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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Raleigh Tourist DL-1


This is a Rod-brake roadster, a Raleigh DL-1 Tourist from 1950.  For a long time Raleigh made three popular utilitarian three-speed bikes,  the Sports, the Superbe and the Tourist (or DL-1).  The differences between these were mainly in the bundled accessories, with the Sports (and possibly the Superbe) having a slightly steeper seat and headtube angle, than the Tourist.  Some contradictory information exists on this matter with pictures of Superbes with the same apparent frame geometry as the Tourist existing.  These were serious transportation, used by ordinary people for their basic transport needs in a manner we seem to have forgotten in the UK.  These machines were built to last, with durability placed above the more modern obsession with reducing weight above all else.  The Tourist (Dl-1) had a slack seat-tube angle now commonly associated with bikes from The Netherlands (although the Sports was still quite slack by modern standards) in addition to features designed to make the bike ideal for everyday transport; mudguards, a full chainguard, a rear rack, hub gears a Brooks leather saddle and in some cases dynamo lights and drum brakes (in place of rod brakes).  There are plenty of these bikes around 50 or 60 years later, they were designed to last forever with only the minimum of care, but sadly when the bicycle fell out of favour here as a means of personal transportation, their production was wound down and stopped in the mid-1980s.  The remaining ones are highly sought-after, often fetching high prices on eBay when in good condition.  Those which are not are still purchased and either restored for actual use or to become museum pieces, rarely ridden if at all.  Similar bikes are still made and sold in other countries where bikes are more commonly used in a more utilitarian manner than in the UK.  I learned a lot about these bikes whilst restoring the Raleigh Twenty and I spent a while reading up on the various bike forums, and on the Lovely Bicycle! blog and found out that a company in India makes DL-1 copies, possibly using the original equipment, although information regarding the quality of these bikes was contradictory, and it seemed like it would be a better idea to get an old DL-1 second hand rather than go down this route if you wanted some DL-1 goodness.  I was surprised to find this.  When Raleigh was broken up, and production moved out of Nottingham, Raleigh’s Danish arm kept producing bikes which had appeal in the Danish and Dutch markets, with one of their models being essentially a DL-1, called the “Tourist De Luxe.”  The most appealing part of this to me is that they have kept the bike essentially the same, but made subtle upgrades to the components to bring it up-to-date:




Front and rear drum brakes, either rod or cable operated (at least until last year) and a modern successor to the Sturmey Archer AW 3 speed hub, the XRD3. 


Square taper sealed-cartridge  bottom bracket and matching cranks (no more cotters and 26 tpi issues)



Rat-trap pannier rack with briefcase clip.

 CIMG2114 CIMG2139

Brooks B66 saddle with clips for a traditional saddle-bag


28-inch (ERTO 635) wheels.  The tread is the same as on the Raleigh Record tyres which came with the Twenty.


Woods valve (yes, they still exist), can be pumped up with a presta-specific pump (not one of those dual schraeder/presta ones though)

CIMG2143 CIMG2144 CIMG2126

Curious Raleigh Nottingham logo, no longer used for Raleigh bikes made in the Taiwan (I think) due to EU legislation.  New Raleigh bikes just say “Raleigh Bikes” on the logo.


Rod brake mechanism.


White tail of rear mudguard.  Note another Nottingham logo.  There is another on the headtube obscured by the rods.

Not a great deal of the English-speaking interwebs seems to have much information or awareness of this bike, but I was lucky enough to see one on eBay, possibly a Nottingham-built prototype from what remains of the former Raleigh site.  I am currently testing it out and if I like it I will sell off the Kona Africa Bike to make room for this stately and very gentlemanly conveyance.


  1. very elegant indeed! So, in a way you got a Raleigh version of the Guv'nor you mentioned previously... but probably with even more character and history! There's something wonderful about the sit-up-and-beg style bikes, the way it allows you to leisurely cycle, coast and soak up the atmosphere... was it an Ebay find then?

  2. Yes, I got it from a guy who used to work for Raleigh at the Nottingham workshop. He said he will be listing the ladies version of the same bike on eBay soon. I always intended to get a bike like this, but was just waiting until I was better off, but I found this at a price which meant I could bring my plans forward and still at least break-even if I didn't like it and wanted to sell it off.

  3. What a great write upon this classic! Thank you for the delicious details and photos. I recently acquired a Raleigh Sport (1980) from a local thrift shop for $20 US and it has sent me into a whole tizzy about English three-speeds. After the Sport, I picked up a Raleigh Twenty, then another one... Recently I came across a 1980 DL-1 Tourist on eBay from a bike collector in my local area. It was in perfect condition - I don't think he even rode it. I love the ride of this bike. You can see some of my photos and exploits fixing her up at

  4. Please also check shops including internet shops in Denmark where you can get a range of old style Raleigh bikes in different sizes. Brought two with me when we moved to the UK and just love them!


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