Alan Reed, RIP

I am sad to report that ex-Raleigh employee Alan Reed died recently following a fall. He started working for the company straight from school in 1943 and I had the great pleasure of meeting him about 10 years ago, when I was researching my book Raleigh: past and presence of an iconic bicycle brand. His reminiscences and several photos that he provided feature in that volume. He also appears briefly in the oft-repeated BBC4 documentary about Raleigh entitled Pedalling Dreams, which was produced by Testimony Films. My wife and I regularly exchanged Christmas cards with Alan and his wife Sheila, who survives him. Shelia’s uncle was Lord Mayor of Nottingham and accompanied Viscount Montgomery at the opening of Raleigh’s No. 2 factory in 1957.

Alan started at Raleigh when he was just 14 years old and two years later he was reaming out the bottom brackets of military folding bicycles. He later worked in the export department for some years and spent the rest of his working life in various roles as part of ‘the Raleigh family’. His enthusiasm and pride in his work was striking. He was particularly proud of meeting distinguished visitors to the factory: he met Princess Margaret when she visited in 1976 and chatted with Prince Charles during a works visit three years later.

Alan’s daughter Jane Alsop tells me that the funeral service will be held on Monday the 16th September 2019 at 12:30 at the Trent Valley Crematorium, Derby Road, Aston-on-Trent, Derby, DE72 2AF. This will be followed by a wake at the Harrington Arms, 392 Tamworth Road, Long Eaton, Nottingham NG10 3AU.

Donations, if desired, should be made to either Blind Veterans UK or Children’s Air Ambulance will be collected on the day or can be forwarded to the funeral directors. All enquiries to Kinton and Daughter, Family Funeral Directors, Castle Donington, 01332 390861.

It was a pleasure knowing Alan and we offer our condolences to his family and friends.

Tony Hadland

Major new cycle history interview

Interested in the history of Raleigh, Sturmey-Archer, Brooks, Pashley or Moulton? Or maybe in the wider development and changes the British cycle industry has undergone in the last 50 years? Then this interview, which I recorded on 23rd March 2016, is for you.

John Macnaughtan spent 48 years at Raleigh and Sturmey-Archer. Early in his career, he was sent to Raleigh South Africa and he soon became Director of Raleigh Industries East Africa. Later, with David Duffield, he set up Raleigh Australia. John joined Sturmey-Archer in 1977 and became Sales and Marketing Director in 1981. After the sale of Sturmey-Archer to Sun Race, he became Managing Director of Raleigh International. He was instrumental in saving the Brooks saddle company and became a co-owner of Pashley. Today, he spends much of his time at Bradford-on-Avon, dealing with the export of Moulton bicycles.

The interview, in two parts and full of unique insights and recollections, is now on the Veteran-Cycle Club YouTube channel.
Part 1: John Macnaughtan interview Part 1
Part 2: John Macnaughtan interview Part 2

2016-03-21 John Macnaughtan.jpg

Economically upcycling a 1978 BSA (Raleigh) 20 folder

In a recent post I described a 1974 Raleigh 20 FE, in near original condition, that had been in the same ownership for 40 years. The husband of the FE’s owner also had a 20, which was a folding version, badged as a BSA 20, and made in 1978. I rescued both bikes from an almost certain final trip to the local tip. I sold the FE on eBay for less than its replacement lamp cost me. I didn’t mind though, as I needed the space and it saved the bike from a prematurely ignoble end. As for the BSA 20 folder, I decided to keep it and refurbish it.

My aim was not the ultimate ‘hot 20’, which could cost quite a lot of money. Instead I decided to upgrade the less desirable old components, mostly with items from eBay or the spares box, plus a few from St John Street Cycles or Amazon Market Place dealers. The following annotated photo sequence shows the end result, a very rideable hack which, because of its colour scheme, I call Cappuccino.

The 1974 Raleigh 20 FE, described in a previous post, weighed a hefty 37 lb (almost 17 kg) in orignal form but without its rear bag. (That, however, is a pound and half less than my grandson’s modern but relatively inexpensive mountain bike!) The BSA folder weighed 32 lb (about 14.5 kg) in its original form but after the modifications described below, it weighs 30 lb (about 13.6 kg) without bag, despite having the addition of a rear carrier. Further weight savings could be made by replacing the original wheels with new ones having alloy rims, alloy hubs and narrower tyres, and by replacing the handlebars and stem with alloy equivalents.

A general view of Capucciono, complete with the Carradice handlebar bag which, via Klickfix fixings, gets used on several of my bikes.

Above: A general view of Cappuccino, complete with the Carradice handlebar bag which, via Klickfix fixings, gets used on several of my bikes.

Another view of the bike, this time from the left side.

Another view of the bike, this time from the left side.

The handlebar cluster and related components. I decided to keep the original steel stem and handlebars, as they are in fine condition, are nicely rigid and allow lots of adjustment, both verically and fore and aft. The Carradice bag (great for day rides) is easily detachable via a Klickfix bracket on the handlebars and has a handy shoulder strap. The ergonomic handlebar grips (cheap but adequate copies inspired by Ergon) make a big difference to comfort. The Tetro brake levers are also a huge improvement on the cheap steel originals, having far superior leverage, adjustable reach and cable adjustment.

I decided to keep the original steel stem and handlebars, as they are in fine condition, are nicely rigid and allow lots of adjustment, both vertically and fore and aft. The Carradice bag (great for day rides) is easily detachable via a Klickfix bracket on the handlebars and has a handy shoulder strap. The ergonomic handlebar grips (cheap but adequate copies inspired by Ergon) make a big difference to comfort. The Tektro brake levers are also a huge improvement on the cheap steel originals, having far superior leverage, adjustable reach and cable adjustment.

A rider's-eye view of the handlebar cluster, showing the Klickfix bracket, the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger and a bell, tcuked away by the bag bracket. This set-up enables the bike to be stood upside for maintenance, supported well by the handlebar grip extensions and saddle.

A rider’s-eye view of the handlebar cluster, showing the Klickfix bracket, the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger and a bell, tucked away to the left of the bag bracket. This set-up enables the bike to be stood upside for maintenance, with stable three-point support via the handlebar grip forward extensions and saddle.

A view of the handlebar cluster with the bag removed, showing the front of the Klickfix mount.

A view of the handlebar cluster with the bag removed, showing the front of the Klickfix mount.

I decided to ditch the chainset and bottom bracket axle and bearings, replacing them with a cotterless assembly. The chainset was an inexpesnive item from eBay but nonetheless has a proper detachable chainwheel. This enabled me to move the chainwehel to the left hand of teh spider, to get a better chainline. The chainwheel was sold as being for 1/8-inch chain but actually works fine with older style 3/32-inch chains. Also in shot is a MKS all-metal folding pedal, which repalced the very heavy solid bearing original pedals.

I decided to ditch the chainset and bottom bracket axle and bearings, and replace them with a cotterless assembly. The chainset was an inexpensive unused item from eBay but nonetheless has a proper detachable chainwheel. This enabled me to move the chainwheel to the left hand of the spider, which was very important to get a reasonable chain line. The chainwheel was sold as being for 1/8-inch chain but actually works fine with older style 3/32-inch chains (e.g. for 6-, 7- or 8-speed derailleurs). Also in shot is an MKS all-metal folding pedal, which replaced the very heavy solid bearing original pedals and enables the width of the bike to be usefully reduced very easily for transit or storage. I dispensed with the hockey stick chainguard and its mounting bracket, filing off the sharp corners of what was left of the fixing point on the strut behind the chainwheel.

Raleigh 20s and their badge-engineered brethren have ultra-wide (78mm) bottom bracket shells and are Raleigh-threaded. This is very limiting when it comes to converting to a cotterless set-up, especially at a reasonable price. I reduced the width of the bottom bracket shell, on the chainwheel side, by 5mm. This enabled me to fit a relatively inexpensive Oxford 73mm-wide threadless bottom bracket cartridge.

Raleigh 20s and their badge-engineered brethren have ultra-wide (78mm) bottom bracket shells and are Raleigh-threaded. This is very limiting when it comes to converting to a cotterless set-up, especially at a reasonable price. So I reduced the width of the bottom bracket shell, on the chainwheel side, by 5mm. This enabled me to fit a relatively inexpensive Oxford 73mm-wide threadless bottom bracket cartridge. The letters and numbers stamped onto the bottom bracket are not a serial number but the postcode of the previous owner.

This shot clearly shows how the chainstays of the Raleigh 20 series were flattened and wrapped around the bottom bracket shell (to which they were brazed) before continuing forward to form bracing struts, brazed to teh underside of teh main beam.

This shot clearly shows how the chain stays of the Raleigh 20 series were flattened and wrapped around the bottom bracket shell (to which they were brazed) before continuing forward to form bracing struts, brazed to the underside of the main beam.

A wider view of teh same area.

A wider view of the same area. Note the struts, which join the main beam below the frame hinge on the right of the picture.

Another view of the MKS folding pedal.

Another view of the MKS folding pedal and surrounding area. Note the frame hinge on the left and the TI ‘made in Britain’ sticker at the base of the seat tube.

A similar view but showing the pedal in folded mode. The difference may not sem much but a pair of such pedals can reduce the stored width of the bike by about 5 inches (12.5 cm)

A similar view but showing the pedal in folded mode. The difference may not seem much but a pair of such pedals can reduce the stored width of the bike by about 5 inches (12.5 cm).

Another view of the folded pedal, with the frame hinge at top left.

Another view of the folded pedal, with the frame hinge at top left.

The wheels are in very good condition, the original Sturmey-Archer rims being true and almost perfect cosmetically. The front hub and rear hubs are also fine and the spoke tension is OK. So rather than spend a small fortune on new 451 wheels, I decided to keep the originals and just fit new inner tubes and new Schwalbe Kevlar-protected whitewall tyres. Yes, steel wheels have porrer wet weather braking but I don't intend riding this bike much in the rain. Also, I upgraded the brakes, about which more below.

The wheels are in very good condition, the original Sturmey-Archer rims being true and almost perfect cosmetically. The front hub and rear hubs are also fine and the spoke tension is OK. So rather than spend a small fortune on new 451 wheels, I decided to keep the originals and just fit new inner tubes and new Schwalbe Kevlar-protected whitewall tyres. Yes, steel wheels have poorer wet weather braking but I don’t intend riding this bike much in the rain. Also, I upgraded the brakes, about which more below.

This bike did not have a carrier (rack) but I found this original Swiss-made Pletscher on eBay. This carrier was fitted to quite a few Raleigh 20s and fitted perfectly. It has a sprung parcel clip and I have added a couple of old-style toe-clip straps, which are often handy for securing items of luggage (such as a rolled up jacket).

This bike did not have a carrier (rack) but I found this original Swiss-made Pletscher on eBay. This model of carrier was original equipment on some Raleigh 20s and fitted perfectly. It has a sprung parcel clip and I have added a couple of old-style toe-clip straps – often handy for securing items of luggage (such as a rolled up jacket).

Another view of the carrier.

Another view of the carrier.

And yet another shot of teh carrier, but this time including the new longer and alloy mico-adjust seat pillar. This replaced the original steel seat post, which, for no good reason, was slightly shorter than the standard Raleigh 20 item. The saddle is quite a nice one from the spares box.

And yet another shot of the carrier, but this time including the new longer and alloy micro-adjust seat pillar. This replaced the original steel seat post, which, for no good reason, was slightly shorter than the standard Raleigh 20 item, and which had an old-style steel saddle clip. The saddle now fitted is quite a nice one from the spares box. The original, supplied with the bike, was a very cheap vinyl-covered mattress saddle, with no main chassis springs – unlike the relatively plush Brooks item fitted to the FE described in a previous post.

Another view of the saddle and seat pillar.

Another view of the saddle and seat pillar. Also in shot is the Sturmey-Archer AW wide-ratio 3-speed hub. As can be seen, this was made in the days when they still fitted a lubrication point, so it’s easy to add a few drops of oil from time to time. The AW is a very efficient hub but the original gearing of Raleigh 20s is on the high side. So, although I kept the same number of teeth on the chainwheel (46), I fitted a larger rear sprocket (17 tooth). This lowers the top gear to 71-inches, a great gear for pootling along at a reasonable speed, without hunting between top and middle gear. Middle gear is now reduced to 54-inch, fine for many moderate slopes. Low gear drops to 40-inch, enabling easier hill climbing. For most people, reducing the gearing in this way is one of the easiest and most worthwhile upgrades you can make to a Raleigh 20 or derivative.

The original pressed steel callipers are not great, so i replaced them with these

The original pressed steel calipers are not great (poor leverage and flexible arms), so I replaced them with these Tektro R365 dual-pivot brakes. The leverage at the caliper is much better (aided also by better brake lever leverage), they are quick-release and incorporate adjusters for brake block clearance and cable tension. As the brake fixing bolt that passes through the fork crown is retained by a threaded sleeve (rather than a standard nut) it is necessary to enlarge the hole through back of the crown slightly. Also, these calipers fouled the forward extension of the original mudguard. This was easily resolved by trimming back the mudguard. Visible in this picture, against the lower steering bearing, is the chrome-plated stop that prevents the forks being reversed. I took the opportunity of fitting new balls to the lower steering bearing. (The upper bearing is solid nylon, which damps the otherwise rather light steering. It can be replaced with a ball bearing unit, if desired.)

Despite the long reach of these brakes, the fixing hole for the rear brake calliper needed to be elongated downwards by a few millimetres to get the brake blocks low enough to avoid the risk of them rubbing on the tyre sidewall during braking. Slightly longer brake arms would avoid this problem.

Despite the long reach of these brakes, the fixing hole for the rear brake caliper needed to be elongated downwards by a few millimetres to get the brake blocks low enough to avoid the risk of them rubbing on the tyre sidewall during braking. Slightly longer brake arms would avoid this problem.

A Motorised Raleigh 20

Here’s something you don’t see everyday. It’s a UK street-legal moped based on a Raleigh 20 and was created by consulting engineer Chris Sawyer. It has a Cyclemaster engine and front suspension. Apparently it works quite well and it demonstrates the rigidity of the folding version of the bike. Many thanks to Chris for permitting use of his photo.

The folding Raleigh 20 converted into a moped by Chris Sawyer
The folding Raleigh 20 converted into a moped by Chris Sawyer

A New Class of Cyclists: Banham’s Bicycle and the Two-wheeled World it didn’t Create

Bruce D Epperson is, among other things, an eminent American cycle historian. His paper ‘A New Class of Cyclist: Banham’s Bicycle and the Two-wheeled World it didn’t Create’ should be compulsory reading for anybody studying the history of cycling in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s. It appeared in the journal Mobilities, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2013.

Here’s the abstract:

While not uncommon for innovator and innovation to merge into a single identity, it is more unusual for this to occur between object and critic. But it did happen in the 1960’s with a novel small-wheeled bicycle, the Moulton, and the British architecture and design critic Reyner Banham. Banham believed the Moulton would give rise to a new generation of middle-class urban radical cyclists who would eventually come to rely on bicycles for their transport needs. While this did not happen, the Moulton’s attention-getting technology did lead to a revived market in bicycles among young, newly affluent consumers who bought small-wheeled utility bicycles as fashion statements and status symbols.

The article is particular relevant to those interested in the history of Moulton bicycles, the Raleigh cycle company and the Raleigh 20 series of small-wheelers – Raleigh’s biggest selling product line in the mid 1970s.

The article can be purchased online here from the publisher, Taylor & Francis:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17450101.2012.659467#.VRKlAGbEigc

Web of Science provides more information about the article, including contact details for the author:
http://cel.webofknowledge.com/InboundService.do?product=CEL&SID=Y2fRMQ6UGNkDsTUOM53&UT=WOS%3A000317828900005&SrcApp=literatum&action=retrieve&Init=Yes&SrcAuth=atyponcel&Func=Frame&customersID=atyponcel&IsProductCode=Yes&mode=FullRecord

 

Tony

 

75 years later, Steve takes on Tommy’s challenge

My good pal Dave Minter tells me that Steve Abraham, a friend of his, is going for the Tommy Godwin annual mileage record. What’s that?

In 1939, Tommy Godwin from Stoke-on-Trent cycled 75,065 miles (120,805 km) in one year – more than anyone anywhere before or since. That’s an average of more than 205 miles a day, every day of the year. Tommy did it on a Raleigh with initially a 3-speed Sturmey-Archer hub gear and later one of the then very new 4-speed Sturmey hubs. Tommy used another recent Raleigh/Sturmey innovation, a Dynohub, to power his lights. Forget your carbon fibre – the bike was steel and so was the man. There’s more about him here: http://www.tommygodwin.com/the-challenge/

Dave Minter reckons Steve Abraham is the only rider in the UK capable of breaking Tommy’s 75 year old record. You can read more about Steve’s plans here: http://road.cc/content/news/137018-audax-uk-ace-steve-abraham-aims-tommy-godwins-unbreakable-year-record-2015

As Steve will have to take a year off work to make this attempt, he could do with financial support. Every little helps and I’ve just sent him a little donation myself. To find out more, visit his own record attempt website: http://www.oneyeartimetrial.org.uk where you can donate via PayPal and find out more about his plans.

Raleigh: Past & Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand

Front cover dust jacket of 'Raleigh' by Tony Hadland

Raleigh Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand by Tony Hadland, with contributions by Eric Kwiatkowski, Scotford Lawrence and Paul Whatley, was published in autumn 2011 by Cycle Publishing / Van der Plas Publications of San Francisco. It is the most comprehensive and thoroughly researched history of the Raleigh bicycle brand yet published and involved about 5,000 hours of research.
The author has been writing thoroughly researched books on the history of bicycle technology since 1980. All his books have been produced independently of the companies covered. His primary concern has always been for accuracy, not for financial gain. He has therefore always made it a practice to publish, free of charge, update sheets including additional information and corrections. Below is the first such update sheet for this book.

Additional information and corrections

Page 8, column 3, line 8: ‘Harry Davey’ not ‘Harvey Davey’.

Page 12, column 2, line 21: California became part of the USA two years before (not after) Frank Bowden’s birth.

Page 12, column 2, line 28: Although transcriptions of the 1891 census (e.g. as published by Find My Past) list Harold Bowden as born in 1881, he was actually born 9 July 1880.

Page 13, column 3, paragraph 2, last line: We now know from contemporary press advertising that the company was operational by May 1885.

Page 14, Fig. 1.7: Since the book was published, Colin Kirsch has acquired a Raleigh that slightly pre-dates the Brooklands machine.

Page 139, Fig. 23.1: Should read ‘The 1946 Lenton Sports…’

Page 145: Fig. 23.17: Should read ‘showing 1961 BSA Goldens.’

Page 146: Fig. 23.21: Should read ‘1961’ not ‘1950’.

Page 148, column 3, paragraph 1: Replace last two sentences with ‘This was then the most powerful TV transmitter in the world and covered Nottingham but, in this era of austerity, very few people owned television sets.’

Page 149: Fig. 24.5: Should read ‘Reg Harris beating Arie van Vliet at the 1954 World Championship finals.’

Page 199, column 1, after paragraph 1: Paul Whatley points out that the Raleigh versions, which also first appeared in 1961, were the Gran Sport (which featured for the first time a Campagnolo gear), the Sprite and the Blue Streak. All three used the same 72 x 72 degree non-531 frame. A revamped Raleigh headbadge was also seen on these bicycles. The forks lacked the traditional chromed thimbles and had a normal straight cut fork crown. This new range was first shown at the 1960 Earls Court show and continued until the end of 1964.

Page 235, after column 1: Here is some additional information, provided by Paul Whatley, about Raleigh Lightweights of the 1960s. The Gran Sport, Sprite and Blue Streak were dropped at the end of 1964, to be replaced by the Raleigh Record, Rapide, Rapier and Royale, in that descending price order. There was a 531 double-butted Record frame, which sold for £18. The Raleigh Record did not use this quality frame, but a cheaper version, the whole bike selling for £38. This range, with a few minor alterations, lasted until 1968. In that year, the Raleigh Ruberg replaced the Record, selling for a similar price, while Raleigh offered a 531 frameset at around £20. The Rapier and Royale continued in production, as possibly did the Rapide, until 1970-71. Several professional teams used the 531 Record and Ruberg framesets at this time, the Ruberg equipping a German professional team. Carlton was left to produce the sportier adult models for the first years of the 1970s, until the rise of the Raleigh professional team in the later 1970s.

Page 243, Fig. 37.3: After ‘Bernard Hinault’ insert ‘(centre) and Joop Zoetemelk (right)…’

Page 261, Fig. 38.39: Should read ‘Mike Mullett working on a wheel at the Skol 73 six-day races, with Jan LeGrand in the background.’

Page 264, column 3, last two paragraphs: Delete, including continuation of last paragraph into column 1 of page 265.

Page 319, Fig. 45.10: Should read ‘Sturmey-Archer advertisement stating that 1907 and 1908 Tour de France winner Lucien Petit-Breton used their three-speed hub gear in the 1913 race.’

Page 366, column 4, line 23: Should read ‘Drinkwater, Dave, 82, 169’

Tony Hadland
14 March 2016

New Zealand bikes of the 1980s

Michael Toohey describes a unique and insular market that even spawned a separable Raleigh 20

Raleigh bicycles were manufactured under licence in New Zealand by Morrison Industries of Hastings from the very late sixties through to (I think) 1987. Although the Sports Model was the original backbone of the range, it was the Raleigh 20 which really set the sales records.

Slightly cruder than the original Nottingham version, the 20 was nevertheless a sturdy machine which suffered very few problems over its long production life. It was made of local steel, and the main tube was of slightly smaller diameter than the original. In another departure, the bracing tubes from the main tube to the bottom bracket were missing. This last feature allowed the production of a fully detachable version which was, I think, unique to NZ.

I own a Raleigh 20 Detachable, although I’ve modified the machine heavily. The bike originally came fitted with the usual Raleigh equipment: Quick adjust seat and ‘bars, full ‘guards, a built in prop-stand and a sturdy tubular carrier. Also fitted was a wiring system for dynamo lights, which ran through the main tube and through copper contact plates at the shotgun style joint.

Unlike the US 20s, the NZ version stayed true to the 20 x 1 3/8″ wheel. I modified mine to 20 x 1.75″ BMX rims, but found that they lowered the BB too much. Since the photos were taken I’ve switched back to bigger diameter aluminium rims and Primo Comet 20 x 1 3/8″ tyres. The bike has been transformed, and is now very nippy, thanks to the full pound each wheel has shed! I’ve also foregone the cable-free back end and replaced the Duomatic with a standard Torpedo 3; much more pleasant to use in my humble opinion. Cable splitting is yet to be tackled.

Keith Guthrie of Cycle Trading Co found the following letter in his files. Note that this letter refers the Folder and not the Detachable, it is closer in format to the original Raleigh 20 Folder from Nottingham, but still without the BB reinforcing bars. Also interesting is the fact that Morrison could confidently claim in 1977 that the 20 was NZ’s biggest selling bicycle.

Morrison letter

Back to the history. The 20 grew a bigger sibling, the Morrison 22 and THINK I’m right in saying Raleigh 18s were also made in NZ. Choppers were certainly built here, as were 5 and 10 speed “racers”, the Olympus (26″) and Arena (27″). The pictures below are scans of a Master Cycle Traders’ Federation catalogue from the early 80s (the MCT was NZs national cycle trade body). It was produced by them for their members, i.e. most quality bikeshops in New Zealand. It was multi-brand; all the models on the pages I sent you were made by Healing Industries of Christchurch or Morrison Industries of Hastings. The third largish player on the market was Cyclemakers of Pleasant Point, but at this point cyclemakers would have just been getting off the ground.

The Catalogue is, in fact, a 1981 item. We confirmed this by looking back in old invoice books till we found prices to match. Rampant inflation and no discounting in those far off days made this a fairly simple task.

I’ll run through the catalogue explaining some of the bikes.

Raleigh Bermuda: Morrison’s last version of the Sports Model. Flashy and a good seller, but the chrome was awful and the general standard of work much lower than on earlier efforts. Significantly poorer than genuine Nottingham item. Note the plain fork crown; this was the first Morrison Raleigh to depart from the “Raleigh Crown”.

Healing 10 Speed: Healing’s amazingly successful best seller. The cunningly named 10 speed rode the crest of the oil crisis and the 10 speed boom. Gents and Mixte models. The frame was butt or bronze welded out of local steel supplied by Southward Engineering. Even the handlebars were bent up in NZ on a locally built machine, and a very peculiar bend they were too. Despite dire predictions by those brought up on proper lugged frames, the 10 Speeds proved to be rugged if uninspiring machines.

Healing Commuter: Healing were aggressive in filling every hole in the known market with products based on their basic frames. Here is the 10 Speed frame re-dressed as a (Shimano) 3 speed. Nice bikes, and probably the last fully equipped bicycles to be sold in any numbers.

Raleigh Module 5/Alpha: Gents and Ladies frankly horrible 5 speeds based on the basic sports model frame. There was also a 10 speed version: the Olympic. These were the first derailleur-equipped mass market bikes in NZ, and as such were quite a hit. Keith Guthrie of Cycle Trading Co remembers the sleepless nights he incurred after ordering 20 of them, a big commitment for a young shop-owner. He very quickly sold them all. Once the Healing 10 Speed hit the market with its svelte 27 x 1 1/4″ wheels, the cobby looking Raleighs enjoyed less success. They still had a market though in those rich parents looking for a derailleur bike for their kids. Also, in the pre-MTB days, hard charging clubbies looking for a machine to handle NZ’s “shingle” roads preferred the rugged little Raleighs over the more effete 10 Speed. Note the bars are taped right to the stem. They were NZ made and hot-dip galvanised rather than chromed. Morrisons supplied them with enough cotton bar tape to go all the way to the stem.

Healing 12 speed: Healing’s flagship. Their standard butt welded steel frame (Schwinn Varsity style) with a mixture of better Japanese gear: Shimano 600 and Altus Araya aluminium rims.

Morrison Monark: The best NZ produced mass-market bike of this period. Lugged Hi-Ten frame, mostly SunTour parts and Araya Staylite(?) rims, those dull chromed ones. These were bought by the well-heeled and by aspiring cyclo-touriste not quite able to afford genuine 531 and low gears.

Raleigh Arena: Morrison’s lugged 10 speed. Fairly average mix of parts. Beaten sales-wise by the poorer framed but more stylistically unified Healing 10 Speed. In the early days Morrison frames all had their bottom brackets dipped in a vat of molten bronze and frames were generally very well brazed. By the bitter end they assembled the tubes and tacked them, stockpiling them for brazing. Some would inevitably make it through to painting with a joint or two left unbrazed, resulting in a surprising series of events for the unsuspecting new Arena owners!

Raleigh 20: By this time the NZ 20 had lost its one piece bars and stem to the more fashionable semi-riser bar. Colours had become more limited, and the rugged tubular steel carrier had been replaced by a flimsier chrome wire item. Obviously the now-unfashionable small wheeler’s last gasp.

Healing Cruiser: a frank Raleigh 20 copy. Replaced the loop framed Lo-Line, a more continental looking small-wheeler. Ian Hooker, formerly a manager with Healing, told me that he was always happy to let Morrison experiment with a new model before committing Healing’s capital to the idea. Yet someone in the design department (if indeed one existed as such) must have had a good eye, because Healing products always managed to look more with-it and appealing than the Morrisons they copied. I know from other sources that Ian was very responsive to dealer feedback, even inviting it, something which was an anathema to Morrison Industries. Thus if given a choice, the majority of dealers would prefer to sell a Healing over a Morrison. There were one or two gaffes, the Healing Dragster was definitely less cool than the Chopper it aped, yet even here Healing were probably in the black. With a frame adapted from the Cruiser, and a 20 inch front and 24 inch rear wheel taken from stock, the Dragster was made up cheaply and quickly from existing parts and probably sold in sufficient numbers in the bike-starved 70s to turn a profit.

As you can see, the market in New Zealand was quite unique and insular. Import restrictions were severe and even quite ordinary bikes were expensive items (in 1981 I was earning NZ$80.00 per week as a 15 year old). The bikes were a peculiar mix of English (Morrison) and American (Healing 10 speed) manufacturing styles. By the mid 80s all this changed; a peculiarly free market loving Labour government gained power and we opened up to all sorts of imported machinery. By 1987 Morrison and Healing, the two giants of the industry, had gone without a trace, victims to takeovers and asset strips very familiar to anyone with a knowledge of the British bicycle industry.

NZ catalogue 1

NZ catalogue 2

NZ catalogue 3

NZ cat 3.5

NZ cat 4

Raleigh Twenty (R20)

The Raleigh Twenty or R20 series was launched in 1968 without much fuss. It was, after all, Raleigh’s third string as far as adult-size small-wheelers went. They already had the Mk2 version of their answer to the Moulton, the RSW16. And since late summer 1967, Raleigh owned their former nemesis Moulton Bicycles Limited, as well. So at first, their new, 20-inch-wheel, H-frame, unisex, ‘one-size-fits-all’, urban bike was not aggressively marketed and was something of a Nottingham Cinderella. It was, however, a much better bike than the RSW; and although less sophisticated than the Moulton, it was more profitable to manufacture.

In May 1970, about 18 months after the R20 was launched, a major sales effort went into promoting the Mk3 versions of the RSW16 and the Moulton. They were launched simultaneously with the children’s hi-rise pseudo motorcycle, the Chopper, which was already on sale in the USA. It soon became apparent that, although the Chopper was selling very well indeed, sales of the RSW and Moulton were extremely disappointing. So Raleigh started to advertise the R20 more heavily. The picture below shows the burgeoning R20 range, as promoted to the UK cycle trade via advertising in the retail magazine Motor Cycle & Cycle Trader in October 1970.

A folding version of the Twenty, using the old Moulton model name ‘Stowaway’, was introduced to the home market in 1971 (it seems it was available in Canada in 1969). However, the vast majority of R20s were non-folding models. Unlike the parallel and largely simultaneous Continental small-wheeler boom, which was dominated by mediocre folding bicycles, the British small-wheeler boom saw folding and separable bikes taking only a small share of the small-wheeler market.

In 1974, Raleigh phased out the RSW and the Moulton, concentrating all adult small-wheeler production on the R20. The following year, the Twenty series was Raleigh’s biggest selling model – 140,000 R20s were made in the UK alone. This almost matched the entire UK production of Moultons from 1963 to 1974. The R20 was still Raleigh’s biggest seller in 1977. Although sales gradually tailed off after this, the Twenty was to remain in production well into the 1980s. In the early 21st century, there are still many R20s in use in the UK and around the world.

The Consumers’ Association magazine ‘Which?’ rated the Raleigh 20 the best of the small-wheelers it tested in the mid 1970s. They considered that it rode more like a conventional roadster than other small-wheelers and that it had a stronger frame than its principal rival, the Dawes Kingpin. Part of the R20s roadster feel was due to the use of a solid nylon top steering bearing, which damped the comparatively light steering of a 20-inch wheel.

R20s built for the UK market had 20 x 1 3/8 inch (451) tyres on adult versions of the traditional British format E5J rim. The code E5J stood for Endrick (the rim profile) British size 5 (=20-inch) Juvenile. The wheels were therefore slimmer and easier rolling (at least, on the average British road surface) than the semi-balloon tyres used on most other 20-inch wheel bikes sold in the UK. Many export R20s, however, had wider section 20 x 1.75 inch American format (406) tyres, which in those pre-BMX days were virtually unknown in the UK.


New Zealander Michael Toohey reports that Twenties were made in New Zealand for Raleigh by Morrison Industries. This was because of a law requiring 40% local content. Tyres were 20 x 1 3/8 (451), made in NZ and branded Riedrubber or Feltex. The bracing struts from the underside of the main beam to the bottom bracket were omitted in NZ production. This can be seen in the picture below, supplied by Michael Toohey, and taken from a Master Cycle Traders catalogue of about 1981.

The history of the Raleigh Twenty series has been largely ignored by British cycle historians. They tend to have a dismissive attitude towards the bikes. Raleigh Twenties epitomise the much despised British ‘shopper’, a generic term derived from a well-equipped and popular model in the 1970 R20 range. Some historians tend to forget that history is about what actually happened and not what they might have liked to have happened. The reality was that relatively few of the British public in the 1970s were buying the exotic lightweights that many historians favour. A significant number were buying very average quality 10-speed lightweight lookalikes, sometimes badged with the name of a genuine lightweight maker, such as Carlton – – by then part of Raleigh. But even more were buying, and riding, Raleigh Twenties and similar machines. Some of those bikes, despite minimal maintenance over a period of some 30 years, are still in daily use – as a mid-week, mid-morning visit to any English suburban shopping centre will reveal. They provide convenient, reliable, easy-to-adjust, easy-to-mount, short-range urban transport for people wearing ordinary clothes who want a bicycle that can easily and safely carry a reasonable amount of shopping.


In the USA, the potential virtues of the R20 frame-set are appreciated by some of the most knowledgeable bicycle experts. Hence, devotees include John S Allen and the late Sheldon Brown.


Following in their footsteps, Chris Slydel, a British ex-pat who lives in the USA, has built a high performance Raleigh Twenty from what was once a single-speed folding version. He started by taking off every part off the Twenty that was not needed, including grinding off the kickstand support, the mudguard attachment point and swapping the folding handle for an Allen bolt. The rear triangle was gently spread to allow a 5-speed freewheel on high flange hubs. New wheels were built with Araya rims and high pressure tyres. The gear change is now mounted on the seat post for simplicity when the bike is folded and there is only one brake. Chris re-threaded the bottom bracket shell, which allowed him to fit a standard thread titanium BB. He also threaded the top section of the fork at the top, to allow the fitting of a standard headset, and not the solid nylon top bearing that Raleigh initially put on the machines. A Ritchey stem was fitted, which allows Chris enough rise to make the bike rideable.

The finished machine, shown in Chris’s pictures below, now weighs about 24 lb. This is some 8 to 10 lb less than it did originally. A non-folding version could be even lighter.


The next picture shows another Raleigh Twenty with tri-bars. I took this at the 1992 Tin Can Ten, an annual fun race in the English Midlands for riders on any bike equipped with a hub gear (‘tin can’). I don’t know the name of the rider but he did quite a respectable time, despite riding with the hub dynamo switched on!


From Ottawa, Canada, Alvin Burnard wrote:

I hit on your website while looking for anything on my favourite bike, the Raleigh Twenty. I now own 5 of these wonderful bikes including one all original with about 50 miles at most on it.

You mention: “A folding version of the Twenty, using the old Moulton model name ‘Stowaway’, was introduced in 1971.” My daily rider is a 1969 Raleigh Twenty folding bike. I’m confident it is original judging by the non adjustable handlebar style which I suspect was a carryover from the RSW and much better than the adjustable style that came latter. In all my searching here in Canada & the US, it appears only the folding version was imported here and the few non-folding models made it here as luggage or stowaways (thus the name?). I’ve never actually seen a non-folding Twenty.  It also appears the other brand names used on the Twenty never made it to our shores. The exception is a version of the Twenty marketed by Canadian Tire under the Supercycle brand of which I own a 1973 model. You are also correct that the models we received all had 20×1.75 tyres although I’ve seen a couple of 20×1 3/8 models on eBay.

Anyhow… above is a pic of my 1969 Twenty and below my all original 1972 Twenty…


Farewell Alan Oakley

Alan Oakley, born 27 April 1927, was for many years senior designer at Raleigh. He died on 18 May 2012, aged 85, after a long fight against cancer. Obituaries have been dominated by references (of varying accuracy) to his work on the Chopper high-rise bicycle. But Alan was responsible for much more than that – everything from components, such as anti-squeal roller-lever brakes, through conventional roadsters and a highly succesful range of small-wheelers, to race-winning high-end lightweights. As part of the research for my 2011 book on Raleigh’s history, writer and cycle historian Eric Kwiatkowski interviewed Alan Oakley about the upmarket machines. Eric attended Alan’s funeral to pay his respects and here records his impressions:

I went to Alan Oakley’s funeral yesterday. A dull day, but there was a very warm although of course sad atmosphere at the service. On arrival, I noticed about ten ‘Choppers’ near the chapel entrance, which I thought was a very nice touch!

About a hundred people attended, filling the main chapel at Wilford Hill crematorium. The service opened with the 23rd Psalm sung by the congregation, followed by prayers and also eulogies given by his son, grandson and a friend, Dennis. Of course, the Chopper story was told, but so was Alan’s involvement with Reg Harris’s career.

Dennis has quite a sense of humour – he said that after Alan’s enforced redundancy from Raleigh, they both spent some time sticking pins in effigies of the management. It must have worked said Dennis, because those responsible were themselves ‘retired’ soon after! He told the story of Alan’s wanting to fly, but having eyesight problems which were sufficient to keep him from joining the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.

Model aeroplanes were a passion, as was painting and fine wines – Alan’s senior at work once asked why he’d never seen a photo of Alan without a glass! Alan’s grandson and son spoke of his broad interests and his immensely positive influence on them in childhood.

The minister conducting the service told us all that he himself had once owned a ‘Chopper’ and a ‘Grifter’, and joked that it was probably blasphemous to say so, but he’d preferred the ‘Grifter’! We were asked to reflect on Alan whilst a recording of Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Fields of Gold’ was played. As the service neared its close, ‘Forever Autumn’ from ‘War of the Worlds’ was played.

Although my meeting with Alan was brief, his willingness to open his door and help with my research even though Raleigh was many years in his past spoke volumes about him. He also entrusted me, a complete stranger, with some of his precious photos – which of course I returned the next day having scanned them. I’m glad we met.

Eric Kwiatkowski