially when you want to do it yourself and you’re mechanically challenged (I’m referring to myself, not you by any stretch!).

    Wish I could be more helpful, but I too am looking for the best places to get parts needed. I find a lot of good advice on this topic on Bike Forums though. Perhaps you could ask there as well, as a thought? I definitely look forward to seeing your process and progress though. :o)

  2. August 17, 2010 03:14

    In regards to the internal gear hubs, keeping the new SA AW hub on my Clubman/Porteur in working order has been pretty easy.

    Sheldon Brown’s site has all the key tips (as always) (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer.html for all the models, though http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/sturmey-archer-parts.html does a great job of breaking down all the parts, and http://www.sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer_3-spd.html expains the AW well).

    • August 17, 2010 03:19

      Also, congrats on your new friends!

      And, if I may, your saddle looks like it’s sagging quite badly compared to T’s. You may want to see if you can carefully tighten the tension-adjusting nut or punch new lacing holes (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/leather.html).

      • August 17, 2010 13:11

        N – thanks for all the great tips! Sheldon Brown has been the man I’ve been consulting for most of my info on the bikes thus far, his site is a wealth of knowledge. It’s how we figured out how to date the bikes and how we learned more about the parts. Good to hear that others also recommend him!

        As for the saddle, it’s felt good but I don’t have a point of comparison. It’s the first Brooks saddle I’ve ridden and I’m not really sure what to look for. You think it sags? I will look into that and see if we (by that I mean T ;) ) can’t tighten it. Thanks!

  3. August 17, 2010 03:25

    id take them for a spin!! how niceeeee :D
    cant wait to see their future adventures!

  4. August 17, 2010 03:26

    Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! I have a ’72 (iirc) Grand Prix mixte that I ride pretty regularly. It was an impulse buy for $40, which I converted to a single speed and cleaned up to ride for just over $100. She’s a real pleasure to ride! Retro Raleighs (SB) is a good site for background info.

    • August 17, 2010 13:08

      That sounds great and at what a great price!

      Thanks for the site tip, too!

  5. Dave permalink
    August 17, 2010 04:58

    Oldbiketrader.co.uk has been a life-saver for me, they carry a lot of obscure proprietary Raleigh parts. Also, if you ever need to replace the cotters that hold the pedal cranks on, talk to Mark at BikeSmith designs. Get a bottle of motor oil and put some in a squeeze container with a pointy spout, and add a few drops each week or so to the rear hub (there should be a little oil port on the hub). Other than that, hop on and enjoy, there’s not much else to do besides wiping it off now and then :)

    • August 17, 2010 13:07

      Dave, thanks for the tips! I’d mainly like to get a light that keeps with the look of the bike and that has been impossible to find at the local shops. They also had only negative things to say about older lights and their poor output, so maybe I should look to these places. I also like the idea of a generator light as you mentioned before, I was just told that those run pretty expensive and of course/unfortunately cost is an issue.

      • August 17, 2010 13:12

        Oh, and as for the oiling – that’s exactly what the owner of my local bike shop advised as well so we did that last night. How often do you do it and how much? The hub was empty – completely parched – so it took way more oil last night than I think we would want to add in the future. I think the last time it has oil put in it was probably 30 years ago.

      • August 17, 2010 15:04

        Yeah, the headlight and generator probably ran me about $100 altogether, but if you think about it in terms of never having to use batteries, it kind of evens out somewhat. Even if you get cheap battery operated lights to begin with and save up for the generator and headlight later, I think it’s worth it for the convenience and not having to worry about batteries.

        Regarding oiling the hub, I usually just put a few drops in (5-6) every week to two weeks (basically whenever I remember). I ride mine everyday at least 10 miles, so it gets fairly heavy use, so you probably don’t need to do it quite as often if you don’t use it as much.

        It’s probably good to do it a little more often at first, just to get it loosened up a bit, but it really doesn’t need too terribly much.

      • Tinker permalink
        August 27, 2010 21:05

        Velo Orange seems to have a large assortment of Olde Style lights. Also look on Amazon. There are some repro vintage style light sets there, too. I bought a 1971-73 Raleigh Sport 3 speed, in black, replaced the tires (cracked!) and rode it for a while, then I moved on to a 2009/10 Torker Cargo T w/ 3 speed Shimano. (I wish I knew then what I know now, I’d have insisted on the 8 speed Shimano or the Nu Vinci Continuously Variable Planetary-geared Transmission hub).

        You do understand that the markings on the bike do not guarantee that it was made in England, don’t you? Mine was assembled in Malaysia, has rather detailed actual gold paint pin-striping on it, well after it was discontinued on actual English models, the red Heron Badge and the Made in England decal. It is also missing a date stamp on the rear hub, that seems to be typical of Malaysian Raleighs. So, the years indicated are the dates of the factory running in Malaysia. Mine still bears the Made in Malaysia Stickers, as well as the gold sticker from Performance Brakes, in Austin. By 1971, a Brooks composite/Mattress style saddle was included, but not a leather one.

        Someone has claimed that the Malaysia factory was Raleigh’s first foreign factory. I dunno, maybe they dropped the Made in England stickers, after that run. I pitched the fenders on/off mine, too. I know, I know. So much for originality, but to me it was just transportation, not a relic of a saint.

  6. August 17, 2010 06:12

    Beautiful bikes! lucky you… :)

  7. August 17, 2010 12:51

    What a great find! Those are 100% class, especially with those Brooks saddles. I don’t have any advice, but I can’t wait to see more of your new beautiful bicycles.

  8. August 17, 2010 14:22

    Absolutely gorgeous!

    As for oiling, they have said monthly (depending on use). I took it upon myself to handle that for the family as I had monthly reminders anyway…

    I concur with the Sheldon suggestion, his page was all I needed for my Raleigh Sport.

    The single best investment for those bikes will be Continental KoolStop salmon brake pads. Around here they’ll run you $25/bike but I swear it’s worth it. The steel rims don’t like to stop when wet, the salmon KoolStops are your only hope until you can afford to rebuild the wheels with aluminum rims. Luckily, as a multi-bike family, you can just choose to ride a different one on truly wet days. Still, nothing’s scarier than not stopping when you need to so watch out!

    Brooks Proofride is nice, but Neatsfoot oil works just as well. Someday you might want to replace the cables and the cable housing. They’ve actually made cable housing better in the last few decades so eventually it will be worth it.

    They are beautiful bikes, congratulations!

    • August 17, 2010 14:45

      Charlotte – thanks so much for the brake pads info! My brakes are my main complain actually, the pads are really old and worn and I don’t feel like I stop well enough. This morning I rode to the office in the rain and it was especially unnerving to not stop as well as I’d like to. I think 25/bike sounds doable and I will make that addition as soon as possible. Thanks again!

    • August 17, 2010 15:11

      Regarding the cables, the brake cables for these are proprietary double-ended cables, which come as a complete set with the casing and adjusting barrel and everything, so you almost certainly won’t be able to find them locally at all. This is one instance in which oldbiketrader.co.uk has been helpful for me, they carry the cables front and rear for gents and ladies Raleighs. You might have your local bike shop disconnect the cables and oil them up for you to make sure they’re sliding well in the casing.

      I concur about the brake pads, that’s what I’m using, and they work great for the most part (though I also have the advantage that the guy who owned it before me did rebuild the wheels with aluminum rims).

      I need to do some work on my saddle as well, it’s in pretty good shape, but a bit dry and cracked on the surface. I’ll have to see if I can find some Neatsfoot oil.

  9. August 17, 2010 14:22

    Love these! Nathan and I used to have matching blue Raleigh’s from the 70′s, but they were in really bad shape and we eventually gave them away to another couple and took up mountain biking. If only I could go back in time and restore them! I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through yours. :)

  10. August 17, 2010 14:31

    Great find! Enjoy your new bikes.

  11. August 17, 2010 16:36

    They look cool! Enjoy them.

  12. August 18, 2010 00:06

    A great and unique find! I predict many romantic bike dates with bottles of wine, warm bread and delicious cheese.

  13. Erin permalink
    August 18, 2010 18:18

    LOVE. Those fenders knock me out. What a score for you and T! Well played.

  14. August 19, 2010 19:47

    NO YOU DIDN’T!!!!!!! I AM RAVING WITH JEALOUSY!!!!

    those are THE coolest bikes and they are twice as cool for being a pair. i am green with envy, S.!! can’t wait to read more posts about these two :)

    • August 19, 2010 21:51

      Tania – you crack me up! Thanks, now I feel even more smug to have gotten them ;) I totally had to agree ahead of time that I would sell my cruiser in exchange for us to buy these but it was very worth it. I love my new Raleigh and it is cute that they are a pair.

  15. August 21, 2010 23:05

    Beautiful bikes. Wife & I are more than a bit jealous ;>)

    Another bit on Sheldons website gives info on putting a date on them, from their frame number (scroll to the bottom of the page – ,a href=”http://www.sheldonbrown.com/raleigh.html”>here’s the link)

    • August 21, 2010 23:07

      Arrghh! I always mess links up on comments LOL

      2nd attempt

      • August 22, 2010 04:32

        Ian – thanks so much! We looked all over the sprite’s frame and can’t find a number so I don’t know… We can’t find one on my Sports either, so either we’re not looking in the right place or both these bikes don’t have serial numbers on their frames.

  16. August 25, 2010 02:34

    What a super fantastic lucky wonderful purchase! I love “couple bikes” and these are in such gorgeous condition. Looking forward to reading about your adventures with these.

  17. DedHed permalink
    September 4, 2010 02:11

    “His” would have come originally with a SA S5 internal 5 speed with shifters on the top tube. It could be the original hub as the 3 speed and 5 speed used the same hub shell and the guts may have been swapped. Another scenario is the fragile 5 speed shifters broke and they installed a 3 speed thumb shifter and just use the 3 speed side. Look on the hub and see if it says S5 or AW. AW is a 3 speed shell and S5 is the 5 speed. If it is an S5, they most likely just removed the H/L range stuff on the LH side and are using just the 3 spd portion of the hub. It also would have had a “Presstube Minor” rack as “hers” does.

    I highly recommend the KoolStop Continentals. It still won’t stop like a modern bike, but it won’t be dangerous either. They’ll still be more or less useless in the rain. That’s a fact of life with steel rims.

    I like mine, it rides nice. I did install a 21T rear cog to make it a bit more user friendly for the type of riding I do on it.

    Sprite 2

  18. DedHed permalink
    September 4, 2010 02:45

    In regards to the cables, you can work around the proprietary thing using regular cables and “Knarps”. Pay special attention to “Her” rear cable as the routing scheme allows water to enter and pool in the loop of the low point. Originals are often found on Ebay.

    The front hub should also have an oil port with a clip to cover the hole.

    Plan on wiping oil off the rim and spokes too. I think that’s why so many SA hubbed bikes still have original wheels – they get oil bathed and never rust.

    http://www.treefortbikes.com/product/333222344968/460/Odyssey-Knarps,-Slip-free.html

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-NOS-Rear-Raleigh-Rear-Brake-Cable-Housing-223-/350390760147?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5194eab2d3

    When I bought mine, like yours, from the daughter of the original owner, it also sat in a garage for 20+ years. I tore mine down over a winter pretty much to each individual part level. I spent numerous hours cleaning disassembling, and polishing. I replaced every ball bearing in it and run the front hub on grease. The chrome cleaned up well. I ended up buying a NOS cable, close enough Raleigh pedals from Ebay and repro grips from Harris cycle. IMHO the stock pedals are ugly and clunky, not to mention unservicable. If you are going to work on this yourself be aware the hardware is neither SAE or Metric, but Whitworth. Any wrench you currently own will fit sloppy if at all. Plan on using adjustables in various sizes and six point sockets.
    If restoration, or my preference of rehab, are your goal some valuable resources are classic rendezvous, old roads, bikeforums.net (classic & vintage), my ten speeds, Park tool, bicycle tutor, and of course Sheldon Brown. Take lots of pictures before, during and after any process – helps a lot when you get pulled away and say “How does this go together again?” “Where does THIS part go?”

    http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/index.htm

    • September 8, 2010 02:28

      DedHed – awesome, thank you so much for all these tips and info! It’s much appreciated as we’re still learning about the bikes.

  19. Gary permalink
    September 11, 2010 14:27

    Great looking Raleighs! I bought my first about four years ago, found it on e-Bay. Now I have approximately ten vintage English bikes, mostly Raleighs, but I also have a Robin Hood and my “newest” is a 1954 Humber Sports that I’ll be compltely restoring; new paint, new decals and with drop handlebars it will have a whole new look.

    Regarding the serial numbers, my ’75 Sprite has the serial number on the seat tube, near the top facing the rear of the bike, as do my Grand Prix’s. The top of the seat tube, in various positions, is a common serial number location for bikes made by Raleigh, including Humber and Rudge.

    Have you any plans to ad bags to the back of the Brooks saddles? I just added an English made Carradice Barley to my green ’73 Sports and I wonder why I waited so long to do it.
    In my opinion, one of the better bags on the market and so fitting for a Raleigh.

    Gary

    • September 11, 2010 19:11

      Gary – thanks for stopping by and for your comments in Flickr! I had read on Sheldon Brown’s site about locating the serial number on the seat tube and we inspected the seat tube where it would be and just couldn’t find anything on either of the two Raleighs. But the Grand Prix has one! Now I just need to find what it means.

      As for a bag – my Sports came with the original black leather seat bag but with a strap on it broken. I’d like to fix it and maybe reattach that one. Although now I will certainly look into this bag you’re mentioning.

      Sounds like you have an awesome vintage bike collection. I’d like to slowly work my way there :) It’s kind of addictive.

      • Gary permalink
        September 11, 2010 19:53

        The Raleigh serial numbers can be confusing; they went through several different numbering schemes. One of the better sites I’ve found is The Headbadge: http://www.jaysmarine.com/TH_raleigh_serials.html

        As for the saddle bag, our Sports also came with the typical black bag, and like yours, the straps on mine were either broken or about to be. I took my saddle bag to a local shoe repair shop and using the original straps as a pattern, the shop owner rplaced those with new straps. This is how the bag looks now:

        His Brooks Saddle

        I have since replaced this bag with the Carradice Barley. Normally these sell for over $100 here in the States. I found a company in the UK called Wiggles that sells them for $47 each, so I actually bought two . To make this deal even sweeter, shipping is free if your order is over $78. So both Raleighs could have a Carradice bag for less than the cost of one bought locally.

        I’ve managed to collect a fair amount of vintage bikes in a relativly short amount of time, mostly British, several French and even a German 3 speed. I never meant for it to happen, but like you say, it is addictive. I have most of my collection posted in various sets on Flickr. When you have time, take a look. I’d like to know what you think.

        Gary

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