Saturday, November 13, 2010

Copy Cat: The New Raleigh Sports

I'm beginning to think I have no originality left in me at all. I'm not entirely sure how it happens, but I'm starting to see that it appears as though I'm constantly copying other bicyclists with their rides of choice. I swear, this is truly not the case.

It started with the Pashley Princess Sovereign. I had been longingly watching and reading about these bikes for some time before I actually took the plunge to buy one for myself. After all, it's not an investment that should be taken lightly. At the time, I never, ever, ever saw myself riding a road bike, and I was discovering that I was dealing with some unnecessary issues on my Electra bicycles (these were entirely personal body malfunction issues and not anything to do with the quality of Electra by any means). After lots of test riding and looking, I decided to sell my three Electra bicycles to be able to afford the Pashley that seemed ideal for my needs. I was so happy to get this bicycle and found myself riding anywhere within a reasonable distance. Reasonable distance was the key phrase as it turned out.
Pashley Princess Sovereign
I was becoming a bit disgruntled with not being able to go longer distances on my bicycle. Sure, physically I could have gone any distance I desired, but trips seemed to take an eternity and the weight of the bike was, at least somewhat, slowing me down. In the back of my mind I had secretly been wishing that I could ride a road bike, but with severe hand/wrist issues, I was fairly certain (due to past experiences of riding mountain bikes as road bikes) that this was never going to happen. Several months before I even started thinking about buying the Pashley I had come across the Rivendell Bicycle Works website and had browsed their selection of bikes, as well as looked through their many articles about the way most people ride. I've never thought of myself as "most people" though, so I put it out of my mind and went back to riding my fabulous Stuart. Sure, I had a road bike as a kid, but a lot has changed since I was ten. Every once in awhile, I'd be looking for something completely random and I'd end up reading about Rivendell bicycles. I started longing to have a touring road bike, but I didn't think there was anything road-style wise out there that would allow me to ride for more than a few miles without being in pain.
Sam Hillborne
Then one day it struck me: Why can't I ride a road bike? What is it that makes it physically impossible? I had read on some various bike forums that individuals who couldn't use drops often use flat bars or other bars, and so the wheels started turning. I went back to the idea of a Hillborne from Rivendell, but how would I come up with the money, and how on earth would I justify this expenditure? Ironically, just as I was in deep thought mode, I came upon a post on Lovely Bicycle about Velouria's newly built up Sam Hillborne. I'm not sure if one looks at it as the fates colliding, or as a strange coincidence, but it almost seemed as though things were coming together. Soon, I was starting my very own build with Sam (okay, so it was mostly Sam doing the building, and me picking a lot of pieces of the puzzle).
Sam building up the Hillborne
As if this little reliving of the past hasn't gone on long enough, I will get to the purpose of this long tale. It seems a new "copy" has made its way into my life. A Raleigh Sports ladies bicycle, ala S of Simply Bike has managed to find her way into our home. It's a 1972 (I'm told, though I will need to verify the information to be certain) Raleigh Sports model, in the oh so similar green color famous for that era of Raleigh bicycles. This bicycle will be the replacement for the Pashley (which has been sold, and a post on that matter is forthcoming) as my all around city bicycle. I met the sweetest older man who sold the bike to me, and who had bought this bicycle brand new for his now-83-year-old wife. She had been dealing with some issues with balance and decided that she wasn't comfortable riding it any longer.
Raleigh Sports in all her glory
While it does have several scratches on the frame, it really seems to be in fairly decent shape for a bicycle that's going on 40 years old.
Sample scratches on the Raleigh frame
I don't think I've seen such a clean chain, or hub on a bicycle of this age, well, ever. Pretty impressive, I thought. I was told by the owner, Bob, that he did spring time tune ups on this bicycle every year, which I think shows on the mechanical side of this ride.
Raleigh Sports very clean chain
Raleigh's quite shiny and clean hub
We went ahead and added the Brooks grips that were on the Pashley and the Brooks B67s saddle that was just sitting around, and I think they give it a nice look, without going over the top. There's also this fascinating little Raleigh emblem on the front of the handlebar stem.
Raleigh emblem on handlebar stem
I have absolutely no idea what its purpose is exactly, but it's kind of cute and I'm interested to figure out if it was merely decorative or had some actual purpose. Perhaps it was a basket hanger? I honestly don't know. The biggest issue will be that I need to get a rear rack and some sort of carrying device for groceries and such, as that is this bicycle's purpose. I have no doubt, however, that something suitable will be found in the near future. I look forward to taking it for a slightly longer ride than my test ride, and especially after adding the newer grips and saddle... if only this slushy snow would stop coming down.


  1. Very nice. The emblem is a light mount.

  2. Wonderful to know. Thank you for that info!

  3. I just bought that same army green raleigh sports today . I paid 15 smackers at a yard sale . Mines near mint no scratches but it has light rust on the handlebars .
    Its a neat little bike . Mine has white walls . It looks like a womens army bike.


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