Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Review of "Lucy 3-Speed": Raleigh Lady's Sports

Lucy 3-Speed is a prototypical vintage Raleigh Lady's Sports, and I initially questioned the need to review her. But in the end I decided to go ahead and write the review, making it a sort of general commentary on buying a vintage 3-speed.

The benefits of Raleigh 3-speeds are that they are sturdy, comfortable, durable, easy to ride, have good front and rear loading capacity, and can be fairly easy and inexpensive to obtain. Some people, myself included, are also drawn to their aesthetics and history. The late Sheldon Brown wrote a great deal in praise of the English 3-Speed, and I invite you to read about it here and here.

From my own experience I especially stress the "easy to ride" aspect. Lucy 3-Speed is very much a "hop on and go" kind of bicycle. It is comfortable, but lighter than the Pashley. It is sporty, but more stable than the Motobecane. I don't think about it too much, I just get on it and go - and it always feels great.

A blurry illustration of the "lighter than the Pashley" factor.

My Lady's Sports is a 1970 model. It was "re-claimed" by me from the depths of my parents' garage, and you can read all about that here, as well as see lots of photos in its "before" state. In the classic "Raleigh green" colour and 21" frame size, this bicycle had all the standard features of a Lady's Sports, including a lugged straight step-through frame, 3-speed Sturmey Archer AW hub, North Road handlebars, matching fenders and chainguard. Though it sat abandoned for decades, there was nothing really wrong with the bicycle, other than a stretched out chain, flat tires, and some rust around the handlebars. Still, I made some upgrades to it that I consider crucial when one is buying a vintage 3-speed:

New Tires: As a rule, you should always get new tires after purchasing a vintage bike with original tires. It does not matter if the previous owner (or the bike shop you bought it from) assured you that the original tires are fine. Replace them anyway. The reason for this, is that vintage tires have a tendency to explode after their second decade of life, even if they appear "fine". You don't want this to happen while you are cycling in traffic. It is easy to find new tires for an English 3-Speed, because they come in standard 26" and 28" sizes. When you are buying new tires, spend a few extra dollars and get ones with kevlar protection to save yourself the trouble of getting flats. The nice cream tires on Lucy 3-Speed are Schwalbe Delta Cruisers, and I have written a detailed review of them here.

New Brake Pads: Vintage 3-Speeds have one tragic flaw: steel rims on the wheels. This means that in wet weather, the caliper brakes do not have great stopping power. Getting new, super-grippy brake pads will help with this, somewhat. The salmon Kool-Stop pads are generally considered to be the nicest and grippiest.

Lowered Gearing: Some find the standard gearing on Raleigh 3-speeds too high, making it difficult to go up hills. This is easily remedied. Simply ask you local shop to "lower the gearing" by replacing the rear cog with a larger one. For the hills in the Boston area, I recommend a 22-tooth cog. Lucy 3-Speed is now a great climber.

I also had the chain replaced, brakes and hub adjusted, and a general tune up. All this was done by the excellent Harris Cyclery in West Newton, Mass.

Other functional/aesthetic upgrades included replacing the old saddle with a sprung Brooks B67S in "honey", replacing the original handlebar grips with shellacked cork grips, installing a Low Rider Bullet Headlight by SunLite, adding a chrome pump from Old Roads, and adding a Pletscher rear rack. The bag on the rear rack is the Sackville Trunksack.

As you can probably tell if you have been reading this website, I am detail-oriented and tend to get carried away with aesthetics! Still, none of the updates I've made to this bicycle were expensive, except for the new saddle, which I could have done without. I hope this review shows that it is possible to make an elegant and comfortable bicycle out of a vintage 3-Speed. You might be surprised how many old, neglected 3-speeds are lying around in people's garages and basements, weeping and waiting to become somebody's beloved commuter!

71 comments:

  1. pretty sports!!! my wife had the identical sports in the same green!

    i would generally agree with the "crucial three" upgrades, except that wouldn't automatically lower the gearing by replacing the factory 18T cog with a 19-22T variant. this is highly dependent on your local terrain and by how easy you want to pedal versus how fast you want to be able to go in topg gear. if it were not for the hills of somerville, i'd have kept all my 3-speed rear cogs at 18T. but because i live near the topmost peak of somervilly, swapping to 22T cogs was essential.

    also, readers should know that upgrading to a22T rear cog will automatically necessitate chain replacement, even if the current chain is fine.

    i would also add a "fourth" crucial upgrade: slick stainless steel brake cables. you can keep the original housings for the sake of maintaning the period aesthetics (they should just be cleaned and lubed), but replacing just the cable itself will make braking smoother, more reliable, and will reduce the effort required to brake-- all without changing the appearance.

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  2. somervillain - Thanks for those additional comments, I agree with you about all of it. Lowering the gearing should, of course, only be done if the rider feels it is necessary and lives in a hilly area. I just particularly wanted to stress the point that it is possible, because so many people have told me that they can't climb hills in vintage 3-speeds and seem to think of this as an irreversible thing.

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  3. oops... sorry for all the typos in my above post!

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  4. Another reversible thing would be new rims, to replace the steel. Not cheap, but certainly possible. Someday...

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  5. Don't want to pile-on advice here, but, when you buy new tyres, please make sure that the bike shop that does your upgrade replaces the inner tubes with quality tubes (like Schwalbe) and also puts on new, fresh rim tape--and checks the insides for rough spots. There's nothing worse than spending money on a tune-up with fresh rubber and finding your ride flatted on the first outing. (Yeah, it happened.)

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  6. I would recommend alloy rims. They lighten the bike considerably and its easier to stop in the rain than with the steel rims. That's the most valuable upgrade to a Raleigh Sports bicycle. I think Harris Cyclery has them in stock or can special order them.

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  7. MDI, yep. The main drawback of the bicycle are the heavy steel wheels. When I switched to alloy on my Raleigh Superbe, it became a better-handling bike. And modern brake cables help, they won't rust and are safer than the originals. Mine no longer has the original caliper brakeset. When converted to 700C, it was replaced with a drum brakeset. This is the same configuration found on my Pashley roadster.

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  8. What solid advice covering some useful basics sure to keep everyone safe riding their 'new' old vintage bicycle. I so totally agree with you on tires and brake pads... that's the first money I'd spend (and have spent)on my own vintage bicycles :)

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  9. Charlotte and Norman - Alloy rims are of course a solution, but I don't think most people would be willing to pay that much to upgrade their old 3-speed - unless they can rebuild wheels themselves or have bike-shop friends. And then there are the 3-speeds with rod brakes, too...

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  10. I've upgraded my rod-braked Roadster with a rod that goes through the spokes when you pull the brake levers. It stops in any weather and only requires a complete wheel rebuild after a successful braking attempt.

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  11. RidingPretty - Thanks! I know that you of all people appreciate rolling on a nice vintage step-through bicycle.

    MDI - Excellent! You should patent this method and we can sell kits on this website?

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  12. dukiebiddle said...

    I'll never understand how the English chose to, or chose not to, pluralize the word sport. They call their sports page Sport Page and their sport bicycles Sports Bicycles. Grrrr. They make me so angry. Okay, not really.

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  13. And then they go and get all pissy at us "colonials" for not pluralizing "math." Some peoples, I'm tellin' youse.

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  14. dukiebiddle said...

    And don't get me started on how they pronounce AND spell aluminum. I just makes me want to say "woRld" over and over agian with a crazy heavy rhotic R just to watch them squirm.

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  15. The sport/maths thing used to puzzle me as well when I lived in England. But after living in Austria and getting used to "informations," I think I have become immune to being bothered by differences in pluralisation.

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  16. I always liked that shade of green on Raleigh three-speeds. The cream tires, oddly enough, bring out the goldish-brownish undertones.

    Good point about the tires: When they're stored, they dry-rot. (Paradoxically, humidity causes this.) The same is true for leather saddles, although old ones can sometimes be brought to life with neatsfoot oil.

    As for sport, al-oo-min-ee-um and other British pronunciations: George Bernard Shaw once quipped that England and America are two countries separated by a common language!

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  17. I wish the " fairly easy and inexpensive to obtain" part were true but alas, where I live it's quite the opposite. The only vintage Raleighs I've been able to find have been later model derailleur equipped 5-speeds and they're usually brown.

    One technical detail that should be pointed out is some of the parts on an English Raleigh are not standard. The bottom brackets are a less than common specification as are the headsets. Your LBS will most likely not have the parts if you need to replace these items. You can find them via the web, but the LBS staffers will probably just look at you funny .

    And as always, Sheldon has the info: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/raleigh26.html

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  18. I have a three speed Raliegh Superbe and I love it. I thought hard about buying a (wayyyy) more expensive Dutch-style bike and picked mine up for $50 instead. No regrets whatsoever--it looks great and is a very comfortable ride, and I saved all kinds of money. I don't know why more people don't go this route.

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  19. @sommervillian,
    Not all Raleighs came stock with an 18t. My Superbe came with a 16t! My other Sports an 18t. I often wonder if these bikes were assembled using whatever parts were available at the time?

    For those that live in really hilly areas there is a source for some custom made 25t sprockets. ;-)

    Aaron

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  20. How well do the brakes work in the rain? I'm needing new pads for a couple of my bikes and Kool Stop looks like the way to go. The ones on the Raleigh look like they'd sub for a lot of period pads.

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  21. The bike is...well, lovely. You have a very good eye.
    For your mixte fixation:
    http://tinyurl.com/yfjjmsx

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  22. Steve A - I got caught in an absolute downpour on this bike once, and under those conditions they retained maybe 60-70% effectiveness. That is as good as it gets for caliper brakes on steel rim I think.

    Gunnar - thanks for the link. VO makes some nice bicycles.

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  23. Oh, I thought we were highlighting the performance upgrades that are possible. There are many!

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  24. Caliper brakes with Kool Stops are cool indeed, however, rod brakes (which squeeze upward against the rim) absolutely do not work when wet--and you cannot put Kool Stops on those. My rod brake pads seem fresh enough, yet if it takes 10 feet to stop in dry weather, same speed will require a painful slowing path of 30-40 feet in the rain.

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  25. Great review of a gorgeous bike! The vintage style is beautiful with those cork grips, leather saddle and cream tires. You really have an eye for making good-looking bikes even better. What are the main features that distinguish this bike from your Pashley, other than the braking and weight?

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  26. Charlotte - You're right, you're right. I am just dismayed at the fact that it does cost so much. I think that it would be great to get someone to rebuild the wheels for a whole fleet of them and sell them as commuters.

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  27. Another beautiful bicycle. Can anyone tell me if their is a functional purpose to the chrome extension in front of the stem? Not the head badge, of course... I'm talking about the bracket-looking thing with the Raleigh insignia outlined on it. I once heard a light went there originally, but your placement of the light looks pretty authentic to me, leaving this bracket/hook thingy beautiful but still mysterious.

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    1. The chrome extension is indeed for a portable head lamp. I found one from a bike restorer and it is chrome plated tin operated by two D batteries and made by Elite c.1970.I had one of these in the early seventies on this same bike but it had long since rusted out. It fits well on my Raleigh 1952 Sports bicycle.I had to put a shim in the lamp socket so it would fit tight to the metal lamp shaft on the stem and I also placed a couple of copper pennies to fit beneath the batteries so they wouldn't shift and flicker on and off when I hit a bump in the road.

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  28. @ 2whls3spds:

    that may have been the case, that some SA-hub equipped raleighs came with something other than 18T cogs. it might have also been a dealer-specific thing, whereby dealers would automatically swap out the cogs pre-sale, if they knew their customers would return with complaints about the gearing.

    it's also noteworthy that the front chainring was not always the standard 46T version that came on most sports models. some had 45T and some had 48T... go figure. NOT as easy to swap those out!

    also worth noting, sturmey archer recommended against rear cogs larger than 22T. the reasoning was that the hubs were not designed to handle the increased torque provided by such low gearing, and that they would grind themselves to bits if geared lower.

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  29. Fil, I'll have to send you a picture of my wife's Sports when I'm done. It is a '64 model and I've taken it down to the bare frame and back with shiny black and silver lining.
    She still asks about her first bike, a Blue Star of London. There were so many Sports "clones" if a list were made it would go to a hundred I bet.

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  30. Mike - Yes, that's the original light mount. It is very difficult to find a bracket for attaching a headlight to it though, as they do not make them anymore. I decided to leave it there despite it being empty, because I like the way it looks.

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  31. @somervillian,
    Defintely not fun swapping cranks around. My current stable is around 7 Raleighs with IGH, plus a couple of others that use the Sturmey hubs. I have cranks from 44t to 48t. Rear cogs range from 14t to 22t depending on the bike, rider and use. The only SA hubs I have seen destroyed were those being used as part of transmission in a pedicab.

    I often wonder if the 22t to limit torque was a fabricated tale, because SA didn't make any larger than that.

    My Supberbe has the 48t chain ring, my sports a 46t. I have two Twentys, one has a 46 the other a 44t, by hub date and other componets one is a '71 model the other a '72. It pays to have a bunch of cogs on a hook and some short pieces of chain laying around!

    I mostly chalk it up to the eccentricity of the British. ;-)

    Aaron

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  32. So do I, Filigree. I bought my daughter a '64 Sports and am (slowly) restoring it. The light bracket with the insignia is a gorgeous touch. Almost too nice to obscure with a light.

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  33. If anyone sees this light bracket for sale (at reasonable cost) please let us know--we need 3!

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  34. i have seen the heron lamp brackets come up for auction on ebay from time to time... plus, oldroads may have them.

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  35. On the lamp issue, how do you like the SunLite lamp that's on there now? Is it pretty sturdy? I've been looking for a good vintage-looking lamp for my Huffeigh.

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  36. Thom - kind of. They need to be screwed in very, very forcefully, or else they begin to gradually loosen and flop sideways when cycling on bumpy roads. Another issue is that the light is not very bright. I mean it's visible, just not as good as an LED. If I could find a better battery-operated light with the same aesthetic, I would be very happy.

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  37. Me too! I mostly need to be seen, not so much to see with it, so maybe this would be okay for me for now. And how's the OldRoads pump? I've heard they don't work very well, but they are a nice aesthetic touch.

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  38. I haven't tried the pump and mostly did buy it for the aesthetic touch : ) Schwalbe Delta Cruisers have excellent puncture protection so I hope that I might never need to try it. (At home we have a floor pump.)

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  39. My What a great job on your Sports. I have a rather beat up 73 Raleigh Sports and am longing for the day when the B68 aged saddle breaks in! My bike is the bronzish colour and I bought it for $50 from an old chap in Wenatchee WA after advertising on Craigslist. It has cheap gumwall tyres and I would love to find a source for the cream Schwalbes. It seems that most sites are out and just have the black. I have always loved Raleighs since growing up in England in the 50s and 60s. Hard to find old ones on the Washington State though unless one lives in Seattle. Seems like New England is the place for a threespeeder to be! Thanks again, Your site was a great discovery!

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  40. I like the way that you marked the shifter to inducate which gear you are in. I need to do that to my daily rider (70s Sports) as the metallic sicker that said Sturmey Archer somehow disappeared.

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  41. How is it that something as innocent as following a blog can cost me money? ; )
    I LOVE the way those cream Schwalbes look on your bike! I clicked on your link to their distributor last week and on Friday a round package showed up at the house.
    I plan on installing these on Mrs. Kingsting's 1972 Superbe. I also picked up some imitation brown leather grips that should add to the already classy look of the bronze green bike.

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  42. I follow your blog for a long time and must tell you that your posts always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

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  43. I just picked up a Superbe and am struggling between sticking with the black saddle/black grips or going with a(much nicer looking) brown/brown as you have. What is the process for the shellacked cork grips and how do they end up feeling? Did you have any other options for brown grips?

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  44. HI,
    I DO WANT TO BUY THIS BIKE. SO IF ANY ONE HAS IT IN A GOOD RUNNING CONDITION THEN PLEASE DO EMAIL ME AT :

    ash7788@rediffmail.com

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  45. I just recently purchased a 1974 Raleigh Sports 3-speed and it actually doesn't have a headlight. Do you know by chance how to get a hold of one and how it would work?

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  46. susanmorrier@gmail.comFebruary 25, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Somebody stole my beautiful Blue Betsy almost 20 years ago and I've never stopped looking for her. I bought her brand new in 1974, Vancouver, BC. If you've got her bring her back, no questions asked.

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  47. im from tijuana Mexico and yesterday i found the same bike for just 100 pesos its like 6 euros :) i was so lucky

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  48. Living in England, I rode bikes with lamp brackets like that from the late 1950s onwards. The standard front lamp took a type of 3-volt battery which I suspect is no longer made, consisting of two cylindrical zinc-encased cells in a cardboard sleeve, with one brass contact on top and the other at the front. The front one was in direct contact with the central terminal of the bulb, while the top one contacted the switch, the return being through the metal casing of the lamp. Due to oxidation and vibration, these lamps were not terribly reliable, but had the virtue of being instantly dismountable as a preventative against theft. The standard contemporary rear light took a single U2 zinc-carbon cell, and was a sort of teardrop shape with a red plastic lens. It was permanently fixed to the right (in Britain) seat stay by a clamp. Again, reliability was not great. In about 1970, they introduced a law requiring rear lights to be powered by a 3-volt battery. British bicycle lights operated by batteries were never very satisfactory, nor were tyre-driven dynamos. The Dynohub was much better, but was phased out far too soon.

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  49. Any recommendation on where to buy accessories for a Pashely PS ? Need rack and splash skirt.

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  50. Great post! Like many, I've been reading your blog for some time; very inspiring. I took up riding again last year, at age 44, after a 30-year layoff. I bought a modern (Trek) aluminum cruiser and I've been riding it ever since. I love it, but I've read so much about old 3-speeds that I got the bug for one. And I finally have one - an old Schwinn Speedster, complete with working Sturmey-Archer AW hub, that's been abandoned, shackled to the rack in front of my building for the last three years. It needed rescuing; I couldn't stand seeing such a nice old bike waste away to rust any longer. But it was in pretty good shape overall. It's up the road in my local bike shop, getting tuned up and having old, worn parts replaced. It'll be ready this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it!

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  51. This blog influenced my bike purchasing decision – both this thread and the one about Vintage vs Modern.

    I was after a genuine Dutch bike, a quality brand like a Gazelle or Batavus and of a “city” style. They cost big big money to buy new – more than I could justify spending, but I am well aware that bikes of that quality can last for a century if looked after.

    I had a look in the FridayAds back in June and I saw a large frame 3 speed Batavus Barcelona for sale. It was basically sound and was certainly in rideable condition, but it needed a little TLC to really bring it to life. I went down to Brighton, bought it, put it onto my roof rack and brought it home to Maidstone.

    The bike’s previous owner had been living in York for several years, where it is very flat. High gearing is fine there. But having moved to Brighton the steep hills were making it almost unrideable – even 1st gear was set to a long legged 47 Gear Inches with the 44t front crank. I took it into my LBS and they swopped out the 19t rear sprocket for a 22. It only just fits – any bigger and it would have needed a new/longer chain. The work has geared the bike down by about 16% and has transformed it into a practical workhorse for local conditions. Gearing is now 1st 40 GI; 2nd 55 GI, 3rd 75 GI and this will get me around most places I’d ever want to ride.

    I’ve fitted new pedals, a new gear trigger-shifter for the Sachs Torpedo hub, and a new snelbinder (that’s what the Dutch call those purpose built elastic clip-on rack straps). The original front tyre was far too crumbly for my liking so I’ve put on a Schwalbe Marathon Plus to match the rear. The LBS trued my front wheel whilst fitting the tyre.

    Whilst the wheels were off I repainted the steel mudguards – I used black Hammerite which isn’t totally original but it will provide protection for years to come. And I removed the chaincase, and gave the chain a good brush down with white spirit then oiled it again – it had become quite stiff with many years accumulation of dirt and the lack of oil. The chaincase got a good scrub inside too.

    AXA directly supplied two replacement clip-lock keys – the one that came with the bike was slightly bent just below the head and so is best used only as a reserve.

    The maintenance section of bikeforums.net has been very helpful throughout and the project has given me more understanding of how a bike of this sort really works. My favourite LBS is The Bike Warehouse in Gillingham – they don’t specialise in hub gear bikes but they are reliable and resourceful, and they are prepared to have a go at maintaining non-standard bikes.

    I doubt I’ve spent over £250 on this purchase and the upgrades. I’ve ended up with a very solid, reliable, nice to ride commuter bike with plenty of character. It will be running well for years after a new £250 bike has fallen apart and gone to the scrapyard. I’m sure it’s the only bike of its kind in Maidstone and there are probably only a few in the whole country. It has a continental chic to it and is full of solid Dutch practicality. It will be my “classic” for summer weekends and also my winter commuter workhorse – the roller brakes and the rugged 3 speed hub will make it ideal for that.

    Here’s a picture
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110055669501444994025/DannySBikes#5642663581715757730

    And I’ve got The Bug… I’m now in danger of buying a succession of old 3 speeds and fixing them up, until there’s no more room in the garage!

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    1. Hi Danny, just saw the pic of your 3-speed...really nice. I am working on two 3-speeds myself...lots of fun...and addiction!

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  52. Awesome post. Read it along with the vintage or modern post, which convinced me wholeheartedly to go vintage. My question is, is there a reason to go with the 3 speed over the 10 if i can find a 10 speed for a reasonable price? I will be doing city riding, and since I'm used to a 21 speed hybrid, i feel more comfortable with the idea of a 10 over a 3. Though I probably only use 6 of the gears, and 3 does sound lovely... just less used to the idea I guess... Thoughts?

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  53. Not sure if this is appropriate to post, but I wanted to link to a post I did about the Raleigh Ladies Sport that I got a little while ago, and my experience with it, for those that want more info:

    http://lemondirgopie.blogspot.com/2011/09/review-of-raleigh.html

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  54. Love this blog. I have a 1992 Pashley Princess Sovereign . It looks like new. It has Rod Breaks. Any suggestions where I can buy break pads ?

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  55. Yup, this blog has influenced me, the only downside is that while I could easily and quite happily spend between $200 and $300 on a vintage 3 speed Raleigh right now... I know I shouldn't! I can't wait until I can purchase an awesome bike like this guilt free. My hope is that I will still be able to find a 3 speed Raleigh for a reasonable price in about 6 years...

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  56. Glad I ran across this site. I purchased a 1968 green Superbe a few years ago and have waxed the paint a few times and steel wooled the chrome. I need to get it to a bike guy to give it a tune up and upgrade the tires and brakes so that I can finally ride it. It's a beautiful bike. I think I've figured out where I can lock it up when I take it to the grocery store. Need a nice basket to sit on the rear. This could be my ticket to becoming fit again...

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  57. Just found a 73 ladies Sports for $40 here in Wenatchee WA. It needs a lot of work but the frame is in good shape (green). I already have a men's coffee coloured 73 Sports. Now should I buy the white men's that is for sale at the same price? Might find it hard to rationalize with the Missus but it would be a good spares bike though I don't like the white colour too much. The green women's Sports will be my first bike project. If it looks half as good as Lucy I will be delighted!

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  58. This is absolutely beautiful! I recently purchased a Humber 3-speed just like your lovely bike. My good friend is helping me fix her up :-) Fortunately he is an expert on all things cycling, as well as a sweet and patient man, so he will know exactly what to do to get her in good shape. I love the colour, that is what attracted me to this bike in the first pace - there was one awaiting restoration at our local bike co-op www.newarkbikeproject.org and I really wanted it, but they are going to be fixing her up and they hope to get a good bid to help support the shop. I was so lucky to find this one on Ebay!There are also all sorts of Humber memorabilia to collect, posters, etc. I love England and all things English so I was so pleased to get this bike :-)I am thinking of calling her "Lady Louise", after my lovely English friend. I happen to have n English wax jacket that is about the same colour, also, can't wait to take a rainy-day ride, it will be just like in England :-) Thanks so much for sharing this, and I love your site and blogs as well! ~Angela

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  59. I just bought one just like yours, but having found it too flexible (can't make those low speed tight turns), was wondering if other ladies' bikes have the same condition?

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  60. Here's an example of the light that goes on that "Heron" bracket: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lovely_bicycle/7197047818/in/photostream/

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  61. I recently came into an English 3 speed that defies all attempts to identify the age. It is a Warwick. It looks exactly like this bike, from the frame down to the fenders. Does anyone here know of any Warwicks from this period, or if they were bought out by Raleigh.

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    1. The only Warwick Cycles I know of were an American manufacturer, that I am pretty sure was no longer active by 1970. Post pictures of your bike if you can.

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    2. I don't know how to post photos here, I put some up on my Facebook page. The bike has made in England all over the place. Front badge says made in Birmingham, on the seat tube it says Guaranteed Made In England, small print

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    3. The SA hub may be dated to 1954. I don't have much experience with these hubs so I may be reading this wrong but a 54 should be just that.

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  62. My daughter is a high school senior, and since she is drawn to the aesthetics of old three speeds (and thanks to the advice on this blog), I've purchased a Raleigh Sport for her to use as a campus bike next year at NC State University. (I mention the school to point out that she'll be riding a Raleigh in Raleigh.) The '77 Raleigh Sport I got off of CL already came with cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers (the previous owner read this blog too), and I plan on lowering the gearing with a 22T cog, since there's a moderately steep hill between NCSU's main campus, where she'll be living, and its centennial campus, where she'll be studying textile design. As for the brakes, the back wheel has a coaster, and the front wheel has a side pull. For safety, I'd like to increase the bike's stopping power, so I'm going to replace the front wheel with a pre-built alloy wheel from Harris Cyclery (and also change the brake pads to Koolstops). My question is: Would it be OK to change the front wheel to alloy but leave the back wheel steel (since it already has a coaster brake)? Rebuilding the back wheel would be much more expensive than simply replacing the front. Would the weight difference between the wheels cause handling problems? I seem to recall that a writer of another blog (I forget which one but she was a woman in the Northwest) mixed wheels in this manner and didn't mention any ensuing problems. (Please excuse the vagueness that comes from middle-aged memory.)

    P.S. I love this blog. Thanks to Velouria for creating this great resource, and to the many readers that leave informative comments.

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  63. I have a 74 men sports just like that one with the dynohub and the lights are great and super easy. I think these bikes have to be one of the best commuting bikes ever built, I think

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  64. Great article, I am definitely putting your tires and brakes in a list for parts to get in the future. I am running a '58 Raleigh Sports ladies bike that had been abandoned for 20+ years outside at the University of Michigan. After rescuing it, I attacked it with WD-40 and realized that I only needed new rubber. Even the dynohub worked!

    P.S. does anyone know how to unfreeze a 3 speed hub? I can currently only access 2nd and 3rd gear but 3rd gear is like neutral for me, so that leaves only one speed, heh.

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  65. Just reading, coming to this a bit late! But as a big English dork I feel compelled to say some of the earlier Raleighs and variants use special brake cables with bits on the end (there's more in Sheldon) that you can't just replace because they've been obsolete forever. you really want to keep those going unless you replace the brakes and it's a right pain!

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  66. Interesting comments. I like the old Raleigh Tourists including the loop frame step-through versions. At Easter we picked up a black Raleigh loop frame bicycle with rod brakes and a fully enclosed chain guard. It has the longer steering head with the original Sturmey Archer 3 or 4 speed shifter having the little window showing H, N, or L. The rear hub is stamped 1956 - 9 . It`s all original including the red and gold pinstripes. Pedals are the original re-buildable ones with the nuts holding in the pads .The chain guard is also the original oil bath type with the little brass oil cap at the back. The wheels are Dunlop 28 inch rims and the spokes all have the razed Raleigh `R` on the hub end of the spokes. The frame loops are also joined in the middle with the small frame tube. These bikes also had tighter dimension handlebars as measured from one side to the other and this bike has the original black handgrips in great shape. The leather seat is a ladies Lysett ,fully springed and in great shape. We intend to keep it all original as is possible, unmolested. Just a different perspective. Thanks

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