Sunday, March 30, 2014

Raleigh Sports DL22L 3 speed Ladies bicycle (1974?)

A couple years ago a friend was clearing out his garage in anticipation of a remodel.  Knowing I was a bike nut he offered me a pair of 3 speeds that he and his wife had once ridden while living in Boston.  I was looking for a project I could quickly turn around and sell and thought one of the 3 speeds would fit the bill.  The men's 3 speed (DL22) had a broken shift cable so I went with the Ladies version.  My mistake was thinking aloud the term "quick turn around" the bike gods ears must have perked up at that and thought "oh really....(cue maniacal laughter)".
According to the late, great Sheldon Brown the Sports models;

"were the basic transportation of the urban working class. They feature 590 mm (26 x 1 3/8) wheels with Endrick or Raleigh-pattern rims, full steel fenders (or "mudguards" to the British) "North Road" upright handlebars, and cable-operated brakes. Sports bicycles had rather more nimble frame geometry, typically with 72 degree frame angles. These bicycles were faster and lighter than roadsters. The vast majority of English bicycles that made it to the United States fall into this category."

I should note that 26" x 1 3/8 wheels are not the same as 26 " mountain bike tires, I made that mistake ordering tires once and it taught me the importance of ISO numbers.  An English 3 speed 26" wheel has an ISO of 590, a mountain bike 26" tire has an ISO of 559, the two are NOT interchangeable! 

My normal approach is to take a bike down to the frame, clean up all the parts and reassemble with new "consumables" (rubber, cables, bar wrap etc) and then tune it up.  With the Raleigh Sports I was hoping to take a shorter path due to time and money constraints.  I am not a "flipper" but I was hoping to get this bike road worthy short of my usual complete disassembly, in part because a 3 speed internally geared hub is foreign to me  and compared to working on a old 10 speed drive train it would be like speaking Zulu.  Again my thinking I could do this quickly doomed me from the start.

I knew the tires were going to have to go, first because they said "Raleigh" on them making them original equipment -i.e. 40 years old.
Secondly because, even though they held air, the front tire had a large abscess where the tube bulged and didn't allow the wheel to spin freely.
So I ordered up new tires, tubes and rim strips going with the Kenda K40 gum walls,  I love their 27" tires so I figured the 26 x 1 3/8 were a good bet.  The next stop was checking on the two places I am always concerned about with any old bike; the stem and seat post, if anything is going to be stuck or seized on an old bike these are the likely suspects.
I got both out (whew) but I am not sure they would have gone many more years before seizing up.
With this project I decided to use a trick I had first seen in one of those classic Jorgen Leth cycling race films of the early 1970s, where a mechanic uses a brush to apply grease.  I noticed a mechanic doing this at a local bike shop recently and thought "hey I should try that" - it works pretty well and is definitely cleaner than using my finger to apply grease.  A well spent buck fifty-seven.
It worked especially well with seat post and seat-tube.
And the stem and head tube.

One pervasive theme to this project was rust.  Just about any 40 year old bicycle is going to have some rust issues but I am not sure I would have survived this project without my dremel and brass wire brushes.
The worst of it was the front wheel, which I suspect was stored in a puddle, and the handle bar.  If money were not object I would have just replaced those parts but instead I attacked the rust as best I could and was up front in my craigslist description.  
One misguided short cut I tried was to loosen the headset up enough to get fresh grease on the bearings without actually removing them.  This Raleigh Sports is from the time before caged bearings so of course when I got the headset loosened and started in with the grease all those little bearing wanted to try and escape..  I reconsidered my ill planned approach and went back to removing the fork, carefully corralling the bearings, cleaning up the races and applying lots of fresh grease and then putting it all back together.  The once stiff headset is now relatively smooth.

Another favorite tool on this job was the $10 grease gun I got on Amazon.
Packed full of park bicycle grease this came in handy as both front and rear hubs had grease ports that allowed me to pump in the fresh grease.
before clean up

After a little super fine steel wool massage
I also opened up the bearing cups to get fresh grease on the bearing of both wheels.

While this bike did not get the usual ground up treatment it did get some serious love in addition to the fresh grease and new rubber.

  • New handle bar grips
  • New rear brake cable and housing
  • Brake and shifting adjustment
  • Cleaned and lubed chain
  • Lot of rust removal
  • Cleaned Frame with Armor-All wipes
  • New brake pads front and rear
The old brake pads weren't going to cut it- another original part
Although more draft horse than show horse this 3 speed should provide some-one with reliable, and fully fendered, transport.

And now I have a Peugeot course to put back together.  As always;



  1. Dang, dude, those "after" shots look like they could be in the original catalog. It is an art, I think. Too bad it doesn't pay better.

    I've been out of work for a week now, after an intense two months of almost daily labor. It looks like there will be another month before things pick back up so I have to either go look for a new job or ride my bike. I'm going to ride my bike, the Le Tour in particular. It has been a long time coming. Work (and trouble) always seems to find me sooner or later whether I want it or not.

    I'm running the original 27" front wheel with one of the new gumwall tires you sent me awhile back. I have a pretty good 700c wheel I bought two years ago, a Dimension product, but I don't know...I just love that 27" front end and don't want to change. The spokes are almost rusted through, however, and sooner or later it's gonna cost me some teeth if I don't replace them, or the rim.

    But I'm planning on buying a big-ass 29er tire to put on the 700c rim and stick it on the Mongoose, making her into a sixty-niner, pardon the expression. So I gotta come up with a new front wheel for the Schwinn.

    Oddly enough, while I was pondering all this and reading your latest post I noticed in your "Popular Posts" sidebar your piece about 27 inch rubber and re-read it. Imagine my surprise when I saw a comment by my friend Chris (three-speed) stating with no uncertainty that Sun CR 18 rims were the only choice for a 27 inch replacement rim. I am putting together my yearly $100 (free shipping) order of parts (Niagara Cycles) and they have the rims but no wheels...I would have to build the wheel, something I have never done but because I am crazy I am sure I can do it.

    But the final product will cost...well, a lot. Because of my penchant for overkill, while perusing possible hubs (starting with Tiagra) I noticed the Son hubs and that started me down a whole other path. Now I am looking at lighting systems and phone chargers and hey! I'm unemployed and the truck needs tires and we are talking about a bicycle that I bought for $25 and a half pint of rum.

    I have not rode (ridden? biked? pedaled?) more than ten miles at a time in the last...the last...I don't know. Randonneuring sounds like a great thing to me, as long as I am not doing it...but those rando bicycles, on the other hand, seem to me to be the best set up for a just in case scenario. No not zombie apocalypse, I'm not that crazy, yet, (but stick around the fridge is full of beer and I still have a little rum left) what I mean is I like the racks and the lights and so on...

    Whatever. This started as a tech question but now I realize it is actually a cry for help. How did I get this way? I should be looking at porn, not bicycle parts. I should be out somewhere snorting coke and dancing with skanky women. As I type this, Little Miss Dangerous is leaning against the table next to me. I pause to pat her top tube.

    This can't end well...


  2. Tim Joe that was so damn good I am turning it into a guest post!

  3. Hey Ryan. I have a 60s or 70s steel bike. It has a 3 speed shifter on the crossbar. It says, KENT made in japan, and I can't find any info on it. Are you familiar with this bike? do you know where I can get info on it? This will be my first restoration.

    1. Hmm I have never heard of that brand before, do you know if the rear hub is a Sturmey Archer? Good possibility as most 3 speeds of that era, Raleigh or not, had a SA 3 speed hub. A couple ideas for working on it 1) check out Sheldon Brown interestingly Raleighs made in the US were made in Kent Washington (not far from me actually). In the limited work I did on 3 speeds I found this series from the Bikeman 4U to be helpful

  4. It looks like a sturney archer but no markings, my incredibly ignorant guess is it has a Shimano Hub because of the shimano 333 shifter, but that's because I assume they would use coordinating parts, which may not be true.

    Thanks for the reply. I will check out the websites you suggested.

  5. Update: I polished the hub enough to find that it's a 333 hub.

    1. Cool there is more info here I have never tackled a 3 speed rebuild, although its on the bike bucket list, but if you find its an issue there are places that do including on here in Seattle called Aaron's bike repair mostly those IGH are pretty bullet proof and just need new grease

  6. Best of Luck Mike, I notice Sheldon Browns site also has an article on Shimano 3 speed hubs, if your bike is from the 70s then your hub is probably pre Nexus-

  7. I own exactly that bike, acquired for $125 on Craigslist in the New York City area. Mine is 1978, Canadian-built, but a dead ringer for yours.

    My bike is outfitted with a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub, which has worked flawlessly in the six years I've owned the bike. I expect if yours is a 1974, the hub is also a S-A.

    This bike is a tank in terms of reliability. I've only had to change the tires and tubes, and I did choose to buy a leather Brooks saddle because my fine derrière deserves the best.

    One thing I would like to find is a suitable rear rack. The Blackburn Mountain Rack that Husband offered me from his 700c-wheeled hybrid is too short to be installed without removing the fenders. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Carolina, thanks for stopping by, as to your question about a rear rack I am a sucker for Velo Orange products and find them well built with a great vintage vibe you can see their selection at Also Soma Fabrications makes some nice ones and they are at good luck, I envy you living in a place where a 3 speed is a workable ride, too hilly here in Seattle.

    2. Oh and I should mention that its hard to beat made in the USA Wald Racks for bang for the buck available many places including Amazon

    3. Would that be this rack?

      Or this one?

      I really want to put a milk crate or wooden wine box on the back of my 3-speed so I can bring Mister Dog on rides with us.

    4. And, it would be great if I didn't have to spend more for a rack than I did on the bike itself. Just sayin'.

    5. Yes the VO racks are spendy, I think either of those Wald racks would work and you see they are pretty reasonably priced. Depending on how big your pup is you could also do a Wald front rack I have put them on a few bikes and they are pretty straight forward.

    6. You are awesome. I'll try the rack specified for fixed-gear 26" bikes.

      Mister Dog is a 17-pound miniature schnauzer. Much as I'd like to have him on a front basket, I think his cuteness factor may distract me too much for safety...

  8. If you look on the back hub it will have 2 numbers for the year then a space the 2 numbers for the month. I bet yours is 1970 or 1971

    1. Thanks Unknown, I have learned the year stamp trick on the SA hubs but wasn't aware of the month too. This bike is long gone but if I ever move to a flatter place I might try and find another 3 speed.

  9. Hi
    How did you remove the rust on those rims? The front looked pretty gone. Was it rust on steel or was it gone chrome? Thanks

  10. Its been 7 years but I seem to recall I used the dremel with a brass wire brush. The rims were chromed steel. I have had good luck with using brass wire on surface rust