On Sunday (April 15th) our Fire Department here on Denman Island held an auction with the proceeds going to the Fire Department, Community School and the Memorial Society. There were about 10 bikes in total with 3 catching my eye.
There were a pair of Raleigh Sport(s) (his and hers) that were in decent shape and went for $40. I thought about bidding on them, but I had my eye on a Raleigh Tourist with rod brakes that was kind of beat up. I looked it over trying not to look too excited at what was in front of me and accessing what needed to be done to be brought back to its former glory. Remarkably, it was in original condition and with only 1 bolt/nut missing that holds the rear rod brakes on the down tube, just below the head tube.
What really caught my eye was the nicely broken in B66 Brooks saddle
Things were selling cheaply and I had my hopes that I could get it for a song since the pair of Sports were sold earlier and only fetched $40. There was one other guy there that knew that this was a diamond in the ruff and soon a bidding war was on. It was going back and forth for a while but when it reached $40 his hand started slowing down. In the end I picked up the Tourist for $62.50, which I thought was a good price, considering the seat that was on it. Once I won the bike, I paid for it and took it outside for a test ride …
What a comfortable bike and the seat felt like heaven! One of the tires was low on air, but I pumped it up when I got home and it holds air fine. Even with the low air, it rode nicely and you sit right up on it making it a very nice island cruiser.
It has a Sturmey Archer AW 3 speed rear hub that works nicely, but I will probably take it apart and clean it up. From the date on the hub and researching the bike online afterwards, it looks to be from the late 70’s ~ probably ’78, but I haven’t e-mailed the serial number to Raleigh or checked it online (I haven’t even checked the serial number yet as other things have caught my eye).
The rod brakes and brake levers are something new to me, although I’ve seen many times. I remember when I was in India almost 20 years ago, almost all the bikes looked like this. When I went to take off the front wheel last night, I quickly realized that I needed to also take off the brakes and ended up undoing the fork mounts and loosening the rod so that the bottom part of the brake would drop. The brake pads rub against the inside of the rim near the spokes rather than on the outside of the rim like most modern bikes (that don’t have disc brakes). Fixing a flat on the side of the road isn’t going to quick and simple ordeal!
I don’t want to put too much money into this project, but I will strip most of the bike down and clean it up. There is some rusting and pitting on the chrome rims and handlebars, and the frame and fenders need a good scrubbing. I’ll try and get most of the rust out, polish the chrome parts, give the bike a good cleaning and then wax it. If I find that I end up riding it quite a bit this summer (it would be a great bike to run down to the park, and island rides with the kids), then I might consider rebuilding the wheels and putting on a dynamo front hub to power a headlight. It came with a sidewall generator light, but I don’t think it works or else needs a new bulb. I really dislike these old lights as they make a lot of noise and really slow you down.
In general, the bike is in pretty good condition and will look even better when it is cleaned up. I imagine that the bike was mainly used to run short errand and has probably spent most of it’s life in an unheated garage or shed. The brake pads don’t have that much wear and the paint is pretty good, although there are a few rust spots and scratches that need attention. All in all, I’m really happy with this find and look forward to restoring it to its former glory. Stay tuned for updates!