the maiden voyage: bike bells, hub oil, and a new basket
Yesterday I took the Raleigh Sports on its first adventure around town. I rode all around the city for errands and visited a couple of the local bike shops; both to gather information and accessories and because I needed an excuse to log a bunch of miles for a test ride. The good news is that this bike rides very well and I found myself not having to stand up to peddle on hills that previously required that on the cruiser.
The bad news is that the brakes don’t work as well and that I do miss having coaster brakes. I find coaster brakes particularly useful when stopping at intersections that require signaling. It’s nice to brake with your feet while your arms steer and signal. This is especially the case when coming downhill into an intersection and you’re both trying to slow the bike down while wanting to notify cars of your next turn.
But other than the brakes, I have no complaints. I’m settling in with the bike nicely and am looking to outfit her for daily commutes. First came the easy upgrades; a bike bell, a basket, and some basic maintenance.
The very nice owner of my local bike shop took some time to look at the bike with me and to advise me on some initial maintenance steps. He instructed us to oil the hub (something several of you noted as well) and to also oil the brake cables. We still don’t know how to get the oil into the brake cables but we found the small opening in the hub and used a syringe to squirt motor oil inside of it.
We read on a couple of bike forums that it doesn’t take much oil and that one knows when the hub is full because it will start leaking. My bike took three syringes full of oil before it began to leak. We’re pretty certain that the last time these hubs saw a drop of fresh oil was back in 1980 when the second owner took them on.
In addition to oiling the hub, we want to treat the Brooks leather seats. Any thoughts on good products? Does it have to be a Brooks made conditioner?
I also did a quick clean up job using brass polisher on the handlebars and other brass areas. Amazing what just a bit of polish and scrubbing action will do.
I also added a very loud bell and a wire basket unto the rear rack. Because the rear rack is the original Sports rack, it comes in a curved shape that is incompatible with modern panniers or baskets that clip on to the rack and hang down to the side of the wheel. It’s made for panniers that drape over the top of the rack, saddle-style, or for baskets that sit on top of the rack. I opted for a simple wire basket for now.
I have a list of things to do as the semester begins and I need to be returning to my writing and lesson planning but my mind has been consumed by facts and questions about these bikes. I even dreamt about this bike and about questions posted on bike forums. Hmmm…the symptom of a disorder to come perhaps? Or am I already knee-deep in it?
Many thanks to all of you who have chimed in with all of your helpful tips and suggestions. I really appreciate the collection of knowledge that gathered in the comments section of my last post. Here are just a few of those tips:
- Charlotte of Chic Cyclist recommended the Continental KoolStop salmon brake pads, so I will look into finding those (ASAP).
Dave Feucht of Portlandize told me of Oldbiketrader.co.uk for original or more obscure parts. He also recommends the Busch & Muller Lumotec Retro headlight with an AXA HR bottle/tire generator lights that keep with the look of the bike (this was something I had the most difficulty with when it came to the local bike shops. They pretty much scoffed at any lights that were not modern LED contraptions).
N. mentioned that my saddle could use some tightening and directed me to this site for more information.
Many of you noted that Sheldon Brown is the man on vintage Raleighs and I concur; it’s where T. and I have been digging for answers to all of our questions thus far.
G.E. also added this site as a useful resource on vintage Raleighs.
Slowly but surely we are gathering information and thinking of things we’d like to do for the bikes. T. is disappointed that the original 5-speed hub was converted to a 3-speed and we’re wondering about restoring the bike to its original 5-speed gears. The work we do will be spread out over a considerable period of time as we lack both the expertise and the financial holdings to confront these projects head-on. But as I write about the process, I look forward to learning more about vintage bikes, bike restoration and maintenance, and simply the mechanics behind these beautiful machines. And I continue to appreciate your thoughtful comments and helpful tips!