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Vintage Raleigh Roadster

vintage raleigh

I’ve been spending far too much time reading Lovely Bicycle and the glowing write ups that Velouria has been giving her early seventies Vintage Raleigh Roadster. (Along with Cycler at Biking in Heels and Portlandize with their vintage Raleighs). It appears to be catching, for when I saw this bike, I had to have her. So here is my new (old) bike. I’ve decided a bike like this deserves a name, and of course it must be an appropriate name for an english lady of her age - so Janet it had to be.

From what I can deduce from a lot of digging around she appears to be a circa 1962/64 Raleigh Roadster. I thought when I bought her that I would ride her a round a bit and decide if I would restore her or modify her to be an everyday bike. She is only single speed and I think at the very least I need to add a 3 speed hub gear. I had to trek down to Coventry to pick her up, so the plan was to find somewhere nearby to ride around off road and test her out before we went home. I even found a country park with bike hire for the rest of the family. Of course the best laid plans etc..

We couldn’t get the bike rack to fit on the car. We’d changed our car since we had bought the rack and DB was more concerned about the paintwork on the car than wrestling with the rack. We’d also forgotten to pack the bungees - they were in the car at one point, where they have disappeared to is a mystery. So my test ride turned out to be limited to 3 circuits of a pub car park across the road from where we picked the bike up. Obviously not much of a test, but I was pleasantly surprised. The ride seemed quite smooth, the seat was a fraction too high, but perfectly manageable if I don’t have to worry about hauling kids. The seat geometry is exactly like the Bloom’s, although the handlebars are lower. It certainly felt slightly sportier (but still upright) and surprisingly nippy, but I will have to wait for a proper ride to really tell. The brakes however, were pretty useless, although the blocks looked quite worn, so room for improvement there!

Anyway, as the bike rack wasn’t an option, the only thing to do was to fit her in the boot. Now having a large estate car, this probably should’ve been fairly easy, but having 3 kids on the back seat did limit our options somewhat. I should mention at this point that with that relaxed geometry and 28 inch wheels, Janet is considerably longer than a typical bike and quite similar in size to the extra large Bloom, so this wasn’t going to be an easy task. Luckily, we’d packed the socket set as well as the bike multi-tool, as disassembling was the only way forward. First the front wheel came off, then the front mudguard, but that didn’t work. The back wheel (and rack and mudguard) had to come off too and that meant taking off the chaincase, not an easy feat, until we figured out that the circular part came off like at paint tin lid. We were nearly stumped by the chain until DB remembered the bike multitool had a chain link tool on it. Lastly, we swivelled the seat around and the back door of the car finally would shut! Covered in dirt and grease, it was one of those occasions when you are glad to have a toddler in tow, if only for remembering to bring a large supply of baby wipes…

An hour late, with 3 grumpy children, we went off to have our picnic and to hire some bikes. Mountain bikes of course, ‘cos you need 21 gears on almost flat terrain, and chunky tyres ‘cos it might be a bit muddy (apparently). Ironically mine was a brand new “Made in China” Raleigh. Not quite what I’d had in mind when we set out that morning!

Of course now she is in bits, I feel obliged to at the very least give her a good clean before we attempt to put her back together. Not expecting this level of disassembly I didn’t bring a camera, so I don’t have a record of how everything was put together. DB is confident that he remembers. Hmmmm is all I will say on that subject.

Anyway, here are some close-up shots, which don’t really do justice to the amount of dirt and grease…




Raleigh Heron head badge


The circular disc comes off like the lid of a paint tin


mud and grease on the rear of the chaincase


the chrome to the handle bars is damaged and rusty


original handlebar grip


I’m pretty sure these are original Raleigh rubber block pedals. They have the Raleigh logo on the ends.


The orignal mudguards are pretty rusty and have taken quite a lot of knocks and bangs


The rear rack isn’t Raleigh, but appears from it’s condition, to be quite old


Anyone heard of this brand? My searching only brought up a Czech brand of beer with this name!


There’s a Raleigh Heron lurking under that rust somewhere


These dents look like someone dropped something on the front mudguard


Rust on the rear mudguard


Raleigh logo on the rear mudguard is quite worn


The rear reflector is plastic


Lot’s of lovely grease and dirt on the rear wheel.The cog isn’t original, it says “Made in Czechoslovakia” I guess that makes it at least 20 years old.


The saddle isn’t original it is plastic and says “Mertens Made in Germany”. This confused me for a while as I couldn’t figure out how it could look so old, but still be post reunification of Germany (until the penny dropped - where does time go?) Like the cog above it is probably about 20 years old.


The front tyre says “Michelin Made in England”, the rear one is Dunlop “Made in the Republic of Ireland”

  1. sheffieldcyclechic posted this
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