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 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 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.
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!
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.
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 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!