Note: This page is under construction. Photographs will be switched out as better ones are taken to better illustrate the differences.
The bikes in question are any of Raleigh's so-called Sports Light Roadsters, commonly found with other brand names such as Humber, Rudge, Dunelt, Hercules, Triumph, Robin Hood, etc. They have 26x1-3/8" wheels, fluted fenders, and brazed seat stays. Not to be confused with the full-size roadsters (i.e. Tourist, Popular, DL-1, etc.) with 28" wheels and bolted seat stays. The Sports roadsters also came in various models with different trim, such as Sports Tourist, Superbe, Dawn Tourist, Superbe Dawn Tourist, Superbe Sports Tourist, Trent, LTD-3, etc. The differences between such models occurred in trim, decals, and fittings only, so this page still applies.
These photographs are to be used in conjunction with Kurt Kaminer's Visual ID page, serial numbers, and Sheldon Brown's table. Kurt's chart is very thorough in documenting the decals and certain fittings, and Sheldon's table accounts for additional fittings. Be sure to check these out
This page outlines changes that occurred in frames and forks instead of things like brakes and wheels that can be swapped out discreetly. Many of the bikes I've dealt with arrived with different gear shifter/cable arrangements, handlebars, wheels, pedals, saddles, and other fittings. I included the factory steel fenders on this page because nobody has noted any changes in them, and once they get ruined, they are generally removed and not replaced. Therefore, the possibility of confusion is still small. However, some Sports frames, such as the Trent models, came or were optioned with cellulite fenders which are not covered here.
I have found that there are a few years during which many changes were made. Sometimes, bikes with new frames were being assembled alongside bikes with old frames, so the cutoff date may not be very definite. In general, many major changes were made between 1961-63 for cost cutting measures, and in 1973-74 to update the Sports and keep it somewhat competitive in the international market.
Front fender tip:
19? - 1960
Front fender ridge utilized two radii, tip curved down closer to tire.
Fender edges rounded
1961 - 1976 1977-1982
Fender ridge utilized one radius, resulting in the tip sitting higher away from the tire
with sides folded sharply downward. Starting 1977, front edges had corners.
Note: early models, possibly pre-1951, have forged stays that are very slightly thinner for the front fenders. Starting 1955, front and rear fender stays are the same thickness.
19? - 1950 1951-1963
Squashed and slotted fork end Forged dropout into round hole
In both cases, the fender eyelet tab is brazed separately
Stamped dropout in domed & slotted tube end, dropout and fender eyelet integrated
Fork blade profile:
19? - 1951 1951 - 82
Round fork tubes, smooth brazing Oval fork tubes, tube edges more prominent
Head tube lugs:
19? - 1954
Head tube lugs use only one curve surrounding the head badge, no angles
(better photos to come)
Lugs became ornate. Stayed mostly the same until end of production, except for center cutout on the top side of the lower head tube lug being shallower from about 1963 and beyond.
Front and sides the same, center cutout on top side of lower head tube lug is shallower
Rear brake cable braze-ons:
19? - 1963 1964 - 1973
None. Rear brake cable housing ran all the way back, clipped to the top tube.
Clip changes in 1963 to narrower type with no middle slot.
1974 - 1982
Diamond frames had two pairs of braze ons: two stops and two guides for the rear brake cable
1974 - 1982
Step-through frames had a stop and a guide toward the front of the bike and a stop only on the rear
Bottom Bracket Oil Port:
Oil port located on left side of bottom bracket. Some caps get removed, hole sealed shut.
Oil port on right side of bottom bracket.
Metal and plastic caps used - date of change unknown. 1958 and 1962 pictured.
Rear Fender - Chain Stay Bridge Mounting Point
19? - 1961?
Tab with eyelet welded to front edge of the fender
Chain stay bridge drilled to accept bolt to attach fender
1961? - 1982
Clip takes place of bolt and welded eyelet
Hole in the rear fender allows clip to grab on, although not 100% effective.
19? - 1963
Brazed insert behind the chainring containing threads to mount a chain case. All models equipped.
1963 - 1967
Chain case hole omitted on models not equipped with full chain case.
Hockey-stick-style chain guard clamped on (photo needed)
A separate difference: Two brazed-on tabs for models fitted with the hockey stick chain guard.
Rear of the guard still clamped to the seat stay.
Some models (non-England production?) skipped braze-ons and kept the clamps.
Note: This change did not occur exactly simultaneously with the above change regarding the rear fender mounting point at the chain stay bridge. My 1962 Dunelt has the chain case hole and clipped rear fender.
Seat lug and seat stay caps:
19? - 1954 1955 - 1963
Seat stays capped. Earlier cap was oval, later cap had some edges.
Earlier seat lug was plain, later seat lug pattern mirrored 1955+ head tube lugs
Seat stays are larger in diameter near the top, smaller near the bottom
1963 - 1982
Seat stays slotted and squashed shut - both old and new-style stays seen on bikes dated 1963
Seat stays are a constant diameter throughout their length.
Rear fender reflector and stays:
19? - 1966
Single pair of braces, width does not exceed that of fender. Changes mid-year 1966.
2" diameter black reflector housing used until 1962.
2"dia. white Fairy Lites reflector used from 1962 - '72.
Lesser models equipped with wire braces and sometimes flat, metal-backed reflectors.
1965 Hercules and 1971 Triumph pictured.
1966 - 1976
Two pairs of braces, width does not exceed that of fender until 1976.
Larger Lucas/Sturmey-Archer reflector used 1973-1976 (pictured)
1977 - 1982
Round reflector replaced with coffin reflector.
Many Canada-made models and certain England-made models retained a single pair of stays.
Different countries of production often used different reflectors.