Thursday, January 21, 2010

Riding the Twenty - First Impressions

I rode the Raleigh Twenty into work yesterday - first time doing a significant ride.  I received the Brooks B-66 on Saturday last week and in a couple minutes had it mounted to the seatpost.  I'm hanging on to the original so I have a complete original stock bike, despite the rip in the saddle.

Anyway, I was up and out the door at 6AM yesterday, no rain, broken clouds.  The Twenty travels at its own pace, for sure.  The previous owner had the rear chain cog replaced with a bigger one which effectively lowers all the gears.  This was an attempt to have it do better on hills.  It does that.  With the bike in first gear, you really get spinning.  The problem though is that when you are going on flats or downhill, you have no upper end.  Since most of the hills between here and work are not that significant, I'm really tempted to reverse it back to the stock cog in the back. 

There is a bit of a shudder to the brakes in the rear.  This is due to some oil that has gotten onto the rim from the Sturmey-Archer hub.  They are a bit like fountain pens - they work great, but are a bit messy.  You've got to be willing to deal with the mess.

The bike is pretty heavy.  And you feel it in the hills, unless you drop the gear down and plod along.  I was in no rush and it was a fun ride to enjoy.

On the way home, I stopped off at the Bellevue I-90 map kiosk for a breather.  A younger couple from Beacon Hill stopped and asked me which was the best route into Bellevue.  We talked for a bit about the "vintage bike."  I got a few looks from drivers.

Many years ago, I drove a Volkswagen Thing (Type 181 to those of us who actually owned one).  Riding the Twenty is like driving the VW Thing.  It's not a car that you'd use everyday or do cross country drives in... but it sure was fun and got lots of looks.



  1. Well, I have something else in common with you. I used to own a Pumpkin Orange 1973 VW Thing. It was the perfect college car. I am really looking forward to playing with the Twenty. I have a few Dahon folders including a Jetstream P8 and I am eager to compare it to the old school folders.

  2. Hey Kingfish, thanks for stopping by! I guess we both have an affinity for unusual modes of transportation. Mine was a 1974 Type 181 in orange as well! It only had 20,000 miles on it when I got it in 1990 from a guy back in Idaho. It was the most reliable car I've ever owned. And did it get it's share of looks! Once I got married... well, it's hard to say... I had to move her on.

  3. Glad to see you are rolling a Twenty along with the rest of "outside the box" people. LOL

    I have the moment.

    I had to modify the one I ride, the rims were toast when I got it, and being 6'-2" with long legs I needed a longer seat post to get comfortable. I quite often use mine as a daily rider and have done a couple of rides of ~40 miles on it. I am seldom in a hurry when riding so I just amble along at my own pace.

    I honestly believe that the Twenty is probably one of the best bicycles ever designed.


  4. Aaron, thanks for the comment. Those are nice looking bikes! Same color as mine. I've got a perfect mattress saddle from a 1980 Sport I found for my wife. But the B-66 looks and feels great.

  5. The stock gearing on the Raleigh twenty was 46-tooth chain-wheel and a 15-tooth sprocket. I like to modify mine to a 16-tooth sprocket, as it lowers the gearing slightly to something more useful, and it has the added benefit that as long as you never derail the chain, you can get good performance out of even extremely worn chains. (As per Sheldon Brown)

  6. Hey Martin, Yep, the stock ring is a 15-T. The guy I bought it from had replaced it with a 21 or 23. You could take a pretty serious hill but it had absolutely no top end. The 15-T is actually pretty good, but I think you are right, 16 would be better.



Let me know what you think!