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.
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.
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
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;