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.
At that point I knew that I would have a collection of DL-1s in the future; it was just a matter of time and luck. I did not intend to buy up random Raleigh Tourists; I was interested in specific things. An all-original model from the 1940s-50s was one of them. A pre-1930s model was another. And then there was the one that seemed least likely to surface: the chrome Tourist. But two years later, surface it did - in the hands of a collector in Germany
, who did not want it for himself and promptly offered it to me. I was not prepared, but a chance like this does not come along often and after a feverish correspondence the bike was mine. The machine arrived completely disassembled and packed into a standard sized box in the most expert manner I've ever seen. It took us some time to put it back together, but finally we managed and here it is: a chrome Raleigh DL-1 Lady's Tourist.
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.
Aside from their eye-catching finish, what makes chrome DL-1s interesting is that historically they are somewhat of an enigma. On several occasions, Raleigh released limited edition All-Chrome versions of their roadster models. Originally these were made only for dealers as demos or display models. In later decades chromed editions began appearing in catalogues. In theory it is possible to find a chromed Raleigh roadster from any number of decades, made for any number of markets. The best known of these today is the Boss Bike - a balloon tire chromed Superbe Roadster produced for Raleigh's African market in the 1970s. There was also a chromed DL-1 produced for the German market through the late 1970s and early '80s. My bike is an example of the latter.
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.
Also missing is the observation insert on the chaincase. The rear of the chaincase is slightly crumpled, but we are working on fixing that. The bike needs new cotters, and the headset could use repacking or replacing. Otherwise there is no damage.
A couple of things are not original, such as these newer tires (which ride great). The headlight and bottle generator are missing, though I do have the original tail light
I initially thought these pedals were not original, but have since seen similar ones on other chromed Raleighs. The seller sent me these along with a set of the more typical Raleigh platform rubber pedals, but these are nicer and less than half the weight.
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.
The bolted rear triangle and fork ends are identical in design to my standard 1973 DL-1.
The rod brakes, however, are a little different. I need to take close-ups of the other bike for a comparison. They need new brake pads, but work reasonably well in the meantime. The rear one is stronger than the front.
My understanding is that originally these bikes came with Brooks B33 saddles, but it was missing here. The seller included a spare from his personal collection, which is a brown Brooks "Champion B66 S.T.R." This is a long-nosed men's saddle, most comparable to today's Flyer model. I would love to get a shorter nosed model for this bike, and if anyone would like to trade let me know.
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.
For now I will get the cotters replaced and see what else needs adjusting. There is a local vintage bike show coming up in August and I might take it there if the timing works out.
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!
I had no idea that anyone was still using rod brakes in the 80's!ReplyDelete
Yup, even as late as the 1990s. Not just Raleigh either, but at least a couple of German, Austrian & Italian city bike makers.Delete
Google "flying pigeon".... $200 inc S&H.Delete
You have found some of the most awesome bikes. So lucky!ReplyDelete
Oh you are one to talk : ) I hope your collection is doing well!Delete
Do you want to swap that long nose B66 for the short nose one on the Gazelle I bought from you?ReplyDelete
Oh my God, YES!Delete
Thanks, I'll email you.
Hope you like this one.
Wish I could have snagged that Gazelle, but you said local only! Did you sell it in order to get this? The vintage Raleighs are okay, but I'll take a stately Dutch bike any time!Delete
If you're into Gazelles, you might enjoy this. And she might want to sell it down the line, so keep your eyes peeled.Delete
I like vintage Gazelle. They have some lovely art deco details and objectively speaking the bike probably wins aesthetically over the DL-1. But the Raleighs hold more personal significance for me and I prefer the ride quality and the fit.
But hey, it's good when people like different things - that way we can trade and sell this stuff to each other!
Such a pretty bike! You are a very lucky lady to have this in your stable. When I first saw the picture I had thought that you had stripped the paint from one of your other DL-1s!ReplyDelete
Have you seen this one?Delete
I could not ride a stripped steel bicycle in New England due to the humidity, but the fellow above is doing just fine with his in (I think) Arizona.
I had seen that one! That was the first time I had seen a DL-1 in anything other than black. I had even saved out that very photo to my Inspiration, aka "porn" folder. :)Delete
Nice chrome Raleigh!Delete
Yes, the '36 is fine. Thanks for asking. I've since remodeled an identical 1920's except with roller-lever drum brakes. I'll try and post some photos soon.
Unknown, are you by any chance the chap who bought my old DL-1 drum brake rods on eBay around August 2010 (From the UK)? I'd love to see some pictures of the conversion if so.Delete
Yes, Dr C. that sounds like me. I did buy some rods from the UK in very good condition around that time. I'll let you know when I post. By the way the rear rod threads were a bit short for me. I was amazed that I was able to find a machine shop here in the Sonoran desert that continued the, what I imagine are, Whitworth threads another few centimeters and the rods now work great!!! Thank you again.Delete
Wow! What a beautiful bike! I'd have a hard time putting that machine into storage, too! Congrats on finding her!ReplyDelete
While I'm no expert on these old Raleighs, I did stumble across a bit of seemingly random info a while back which you may be interested in! Apparently the Raleigh steering lock uses the same key blank as the glovebox on some British Leyland cars from (probably) the 70's and early 80's, I'm sure MG was mentioned. No doubt someone reading this will have more specific details, but hopefully it's a start, good luck!ReplyDelete
There should be a locksmith in Boston who works on old cars and old motorcycles. Find him. It is not a big job to make such a simple key. You might have to supply him with a correct blank from a Raleigh dealer who has old stock. The rest should be done in 15 minutes.ReplyDelete
"You might have to supply him with a correct blank from a Raleigh dealer who has old stock. "Delete
Hmm sounds like something Harris Cyclery might still have. Fingers crossed.
I'm curious about the fork lock (which I've never seen before) -- does it work like a motorcycle's, where you turn the fork to one side and lock it, rendering the bike unrideable?Delete
If the other anonymous is right about the blank being same as a British Leyland blank the locksmith you want has them already. It should be a five minute job. I've had it done a few times.Delete
Wow, that is the coolest. You are so lucky. Though you say you weren't prepared, I'm glad you found a way to make this beauty your own.ReplyDelete
My friend has a Raleigh 3-speed, I think it's a Sports, painted silver. Not the same thing as the chrome, but it is such an attractive look. I am hoping she will sell it to me, since she hardly rides it! As much as I love the DL-1, the brakes are a problem for me.ReplyDelete
I see plenty of those around here as well. There is an all-silver colour scheme and also a silver and blue one that I see on later models. We are spoiled for Raleigh 3-speeds in Boston! I agree that the brakes on the DL-1 are problematic for serious commuting.Delete
You mention that you're interested in acquiring a pre-1930's lady's Raleigh DL-1. If you ever find yourself in Manhattan again, HUB bicycles in the West Village has a 1929 Raleigh DL-1 in great condition. It's completely rideable and appears to be mostly original.
Also, I'm an owner of a green 1951 Raleigh DL-1, which I believe to be a "Superbe Tourist", similar to the one shown here: http://www.kurtkaminer.com/1948raleighcat_us_13_lg.jpg. I'll try to upload pics soon, so that you can see the evolution of DL-1 parts over time!
Ha. I was there at the end of April, but did not see it. Thanks for the tip. I can't buy anything else for a while, but will give him a call to learn more. Looking forward to your green DL-1 pics. The loop version of that is probably on my eventual collection list as well : )Delete
Blank keys for Raleigh are sold on eBay.ReplyDelete
Thanks, this is useful!Delete
I trust that since you've got such a glorious plated steed, I can stop worrying about the safety of the chromed Mongoose here.
What make of tires are those on the new bike? I like the tread blocks on them.
The tires are Innova, model HV-5204-2. The colour is light gray, though they only show black on their website. I have never seen these for sale in the US.Delete
This. Is. Awesome. I think you've outdone yourself, Velouria :-)ReplyDelete
This bike is really, really gorgeous and IMO definitely shouldn't be relegated to storage - I hope we'll see plenty of photos of you enjoying commuting around Boston on it!
A very good findq.ReplyDelete
Admire your disciplined approach to collecting. Rather than focus on one specific item or era, many beginning collectors take a scattered approach and wind up with lot of vaguely related pieces (cough, cough,your author suddenly avoids looking toward the mirror).
Picking a unique bike with a long history of many minor adjustments will be a fun and interesting occupation. Good luck.
Did you seen Embacher's bike when you lived in Vienna? It must be also the model for the German market.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately no, I've never met him (Vienna has many well-known vintage bike collectors) - although my friend knows him. Embacher's bike looks to be in better condition than mine, but you are right that most likely they are the same model. Note that he has a his & hers pair!Delete
Thanks for waking me up with the smelling salts. I fainted dead away. I don't swoon at the sight of vintage bikes too often.ReplyDelete
Magical magnificence, plated in rare splendor.
Lovely bicycle, you should definitely get the "Brooks Despatch" to do a write up piece for you with this bike featured in the website article. You have a special and very, rare treat that is seldom seen and your work is very, dedicated and worthy. So please make that happen. I provided a link to Brooks's web site.
This has the most wonderful aura about it. The chrome has a tinge of light blue colour.
I have never seen a ladies chrome Raleigh tourist D.L.1.L until now.
Speaking of sight, this bike is almost invisable with this light blue shade of chrome. You will need reflectors, in wheels, front and rear. Please cycle with a reflective vest on too.
Those tires, while are nice and new and good looking are still too thin a version of 28 x 1 1/2.
While they fit, the Schwalbe delta cruiser 28 x 1 1/2 cream coloured tires are an exact fit too and they are slightly more balloon-ish and will give a better and safer ride. Your rims are wide, the grey tires on it now are too thin. Plus they will improve the looks of the whole machine too.
type in the e.r.t.o. size number (40-635) in the search box of this web site. They have the same size in black tires too.
The original fork lock keys say: Wilmont Union Breeden on them. These original keys are found on e- bay. Also locksmiths have the info in their books and another person has said that these are the same blanks as glovebox lock keys for British Leyland cars. Be sure to tell the e- bay seller the number found on the lock face.
Looks like you are missing the rubber mounted rear mudguard reflector found on e- bay.
http://www.raleigh-katsaris.com for original, made in England, Raleigh thread, exact fit, not aftermarket parts.
http://www.yokozunausa.com for red rubber Scott/mathauser brake pads.
http://www.brooksengland.com for seats.
replacement lamp bulbs for dynamo and dynohub bulbs for these bikes are found with:
Raleigh is now owned by a German company
They are celebrating the 125 th year this year.
Take a look a the current German Raleigh Tourist D.L.1. at the current Raleigh web site go to:
The original Raleigh DARE handlebar grips came in rare white colour and can eventually be located.
Raleigh-katsaris has your N.O.S. Raleigh parts for this bike.
If you have any questions or if I can ever be of assistance please do not hesitate to e- mail
In the Joy of British Raleigh bicycles,
Thanks Christopher. I am very familiar with Delta Cruiser tires and have them on my other DL-1. They are the same width as these and, I have to say, do not feel better. But they do look nicer. This bike came with a tail light, not a rear reflector. I have it, but have not attached it yet. I am lucky enough to know some people who might be able to provide NOS parts for the bike, but thank you for the links.Delete
Kool Stop makes replacement rim brake pads for rod type brakes. They would probably be a big improvement in braking performance. I stumbled across them when I was looking for replacement pads for my old Mafac and Campagnolo equipped bikes. Love the chrome frame look. It should do fine in the weather with an annual waxing---good for painted bikes too.ReplyDelete
Kool Stop makes perfectly fitted, salmon replacement pads for those Phillips-style rod brakes. Every DL-1 that we refurbished at my shop got those, and it improved the braking 1000%. Often the springiness of the brake arch is a little weak on a well used (loved!) bike, and the salmon pads make up for that. The brake only needs a light touch once you swap them out.ReplyDelete
You just tap the old ones out with a hammer and chisel, and tap the new ones in. Voila!
That is an absolutely stunning bike! Plus, chrome will match anything!
Great Bicycle! I love the idea that you will in fact ride it! Thank You for the link.ReplyDelete
I have seen 3 Chrome Womens, DL 2's but never, ever with a locking front fork! Very Cool!
If you want a key, See Jon Currier at WW. He is not there on Fri and Sat. He will make one for you, but you will need to remove the lock, or bring in the bicycle. Thank You, SRC
Ah, perfect. Thanks, I will ride the bike there : )Delete
Good to know that there were chrome models both with and without the locking fork feature. I thought perhaps it was inherent to the model.
Great find, V!ReplyDelete
What this bike needs is a Sturmy-Archer dynohub with period-correct chromed Sturmey headlight, and a chrome frame pump!
Are the pedals actually OEM? And if so, are they Raleigh-made? They don't look like anything that Raleigh made. They look French, either ATOM or Lyotard. I have these and happen to like them for commuting, but they look a little out of place on this bike.
I cannot find any markings on them. Mystery pedals. I don't think they look out of place though. The funny thing about chrome is that it makes the (43lb) bike look light, and I think these contribute to the effect.Delete
Wow. Saw this post yesterday, just had some minutes to go through the flickr. Yes, this is no typical DL-1. Preparing metal for chrome is a time-consuming job and it certainly looks as though they did that work. It's not the infinite prep that you would expect from Weigle or Csuka but is way beyond anything anticipated from Raleigh in 1980. There is every reason to believe that this bike has had a lot of other special work done. The Raleigh thimble crown is so neatly presented you'd think it was 1940s. I've seen prewar crowns not nearly so good.ReplyDelete
You probably do want to confirm that the serial number lines up against the 1980 hub. The dating is believable but you want to be sure.
You've done a fine job cleaning up the bike but it's hardly polished. Try 3M 05973 Rubbing Compound. Under $25 at the auto parts store for a quart bottle that will provide countless hours of polishing pleasure. It's fine enough you can usually go right over striping and even decals without damage.
Get the x-long Fibrax pads. Keep it British. IMO they stop better than the Kool Stop and the color is right. Wish I could see the true color of that chrome. That's an in person pleasure.
Sweeeet! I just acquired my first ladies DL1, and my goal is to become a magnet for them just like you :)ReplyDelete
Gorgeous! Thanks for posting and all the useful comments too.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful bicycle -- and the quirky touches are marvelous. A locking fork? Wow!ReplyDelete
Anonymous, thanks for the tip on the rubbing compound. I've got some chrome-polishing in my future, though not on so wonderful an example as this DL1.
You don't need to go to ebay to get a key for the fork, the numbers on the lock are a code for the key type and pattern.... apparently a locksmith can cut a new key from that number using an Ilco LF-5 or LF-19 key blank.ReplyDelete
Thats great if it works!Delete
When I saw your instagram teasers, I wondered if you had stripped your '73 DL-1 and had it nickel plated. I was at a bike shop in Dallas and the owner had a Wisconsin made Trek touring bike that he'd had stripped and nickel plated. It was incredibly gorgeous, and I now harbor a desire to do such a crazy thing to one of my bikes!
I know it's not crazy to have things metal plated- we've done it at work for bath accessories etc.
I remember a bunch of threads on bikeforums about people having done this to roadbikes and being very pleased with the results. I wonder who you'd go to here in Boston to get that done.Delete
Ask a local framebuilder about plating. There's a reason they want to sell you polished stainless rather than chrome.Delete
Chrome plating is not yet illegal or regulated out of existence. In fact regulation and inspection is spotty, leading to shops that have no plan for compliance and simply dump heavy metal into the air until the EPA finally knocks. I know very well how this works because I recognize the sweet smell of cadmium boiling out of the nickel tank and I've made the call that closes that plater more than once. If your frame is in the shop when that happens bye-bye.
There are still good platers. JPWeigle regularly chromes his racks so there must be at least one in New England. Probably a few. The good ones will be expensive. The good ones will be slow. Some of the good ones are going to decline the special problems that come with plating hollow structures of thinwall tubes held together with brass. There are really fewer and fewer good choices each year. For good work you will pay and you will wait. It may be worth it to you. Chrome is amazing.
Wow. I am pretty much speechless. This may be the ne plus ultra as far as lovely bicycles are concerned, at least for me. I honestly didn't know that such a thing existed. I've admired several chrome Raleigh's in person and seen photos of the Boss bike (ther was one on eBay for a while) but I'd never seen a ladies's DL-1. Congratulations--what a fantastic gift. And yes--I'd be curious to hear more about nickel-plating!ReplyDelete
Sweet looking bike, congrats on getting one!ReplyDelete
I 've been reading your blog since some time now. It 's one of the many thousands of blogs that I keep visiting, since you have the gift of writing in an interesting way about a seemingly banal thing as a bike and how it can affect one 's life. It 's nice to know there are other passionate bicycle fans on the other side of the world. And without the internet, we would never have known...
Me too, I own a 1979 DL-1 All Chrome roadster, gent's model. If ever anyone is interested in buying one, I know of one other for sale here in Belgium (at least, it was a year ago). And if the price would be right, I would even consider to sell mine.
The problem with this bicycle, is that it is too much of an eye-catcher, while I prefer to ride a bit more discrete.
If you 'd have time to spare, you can look at it on my blog
Unfortunately it 's written in Dutch...
Keep on doing what you 're doing!
Greetings from Belgium.
Others have addressed the key for the locking fork matter, so I won't add to that.ReplyDelete
"They need new brake pads, but work reasonably well in the meantime. The rear one is stronger than the front."
I have rod brakes on a 1951 Dawn Tourist. To adjust either brake, loosen the retaining nut (I think it's 9 mm - same as brake unit) that holds the rod to the stirrup or to the rear linkage sleeve. There's only one adjustment nut for the front brake - it's by the head badge; on the rear brake there's one by the head badge and another under the bottom bracket. The front brake is the easier to service because it's a direct connection to the stirrup w/out the linkages of the rear brake. On the rear brake, you'll adjust only one end at a time (and maybe at most) - the linkage to the handlebar lever or the linkage to the brake stirrup.
After loosening the retaining nut, slide the thin rod into the thicker sleeve ever so slightly until the pads are just off the rim. Tighten retaining nut and test brake. It's all by feel, trial and error - not too close to rim but not too far that you don't get good pressure. You also want to make sure the pads don't hit the spokes; that's largely a function of adjusting the guides mounted on the forks.
If installing new pads, I like to wedge a tiny wooden shim between pad and rim so that when I tighten the brake unit, the pad is poised to hit the rim evenly.
Here's an instructive short video by Flying Pigeon LA:
You'll see at the beginning that they can provide replacement pads for the original pad holders, so save those pad holders for authenticity!
That is my dream bike for sure.
Nice find. I've seen men's chrome DL-1s but never a loop frame.ReplyDelete
I like it better with the missing chain case piece. Let the cranes breathe.
This is one way of looking @ it. BUT, that hole in the pedal-sprocket cover lets the rain in which rots the item...u're So ungreen. There's more-than-enough little airholes around the bottom bracket.Delete
You can get the NGN keys for a Superbe here: http://www.oldbiketrader.co.uk/display_Raleigh.php?options=partsReplyDelete
It's the "fork lock key". There should be an NGN number stamped on the barrel of the lock.
Fork locks are NGB...Hold the front wheel between yr thighs, lift the body of the machine and drop it to one side. It'll tear over the fork lock, leaving its lock rod bent, so difficult to remove, and impossible to steer the bicycle.Delete
Fill its keyhole with blutack to deter nesting insects and use cable locks or d-clamps. Yrs is one cool bicycle.
What u call an "observation insert" is the pedal-hole of its pedal-sprocket cover. It allows u to put on and remove the p-s c. The p-h has a cover, which u've not got. To replace, buy off of ebay, make one yrself from sheet aluminum, or take a photo, with measurements, or a spare, to a metal-working business and they'll fix u up.ReplyDelete
The leather saddle...feed it from below as much as from above. It'll like it. That bicycle must have a Very smooth ride. Zero upkeep drive-train, zero-upkeep gears, brakes that are almost as good as drums.
What a machine!!!. Lucky u; Lock it soundly, out of respect for it. OK?.
While planning a weekend trip to Colorado, the state where I was born, I did a quick check of Craigslist, something I always do, just in case a super great deal popped up. One week before I left I came across an ad for a DL-1 which appeared to be in great shape for $100. I sent a message telling of my travel plans and that I was REALLY interested in the bike. Of course it sold within a matter of hours. Not sure whether the seller was merely anxious to get rid of it, or perhaps she had no clue about the bike's noble heritage.ReplyDelete
All was not lost, however. Somebody else had posted a "Want to Buy" ad for a pair of bullmoose bars. I just so happened to have a spare set, which I sold to him for a price that pleased both of us. And I was all too happy to clear out a little more space in my basement.
That chrome DL-1 is a stunner. My wife has a Schwinn Sierra MTB from 1988, a gift from me. The frame is fully chromed under the blue topcoat, which is showing its age. I hope to someday peel off the paint and add some vintage decals to make it look a bit like the chrome Schwinn Paramounts of the 60s and 70s.
I know it's been a month, but the front brake stirrup in the detail picture is backwards. The little 'ears' on each side that the pads mount to should face forward. If you haven't switched it around, you might want to get right on it - the rubber pad inserts can actually slip out of their holders if the pads are backward.ReplyDelete
Plus the brakes grab and chatter horribly when set up that way.
I;m not sure what your talking about but the front brake is set up correctly.Delete
Are you still looking for a key? A chap on ebay here in the uk has them and can cut for you if you have the lock number.ReplyDelete
here is the link.
Those traditional block pattern tires are really nice, what brand are they?, wish we had more options on 635 tires other than Delta Cruisers and the contemporary likes, we need the Michelin World Tour in this size too, pretty amazing bike nevertheless.ReplyDelete
Been a fan of the Tourist since 1977. Love your chrome DL-1! I'm just trying to clarify something curious. You say this bike is a 22" frame job (as the seat tube is short). Do you know if there are 24" ladies DL-1s? Would be most interested. Thanks. ----JATReplyDelete
Hi, I think the lock you've got there is a Union FP, which was used on car boots and garage doors. Someone like this: https://www.replacementkeys.co.uk/union-fp-keys-to-code.html could help.ReplyDelete
I love the bike, I had a Superbe for several years before I broke the frame, (don't ask) and there is a Rudge-Whitworth loop frame in my garage at the minute awaiting.. something. My fave was a scruffy pre-war Hercules single speed from a skip. I rode it for miles around Yorkshire, and over the Humber bridge before it was stolen.