Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Raleigh DL-1 Restoration!

In the excitement of describing the A.N.T. Open House, I forgot to mention that on the same weekend I picked up my Raleigh DL1 Lady's Tourist from the shop.

Here she is, in her restored glory. See this post for the "before" shots.

The DL1 had an extensive tune up that included bottom bracket replacement, rod brake adjustment, and lowered gearing (22 tooth rear cog) to make climbing hills easier.

Then of course there are the aesthetic changes: The old tires have been replace with the gorgeous cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers, a full chaincase and vintage-style rope dressguards have been installed, and a frame pump has been added.

The rope dressguard is something I had envisioned on this bicycle from the very start, and hunting one down was not an easy task. Finally, a very kind gentleman found these for me in Portugal, and I am eternally grateful!

In the earlier days of the loop frames, this was probably the most common style of dressguards. There were simple versions like this one, as well as elaborate crochet versions. The dressguards attach with hooks directly to holes drilled into the fender.

On the bottom, the cords are gathered onto a hook-like contraption that attaches to the bolt that holds the rear stays together.

Close-up of the rod brakes, curved top tube and frame pump. I find it surprising that the frame pump was intended to fit between the tubes and I don't think it looks very good there - disrupting the flow of the frame's curvature. So I may remove it and just leave the braze-ons empty. Still, I wonder why they didn't place the attachment behind the seat tube?

Close-up of the Raleigh headlight mount. The heron on this one seems to be smiling.

Today I took the DL1 out for her first ride. She is extremely comfortable: stable, smooth, relaxed. The seat-tube angle is much slacker than either on the Lady's Sports or on the Pashley Princess, and it was a pleasant surprise to ride in that position. One interesting thing, is that this bicycle is absolutely silent - both pedaling and coasting. Neither of our other vintage bikes are like that, and I wonder what accounts for the DL1's quiet demeanor. In any case, I am not complaining, and I am thankful to Adam Rankin at Harris Cyclery for all the work he did to make it such a nice ride!

The first ride was meant to be just a short one, because the rod brakes still need some adjustment - But the bicycle was so easy-going, that I ended up cycling all over the neighborhood. Here she is locked up at the grocery store. During the time I was out, four people stopped to talk to me about the bike, being especially interested in the dressguards. Everyone loves beautiful vintage bicycles, and the Raleigh DL1 is one of the most iconic.

34 comments:

  1. What a difference from the 'before' pics. She looks marvellous - have you named her yet? The rope dress guard is very special - it looks great and very unobtrusive. Is the full chaincase metal or high quality plastic? It finishes the bike off beautifully - she looks rather naked in the 'before' shots without the chainguard. My, what fantastic choices you have when you want to go for a ride! :-D

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  2. Thanks Carinthia : )
    The chaincase is metal, but it is fairly light. It was made by an Asian company that has components in sizes matching vintage 28" wheel Raleighs. I do have fantastic choices, but too many of them now. I will probably need to get rid of at least one of my bicycles soon to retain sanity!

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  3. What an awful decision to make... which bike to find a new home for? It's like rehoming a kitten or puppy - arrrghhh!!! Noooo!!!!

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  4. What a truly lovely bicycle! I'm glad my dresssguard got installed without problems, and that bystanders are enjoying it also.

    Let me know if you need anything else. Many happy miles!

    Hugo

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  5. It's an inspiration. Just be careful if rain is in the forecast with the brake/rim combo.

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  6. Carinthia - They are a bit like kittens, aren't they : )

    Hugo - Thanks so much once again. I think you need to start an exporting business with these things? America wants dressguards!

    Steve - Yes, she is definitely a fair weather friend... BUT: I am being tempted via bikeforums with the crazy (or crazy good?) idea of rebuilding the wheels with drum brakes and connecting the rods to those. Paying a bike shop to do this would be out of the question financially, but the idea is so super enticing that I want to learn how to do it myself. (The Poor DL1 shudders in the corner as I write this, glancing at me wearily.)

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  7. If you do decide to learn to build wheels, we can endorse the class offered by Bikes Not Bombs. My household has been enjoying the results of that training! You will have to find a place to store the tools (truing stand, you probably won't need a dishing tool, tensionometer, etc.)

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  8. broadway bicycle school also offers a course on wheel buildling (and they're a heck of a lot closer than b-n-b), but they require you to complete the two pre-requisite course first, which for some people would be a waste of money if they already know some basic bike mechanics.

    interesting comment about the silence of the DL1. that to me indicates that the chaincase was installed very carefully to exacting standards-- that kind of workmanship is hard to find these days, especially for vintage bikes. in reality, it is far more common to hear all sorts of clunks and rattles from DL1s and other roadsters. it's funny, i was out on my DL1 recently, riding with a friend through cambridge and all its pothole-riddled streets. he commented that my DL1 was too quiet!!! he joked that i should "loosen up" some parts to make it rattle, and that it would bring out the true character of the bike! i don't tolerate any extraneous noises from any of my bikes. the rythmic tick of the sturmey archer 3-speed doesn't deserve being disrupted by a cacophony of rattles.

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  9. Although the truing stand, etc. are probably a good idea, I've done three wheels myself just using Sheldon Brown's guide, a nipple wrench, and a flat bit of wood (a paint stirrer) to check truing while the wheel spins in the upside-down bike. My Huffeigh wheels built this way are the truest, smoothest-riding wheels I have. It takes a lot of patience and the knowledge that you will probably have to start over two or three times, but it can also be fun and very rewarding. Without the gizmos (which I would have used if they weren't so bloody expensive), you have to develop a real feel for the work, and let your intuition at least partially guide you. It's one of the true bicycle crafts, and it sounds daunting, but if I can learn it, anyone can. And of course, you can always have the shop check your work when you're done.

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  10. Thanks for the suggestions re wheel building. I actually do have access to a shop where I could do all this, and where equipment and storage would be available. The problem right now is time. I have to leave for Europe again in a couple of weeks, so it would have to wait until after I return. This could be my winter project.

    I am also confused about compatibility issues with drum brake hubs vs the eccentric spoke arrangement on the 28" vintage roadster wheels. It's one thing to learn to rebuild wheels in itself, but from the reading I have done so far, what I am scheming is a very complicated project, not for the faint hearted. Finding drum brake hubs of such a vintage that they will fit these wheels, and then connecting them to the rods? Seems I'd have better luck getting modern 28" wheels instead, with modern hubs... but now we are talking about major expenses. Clearly I need to read up on this quite a bit before attempting it.

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  11. I am so figuring out a knit/crochet pattern for a dress guard! The look is gorgeous.

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  12. Great looking bike. Were do you find so many wonderful bikes? I've been looking for a lady's and men's vintage Raleigh for serveral months and still nothing. Currently, I have a Pashley that I love and a road bike very fast but great bike. Husband has a hybrid - we need matching bike speeds to stay together on rides. (Also, looking for a road bike for hubby) Lin

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  13. Seeing these pics reminds me of the "old" rear lights you might be needing. I went into the bike shop across the road this morning (to ask if they had an Azor banner for Dottie's Oma but those seem to have gone out of fashion long ago) and inquired after those rear lights. The man simply grabbed two different types out of some boxes, one round as on the DL1, one oblong. They cost next to nothing (2.50 euro) but I don't think they will make you get noticed in time as the bulbs are horribly weak compared to present day's LED lights. You could of course just use the shell to fit a modern light in it.

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  14. tricotmiss - How about this Soviet dressguard, posted by Copenhagenize? : )

    Anon (Lin) - I know it sounds like I am exaggerating, but the Boston area is teeming with vintage 3-speeds and French road bikes. Over the summer, at least 3 loop-frame 3-speeds were sold on C-List, and surely over 100 step-through frames, as well as countless Motobecanes and Peugeots. If you are local, I most likely will be selling my green Raleigh Lady's Sports soon and we also have a men's green 5-speed Sprite that we need to get rid of (not shown on this website) - so get in touch if this interests you.

    Fritz - I was just reading recently on bikeforums about how to do LED conversions; could be an interesting project! Email sent regarding the light.

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  15. Sigh, it's so lovely!

    I've been looking for a vintage frame in good shape to use as the start to a rebuilding project. I went to take a look at a couple at Cambridge used bicycles, but without a lot of success. Part of the problem is trying to get over how different the geometry is from one bike to the next.

    I suppose I'll start looking at C-list, and hope I can find something in the right size, style. I much prefer the building part of the project to the finding.

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  16. Oh, also, will you share the asian company where you found a chain case? It's so hard to find retrofit cases....

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  17. cycler - There are many of them; Chinese and Indian manufacturers mostly that either used to make or still make DL-1 replicas. Mine is a "Wu Yang". I *think*, but am not sure, that Flying Pigeon chaincases may fit as well.

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  18. As it happens I found four bikes right after I sent you the message. Two green Raliegh Superbes from Menotomy Vintage Bicycles and two Raliegh LDT 3 in what looks like black from the Bike Shop. Any thoughts on these models or dealers? All four need some minor work that you would do on any used bike - but the paint etc looks great. Lin

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  19. Ah there you go! Menotomy / Old Roads are "the" vintage bike shop in the Boston area, and I'd recommend them if you don't want to go the C-List route. Don't know anything about the Bike Shop. There is also Open Bicycle in Somerville, which also occasionally carries vintage 3-speeds. They have the men's 5-speed Raleigh Sprite that I'm selling.

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  20. did you do the fender drilling yourself, or have it done by the bike shop. I've always wanted to have the string skirt guard too, but am afraid to have a go at my fenders myself.

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  21. Anon - The bike was already being taken apart at the shop, so I gave the dressguards to the mechanic and he did it - otherwise I'd have to remove the rear wheel again in order to install them. The situation was unique though, in that this particular mechanic is experienced with DL-1s and liked the idea of doing the dressguard. Normally, I would not recommend that you ask a bike shop to do this.

    Once you remove the wheel, drilling is not a big deal. Just decide on the area you want covered, measure it, and do some basic math to calculate how far apart the holes for the hooks should be. Mark the spots with a pencil, then drill. The fender can take it, it won't crack or anything. But do remove the wheel first, or the drill could go through the tire. On the DL1 removing the back wheel is a painful ordeal, especially once the full metal chaincase is installed. But on a "normal" bike it shouldn't be too difficult.

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  22. The only major (and very large) problem you'll have going to drum brakes will be the rods on the DL1. For the hub, you'll just need to match the number of spokes to your rim (32) and the width (hub spacing). With the hub and rim dimensions, you or a bicycle shop can calculate the required spoke length. If the hub and rim have the same number of spokes, the only issue building the wheel will be experience - the less you have the longer it will take.

    I do think the rods will be a major problem - Most of the modern (and many older) drum brakes use cables, which are easy to put on many bikes. You may be able to buy rods for drum brakes (and may likely need handlebars and stem too) from a Dutch company like Gazelle. I think this will probably be

    (1) Expensive
    (2) Require different mounts on the frame

    If you get new handlebars/stem (joined on all the rod brake bicycles I've seen), you'll need to make sure the stem matches the DL1. I doubt this will be a problem, but with (1), (2), your Pashley and Motobecane, I'd just enjoy the DL1 on nice days and ride other bicycles if the DL1 brakes are a problem in the rain.

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  23. @stephen...

    you are right, gazelle makes current models with rod-actuated drum brakes. while the parts may be expensive, it's very possible that retrofitting them to the DL1 won't involve *too* much DIY (but definitely some). the gazelle's front rocker arm mounts to the fork crown bolt and pivots left/right as opposed to fore/aft, as the DL1 rear brake rocker arm does. since the DL1 has a fork crown bolt hole, this should be feasible. however, it remains to be known whether the DL1 brake levers generate enough travel to effectively swing a drum brake arm the distance required to activate the drum brake.

    there is a long thread about this dilemma and some other caveats on bikeforums.net. i and others have posted a lot of comments on this issue, to which i'll just refer interested readers here rather than re-iterate.

    i do agree, however, that the DL1 should simply be enjoyed as a fair-weather bike. of all my half-dozen bikes, i can't even bear to ride five of them in the rain... for that i have my 6th bike which has absolutely no historic or personal emotional value. it's a beater.

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  24. Wow, that Soviet dressguard is kinda crazy...

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  25. So beautiful!

    I've just acquired a 1966? Phillips ladies step-through that's a younger cousin of your DL-1, and blogged about it at ecodomestica.com. I have a feeling I'll be visiting your blog often for tips and inspiration!

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  26. Re dress guards
    There's a very traditional village in Holland called Staphorst where bikes used to have crocheted dress guards. These were fitted to the fenders through a row of holes as you have now on your DL-1. They were made by the women themselves from very strong yarn that wouldn't lose its colors. The folklore museum in Staphorst has a number of examples of this folk art. But since modern times have arrived even there and perforated fenders are no longer made by the bike manufacturers, people have had to find alternative solutions. I found a "recipe" for such a dress guard, for people brave enough to make them themselves, but luckily there is a woman who still makes them for a very reasonable price; website is http://www.simeli.nl/site/jasbeschermers.php
    These dress guards don't require drilled fenders anymore, they come with loops to attach them to the fenders.
    The website is in Dutch; if anybody is interested I'm quite willing to provide a translation.

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  27. Fritz B how can I connect with you? I don't want to post my email address on line, but I would love to get a translation of this site and any information you might have about crocheted dress guards.

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  28. Frits & Tricotmiss - Simone from Simeli got in touch with me a little while ago, and we are working to see whether it is possible to sell her work in the US. I should be receiving a sample dressguard soon and I will review it here with close-up photos. An English version of her website will be available soon as well.

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  29. Tricotmiss - I tried to be a gentleman and mail you but the address on your profile was rejected. So over to you: I'm at frits.burghardt@mac.com.

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  30. I love a little rust on a bike. Mmmmmm. :)

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  31. I just found a dl-1 lady for myself, and I am getting more and more intrigued by the potential of making alloy rimmed wheels to deal with the wet weather rather than abandoning the rod brake to rim linkage in favor or rod to drum brakes. If rod brakes were braking on an alloy rim, and then, if you also perhaps had a coaster brake in the rear hub, that might solve all bad weather braking problems. I am rather anti-coaster brake because I like the option to rotate my pedals backwards to be in a good position to go at stops, but I would definitely consider it for my DL-1. I am certainly interested, though in building up alloy westwood rims! Perhaps a nice UK online company will ship? They seem to sell them here: http://www.theoldbicycleshowroom.co.uk/28-x-112-vintage-westwood-rim-51-p.asp
    But, I can't remember how many spokes my wheels have!

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  32. here i am leaving a comment much the same as the comment i left for Bicycle Rodney... in regards to the rod-brakes. i solved the poor braking on my DL-1 (Bicycle Lewis) and laced a Sturmey Archer TCW tri-coaster on. so now i have all the original brake gear, as well as a coaster brake. i still have the same three speeds. the only difference in appearance is the TCW has a torque arm. it works very well-- i can stop now. i live in Seattle, with loads of hills and rain. i love my bike, it is more fun than my other bikes, and has a huge basket. i thought i looked silly dragging my foot down Capitol Hill trying not to end up on the freeway. i highly recommend doing the same with your bike. it really helped.

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  33. Hi,

    Hope its okay to leave a message, i'm from the UK and have just purchased a vintage Raleigh sight unseen and having read a few of your postings on here ith interest, I wondered if you, with your experience, would know which model it might be if I sent you a photo?

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