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found it! (my bike serial number, that is)

October 7, 2010


Thanks to all who chimed in with tips for locating the serial numbers on our 60s Roadsters. A particular thanks to reader ‘DedHed’ who noted that serial numbers can be located in one of four places. (Most sources point to the seat lug for 1960s Sports and that’s where I had been fruitlessly searching for something I seemed to be missing). DedHed commented that serial numbers can be found on:

  • the rear drop out
  • under the bottom bracket
  • on the head tube
  • or the seat tube lug

As it turns out, the serial number on our 1960s Sports and Sprite are located under the bottom bracket (underneath the crank).

On a bright and sunny day last week, I pulled out the Sports into the driveway and inspected the four above mentioned spots. With chalk in hand, I investigated the seat lug once more (no dice) and then moved on to the other listed areas.



Imagine my delight as I finally located something embossed in the steel on the front of the bottom bracket. Both the serial numbers were placed in such a way that you don’t have to flip the bikes or lay them down to see it. All it takes is getting low to the ground to read the numbers embossed in the front of the bracket. But because that part of the bike tends to collect much more dirt than the seat lug, the serial number was completely covered in mud and I wouldn’t have found it had I not specifically been looking there.


The results:

The serial number on my Sports reads (4) 400044. (I am fairly certain that the first digit is a 4 although it could also be a 1. It is very difficult to read, unlike the rest of the digits).

The serial number of my husband’s Sprite reads 438. His bike’s serial number was found in the same location as pictured above and was a short and easily identifiable three-digit number.

Although I’m delighted to have found these numbers in hopes of discovering more about the origin of these bikes, I fear that I’m no closer to unraveling the mystery. The Headbadge website with serial number information notes that their knowledge is limited and that there are still many gaps in the documentation system. And, unfortunately, the serial numbers on our bikes don’t seem to match any of the information in the charts found online. While it was easy to translate the serial number found on my Grand Prix (NA 8052405 – Nottingham, January, 1978, Unit # 052405), I’m still left wondering what the serial numbers on our Sprite and Sports mean.

I guess that’s a quest for another time. For now, the case of the missing serial numbers has been solved. Next mystery – what do the serial numbers actually reveal about the bikes? I’m feeling very Nancy Drew-ish here… S.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Sr. Helga permalink
    October 7, 2010 12:45

    I also found the serial number for my Raleigh Sprite, but I have no idea what year it is. I am confused because the pictures of the sprites I’ve seen all have the double shifter and a full chaincase. Mine has one shifter and a half chaincase. Someone suggested it probably is a humber sprite, but I didn’t locate that on the Raleigh catalogs. Still a mystery to me.

    • October 7, 2010 15:53

      A lot of times, Raleigh made the same model but had versions with and without things like the locking fork or the full chaincase – partly for import weight restrictions to the U.S., they mostly sent bikes with the smaller chainguard here, but sometimes the UK and European versions ended up here anyway by other means.

      The double-shifter is probably for a 5-speed hub, and yours probably has a 3-speed, I’m guessing? May again just be differing versions.

      My Raleigh Sports has a 4-speed hub, which is kind of unusual, but is the original, as it’s marked 1953, which roughly matches the number on the frame (as S. said, info on the serial numbers is sketchy at best, but the number on the frame *could* fall in the early 50’s).

      This whole business is a bit too addictive for our own good, I think :)

  2. October 8, 2010 00:14

    hi! i just happened to be digging around my own blog-tracker, trying to figure out/learn about the stats and saw your web address in there so i thought i’d come visit. i read your ‘about me’ – i love the part about making the US more bike-friendly. that would be awesome. i am just getting into biking as a workout but i used to commute to work not long ago! i would love to be able to run more errands via bike instead of being so car-dependent.

    anyway, just wanted to say hi. i’m adding you to my google reader and i’m sure i will be back – looks like i have a lot to learn from you :)

    lindsay – chasingthekenyans

  3. DedHed permalink
    October 8, 2010 05:14

    Congratulations on finding the numbers! Based on Kurt’s information and the serial number on my bike I’m going to say Fiona’s first digit is a “4”. Floyd on the other hand needs to be looked at again. My ’68 Sprite is 4314236 – I’m guessing you’ll find more digits with the lighting “just right”. They didn’t always stamp them as deep as we’d like when trying to read them 40 years later (or maybe it’s my worn out old eyes). They only made the 5 speed internal hub Sprite 68-69 (as near as I’ve been able to find out). My hub is dated 11-67 so it was mostly likely an early 68 assembly so a 438XXXX would make sense for a bike built later in the year. Fiona’s 4400044 would fit neatly into the progression as well.
    Isn’t that just like Floyd to go for a younger woman?

  4. October 8, 2010 11:14

    Thanks Dave. My rear rack also has a number and the handlebars do too. I keep on finding numbers!

  5. March 27, 2011 07:07

    Thanks for the help locating my serial numbers. I have two Raliegh Sprites with hubs dated 8/67. Both had the serial numbers on the bottom bracket location. Men’s model is 4102779 and Woman’s model is 4186071. So I think you do need to look at your Sprite again, must be more numbers there.

  6. tonya permalink
    March 27, 2013 22:11

    I have a Raleigh Sprite lemon yellow womens all original with decals except the seat it has a white seat and says Schwinn quality. The only numbers I have found thus far are HA500400. Anyone have any information on this bike.


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