Friday, March 11, 2016

Mr. and Mrs. Raleigh Sports

It's interesting how my bike hobby has been going recently. It seems like whenever I get an idea to build something, whatever it may be, the perfect bike shows up. It may be partly that I only notice when I start looking, but it seems a lot more coincidental than that. Take my mixte project that I have yet to write about, for example. I'd been searching for a while before a good candidate showed up. I contacted the seller and we set up a meeting time. In the meantime, I start buying parts. Hours before we were set to meet, he tells me that he has found another seller. Amidst the disappointment, my search comes to a near halt, but not before being offered a different, better frame by another person. My DL-1 Tourist is another example. Or my friend's Hercules, only coming up for sale moments after he voiced his interest.

Or a fourth example. I periodically search the web for Raleigh-made 3-speeds for sale that can be had for cheap. Almost all of the time, I return empty-handed or at most with a couple of Sturmey-Archer hubs. I don't need new bikes, I just like looking. However, one night last week, I sat in the living room trying to do homework but mostly being jealous about my roommate's Hercules (relevant Lovely Bicycle! story here).  I made my usual rounds online, not actually looking to buy a bike, but a couple days later found a '72 Sports with its original saddle, pump, tires, and Brooks B72 saddle for sale nearby. Not surprisingly, someone outbid me at the last second and I was unable to catch up. This time, I told myself that it was okay since I didn't need more bikes anyway. I went to bed that night but not before finding something even better:

Not one, but two all-original 1966 Raleigh Sports. A genuine Mr. and Mrs. pair, more so than the Schwinn pair. I won the auction with no outside resistance and called my "driver" friend, offering dinner in return for taking me to pick them up.

The bikes were in good shape for their age. They had consecutive Grosse Pointe registration tags.

Original Brooks B72 saddles: supple, very soft, aged but not cracked. Comfortable "butt hammocks," as I heard someone call them before (Sheldon Brown, possibly?). Not pictured here is the original Britannialloy pump still mounted to the lady's frame.

The gent's frame was in better shape than the lady's frame. It also looked like it had been waxed or polished. Something that confused me was the blue hue showing through the green topcoat. On all parts of both bikes (a.k.a. not replacement parts), there were areas where the green was either fading or rubbing off. Another factory Raleigh color lay underneath. I doubt it's a primer since it was metallic and the primer that Raleigh used during this time was usually if not always black. The two other weathered, green, late '60s Raleighs I've personally seen did not have the blue showing through. Is it possible that these were leftover frames from the previous model year that were repainted with the new year's colors?

The chrome was in nice shape. The seller told me that he had removed the surface rust earlier and to my relief, did not use steel wool. Everything was beautifully polished, more so on the gent's frame.

The hubs are dated April 1966 for the men's frame and October 1965 on the lady's bike. Knowing that hubs and frames were not always assembled consecutively, I wonder if these bikes were ordered and left the assembly line together or if they were only picked out together in the shop. Either way, these two have been together for 50 years and it would be a shame to separate them. So far, new plans are to make both roadworthy, slightly modifying the gent's to match my friend's bike.