In June of 2010 I was fortunate enough to spot an Raleigh Twenty, marketed by Raleigh as a Triumph Traffic Master, on eBay for just over £20. Having long been interested in these bikes thanks in large part to the late Sheldon Brown I decided to splash out and give it a try.
I even made a carrier so that the Twenty could ride on the back of the Yuba Mundo. Shortly afterward, I was able to acquire a drum brake hub and decided to incorporate this into a new front wheel. The results were so impressive that I never got around to re-installing the original back brake at the time.
Already owning 2 other bikes, I used the Raleigh Twenty as a loaner bike, or for when I didn’t feel great about leaving the DL-1 locked up for long periods of time in certain areas. Having said that, the Twenty was a joy to ride, fast to accelerate, comfortable and quick to stop once I had upgraded the front brake. The Twenty is a good all-rounder and I would recommend it to anyone.
However, times change and I found myself wanting a compact folding bike which I could take on rush hour trains and/or without the need to book in advance, in short a Brompton. The new bike was able to replace all of the existing roles which had originally been filled by the Twenty. I did not really have the money to spare for the Brompton without doing a bit of wheeling-and-dealing, which included selling the Twenty to replace the money spent on the Brompton (although I expect it would have paid for itself within 5-6 months anyway).
The front wheel was promptly flogged to Jim of CycleA2B and the original brakes were restored. I kept the V-brake levers in place and found the ancient calipers seemed to work better than with their original levers. For the first time in over 6 months the bike had a rear brake. On Thursday I took the bike to my dad and swapped the Twenty for the Raleigh P1000 I gave him for a birthday a few years back. He had always found the P1000 a bit too big and seemed very pleased with his new Raleigh Twenty. As a fair-weather cyclist, the original brakes shouldn’t pose much of a problem.
The last ride on the Twenty was actually quite enjoyable, despite having cycled from Macclesfield to Manchester on the Brompton that very morning (very tiring due to the speed of the other traffic). The P1000 is currently being restored and will also be flogged soon, with the proceeds covering the last of the money spent on the Brompton.
I am glad the Twenty is staying in the family and I hope my dad gets a lot of enjoyment from it. As for the P1000, despite the ride home on it being almost exclusively downhill it was still a harrowing reminder of the limitations of the “hybrid” geometry, the P1000 felt simultaneously slower and much less comfortable than my DL-1, a bike whose design is nearly 100 years old.