Tuesday, March 23, 2010

(Another) Root Beer Twenty

I read in someone's blog not that long ago "be careful, they are addictive."  I guess its true. 

Yesterday, I went to Recycled Cycles to pick up my olive Twenty from the good people there.  It had a broken axle tab that needed replacement.  It is now running great!  I actually booked out of work about an hour early to enjoy some nice Seattle weather and get my errands done.

As I walked up to the door of the shop, casually scanning the rack of new hybrid/cross/road/mountain monstrosities made of carbon fiber and plastic, there, ever so meek, was a little root beer colored Raleigh Twenty.  I had to blink a couple times to believe it.  I've spent countless hours over the last couple weeks on eBay and Craigslist looking for another one of these to build out as a custom, lighter weight rider.  I was actually considering driving to Vancouver next week to pick up one there for $165 CAD.  And here was one, right in my backyard... for $100.  I snapped it up.  There is one on eBay right now that is over $200 shipped. No brainer...

As I went back into the shop to purchase it, I was talking to one of the other sales people there.  "There has been quite a bit of interest in that bike - three people so far this morning.  It just came in today.  In fact the last guy just went home to cash a check and was coming back for it..."

Too bad for him they don't hold bikes there.  Who knows, only a few minutes later and I'd have missed out on it.

My wife did her best "rolleyes" when I got home... My kids think I've gone crazy too. And in the immortal words of Robert Plant "I don't care what the neighbors say..."

I'll have pictures up soon.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1980 Raleigh Sport

I stop by frequently and don't expect too much... but this day, this day would be different.  As I drove into the parking lot of the Thrift Store, it was clear that no new "steel steeds" had been added to the herd.  I began to drive off, but then thought otherwise.  Maybe just a quick look around the shop - you never know what you might find.

I found nothing, but to my surprise, as I walked out the door to the car and glanced at the bike rack, two new additions had found their way into the rack along with the reject kids bikes.  One was a no-name mountain bike.  The other, a beautiful root beer brown Raleigh Sport with a step through frame. She looked a bit like a coal miner's daughter - a little dirty around the edges. Had a wet , dirty wool saddle cover.  Both tyres (yes, tyres. It is a British bike after all!) were flat.  But as a man who appreciates beauty that's not skin deep, I could tell she'd clean up to be a real keeper.

I walked back into the shop and found the youngest volunteer I could come across.  "How much for that bike you guys just tossed out there?" I asked, trying to temper my enthusiasm. "Well, I'm not really the bike person... um... I don't know, how about thirty dollars" she said. "Just tell them at the counter."

OK, I have 17 bikes right now... but this is too good a deal to pass up.  My wife would look so sweet on this bike.  She is British after all.

So I snagged this little honey and got her home to the shop.  Some preliminary work on the web dated it.  According to Sheldon Brown's site, this is a 1980 Lady's (Canada).  The give away for me was the comment "Chainguard encircles chainring, bolted to tapped hole under bottom bracket."  As you can see, this is the case here.  Most Raleighs of this era are fitted with the "hockey stick" chainguard.

Once I got her home and removed the woolly saddle cover, I was at first disappointed to find the Brooks "mattress saddle."  But the disappointment faded quickly when I looked the saddle over and found it in almost perfect condition!  Rare for a bike this age to have a vinyl saddle in this nice of shape.  The woolly saddle cover actually cleaned up very nicely and is very usable for those inclined to use a woolly saddle cover.

It also sports the original vinyl saddle bag.  The leather straps that hold the bag to the seat post were a bit broken, but I did my best to glue them back together.  I may try and have this part fabricated - or just use a wire tie.

What more is there to say... a couple drops of 10-30 in the Sturmey Archer hub (it is a hub with a coaster brake), a nice wash down with warm soap and water, a light coat of Turtle wax and some steel wool to the rims and this bicycle looks and rides like new.

Now if I could just get my wife to ride her...


UPDATE - 10/24/2011
Well, this bike has long seen another rider after being sold to a friends friend about a year ago...  But I just needed to post up pictures of my friend Becca's gorgeous blue 1980 Raleigh Sport  Lady's  Gent's Canada.  Becca, thanks for sending them along!  It looks like it was a fabulous project.
 Here is a nice shot from the back, Becca tells me that is a new old stock mattress saddle, just like the originals.  I love the large vertical reflector on the fender.
 This is a 3-speed coaster brake, so only a single brake caliper and lever needed for the front.
 The headlight and tail light look to be battery operated rather than hub or dynamo driven. 
Overall, spectacular rebuild.  Becca, you've done a nice job on this one!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cascade Bike Expo - Impressions

OK, even my kids had to admit, it was pretty fun.  Here's my Top Ten from the event...

  • Number 10 - Gyros and Fish and Chips for lunch
    • The food court area at the back of the first floor was pretty typical for these events, but the food always tastes better at a show
  • Number 9 - Wooden Bikes and Wooden Fenders
    • It's good to see frame makers and accessory vendors thinking outside the box of carbon fiber
  • Number 8 - Hub and Bespoke Booth
    •  This couple is starting up a shop like the one I'd love to start.  Cycling with a vintage fashion flair.  Read tweed. They are working up their physical presence over in Fremont (of course!).  I will certainly be checking them out
  • Number 7 - Dutch Bike Co. Booth
    • Here is another Seattle shop with a focus on the work-bikes of Holland. 
  • Number 6 - Brooks EVERYWHERE
    • Nothing shows the move to retro more than Brooks.  And there was a LOT in attendance.  From saddles to saddle bags, any show bike that really caught my attention was sporting Brooks leathers.  
  • Number 5 - Diverse crowd
    • Very noticeable was the diversity of the crowd.  Ages ranged from kids to seniors.  There wasn't the predominant "spandex" crowd.  There wasn't the predominant "hipster" crowd.  I felt pretty comfortable with the family there - there were a lot of great people.
  • Number 4 - Rickshaw Bagworks
    • Spotted a really nice booth put on by a small bag shop out of San Francisco.  What caught my eye was the Moleskine Folio they had on display.  A zip pocket organizer perfectly cut to hold a Moleskine notebook (one of my other passions - journaling).  Did not get one there, but I'm regretting it now....
  • Number 3 - Being recognized by one of the Recycled Cycles gang
    • Standing there deciding what to eat and the blond gal from RC spotted me and said "hi."  I guess they all would recognize me, I've been there enough!!
  • Number 2 and 1 - Ryan Leech Show and Artistic Cyclists from Germany
    • Oh, am I glad we stuck around for these guys.  Ryan Leech is a stunt mountain biker with incredible balance from Vancouver.  He hops around on bars and stands.  Amazing - the kids really dug this.  The other group of three cyclists from Germany who did "artistic" cycling, kind of like ice skating, but on bikes, was spectacular.  Another winner for the kids.  I can't decide who is number one or two.  They were both fantastic.

We spent about three hours total there, and it was just right.  The Smith Cove Event Center was a very nice venue with a great view of Seattle's downtown peeking out from behind the haunches of Queen Anne Hill.  Overall very enjoyable.


Cascade Bike Expo - TODAY

I'm packing up the family and heading to the Cascade Bike Club's Bike Expo in Seattle today.  My 13-year old already has figured it will be ultimately boring... "What's a bike expo? Do I have to go?"  Should be FUN.

I'm really looking forward to the Vintage Bike area.  My sis was there yesterday and said there were lot's of good bikes to see.

Too bad the Raleigh Twenty is in the shop...

I think there is something amiss with the SA hub.  I've done my best to align it all and adjust the shift tensioner.  But as you roll the bike forward, the pedals spin, like it doesn't freewheel very well.  I don't know whether this is normal for SA hubs, but I read on some web site somewhere that it was NOT.  So anyway, it is at Recycled Cycles in Seattle having the read hub torn down and re-lubed.  I really wanted to show her off at the Bike Expo.... oh well, maybe next year.