Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Mixte!

Almost immediately after discovering my love for beautiful mixte frames, one found its way into my hands.  Someone on the school's for sale website had seen me advertising my own bikes for sale and offered her own Raleigh Sprite as it was in need of repair and she was moving in a few days. In trying to make a quick sale, she let it go for nearly nothing.

Behold, the 1981(?) Raleigh Sprite 10-speed mixte as it was.  The rack seems to have been mounted crooked from the factory, all of the chrome surfaces had rust, and it needed new consumables. The previous owner said she had let it sit outside for a year.

The bike had really nice alloy handlebars as well as some personal touches done by the previous owner.  I can't say they look too bad, either!

The saddle was not only beautiful, but very comfortable for me.  I wonder if I can get another one like it.  Mmmm, and check out those twin top tubes.  As if it wasn't clear already, these mixte frames make me drool.  They're also very functional, as they have the strength of a diamond frame with the convenience of a step-through.

For a few days, I actually didn't know what to do with this bike.  I really loved the mixte frame but as I said in the previous post, I wanted to wait until the perfect one came along.  At the same time, I didn't want to just sell it to be some college kid's beater.  I thought of using it as a loaner for my friends but that would mean I'd have three loaners and three bikes for myself.  That wouldn't work.  Thankfully, one of my close friends told me her sister was looking for a bike. I showed her this one and to my relief, she took it!  This couldn't have turned out any better. Not only can I keep my stable at a manageable size, but the bike will be going to a worthy owner and staying "in the family."

The Sprite received new brake cables, Dia Compe gray matter brake pads, a KMC chain, and Kenda K40 tires.  The original tires didn't seem to have very many miles on them, but the gumwalls were severely dry rotted even threadbare where they seated on the rim.  I also had to slowly unlock the freewheel because it was seized.

After all of that, I thought the bike would benefit from some shining-up.  I used my go-to rust removal technique, which is dousing the thing in WD-40 and then scrubbing at it with a penny or a ball of aluminum foil.  It never ceases to amaze me how severe surface rust can look, only to find out it really just bubbled up from a microscopic pit in the chrome

A test ride followed just to make sure everything was good to go.  The steering was a little squirrely; I think this might be a result of having upright bars on a road bike frame.  Also, I realized that this was the smoothest shifting derailleur-geared bike I've ever ridden.  The original Suntour derailleurs are still good.  For what it's worth, I think KMC chains offer the most bang for the buck.  They're less than $10 each and are extremely durable.  The Z50/Z51 chains are the only ones I buy for derailleur-geared projects and all of my internally-geared single cog bikes run Z410 chains.  They even come in different colors! The first Z410 chain I bought, which was for the '58 Raleigh, has over a thousand miles on it and I haven't detected any stretching.  I haven't been cleaning it as often as I should, either.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. I swapped out one of the rack mounting pieces for one I had laying around just so it would sit level.  I can't imagine anyone carrying much on a slanted rear rack.  To finish this up, I tried to decode the serial number and it doesn't seem to completely conform to any of the documented numbering methods.  I'll just assume the "1" in front means 1981 because that seems pretty likely anyway.

I can't wait to hand this off to the new owner.  I think she'll like it quite a bit!