Raleigh Twenty: Forking it up

I know, I know.. no-one likes a wall of text like the last update.  I’m the same – all we really want are nice pictures of bikes to marvel over!  I don’t have any new photos, though.  It’s not that I forgot to take any; it’s because I’m too embarrassed to take photos in front of the wife!  She thinks the bike obsession is weird enough, without me sitting there taking close-up photos of bolts and bushings.  😛

But that doesn’t stop me putting up photos of other people’s bikes, wot I have found on the interwebs!  Therefore, before further ado, here is the only photo I’ve ever found of a Raleigh Twenty sporting mag wheels:


It appears to be a near-stock bike, with just the wheels, tyres, and seat replaced.  It’s quite stylish!  I particularly like that shade of bronze paired with black wheels and tyres.

Anyway, why was I posting?  Oh yeah – my fork issues!  It turns out that I should’ve seen my problem coming.  Standard R20 forks only have a 90mm gap between the fork dropouts, which is quite narrow.  For a little while, I was tempted to replace the fork with a small BMX fork and a tube extender.  It would mean there’d be no thread, but I could use a couple of seatpost clamps to hold it in place.  However, in the end I decided on getting a fork that’s not actually much different from the stock fork, except that it can take normal wheels.  One of these:

It not only works out cheaper than the fork/extension plan, but it has a thread.  Quite a lot of thread – the steerer is 20mm longer than the stock fork!  It’s most probably a fork intended for use on recumbents, as they seem to be about the only type of bike that has a steerer that’s anything like a Raleigh Twenty.

of course, this will mean more hammering, as I’ll now need to replace the lower head race and attach a crown race.  Nearly there, though.. nearly there..


Raleigh Twenty: aaargh!

Time for a project update! It’s been a while since I last made an update, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m practically finished. I’m not. In fact, I’ve barely progressed at all since the last update! Since my 3-year-old son dropped his naps, I no longer get the 80 minutes of nap time on Saturdays and Sundays that I used to use for doing bike stuff. I can do some stuff in the evenings, but if it requires hammering/sawing or using something messy and/or stinky, the project stops in it’s tracks.

Hence, my projects are at the current states:

  • Saracen Kili Racer: Stopped due to requirement of hammering and probably need for using acid to get rid of the seat post and BB.
  • Reflex ALX89: No longer riding due to cracked headset. Need to hammer it out, then hammer the new one in.
  • Saracen Tufftrax: Needs a dose of stinky linseed oil. Can only really do it outside, when it hasn’t rained for a couple of days. It hasn’t stopped bloomin raining! I’ve also got a new headset, but it’s not essential.
  • Raleigh Twenty: Need to file the fork dropouts to fit a 10mm axle, and hammer out the cotter pins. Need to saw off chain guard fitting.

Despite all that, I have managed to progress the Raleigh Twenty a little bit. I found out that the axle on the front wheel was removable, so I can avoid having to file the dropouts for a bit. Knowing that, I decided to fit the new headset…

The plan for getting the headset on was to use a threaded bar, some nuts, and some large diameter washers. The washers push against the races as the nuts are tightened, and should seat the headset race perfectly! If the race can be kept straight. Which was apparently impossible. 😐 I tried and tried and tried, using different washers, different ratchet spanner heads, and bottom bracket cups. It would all be aligned, I’d tighten the nuts a tiny bit, check, tighten, check, tighten, gah! Every time, the race would slip slightly to one side. It didn’t seem to matter how careful I was.. the washers just weren’t a precise enough fit, it seems.

The reason I tried to be clever, rather than just hammering it home, is because the top of the head tube has a notch taken out of it, which is used to seat the nylon bush. I was worried that hammering it in could result in accidentally splitting the head tube if done badly. After wasting several hours trying to get it in cleverly, I decided to just hammer it using a steel hammer and a piece of wood, which meant hammering it in while my son was about.

Recently, my son has not been very happy when he hears weird noises. He was getting upset whenever he heard something rattling, or the sound of an extractor fan. Even loud lorries were scaring him, which was bizarre – he’d always loved lorries, no matter how loud they were! Guy Fawkes night had gone alright, though. He wasn’t at all scared by the fireworks (even the crappy airbursts), so I hoped that meant he was over that weird phase.

I brought the bike in, and got the hammer and wood out. The sturdiest place to do the hammering was on the step between the kitchen and the lounge, so I put the bike in the kitchen, with the head tube resting on a bit of wood on the step, almost dead straight. Seeing the bike got my son’s curiosity, so he came to sit in the chair opposite and watch. I explained what I had to do.. “I need to get this silver bit into this blue bit, which means I need to bash it in with a hammer! Is that okay with you?” This was met with a “Yeaaaah!”, and much bouncing up and down in the chair. I put the other bit of wood into position, and lifted the hammer in the air.. “Are you ready?” “Yeaaah!” BAM! BAM! BAM! He still seemed okay.. he seemed happier, if anything! So I started hitting it properly, and watching the angle. It didn’t take many hits to get it into position, and it didn’t look as though I’d bent the head tube at all. I finally had a proper top race on my Raleigh Twenty! Huzzah! Also, my son didn’t dissolve into tears, so I can probably hammer my other bikes, too. Huzzah!

Anyway, last night, I set about trying to put it all together. The headset fitted together pretty well, and now it just needs about 10mm of spacers to go where the QR used to be. No biggie! With that (nearly) in place, I set about putting the other parts on, starting with the front wheel. I had to disassemble the hub to put it on, as with the axle removed, a pointless-looking metal bar falls away. I guess it’s there to stop the hub from being over-compressed. I put the axle through the RH fork dropout, through the hub, and.. I couldn’t get it to align with the other dropout? What was stopping it? The axle seems loose enough at one angle.. but when I.. oh.. oh nooooooo!

One of the good things about Acorn Freestyle mag wheels is the hubs. Unlike most other mag wheels, the hubs can be dismantled and serviced. The hubs are quite snazzy looking.. they’re kinda bulbous, with 5 bolts going through them – one for each spoke. What I hadn’t noticed is that the hub is also quite.. erm.. fat. They’re designed for BMX forks, where the dropouts are level with the inner of the fork arms/blades/whatever you call them. R20 forks have short dropouts that aren’t level with the inner of the fork arms, so the fork protrudes out to where the hub wants to be. I’m sure there’s probably a nice technical way of describing this, but I don’t know what it is, so I’ll just say that the Acorn hubs are too fat for a standard R20 fork. The only way it’d fit would be to cold set the fork, but it’d require expanding the width by about 10mm in total, I think. Maybe more.  I don’t really trust cold setting forks by that much distance.  I barely managed to align the rear stays when I did them on the Cobra, and from what I can remember, forks are more vague.

So, what now? Do I get different wheels, or a different fork? Maybe attempt cold setting the fork?  I wouldn’t mind a different fork, to be honest, but the ebay seller who had them (one of the bankrupt parts sellers) has been sold out for over a month, and I can’t find an alternative. Wheels are easier to come by, but I’d have to sell the Acorns at a loss, and I’d lose the coaster brake..

What a pain in the bum!

Going Retro

People who glance at my blog may have noticed that I’ve gone full on retro with my bikes. The oldest bike I own is from 2004, and that’s been dismantled for storage because I consider it too modern. 😛

To be honest, I’m a bit of a retro nut generally.. I’d much rather have a car from the 70s than my Honda Jazz (the wife’s not averse to this plan – we just can’t afford it). I have a small collection of VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) calculators from the late 70s/early 80s. I’ve still got an old Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a Commodore 64 in the loft. My main buying criteria for my phone was how well it’d adapt to playing emulated 80s computer games (slide out keyboard – pretty good!). My music taste is currently EBM, which is a genre that never really progressed since the 80s..

Other than just being old and funky, retro stuff also carries vague memories of the year of their construction. A 2010 bike is just a bike. A 1981 bike is a bike which carries 1981 with it!

So, today I’ve been looking up exactly what was going on in film and music when my bikes were constructed. I’m not going to list everything – I’m just going to list what’s interesting to me, because it’s my blog and I can do what I like! 🙂

1977 (Carlton Cobra)
I was 3 years old in 1977, so you might be able to forgive me for not remembering this year from my own memory. Presumably some of it must’ve filtered into my brain, affecting my tastes in later life.

Punk and disco were just starting to become popular in 77. I’ve never been a huge fan of punk, so I’ve chosen I Feel Love by Donna Summer, which was released that year. Bob Marley also released Exodus, and Kraftwerk released Trans-Europe Express.

1977 was the year of Star Wars, and I don’t think you can beat that. 🙂

1981 (Raleigh Twenty)
I was 7 in 1981. I had a vague taste in music, but not very well developed. My mum liked the new romantic stuff, however, and it definitely filtered in.  I think I was probably riding a Raleigh Striker at this point!

The New Romantic stuff was just starting to take off in 1981, with Vienna and Fade to Grey both being released that year. Depeche Mode released their first album, Speak & Spell (the only one with Vince Clarke), and Kraftwerk released one of the best albums of all time; Computer World! This was also the year that DAF released Der Musollini.

A really good year for films! Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, Escape from New York, Evil Dead, Mad Max 2..

1988 (Reflex ALX89)
I was 14 in 1988, and my musical taste was just starting to form properly, thanks to Cold Cut and Bomb the Bass. I remember one of my friends from school being heavily into hip hop, taking pride in owning lots of albums that were imported or having the ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on them.

I wasn’t much into hip hop at this point, preferring the slightly more genteel sounds of Bomb the Bass, Stakker, and MARRS/Cold Cut. A super-special mention has to go to The Timelords (aka The KLF), who ripped off Cold Cut to make Doctorin’ The Tardis. This was also the year that the Pixies released Surfer Rosa, which is a phenomenal album.  Despite all that, I’m going to stick up a video of Eighty Eight by Public Relation, which was released that year, but has only recently come to my attention.  It is awesome.


1995 (Saracen Tufftrax)
Poor old Tufftrax.. it’s not been liking all the wet weather, and has been leaking orange water from the dropouts and headset. I really need to do something about that. Anyway, I was 21 in 1995, and I’d just started university. It was a year of heavy drinking and heavy partying, so I don’t really remember much about it. 😛 I do remember lots of nights of watching Chill Out Zone on MTV when I came home.

I was heavily into IDM at this point, and I was buying albums and singles by the shedload. Autechre, Aphex Twin, Seefeel, Black Dog, Spooky, Scanner, Panasonic.. the list goes on and on! I reckon the best album was Vakio by Panasonic.

Some good ones this year.. Twelve Monkeys, Strange Days, The City of Lost Children, and.. er.. Judge Dredd! If you try to blot out the main characters, and concentrate on the scenery, it’s a pretty good film!

Raleigh Twenty: Fork / Stem ponderances

So, my original plan has kind’ve failed.  The threadless headset I bought is just too tall, meaning one of the locknuts won’t fit.  Further investigation indicates that people usually saw off part of the head tube to make this kind of alteration work.  That’s not something I’m prepared to do!

I’m almost glad, however, as the alternative is to replace the entire fork and put on a new threaded headset and a proper quill stem. It’ll look way better than the original fork, and apparently it’ll improve handling a bit.  Also, I won’t have to file down the dropouts in order to get the front wheel to fit.  Unfortunately, the only source I’ve found for a replacement fork has currently sold out, so I’ve been investigating alternatives.  There’s lots, so why not share what I’ve found?

Option 1: Replace the headset only.
This was my original plan, as it’s cheap!  Merely buy a 1″ threadless headset that has the lowest profile top race that you can find.  The original nylon headset (if you can call it that) is only about 6mm tall, so I’m not sure if it’s actually possible to buy a headset that small.  If it’s much larger, then you might have to live without one of your locknuts, or you might have to shorten the head tube by cutting part of it off.

I had an extra thought about the dangers of removing a locknut..  are two locknuts really necessary on a Raleigh Twenty? The fork/headset configuration bears more resemblance to a threadless setup than a threaded setup, in that the QR adjuster clamps onto the fork in the same way as a threadless stem clamps onto a fork.  The difference is that there’s nowhere to put a star nut thingy on an R20, so there are locknuts instead.  Also, I found this on Sheldon Brown’s website, where he uses a seat clamp to hold a fork in place.  It’s probably not good enough for most bikes, but for a bike that’s only going to be used now and again, for short distances, going very slowly, and on fairly flat surfaces, then it seems like quite a viable solution!  I think I’d upgrade the R20 QR to a seat clamp, however.

edit: I suppose the QR could be omitted, rather than a locknut, which would mean buying a new stem.  You have to be careful using quill stems in the original fork, because if the stem wedge applies pressure to the slotted area, it can split the fork!

Pros: Cheap! Get to keep adjustability of handlebars.
Cons: Might need to shorten the head tube, otherwise locknut dubiousness. Have to use the original fork.

Option 2: Replace the fork, headset, and stem.
It is possible to buy forks that have steerer tubes that’re even longer than the original R20 fork, in rigid or suspension styles. Something to do with recumbents using them.  Unless it’s an actual R20 fork, the thread on the forks are standard, so any threaded 1″ headset will fit.  A new fork will mean that the stem will also need replacing, as the fork won’t have a slot cut out of it to allow the stem to be gripped by the quick release.  The steerer tube might need cutting if it’s too long (not as scary as cutting the frame itself).

Pros: New, better made fork, with modern dropout spacing. You might even find one with brazed-on brake fittings or suspension!
Cons: Potentially quite expensive (estimate for my plan is £40). Will probably need to cut the steerer. Un-adjustable stem height.

Option 3: Use a short fork with a steerer extender, new headset, and new stem.
As forks with long steerers are a bit pricey, you could use a normal fork with a steerer extender, if you can find one.  Most extenders that are on sale are threadless extenders, which makes things a little weird, but there are 1″ quill extenders, that basically bolt on a bit more tube on top of the steerer using a quill wedge.  The ones on ebay are called handlebar risers, and add 100mm, which is enough to make a standard BMX fork usable. They’re not threaded, though, so I’m not sure how useful they’ll actually be.

Pros: Can use any 20″ fork you want
Cons: Same as option 2, plus I’m not sure how useful a riser is.

After thinking about the locknuts, I think I’ll go back to the original plan.  I’m still really tempted to replace the fork completely (mainly because BMX forks are so much cooler!), but it’s £40 that I don’t really have at the moment..  £23 for the fork, at least £8 for the stem, £10-ish for a headset.  Compare that to the £4 I spent on the headset, and £10 tops for a BMX seat clamp.

ooh, and I really need to get around to measuring the head tube length and steerer length!  😛

UPDATE: Steerer and head tube measured!  235mm and 186mm, respectively. I couldn’t find my proper steel rule, so I had to use a giant wobbly one, so give or take a mm or two.   I’ll add them to the measurements on the previous post.

Raleigh Twenty: That headset

Have you ever pondered doing something, decided to look it up online, and found lots of semi-answers that don’t give you the full picture?  Yeah, me too!  Annoying, isn’t it?

Bicycle articles are particularly bad, because they almost always assume that you have the bike in front of you, and that you know what you’re doing.  I don’t!  I’m at work, and my bike knowledge may be above average, but I’m still pretty noobish.

So, when trying to find out how to upgrade the nylon headset of the Raleigh Twenty, I was getting annoyed by not knowing the full story.  After doing some measurements last night, and having a proper look at what everything does, maybe I can redress the balance myself!  🙂

Firstly, I’d better describe how it all works.  It’s not quite the same as a normal fork and stem, because it has a quick release for the stem.  The fork steerer has a long slot cut out of it, which allows it to be compressed by the QR, just like how a seat tube is compressed by a seat clamp.  The stem, which is just a basic tube, can therefore be gripped in the same way as a seat post.  The steerer is extra long, and the QR fits under the locknuts.  It’s quite a nice arrangement, really!

Here be the measurements, from top to bottom. Measuring tubes can be a bit tricky, so give or take a millimeter:

  • Handlebar OD (where it’s clamped) = 15/16″ / 23.8mm
  • Stem OD = 7/8″ / 22mm
  • Stem height = 9 7/8″ / 250mm (no minimum insert line, because it’s supposed to be tethered to the front brake with a rigid wire)
  • Upper locknut height = 3/8″ / 9.6mm
  • Lower locknut height = 3/32″ / 8mm
  • Stem QR height = 5/8″ / 16.1mm
  • Lamp clamp height = 1/16″ / 2mm
  • Nylon bush protective cap height = 1/32″ / 1mm
  • Nylon bush lip height = 3/32″ / 3mm
  • Nylon bush ID = 1″ / 25.4mm
  • Nylon bush OD = 1 1/8″ / 29.8mm
  • Fork steerer height (inc thread) = 9 3/16″ / 235mm
  • Fork thread height = 3/4″ / 19mm (Raleigh 26TPI thread)
  • Fork steerer OD = 1″ / 25.4mm
  • Fork steerer ID = 7/8″ / 22mm
  • Head tube ID = 1 1/8″ / 30mm
  • Head tube OD = 1 5/16″ / 33.1mm
  • Head tube height = 7 3/32″ / 186mm

I was only using a digital calliper, which wasn’t long enough to measure the head tube height, and I haven’t got any measurements regarding the lower race or crown race.  My measurements were coming out all over the place on those, so thought it best not to include them.  If I ever decide to replace the fork (quite likely!), I’ll get them measured.

My intention is to replace the nylon bushing with the top half of a 1″ threadless headset.  There’s no issues with diameters, but there is an issue with heights.  The bushing, including cap, is only 4mm tall, and you can also add the 2mm from the pointless lamp holder, but the exposed top of most threadless headsets is taller than that. For example; the threadless headset that I randomly bought is about 10mm tall, which would mean the upper locknut would be only half attached. :s

However, all is not lost!  It just so happens that BMX seat clamps have a diameter of 25.4mm – the same diameter as the steerer tube.  That means I could potentially ditch the tall original QR and replace it with a much shorter seat QR and possibly a couple of spacers. The only problem is knowing how tall the BMX clamps are, as that measurement is never mentioned, and they come in a range of heights.  I might have to brave the BMX section of Evans, and have a look for myself!  😮

UPDATE: Evans have a rubbish BMX section! Also, it turns out that only old 80s seat clamps are suitable for the job.  The old standard was 22.2mm seat tubes, whereas they’re now 25.4mm.  It makes searching for a clamp rather tricky.  The old clamps are all quite chunky, though, and most are actually taller than the existing QR.  gah!

I also measured the seat tube, but it rather illustrates how I can get things wrong with the callipers.  I measured 28mm ID and 32mm OD, but apparently all Raleigh Twenties have a 28.6mm seatpost.  Hmph!  The seat post is 315mm high (top to bottom) .

UPDATE 17/10/13: Added a few more measurements.

Raleigh Twenty update

Some parts have arrived for the Raleigh Twenty, and I thought I’d share what the bike might be turning into.  First off, here’s a pic of the frame and crankset, all by itself:

So far, so slightly rusty!  I’m not sure what’s going on with the crank arm alignment.  Hopefully it’s just a case of loose cotter pins, rather than badly aligned and impossible to remove cotter pins.  😛

The shopping list so far is:

  • 20″ Acorn mag wheels (cream), inc coaster brake and 18T freewheel.
  • Inner tubes
  • Primo V-Monster tyres
  • Tange threadless headset (hopefully using the top half to replace the nylon bushing)
  • Eastern Bikes clear black pedals

I’m still waiting for the pedals and tyres, but here’s what it sort-of looks like so far (ignore the mess!):

So, it’s kind’ve a foldable BMX!  🙂

This weekend, I’ll be trying to strip the paint, as there’s too much bubbling to leave it on.  I have no idea what colour to paint it with.. I was tempted to resurrect the rat look project (rust(s)hopper!), but rusty shopper bikes are hardly a rarity, and it’ll probably just look like I’ve really let it slip.  😦

Raleigh Twenty: The Plan!

Well, the Raleigh Twenty is a proper project, and no mistake! There is much to do. As it’s so quirky, I feel that I should keep up the updates regarding what I do to it. Maybe someone on the interweb will find my dabbling useful!

Normally, I like to take loads of photos of a bike that I’ve just bought. It helps me plan anything that I might want to change, and reminds me of what used to be on it. This time, however, I got straight down to taking it apart, and I didn’t stop to take photos. I was on a mission to get as much off of the bike as possible! Why? Well, despite having smaller wheels and having less tubing than any of my other bikes, it is by far the heaviest bike that I now own, and I wanted to find out where all the weight was coming from, and also make sure that I hadn’t just bought a complete and utter dud.

The weird thing about the weight was that it appeared to be mostly distributed toward the back of the bike, whereas I would’ve thought the chunky main tube and hinge would’ve been the center of the weight. It turned out that this was due to the rear wheel, with it’s Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub and steel rims. I reckon the wheel must weigh about 2kg! Everything else was fairly lightweight. The handlebar, despite being a massive steel 70’s thing, was lighter than the original handlebar from the ALX89! One thing I haven’t checked, that I think will also be contributing a lot of weight, is the steel crankset. It’s about the only thing that hasn’t been removed, due to the need for hammering.

The bike itself seems to be in good condition. There’s some missing paint here and there, and some small bits of rust, but overall it’s pretty good. This is, however, completely irrelevant, as I intend to replace almost every single part!

So, onto the plan..

The frame
The paintwork is a bit ratty, and the blue colour isn’t great. The metallic blue is mottled, so it looks like it’s been painted with hammerite. I don’t think it is hammerite, as the decals are all original, but I figure that if it already looks hammerited, then I may as well make it actually hammerited, but in a nicer shade. 🙂

The wheels
The wheels are currently 20 x 1 3/8 (451), and made entirely of steel. 451 tyres are expensive, and new wheels are hard to get hold of, so I’m not replacing them with 451s – I’m replacing them them with 20 x 1.75 (406) BMX wheels. Despite both claiming to be 20″ wheels, neither are, and the BMX wheels are smaller enough to cause brake reach issues. I’ll come to that in a bit.

Due to the weight of the SA hub, the bike will be singlespeed. That’ll also reduce cabling, which is a bit messy on the Twenty.

I’m unsure about what tyres to fit. I’m hoping I can find a way to get 20×2.2 tyres on it.

The brakes
I’ve got a couple of options with the brakes.. I can keep the original calliper brakes, and make some drop bolts so that they can reach the new 406 rims, or I can try to find a kit that’ll allow me to fit V or cantilever brakes. Additionally, I could fit a rear wheel that has a coaster brake, which would completely remove all rear cabling. I wouldn’t consider it on a full-on commuter, but this thing is only supposed to go a few miles every now and again, so a coaster might be a neat solution!

The drivetrain
Currently, the bike has a steel cottered crankset. It’s Raleigh, so the threading is all wrong, but I already have a solution for that, leftover from when I was experimenting with the Cobra – I’ve got a square taper spindle that will fit inside a Raleigh bottom bracket and cups! That means that I can fit any crankset I like, and I can ditch the horrible cottered nonsense.

Oh, I’m also ditching the pedals, but I don’t think I’m going to spend a lot on them. I’ll probably get some plastic platform pedals. I don’t know what gearing to go for, however. As I’ll probably be ill, I guess I’ll go for something undemanding.

The seat
A new seatpost, seat clamp, and seat are definitely in order. The seatpost is apparently 28.6mm, which naturally doesn’t match any spare seatpost that I own. I have a 27.2mm seatpost somewhere, so maybe I’ll just buy a shim.

The headset
The biggest issue with the headset is that it’s really only half a headset. The bottom is normal, but the top is a greased nylon bushing with a chrome cap on top of it. The handlebar adjuster sits on top of the cap, and then there’s a couple of locknuts on top of that. The bushing adds resistance to the steering, so that you have to physically turn it to steer it. You can’t ride no-handed, or push the bike along while holding onto the seat.

If the original fork, handlebar, and stem are to be kept, the usual solution to this problem is to fit a threadless 1″ headset, but I’m tempted to replace the fork with a straight BMX-ish fork (it needs a longer steerer than any BMX, so I think the one I’m looking at is actually a recumbent fork). This will improve steering, and allow a normal threaded headset, but would mean I couldn’t use the original adjustable stem. That could be problematic, as I don’t think standard stems are made in quite the same lengths. I need to do more research! It turns out lots of people make high stems! Yay!

So, not much to do, really!

Okay.. maybe just two more bikes…

I really do have a problem, and that problem is mainly my saved search on ebay!  All it does is list cheap local bikes, in case any cheap donor bikes turn up.  Most of them are dross, but last month it picked up something really good – a Reflex ALX89!

The ALX89 is an earlier iteration of the Peugeot Grisley, made in 1988.  It has a similar bonded frame, but has a steel rear triangle, rather than aluminium.  It was actually constructed by Raleigh USA, using their Technium bonding process, so in a way it’s actually a Raleigh, which is nice!

Anyway, enough waffle – if you want some of the historical details, it’s in an article scan that’s here.

Now, feast your eyes on this:

Reflex ALX89

Anodized logos – phwoar!!

That was how I bought it (for £35!), but I’ve had the bike for over a month now, and have made a few modifications.  It’s a 17″ frame, so I needed to increase the extension of the stem, and get a longer seatpost. The steel handlebar was ENORMOUS, and rusty (and heavy!), so that went, the cage pedals had to go, the tyres were knackered, so they went, the headset had cracks in the bottom race, so that went, and I can’t stand quick releases, so they’ve got to go.

It’s now got a long seatpost in a Guinness can shim, a 150mm Tioga T-Bone stem, a Kalloy Uno handlebar, black DMR V8 pedals, Charge Splashback tyres, a black Ritchey Logic headset, and black Halo hex key skewers.  I still need to get a bolt for the seatpost.

It’s not on the road at the moment, because the bolt that holds the brake cable onto the rear U brake disappeared somewhere, and the brake really isn’t designed to be attached without a brake cable to keep it tensioned.  Also, I’m paranoid about someone scratching up the paintwork on the train or in the bike racks!  It’s a lovely bike though – definitely my favourite!

I said two bikes, didn’t I?  Well, the other bike isn’t here yet, but it’s all very exciting!  😀

As we get closer to the end of the year, people are starting to fling their germs about, and I’ve already started looking like a Simpsons character as my liver starts complaining.  There will be rough days ahead, where I’ll be too ill to commute.  That means the dreaded train!  I don’t mind trains – I like them!  The problem is that Northern Rail have some of the oldest trains that’re still in use, and they break down a lot.  Waiting for the next train is never an option, as the next train is full up on normal days, so a breakdown means waiting an hour for the next next train, or getting a train to Stockport and getting a ludicrously overpriced bus.  I like buses, but I don’t like the cost of bus fares.  I thought they were expensive down south, but Manchester is really taking the P155!

So, my plan was to get a folding bike.  I can cycle to and from the stations, and if my train gets cancelled, I can just get on a train to Stockport and cycle the remaining 3 miles.  Even when ill, I can manage that.  🙂

I say was, because my original plan was to get a proper folder.  Not cheap crud, but summat like a Bickerton, which was pretty much the first ever proper folding bike.  The trouble is, I think someone on ebay is buying them all up.  Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but every Bickerton that has a postage option is going for insane prices.  More than I’m willing to pay.

Well, never mind.  I’ve heard they’re too flexy anyway.  😛  Maybe a proper folder wasn’t quite the answer.  Maybe I needed a hybrid folder.  Something that sacrifices folding size for better structural integrity.  Something cheap.  Something liiiiiike…

A Raleigh Twenty!

Yeah, that’s right – I now own a folding ‘shopper’ bike!  Maybe it’s my winter madness coming on again (I’m already pondering making it a singlespeed!), but at the moment it seems like the perfect choice for squeezing onto trains and travelling short distances.  Most of the time, I probably won’t even need to fold it.

If you’ve got a memory of these bikes being unattractive clunkers, then you probably haven’t seen one that’s been modernized (mostly by taking off all the guards).  Have a look at this:


That doesn’t look like the sort of thing a granny or nun would ride, does it?  🙂

Being built by Raleigh, these bikes have quite a few quirks, but there’s a lot of Raleigh Twenty fans out there, so there’s a lot of information about.  The bike I have incoming is a metallic blue Triumph branded folding Twenty.  The plan is to strip it down, service it, replace the wheels, seat post, saddle, and pedals, not put the mudguards and chain guard on, and then see how it rides with it’s standard handlebars and headset.  The original headsets have a nylon bushing where the top race should be, and the resulting ride quality is apparently a matter of taste.

Should be a fun little project!

All change, again!

The Peugeot’s sold.  The Kona’s sold.  The Rusthopper’s been given away.  The bike I was going to bid on was ended early (bah!).

Things have changed again!

Hopefully, this is the last change.  After the silliness of a few weeks ago, I realised that I needed to be more focussed than just buying every bargain-tastic, vaguely decent bike I see on ebay, or else things would always be changing, and my wife would leave me!

I decided to sell the Kona, and wait for a mid-nineties Saracen Protrax or Tufftrax to turn up.  I didn’t have to wait long!  The following week, a 1995 Saracen Tufftrax appeared on ebay, located in Chester.  I was worried that it’d get ended early, so I did what I’ve always hated..  I made an offer outside of the bidding system.  😮

The seller accepted my offer, and after a bit of fannying about, the bike was mine!  😀  I couldn’t pick it up until the following weekend, so I spent the week selling the junk that I’d acquired on ebay.  Then, on the Wednesday, something else popped up on ebay…

Remember I mentioned a bike that I wanted to bid on? It was an old Carrera elevated chainstay bike, built by Saracen.  Apparently Halfords asked them to build some e-stay frames for them, when e-stays were being seen as the next big thing.  I’ve always been intrigued by e-stays, and wanted one for myself.  Well, the thing that was on ebay was a 1992 Saracen Kili Racer; a proper Saracen e-stay.  And it was cheap, and on a buy-it-now!  After a few minutes of hesitation (mostly wondering how I was going to break it to the wife), it was mine!  😀

Both bikes have now been collected, so here they are:

1992 Saracen Kili Racer
Saracen Kili Racer

This bike was in pretty rough condition when I picked it up. It was covered in grime and filth, it’s seatpost was stuck, one side of it was covered in scratches, and it just didn’t look very well looked after.  It needs almost everything doing to it, but that’s half the fun.  This one is going to be quite a project!

1995 Saracen Tufftrax
1995 Saracen Tufftrax

This bike, however, was almost immaculate!  It was covered in stickers at first, which I pulled off as soon as I got home.  One of them took the Tange sticker with it, but I’m not too bothered by that.  It needs new wheels, new chainrings, and new pedals, but that’s about it.  I’ll be riding it to work tomorrow!  😀

No more new bikes now – honest!