Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wrench-A-Thon Part 3: 1979 Raleigh Superbe

Finally, updates for the third bike have been completed.  I'm not going to say it (or any of my other project vehicles) is ever done because everybody knows that would be a lie.  I'm just talking about the series of things I've been planning to do as of this spring.

First, I swapped out the Sunlite imitation for an actual Pletscher rack.  The difference in strength is very noticeable.  The only thing I didn't like about the Pletscher and the previous rack was that there was no place on the bottom of the stays to hook bungee cords.  I worked out the old rack bolts (remember that I cross-threaded them in there super tight) with WD-40 and put in longer ones capped with acorn nuts.  These works perfectly as hooking points.  I use these things every time I strap on my shopping box.

I drilled a hole in the tail light housing and bolted it to the back of the rack as I did with the other two bikes.  The photos above here were taken over a month ago so they're already kind of outdated.  I removed the mount for the mini air pump since it gets in the way more often than I bring the air pump along.

Having the shifter cable run through a housing all the way to the back of the bike proved to generate too much friction and sponginess.  The clamp in the back was also prone to slipping.  To get rid of both of these problems, I ordered an NOS Sturmey-Archer pulley and painted my leftover cable stop silver (the other of which I have been using on the Ross).  The clamps for the rear brake cable arrived yesterday after maybe a month of shipping, so that's pretty much what kept me waiting all this time to make this post.

Aside from the originals, I am now on my third handlebar and second stem.  Last time I changed the setup, I used an 85mm stem with upside down Wald tourist bars.  This is when I was still trying to move my hands further forward to make steering more stable.  A few weeks ago, I was at the bike shop when I spied a pair of '50s-'60s Raleigh bars lying on the ground so the shop owner let me have them for cheap.  I was so happy, this was the exact bar I was looking for.  They move forward a lot before swooping back and the bar ends point straighter back than the other bars I've tried, but they're not completely parallelt which is good.  After cutting and filing half of a 22.2-25.4mm shim (the Raleigh bar works with a 23.8 mm clamp which is exactly half that difference), I actually mounted the handlebar upright.  Not only was the steering more stable, but to my surprise, acceleration was greatly improved, almost to the level of the '58 Sports.  This is why the bike felt so slow after I first built it.  I guess a more upright position just suits these old roadsters better in the end.

I bought a very inexpensive 1953 Raleigh Sports stem off ebay which was in stunningly beautiful shape.  Most of the surfaces were mirror smooth and I almost felt unworthy to own such a thing. I wondered what happened to the rest of the bike; I hope nothing bad happened and that the owner simply modified it and no longer needed the original stem.  Anyway, I still wanted to keep the upside-down-bar look since it was part of Gilbert's character at this point and the length of this stem let me keep the bars higher. Since the bars are closer to me, I don't have to put as much weight over the front.  The ride is more stable now and my cruising speed and acceleration have both increased but again, it's not quite as good as if they were upright.  At this point, I've gotten so used to the upside down bars that it almost doesn't matter anymore but I might end up flipping the bars right side up down the road.

I was able to flip the headlight mount back over and get rid of the rack stay that was extending the headlight forward.  I'm glad it's not so shaky anymore.  Also, this is both good and bad but I had to get rid of the clamp-on handlebar grips.  I loved how they felt and looked but I didn't like how they dented the wall every time I leaned the bike over.  The straight parts of the old Raleigh bar ended up being too short anyway so I had to buy normal rubber grips and cut them short by a centimeter but I'm happy with them.  The clamp-on grips will join the Velo Orange bars for a future bike that is worthy of them.

Yes, I finally have a saddle bag.  This is because of the '58 Sports First, I was at work one day with the bike parked somewhere behind me and I just thought it looked so professional with its "new" black wall tires.  The helmet was sitting on the rear rack and it really looked like a saddle bag from my perspective.  Second, I was riding around downtown on the same day trying to get a hot dog when the hub of the Sports started slipping all over the place.  Worst of all, it slipped once in front of an old man who then gave me the saddest look I had ever seen, as if I was some ignorant kid who got the Sports at a garage sale and didn't know anything or care at all about the bike.  I had left my backpack and therefore my tools in the office and I had tightened the shifter cable with pliers.  I ended up having to hold the shifter between positions to get it to engage until I got back to the office.  The shifting problem was solved and I have stopped tightening the shifter cable lock nut with pliers because it's unnecessary, but now I can be prepared with tools without the burden of a backpack.  This was actually a camera bag because all of the saddle bags I found online were either too expensive or the wrong size. I switch this bag around between my bikes but seeing that it was pretty inexpensive, I might just buy another.

You might also see that since my last post, I have put the Raleigh seat post bolt back on this bike and put the quick release onto the Ross.  I realized the Ross was the only bike I let people borrow and therefore adjust the seat, whereas I trusted nobody on this bike anyway so the seat wouldn't have to be movable.

Well, I already know this bike is going to change again, I just don't know when or how.  We'll see.  Also, as you can sort of see in the photo above, my friend has been enjoying the '76 Schwinn Varsity I built for him.  More on that one later.