20 September 2009

The New Bike

Raleigh Competition frame in black
OK, we own it, I can tell you all about it now.

Riding Pretty, I'm sorry it's not a step-through for the Boston Tweed Ride. That WOULD be exciting! No, it is the bike I promised to build my Dad if he rode his other bike regularly.

Carlton Raleigh CompetitionIt is a Raleigh Competition GS. The seller says it's from the early to mid 1970's, but I'm starting to think it's later, it has more in common with Sheldon's 1979 than his 1976. Anyway, we're certain it was handmade by Carlton from Reynolds 531 Butted Tubes with Campagnolo dropouts and fork ends. It has delicate gold pinstriping around the head tube lugs.

Raleigh Carlton Competition bottom bracketThe Competition was 3rd among the offerings from Raleigh/Carlton, after both the Professional and the International (which I love). This bike is perhaps even nicer than my Dawes townie (I love you that much Dad!). It's certainly in very good shape, particularly the decals and that rich black paint.

Here are the specifics from the seller:

Seat Tube (center to center) .......... 23" (58 cm)
Top Tube (center to center) ........... 56 cm
Wheelbase ............................. 100 cm
BB Height ..............................10 5/8"
Chain Stay Length ..................... 42 cm
BB Threading ........................ English 1.37 x 24
Seat Post Size ........................ 27.2
Rear Spacing .......................... 122 mm
Stand Over Height ..................... 33"
Drop Outs (rear) ....................Campagnolo 1010
Fork Ends (front) .................. Campagnolo

Reynolds 531 Raleigh CompetitionIn many ways this bike will be a group project with friends of this blog. I will use the three-step paint cleaning procedure taught to me here by longtime reader ALF, which is particularly effective on dark paint. I will use the chrome restoration brush technique taught to me by Monotomy Vintage Bicycles. I will use everything I've learned in the last few years, from reading, riding, and volunteering at Bikes Not Bombs, in order to make Dad the best possible bike.

Aside from the technical considerations, there are the aesthetic ones. I'd had a firm plan, but like all early plans this one needs revision. I thought I'd find a lower-quality frame in the first place, and it would be green or aqua, or something that I could turn green or aqua. My father is a life-long surfer and those are his favorite colors. He also has, for his whole life, wanted to own a Woodie. I thought I would get wood fenders and chainguard and so he would finally have his Woodie.

Trouble is, this frame is black and chrome, a little more sophisticated than I had planned. To add to that, I have chrome hammered Honjo fenders that are not being used, and an extra chrome chainguard from France - all just taking up precious space in my apartment. They would look so good with the chrome stays on this bike.

So what do you think readers? Aesthetically, do I build the bike that would tickle my Dad's fancy? Or do I build the best-looking bike for the excellent frame that I have? I will add that the frame is closer to my husband's size than my father's (though Dad is aging and a smaller bike is ok). If we ever found the perfect frame for wood fenders, I imagine the chrome Raleigh could find itself a home...

What would you do?

See Next Installment


MamaVee said...

not knnowing anything about bikes but speaking froma design point- build it to the frame. Ie do what the frame calls for. As you said, if you find the frame that calls for the wood pieces you can jump on that and switch it out.

That's my two cents...

what a nice daughter you are.

Trisha said...

Beautiful! Here's one vote for building to the frame you have. Sounds like you found this one for a reason. :) Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Filigree said...

Oh my. Oh my! This is indeed a sophisticated frame. Congratulations on the fabulous find! My husband would love this colour scheme; this would be a dream roadbike for him.

In response to your question: My gut feeling is that you should find your father a different frame (in the colour scheme he likes and of the caliber you originally had in mind) and build this one up for your husband with components that would be more appropriate for it. They will both appreciate it more.

Charlotte said...

Thank you all, I think I'm leaning that way, though those wood fenders do have what reads as a black and white stripe. Add brown leather saddle and shellac on cork grips to coordinate with the brown wood and you have a pretty good looking bike!

Filigree, we live in a tiny South End apartment and are already one bike over capacity (leaning in the narrow hallway) with two in a storage locker in Cambridge. There is NO way we can keep this bike right now, much as I really want to! My thought would be that sometime down the road we'd have more space and my husband could commute on a full-size bike. He loves his Brompton but there are conditions under which a full-size bike would be better (carrying children, for example). But that's a ways down the road... For now I have to make Dad a bike. Hmmmmm.

RidingPretty said...

Oh well I guessed wrong...
I certainly have TWEED on the brain. I'm so excited for your upcoming Boston Tweed Ride.

I also like the group effort concept building up this bike, what great combined contributions!

Either way you go, Dad is a lucky man!

kfg said...

"So what do you think readers?"

I think I'm jealous. I almost bought one of those new back in the day, but an Italian lure (Atala Pro) managed to snag an Anglophile away from it.

"What would you do?"

*I* would build to the frame, so maybe it's better you have it than I after all, as I would consider building to the frame to mean Campy Nuovo Record stuff, which has become even pricier and harder to find now that a new generation has started collecting them. Ten years ago I thought Campy brake hoods had moved out of my financial league. Little did I know that I should have cornered the market on them as an investment.

A Suntour Superbe group would do in a pinch if you had the right Japanese donor bike, but if you had one of those, well, you'd have a really good bike right there.

What you have there is a club racer, even if that was not your goal; and one of the better and classier ones at that. It would not be inappropriate to build it as a fast rando bike (many club racers were), but when you start talking wood, cork, twine and shit, I think you need to go find another frame.

Filigree said...

I understand, we have a tiny apartment as well. The bicycles live in my art studio, but the situation is fast becoming unmanageable!

SNARKitecture101 said...

Awesome find! I have the exact same frame (circa 1980) and it is a great ride. I lightly restored it and now ride the bike every single day for the pure enjoyment. Good luck!

PS. Here a link to the whole start to finish cleaning:


JPTwins said...

great find charlotte!

i went back and read the original post about the bike you built up for your dad. I didn't get the impression that he's going to go out on a 100km brevet, or even race his mile commute to work. I also don't know how, um, "classy" he wants to be. I'm from Cali, and I think I know what you mean when you talk about him being a life long surfer.

so, my suggestion: fight the urge to build this bike back up to the glory it might have been before, as a race-oriented bike. Make this a bike beautiful, but more importantly functional for him. I saw he had the rear baskets in back before -- keep those, or get him something along the same lines. Perhaps some porteur bars form Velo Orange to keep the upright feel, but give a little chrome bling. The wooden fenders would match that well, with maybe a nice wine box on the rear rack? ideally, single chainring in front, with a dereailer or internal hub in back, but i guess it depends on the hills where he lives. In santa cruz, where my family lives, it can be all flat or all hills.

A friend of mine built up a great very fancy single speed for his sister in brooklyn, and it was almost too fancy, so she worried about it too much. you want him to ride it, not worry about it.

Good luck, and keep us posted! I hope my daughters are as generous as you seem to be.


PS, are you doing the HubOnWheels?

Charlotte said...

Snarkitecture - yours is GLORIOUS! Thank you for posting your link, your bike is along the lines of what I was thinking (though no drop bars for Dad these days).

kfg, I love my International as a randonneuring bike, and I'm thinking that if I ever do find Dad his Woodie he will have kept this frame safe and sound in California for me. Here's hoping I'm half putting it in dry storage! :)

JPTwins, I think you do get it. Dad's an environmental attorney in Monterery County, though before the heart surgery you would have seen him in Santa Cruz surfing Pleasure Point any time he could. I have a dream of him riding this bike to court, though the courthouse in Monterey is far from his office and Jack's Peak has some serious hills.
I am thinking single chainring in front, and a derailleur in back, I even found the most beautiful stem shifter I've ever seen at Bikes Not Bombs yesterday. Who knew they could be nice? My big question is whether they make 5-speed freewheels with enough range for him? If he has no front chainring he needs all his range back there.

One more detail - Dad is suddenly single again and he does ride his bike to some of his dates. I thought this bike would make a better impression.

I haven't decided about Hub On Wheels yet, we were just discussing that at breakfast this morning! Will you be there?

JPTwins said...

well, based on the fact that he is in Santa Cruz, i would give him a double chainring in front, on the off chance he wants to (or needs to) ride up a tougher hill. If there's enough width, you can get a decent 6-sp or 7-sp freewheel at BnB. I did that for my wife's bike and gave her a small chainring in front. the idea is not to go fast, just be comfortable and look good!

If you do go with this frame, I have no doubt it will look nice, no matter what add-ons you use. And as a friend in SF pointed out: it so rarely rains in santa cruz, he probably won't even need fenders.

yeah, we're doing the HubOnWheels, but due to a recent appendectomy, I decided to downgrade to the 10 mile ride with the whole family. I'll be on my blue xtracycle with a trailer. I should be easy to spot.


kim said...

do you know the serial number of your frame (should be on the bottom bracket)? that would help you determine whether it's mid-70s or late. i'm thinking you're right about the late 70s, but the serial number would tell you for sure. btw, i have a 1980 competition too. just bought it, and mine has the European-market decals (and the box framing) and Shimano 600EX/Arabesque components. I think i'm going to put non-drop bars on mine, too. good luck w/building up the frame, whether for your Dad or your hubby!

kim said...

here's a link to some serial number information...maybe it will help you determine the age of your new frame!

http://www.jaysmarine.com /TH_raleigh_serials.html


Dottie said...

Very nice! I look forward to reading all about your progress. My husband is currently building up a vintage Raleigh frame (an International. I love the look of them.

Charlotte said...

Dottie, an International? So exciting! What color did he get?

Kim, thank you for the info - the frameset is still in CA but when I get it I will date the bike, thanks to you!

Tony said...

Beautiful frame! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress, and checking out the links on the other comments. I just picked up a Carlton Criterium here in Oxford, where my wife and I just moved from JP (you posted the picture of us on the Blue Schwinn Twinn that I sent you last year). It's aqua and I haven't learned much else about it yet. Anyone know anything about the Criterium?


Charlotte said...

WOW, check out this Carlton restoration!

kfg said...

Well, if you ARE going to go older school than "age appropriate" for this frame, you might want to look at the Fuji Cambridge for inspiration. Maybe some upside down VO Milan bars instead of the North Roads for an even sportier look (at the expense of an "aero" position on the bends).

Either lacquer the wood fenders black to match the frame, or score a set of metal ones like the Fuji/Masi Soulville (wood is actually a better material for flat fenders though. It holds its shape and is rather quieter. The very properties that make metal formable into strong curved channels make it weak in sheets. There's a reason that car doors and hoods are all curvy, and it ain't style).

And seriously consider steel cranks. Not modern ones, but ones made back in the day when people still understood steel. Maybe hard to find. Maybe worth it. The best steel cranks out elegant aluminum a gazillion fold.

As much as I respected (and respect) SB, what he did to that poor, defenseless Competition makes my eyes and brain bleed.

As for gearing it pick the low gear you want and let the high end fall where it may. big rings/wide range are for pedaling downhill at max possible speed. For someone who likes to take his time to catch the right hill, tuck into the curl and go all Zen with it there's simply no need for a gear any bigger than you can not quite spin out on the level.

Just my four cents worth.