A close look at a 1974 Raleigh 20 FE

The Raleigh 20 was the archetypal British city bike of the 1970s and Raleigh’s biggest selling product line in the middle of that decade. The company made up to 140,000 a year and the bike was in production from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. You can read more about it here: https://hadland.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/raleigh-twenty-r20/

Recently I acquired a 1974 Raleigh 20 FE (‘Fully Equipped’) that had been in the same ownership for 40 years and was in almost completely original condition, apart from modest wear and tear. It is a testament to the fitness for purpose of the product that the owner kept it and used it for so long. Here is a photo tour of the bike in question.

A general view of the 1974 Raleigh 20 FE

A general view of the 1974 Raleigh 20 FE.

A front view. Originally the bike would have had a plastic clip to hold the three front cables together more neatly but these clips tended to fall off and were not really necessary.

A front view. Originally the bike would have had a plastic clip to hold the three cables together in front of the head tube more neatly but these clips tended to fall off and were not really necessary. The headlamp shown here is a replacement but differs only slightly from the original, which still worked, despite having a missing ‘glass’. All Raleigh 20s had a restrictor to stop the bike being ridden with the forks reversed. In models fitted with integral lighting, the stop was combined with the headlamp bracket.

Rear carriers (racks) varied between Raligh 20 models. Some had none and some had a Pletscher alloy carrier with a sprung parcel clips. The FE had a tubulr steel carrier with a plastic tray. This helped hold the removable holdall (shopping bag) that came with the bike. It's rare to see the original holdall still with the bike.

Rear carriers (racks) varied between Raleigh 20 models. Some had none and others had a Pletscher alloy carrier with sprung parcel clips. The FE had a steel carrier with a plastic tray. This helped hold the removable holdall (shopping bag) that came with the bike. It’s rare to see the original holdall and this bike had lost its one. At the front and back of the tray you can see the elasticated cords that held the holdall in the tray. The rear lamp is combined with the rear reflector in the neat and very robust unit fitted to the rear mudguard.

The chain stays were falttened to wrap around the underside of the wide (78mm) Raleigh-threaded bootom bracket, to which they were brazed. The stays then carried on forward and were brazed to underside of the main beam. The result was a very stiff frame. Note the Raleigh heron's head motif stamped into the steel chainwheel. The peadls were Raleigh's own low maintenance type, which used non-adjustable, solid, sintered metal, oil-retaining bearings instead of cones and ball bearings. The end caps often fell off.

The chain stays were flattened to wrap around the underside of the wide (78mm) Raleigh-threaded bottom bracket, to which they were brazed. The stays then carried on forward and were brazed to underside of the main beam. The result was a very stiff frame. Note the Raleigh heron’s head motif stamped into the steel chainwheel. The pedals were Raleigh’s own low maintenance type, which used non-adjustable, solid, sintered metal, oil-retaining bearings instead of cones and ball bearings. The end caps often fell off, as can be seen here. The hub is a Sturmey-Archer Dyno-Three AG3, combining a 3-speed wide-ratio hub gear and a Dynohub alternator to power the built-in lighting.

The rear hub seen from the left-hand side of the bike. The wider section of the hub houses the alternator. The hub gear was operated by a twist-grip on the handlebar. This had a friction clutch within it to automatically take up  slack that might develop in the gear control cable. There are instructions for re-setting this function elsewhere on this website.

The rear hub seen from the left-hand side of the bike. The wider section of the hub houses the alternator. The hub gear was operated by a twist-grip on the handlebar. This had a friction clutch within it to automatically take up slack that might develop in the gear control cable. There are instructions for re-setting this function in the ‘Gears’ this website.

This bike is fitted with Raleigh's Design Centre Award-winning self-adjusting brake levers. In common with automotive drum brakes, these detetcted increased brake lever travel and, via a ratchet mechanism, automatically tightened the cabled to compensate. Sadly, this was all too complicated for many bicycle mechanics and the levers were soon dropped.

This bike is fitted with Raleigh’s Design Centre Award-winning self-adjusting brake levers. In common with many old-style automotive drum brakes, these detected increased brake lever travel and, via a ratchet mechanism, automatically tightened the cabled to compensate. Sadly, this was all too complicated for many bicycle mechanics and the levers were soon dropped.

A proper metal heron's head Raleigh head badge, riveted on by hand. None of your cheap self-adhesive stickers in those days!

A proper metal heron’s head Raleigh head badge, riveted on by hand. None of your cheap self-adhesive stickers in those days!

The type of saddle fitted to Raleigh 20s varied somewhat but was always a plastic covered sprung type. A cheap version, sold under another Raleigh-owned brand name, such as BSA, might well have a vaery basic, unbranded saddle. This FE, however, is a high-end model and has a Brooks fully-sprung mattress saddle.

The type of saddle fitted to Raleigh 20s varied somewhat but was always a vinyl-covered sprung mattress type. A cheap version, sold under another Raleigh-owned brand name such as BSA, might well have a very basic, unbranded saddle, with no main springs. This FE, however, is a high-end model and therefore has a Brooks fully-sprung mattress saddle.

A view down onto the top of the main beam. As the label shows, the bike was sold in Newbury in the days when that town had 4-digit phone numbers. Some time later, in an office over a shop in Newbury, a company called Vodafone started life. Now most phone numbers are so long we can't remember them!

A view down onto the top of the main beam. As the label shows, the bike was sold in Newbury in the days when that town had 4-digit phone numbers. Some time later, in an office over a shop in Newbury, a company called Vodafone started life. Now most phone numbers are so long we can’t remember them!

This view shows, among other things, the twin bracing stays formed by extending the chain stays around the bottom bracket and up to the main beam. You can also see the Raleigh pedal, complete with logo moulded into the heavy solid rubber body.

This view shows, among other things, the twin bracing struts formed by extending the chain stays around the bottom bracket and up to the main beam. You can also see the Raleigh pedal, complete with the Sir Walter Raleigh logo moulded into the heavy solid rubber body – and the typically missing end cap!

The final picture shows the bottom bracket area from the left-hand side. The fixing for the very robust and reliable propstand is brazed to the underside of the bottom bracket. A nice touch on the Raleigh-branded 20s (as distinct from the versions sold under other Raleigh-owned brand names) is the cotter pin nuts bearing the Raleigh monogram.

The final picture shows the bottom bracket area from the left-hand side. The fixing for the very robust and reliable propstand is brazed to the underside of the bottom bracket. A nice touch on the Raleigh-branded 20s (as distinct from the versions sold under other Raleigh-owned brand names) is the cotter pin nuts bearing the Raleigh monogram.

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

 

Sturmey’s right-hand ball rings: are you losing the thread?

Some instructions for disassembling Sturmey-Archer gears include a mysterious statement such as this:
“Next, unscrew the right-hand ball ring but because it has a two-start thread and must be replaced in its original position, that position must be marked. String or adhesive tape may be attached to the spoke nearest to the letters ‘SA’ which are stamped in one of the notches on the ring.” (From the 1956 Master Catalogue, sub-section 4, page 15, paragraph 1.)
The reason for replacing the right-hand ball ring in the same position is as follows. If the ring is screwed back in the alternative position, 180 degrees out from its original position, there could be some slight distortion of the completed assembly, due to a very slight difference of alignment between the hub shell and the ball ring. Whilst not noticeable at the hub end, it can result in the rim being slightly out of true. (The longer the spokes, the more the discrepancy is amplified.) So the precaution is in order to avoid the possible need to re-true the wheel.
This matter is not well documented but the rare 1992 Sutherland’s Handbook of Coaster Brakes and Internally Geared Hubs makes the point clearly. To facilitate correct re-assembly, Sutherland’s advises marking the ball ring at the point nearest the lubricator, rather than attaching tape or string to a spoke.
The reason for the two-start thread is to facilitate screwing the ball ring in relatively quickly, while having a stronger mechanical connection than an equally fast single-start thread would offer. For a given screw pitch, a two-start thread will screw in twice as fast as a single-start thread.
Tony

Vic Nicholson – more wins on the Moulton than any other rider

In 1965, Vic Nicholson won 15 major time trials on the Moulton bicycle, was placed in 9 others and won the Reading Track League. In 1967, again on the Moulton, he broke the Birmingham-Bristol-Birmingham record by more than 25 minutes and regained the Cardiff-London record for Moulton by an 18 minute margin.

In this interview, recorded in February 2015, Vic talks to Tony Hadland about his cycle racing career, with special reference to his time on the small-wheeler. The interview is just under 32 minutes long and can be found in the Cycling section of this website. (Hover your mouse pointer over the word “Cycling” in the banner at the head of the page, then click on “Interviews”.) Or you can go straight to the Interviews page via this link:
https://hadland.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/cycling-history-interviews/

The rarely seen Moulton Stowaway joint that looks like a hinge

Alex Moulton hated the idea that his bicycles would be considered as folding bicycles. He always made the point that his aim was to produce a better bicycle, not a folder. A small proportion of the 1960s Moultons were separable for stowing in the boot of car, as were the majority of his post-1983 spaceframe machines, but Alex never, ever, made a folding bicycle.

A number of people have adapted Moultons into folding bicycles but Alex never did. The question that many Moulton researchers and enthusiasts have asked themselves is “Did he ever, in secrecy, produce a folding prototype?” More than 20 years ago, when I first saw a colour slide in the Moulton archives of the bike featured here, I thought for a few seconds that I had found evidence of just such a machine. But it did not take long to establish that this, too, is a separable machine, albeit a unique variant on the theme.

The original Moulton Stowaway joint, used in a minority of production F-frame Moultons in the 1960s, was very unforgiving if the bike was ridden without the joint bolt being fully tightened. Just one short ride with the bolt loose would distort the joint, making it looser in the vertical plane when ridden yet harder to separate.

In the 1970s, Alex Moulton made a little known attempt to improve the Stowaway joint. The only known example exists in a prototype Mk 4 Moulton. (The Mk 4 was a development of the Mk 3 that never went into production.)

Alex’s aim was to produce a joint that was fail-safe and that would not be damaged if ridden without being fully tightened. The resulting design is shown in the photos below. The front section of the main beam has a primary hook at the lower end of the joint end. This hooks over a peg on the rear section of the main beam. The top of the front section of the main beam bears upon a “hooded” forward extension of rear part of the main beam, thus holding the two parts of the main beam loosely together.

Rather than just relying on the primary hook joint, there is a pair of secondary pivoting hooks within the front section of the main beam. These hook around a peg that runs through the central axis of the rear section of the main beam. To complete assembly of the bike, the frame’s short “carrying handle” is swung into its horizontal position and fastened around the seat tube, just above the squashball suspension unit, using a bolt with a quick-release lever. A cam on the underside of the carrying handle, near its pivot, locks the secondary hooks in position. The combination of the secondary hooks and the bracing effect of the carrying handle make the joint tight in the ridden mode.

To separate the frame, the carrying handle is unbolted and swung forward, which releases the pair of secondary hooks via the cam in the carrying handle. The two parts of the frame can then be separated by releasing the primary hook.

In conclusion, this prototype joint is certainly a belt and braces job but is very complicated, expensive to manufacture and relatively heavy. It is not surprising that it never saw the light of day.

Mk4 special joint 1

Mk4 special joint 2 Mk4 special joint 3 Mk4 special joint 4  Mk4 special joint 6Mk4 special joint 5

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.