Over the years I've been fortunate enough to befriend some very serious bicycle collectors. And I understand enough about how they operate to know it is unlikely that I will ever be one of them. I have a strong aversion to online auctions. I am unwilling to spend my weekends traveling across state lines to visit bike swaps and barn sales. Space is an issue. And most importantly, my tastes in bikes are too varied. But if there is one bicycle in which my interest has remained consistent, it is the Raleigh DL-1 Lady's Tourist.
I acquired my first one in 2009 - a run of the mill 1973 model in so-so condition - and "frankenbiked" it into a working city steed which I still ride today. The second Lady's Tourist was practically forced into my hands half a year later. The 1930s model was covered in surface rust and I did not want it. Where would I keep the filthy thing? But the gentleman who offered it insisted I was the rightful owner: "Take it. It is completely intact and that rust can be removed. You won't regret it." He was correct. It is a historically significant treasure that I look forward to carefully restoring some day.
The proportions of the 22" frame are identical to my 1973 bike. The hub is stamped 1980. "Raleigh Nottingham" headbadge. Most of the parts are original. The amount of wear suggests the previous owner rode it for years on a regular basis, but did not store it outdoors.
One very cool thing about the bike is the locking fork. Unfortunately, the key is missing. I will look into whether it's possible to get a duplicate made.
original tail light.
It looks like the grips were replaced by the previous owner after the originals wore out. The fit isn't quite right, but they feel and look fine, so I will keep them until I can find a better alternative. Late 1970s - early '80s Sturmey Archer trigger shifter.
I am still just getting to know this bike and not sure what I will do with it in the immediate future. Putting it in storage was my plan, but I rode it and it feels too nice to put away just yet.
While this bicycle is rare by virtue of being unusual (I only know of two other lady's chrome DL-1s in existence - one of them here), the late vintage and used condition don't make it especially valuable in collectors' terms. It is, however, historically significant - serving as an example of Raleigh's chrome finish and late-production DL-1 models. I can hardly believe my luck in getting my hands on one of these.
More information on chrome Raleighs can be found here. And a good source of information on DL-1s in general is the author of this blog. Also worth visiting is Velo Ulli's collection - his focus is on pre-1920s bikes and it's glorious eye candy. It's always good to know collectors whose interests are different from yours... that way they can pass those unwanted bikes they pick up onto you!