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Wednesday 30 June 2010

Trafford Park

On Friday I cycled to the dentist, and then went to Critical Mass, giving me a combined day’s distance of 80 km (50 miles) by bike.  Next day we decided to go out to the Trafford Centre and for some odd reason I didn’t feel like cycling, so we decided to walk there and back.  It did give me a chance to take note of the bike infrastructure in Trafford park, leading up to the Trafford Centre.

A lot of the development in this part of Manchester is fairly new, and the block (ish) based structure of the wide, high-capacity roads shows this.  This kind of development is perfect to show off the kind of cycling infrastructure it is allegedly difficult to implement in our fairly dense urban centres (Dutch-style segregated infrastructure).  Sadly it is actually a hilarious look at how to do cycling infrastructure as badly as possible.


The cycle path is located off-road, which many prefer.  The path is actually just coloured pavement, meaning it goes up and down every time there is a side road, which I could live with, but they completely screwed up the priorities at the side roads, with every minor side road requiring you to give way.  These cycle lanes are supposed to be a part of the road which they are next to, meaning that the priorities should be the same (meaning just move the white lines so they are inline with the bike lane; job done).  It just makes sense.  Anyone experienced will choose to use the road, and anyone inexperienced will be repeatedly inconvenienced by this terrible design.


The lane puts cyclists travelling in both directions on the same side of the road, but occasionally switches side for no apparent reason.  Sometimes there is a lane on each side, requiring the cyclist to stop and use a pedestrian crossing when they see things like this, and other times they just end without and indication that you were expected to cross the road at all.  I wish I could have taken a picture of the roundabouts, but my battery died.


The sections near (and I use the term loosely) Old Trafford football stadium have these markings for stalls selling crap on match days, note the fact that they consume all of the pavement, making pedestrians use the cycle lane and forcing cyclists off them.  Closer to The Trafford Centre, the pavements occasionally cease to exist at all, being replaced with cycle lanes only (despite adequate space for both).

I only saw a handful of cyclists the whole time I was walking, and I’m not surprised that the ones I saw were on the road.  Trafford had a chance to build some useful cycle infrastructure here, and they completely screwed it up.

The walk was quite interesting though, because Trafford Park is used almost exclusively for warehouses and distribution centres, it was almost completely free of people on a Saturday (except those few driving through).  It was quite eerie, there was even a mini village with a chip shop, Post Office, barbershop and pub which was completely devoid of people.  The closed shops and pubs indicated they were only open around the standard 9-5 Monday-Friday working hours.  The pub was only open until 8:30 pm on weeknights, closed on the weekend.  I would like to explore the area again, but with a bike so I can cover more ground.  I don’t think I’ll be using those bike lanes though.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Going Dutch

Whilst my Raleigh Tourist might be Danish, and based on an old British design, it appears to have a certain Dutchness to most people. This is because theses types of bike were once popular everywhere bicycles were used as transportation by the masses. Sadly that is no longer the case here, but it is in The Netherlands and so this style of bike has become associated with the Dutch. I have been on a few rides on the Tourist and the main thing which strikes me is that it is lovely to ride, and easy to put the power down to the pedals whilst remaining comfortable to ride. Basically it reminds me of the power of riding my old mountain bike but without being hunched-over, having a bent neck and compressed stomach (especially following Xmas) which went with it. This is because of the frame geometry producing a riding position which is quite rare in the UK these days, largely due to market pressures and the relentless promotion of cycling as sport. The Kona Africa Bike has an upright seating position, but the frame geometry gently urges you to hunch over like on a mountain bike whilst the handlebar urges you to sit up like on a traditional roadster. This results in occasional difficulty in putting the power down when needed, resulting in “bobbing” and some general discomfort on rides beyond about 40 km. It is ideal for riding around town, but the frame doesn’t seem quite comfortable with what it was intended for when you want to take it further. I suppose it wasn’t really intended to be taken further.

On a bike with a slack seat tube, you can use your arse-muscles to put more power into the pedals whilst keeping the pleasing upright posture which classic-style roadster owners and Yuba Mundo owners alike know and love. The Tourist and the Yuba Mundo have this geometry, but sadly the Kona’s seat tube is just that bit too vertical.


I think this picture taken from Clever Cycles shows it well. If you want a bike with this geometry but you aren’t a fan of older-looking bikes such as the Pashley range, Royal Dutch Gazelle and Azor to name a few and you want a bike that isn’t a cargo-hauler like the Yuba Mundo, all is not lost. Electra make bikes in a variety of interesting styles (not just beach cruisers) with a very similar geometry to these classic roadsters, actually going as far as to suggest that the riding position is something they invented, so check them out if you want a comfortable bike for more frequent use. Here in the UK they are available from Practical Cycles.

Monday 28 June 2010

Bicycle Delivery

I have finally sold the single speed bike I had listed on eBay.  I purchased it a few weeks ago because I wanted the mini Kryptonite U-lock which came with it (for the Twenty), and I managed to sell it after removing the lock and giving it a clean and a check-up.  I offered to deliver to areas within about 10 km (~6 miles) of the city centre because I knew I could manage that with the Yuba.


Here is the arrangement I used to get the bike to the buyer in Prestwich (about 10 km outside of the city centre).  I just used one cam-strap around the down-tube, over the fork, under the wheel and back over the top, clipped onto the Yuba rack.

As I was riding there I noticed all of the sad faces in the cars which were moving at a glacial pace.  Pleasingly, there is a cycle lane along Bury New Road which is advisory for part of the way and mandatory at times, broken up with Bus-Bike-Taxi lanes.  It made undertaking all that traffic legal and made travelling by bike a lot faster than by car.  As I flew past the stationary cars I was puzzled by the fact that these people made the decision to commute to the city centre by car, get stuck in traffic and take longer to get to work and back than if they were on a bike (or the tram).  It was raining and yet I felt a lot happier than they looked.  The Yuba was invaluable today, allowing me to bring cycling to someone new.  This is what it was made for, the ride was good and the frame geometry allowed me to power up the hill (its pretty much all uphill) with ease.  I even dropped a Fred mashing his way up the hill on a racing bike, riding in the drops.  It would have been fun to see his face as he was overtaken by a cargo bike, with another bike on the back.  I wasn’t trying to be antagonistic, its just harder to ride the bike very slowly uphill when there is another bike on the back, and the slack seat tube makes it easy to power ahead.

I enjoyed making the delivery today, in the rain.  I don’t think any of the motorists I passed were enjoying their journey at all.

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.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Another Twenty

My Twenty conversion seems to have inspired a friend of mine, who now has her own Twenty.  This one is Raleigh branded, with heron cut-outs in the chainwheel, a kickstand and a rear rack.  The saddle and handlebar grips are white instead of black.  the rear hub dates it from 1980.


It may be getting some upgrades/restoration, I will keep the updates coming.  I also spotted this today in the wild:



This one is a BSA, the first one I have seen branded as a Twenty.  It is mostly stock, but has been cared for well, although I’m not so sure about the sporty positioning of the saddle and handlebar.  I have started to notice a lot of Twenties out on the streets of Manchester, but this is the first one which has been cared for.

Saturday 19 June 2010


Today I went to Ashton-Under-Lyne.  Ashton is one of the towns in the periphery of Manchester, probably one of the closest at around 12 km out from the city centre.  The fairly short distance combined with the fact that it is largely downhill into Manchester would make Aston ideal for commuting into Manchester from, an easy ride in (mostly downhill) for when you are feeling less motivated (on the way to work) and slightly uphill on the way back (but at least you’re going home).  The reason I went to Ashton is the market stall “Sweets of Yesteryear” who sell pick and mix of nice quality and a good range for about half of what you would pay in the city centre.  The road to Ashton (Ashton old Road) isn’t that bad to cycle on for a fairly busy A road, I think there was the odd bit of painted on bike road but nothing consistent.  At Snipe retail park I turned left onto Lord Sheldon Way, a recently (ish) built dual carriageway leading to Ashton Moss leisure park and IKEA and then the town centre.  lord Sheldon Way had some particularly useless cycle infrastructure:


The cycle lane is on the pavement, raised off the road.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the bike path had the same priorities as the road it is a part of.




At this traffic signal, cyclists are expected to go left, stop, use the pedestrian crossing and then re-join the rest of the road where the path continues.  It gave me the distinct impression that the lanes were painted on as an afterthought when they realised the pavements were slightly wider than usual.  Surely its not too big of an ask to have the bike lane go straight along the road with anyone wanting to turn left having to give way to the traffic in the bike lane.  That is how they do it in countries which don’t actively discourage cycling like we do.  There were about 5 of these civil engineering failures along the length of the road.  I am only thankful for the fact that facilities such as these remain optional in this country, you can just use the road instead.  Still its a shame to see an opportunity missed, and money thrown away.  The roundabout at the end of the road used a similar arrangement for the bike lane, but by this point it had long been abandoned in favour of the road.

Once in Ashton, the search for bike parking began.  There are a number of multi-storey car parks in Ashton but a long search revealed only two bike parking stands


The people of Ashton interpret the meaning of bike parking quite loosely.


After buying copious quantities of sweets, the decision was made to have lunch at Ashton Moss, a leisure park containing several restaurants, a cinema and bowling lanes.  Ashton Moss is owned by the property developer King Sturge, a rather large company, and despite the fact that it was 2-3 km out of Ashton town centre 9easily cycle-able by a novice), provided hundreds of car parking spaces and was surrounded by the attempted bike infrastructure discussed above, there were no bike parking facilities at all.  I was genuinely surprised, I didn’t expect anything good, maybe just those wall mounted locking points which are great if you really love your front or back wheel but are not too fussy about keeping the rest of your bike, but there was nothing.  Quite unbelievable in 2010.

Anyway, Ashton is nice for the sweets, not so nice for the bike infrastructure.

Friday 18 June 2010

Triumph Traffic Master

This is what my Raleigh Twenty look like on day one:


It was sold under the captive Triumph brand.  The chain guard has a sticker reading “Traffic Master.”  I spotted this bike yesterday:


Its a larger-wheeled Triumph Traffic master (Possibly fractional 26 inch wheels).  A large number of the components are identical to those used on my Twenty.  Looking at the frame geometry I’d bet this is quite a pleasant bike to ride.

Drum Brake Upgrade

Drum brakes are underrated.  I think they suffer at the hands of the relentless promotion of cycling a sport in the UK.  In the rest of Europe drum (also called hub brakes) and roller brakes (roller brakes being Shimano’s slightly different take on drum brakes) are widely used because they are effective in all weather conditions, due to being sealed away from the elements in the hub of the wheel and even with very little maintenance they last forever.  They may cost more than other brake systems can, but they are a long term investment and will save you money in the long run on disc brake pad and rotors or rim brake shoes (and fresh rims).  Racing bikes don’t come with them because they are heavier than rim brakes, and mountain bikes don’t come with them because they are less powerful than disc brakes.  Those two types of bikes pretty much cover bikes as far as bike shops are willing to promote and as far as most people here are concerned.  If you are riding a bike primarily for transport and utility, drum brakes are a good option to consider especially because they do not require any special mounting points on your bike like other brake types.  Simply build (or have built) a wheel with a drum brake hub, screw on the clip for the reaction arm (can be made to fit any for or frame) and away you go.  I decided to upgrade the front wheel of the Twenty with a drum brake hub I got from eBay quite cheap because the fork on the twenty only had a mounting point for calliper brakes, and the steel rims on the wheel meant that the brakes were awful.


I used a Sturmey Archer X-FD hub laced to a Sun Ringle rim (they make 451 mm rims, bought from here).  I used a 3-cross pattern due to the need to transmit torque from the hub to the rim, making a two cross pattern less suitable and a radial pattern a very bad idea.  The lack of dish and the fact that it is a 36 spoked 20 inch wheel means this wheel is probably stronger than the Yuba Mundo rear wheel.  I think it will last well.


The fork of the Twenty was initially too narrowly spaced for a standard 100 mm OLD hub, and the fork ends were keyhole shaped to aid wheel retention, preventing the use of a standard diameter axle.  The “crotch” of the dropout (to use the technical term) is able to accept a modern 9 mm axle, so all i had to do was file out the narrow keyhole shaped section to become straight and stretch out the the fork a bit by holding one fork blade with my foot whilst pulling in the other with my hands.


Sadly I didn’t take an after filing picture because my hands were too filthy, but if you have a normal bike, take the front wheel off and look at the fork ends, that is what it looked like afterwards.


I took the bike out for a test ride last night.  Drum brakes have a bedding in period like disc brakes, but even right away they were powerful enough to lock up the front wheel.  I suppose the smaller wheel size makes drum (or any hub-located brake) more effective; to use an oversimplification, if it takes half a revolution of the drum for the brake to stop the bike, on a smaller diameter wheel, this distance will be less, and you will stop more rapidly.

I may be the first person to put a drum brake on a Raleigh Twenty, I haven’t seen any pictures of anyone else doing it, (and SRAM actively discourage using their drum brake hubs in small wheels) but I hope that this information is useful for anyone thinking of upgrading their Twenty with new brakes.

Wednesday 16 June 2010


Here in the UK (as in most other English speaking countries) we live in a car culture.  This culture is so pervasive that you may not even be completely aware of it.  When you are walking along a street and you want to cross, what do you do, stop and wait, check three times and hope that the traffic flow slows so that you can cross from one side of a road to another, or maybe even use a pedestrian crossing, press a button and wait 2 minutes for 5 seconds of time in which to cross the road.  Have you ever been walking along a road with railings along side the pavement edge to pen you in so that your freedom to cross the road is denied?  Have you ever done the “dad-run” to the kerb because an oncoming motorist has chosen not to slow down to let you finish crossing, and not even felt indignant about it? Have you ever asked yourself why? 

Why is it that walking, the most natural and fundamental form of mobility is treated as the lowest in the transport hierarchy which places privately owned motor vehicles at the top.  Why do we all generally accept it when almost all of us walk at least a little bit each day.  For several generations all other modes of transport have been placed at the bottom of the list of priorities for architects, town planners and legislators.  Part of this is because most of them drive a car and enjoy having almost total freedom when driving without realising how much it compromises their freedom when they are not driving.  It is also partly down to the powerful motoring lobbies, manufacturers and driving associations such as the AA and RAC.  It is a testament to their power that during the worst recession since WW2 we had a car scrappage scheme where the taxpayer subsidised anyone who wanted to trade in their old car for something shiny and new.  This wasn’t means tested, so the Earl of Choking-upon-Carfumes could use the scheme just as easily as a pauper (although a pauper wouldn’t be able to afford a car to scrap).  A progressive government would have introduced a car scrappage scheme where you scrap your old clunker for a shiny Brompton, Pashley or Moulton (to support British manufacturing) or for a year or two year season ticket for the train between home and work.

The reason I write this is that the same lobbies who deter people from walking, cycling and using public transport are the same voices behind support of bicycle helmets.  I accept that some cyclists speak out in favour of helmets, but the difference is that they choose to wear a helmet but generally they are against forcing other people to do so.  Australia is famous for its compulsory helmet law, which has massively reduced the number of injured cyclists by effectively killing off Australian cycling.  Wherever helmet laws are made compulsory people stop cycling, and this is why the motoring lobby supports them so strongly, they want us off the roads.   Sadly it is common to hear their agenda parroted by the media and then picked up by people who don’t cycle.  I don’t wear a helmet for several reasons

1) Helmets offer no useful protection in the even of being hit by a car.  In the words of a Transport Research Laboratory report, cycle helmets are effective “particularly [in] the most common accidents that do not involve a collision with another vehicle, often simply falls or tumbles over the handlebars.

This is great if you are very new to cycling, or a child where you are likely to lose balance and fall off your bike when stationary.

2) Helmets make you feel safer, and appear safer to others.  Taking (1) into account, the effect of risk compensation comes into play; you feel safer because of the helmet, and subconsciously take more risks.  The same effect can be seen with the way people with 4X4 vehicles drive.  People in cars see you with a helmet and subconsciously (I hope) feel it is safer to pass closer to you because the helmet will protect you.

Wearing a helmet increases the chance of being involved in an accident. [1] [2] (same source, different takes)

3) Helmets are ignoring the bull in the China shop.  The problem on the roads is not the inadequate ability of your skull to hold in your brains, it is the cars themselves, the manner in which they are operated and the numbers in which they are present.  Helmets are a great way for the motoring lobby to move the focus away from the bull in the china shop by focussing on the inadequately rugged protective china display units.

In short, mass helmet adoption validates bad driving, bad cyclist infrastructure and excessive car use.

4) Helmets put off newbies.  Most of you reading this will be cyclists yourselves, but imagine for a moment that you were not.  Does seeing people on bikes in special high-visibility clothing and helmets make cycling look normal, practical and safe?  Places with the highest rates of cycling also have the lowest rates of helmet usage, where cycling is seen as a normal means of getting around which you can do without special sports clothing and extraneous safety gear.  Helmets are a barrier to the uptake of cycling.

The safety in numbers concept states that cycling gets safer when more people cycle (combined with the distribution of transport funds which follow an increase in modal share).

Anyway, just some food for thought.  If you want to wear a helmet, thats fine, just as long as you are aware of the risks.  Just as I am against helmet compulsion, I wouldn’t want to force anyone who wants to to not wear a helmet.  When the only person who’s safety is at risk is you, I don’t see why legislation is needed either way.

Yuba Mundo Bottle Holder

One of the more obvious design oversights on the earlier Yuba Mundos (not sure if it has been fixed with the V3) is the lack of bosses for mounting a bottle cage.  Hauling a heavy load can be thirsty work, and the sheer comfortableness of the ride means that inevitably people start using these bikes for longer rides.

Handlebar-mounted bottle holders are available, but the only place I could find one was online, which meant paying delivery and waiting around.  I decided (quite a while back) to use what i had to hand instead; a Topeak adjustable bottle cage and the mounting bracket from a Kryptonite U-lock.  The Kryptonite lock mount comes in two halves held together by an allen bolt.  One half is the clip for the lock and the other is the strap which clamps onto the frame.  Using the bolt and a washer, it is easily possible to mount a bottle cage to the strap part through one of the screw holes, the end result is function and looks like this:




Monday 14 June 2010

Raleigh Twenty Carrier

I knocked this rail together from some aluminium strips used to aid plastering the corners of walls:
IMAG0071 - Copy
It is about the width of a 1.5 inch tyre and long enough for the Twenty to be strapped into.  The rail and the Twenty can then be strapped onto the Yuba Mundo for short trips to meet a bikeless person.  The Mundo actually rides pretty well with this contraption on it.  It would be feasible to have one on the other side too.

Lovely Bicycle

IMAG0069 - Copy

I have cycled past this bike a great many times without having a camera with me.  I decided that I would finally snap it and post it here.  The bike is a Pashley Tube Rider.  The geometry of the frame suggests it is a very comfortable bike, and the colour options available for this particular model are quite varied.  It may not look it but this is a capable utilitarian machine, with hub gears, drum brakes, mudguards, basket and a chain guard.  The thing I like about it is that it is very functional but also fun, the person who owns it obviously loves it and probably uses it more often because of that fact.

21st Century Grocery Shopping


This is my Mundo parked up at Tesco in Burnage, approximately 6 km from where I live.  Loaded on the bike I have 4 boxes of breakfast cereal, 48 cans of Pepsi Max, two jars of curry sauce & various vegetables.  Because the Pepsi is on the top of the rack, the pannier bags are almost empty and I could have carried a great deal more (but nothing else took my fancy)  The bike as it is now (including upgraded fork, brake, lights, lock seatpost and saddle) cost roughly the same as half of a year’s car insurance would for someone my age.

I think the vast majority of people could get by just fine with a similar arrangement.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Twenty Test Ride

I decided to go to work on the Twenty today, it has a front brake now and a Dutch-style O-lock so it can be used(After my first post a user from told me that the mount I recognised as an O-lock mount is also used to mount a pletscher rack).  My first impression of the ride was that the bike deserves its cult status.  It is very comfortable and for someone a bit shorter than me would provide a nice upright riding position (I have to have the seat too high for a perfectly straight back).  The bike doesn’t have the overly twitch steering common to smaller wheeled bikes, making it very pleasant to cruise about on.  The stock gearing is pretty high, with a 15 tooth sprocket on the hub making third gear pretty much redundant.  I have a few spares knocking about so I will have to fiddle about to find the optimum.

I had heard that bikes with steel rims (and calliper brakes)had pretty feeble braking made worse by water.  The front brake at first seemed reasonable considering its advanced years.  I made the mistake of passing through a puddle and getting the rims wet, it was only a few minutes later I had to brake and when I did I genuinely thought my brake lever was jammed because the wet brakes provide absolutely no friction.  They may warrant further research to provide new ultra low-friction materials for the future.  Suffice to say I will be looking into alternative solutions to the braking issue as the project progresses.

Monday 7 June 2010

Raleigh Twenty Update

I have spent the weekend working on the Twenty, stripping the paint, getting rid of rust, repainting, servicing the bearings and replacing the cables and chain.  It is now almost rideable, I just need to service the calliper brakes and re-attach them, although I doubt I will keep them.


Stripping the paint was very labour-intensive.  I used a combination of a wire brush drill bit, a sanding bit from a Dremel and manual sanding to remove the paint and the odd patch of rust.  Once the frame was naked I went to work giving everything a coat of anti-rust spray primer.


I suspended the frame by the headtube from a fire-escape to maximise the area I could spray  (I did the same for all the other bits such as the mudguard, fork etc)




After several layers of primer, paint and polyurethane clear-coat I re-assembled the bike.  The first thing I did was the fork and headset.  When I took the headset apart I was surprised to see that there were no bearings in the lower cup/crown race.  A quick look at Sheldon Brown’s Raleigh Twenty page fixed that, I needed 25 5/32nds of an inch ball bearings.  The cranks and bottom bracket seemed ok, so I kept them and just cleaned out the cups and replaced the bearings and re-assembled it all (after cleaning off the rust).  The back wheel seemed fine after a bit of poking around and a clean, with the Sturmey Archer AW hub living up to its reputation as one of the best made mechanical items in human history.  The front hub turned out well too, I replaced the 3/16th of an inch ball bearings and cleaned out the hub and all seems well with it.  By Sunday afternoon I had my new Raleigh Twenty almost ready to ride:


Those who have read this blog before may notice the similarity in the paintwork to the Yuba Mundo:


This is partly for comedic effect when they are used together, and partly because my current intended use for the Twenty will be when I go to pick people up from the city centre (or anywhere else within about 5 km or so) by taking the Twenty with me, with the Yuba acting like a mothership.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Raleigh Twenty

I recently picked up a 1979 Raleigh (Triumph) Twenty from eBay.  It was cheap and surprisingly I was able to ride it a few km from where I picked it up to Wigan Wallgate station.  This was appreciated because it meant I had to spend less time in Wigan.

The Raleigh Twenty was made between 1968 and 1984 and was sold under most of the company names Raleigh had accumulated by that point, with the brand used to differentiate between models:


The one I got is a Triumph, the second most basic of the models on this list.  Sadly the kitbag is gone, and the rest of it needs some work.  By the feel of the ride, all of the bearings need to be replaced.  This presents an interesting technical challenge, due to the widespread use of proprietary sizes and threading by Raleigh “back in the day.”


The Twenty on the train ride home


The Sturmey Archer hub shell date stamp, October 1979.


Genuine Brooks leather saddle (not as bad as I thought it would be, but it will be replaced).


At first I thought these were quick releases, but they are actually basically wing nuts.  They allow easy seat and handlebar height adjustment.


Interesting brazed yet non-lugged frame construction.  Seems to have stood the test of time though.


The bike only has mounts for caliper brakes, although the back also has a plate for mounting a Dutch-style O-lock, which I may do at some stage.

I am planning to start by completely disassembling the bike and treating any structural issues such as rust first, possibly giving it a new paint job.  All the ball bearings in the headset, bottom bracket and wheels will be replaced and the bottom bracket may be switched out if the cotters break when I remove them.  All the cables will benefit from being replaced too.

I will keep updates coming for this project as it progresses