Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So Whats With the Raleigh?

Every red blooded American boy wants a bicycle. Hearty, heavy, Built like a car. Strong enough to take the abuse of jumping over any ramp of any height.
If it wasn't a Car, it was a Motorcycle. Banana Seats and High Rise Handlebars were the rage growing up in New England.
So whats with the Raleigh? The kids that showed up for "Woods Rides" on their roadsters just did not cut it. The chain slapping on the hockey stick shaped chain guard was a true turn off. No car or motor bike would ever make such a sound.
But when the bikes out performed anything we tried as a group, the saying we came up with was "On a Raleigh?" It was heard over and over until we were all riding them and putting them through certain Hell that the bicycle was never designed for.
In the late 60's, 3 speeds, mostly Raleighs were being thrown out every week end to make room for the Riding Mower. It was the dawing of the "Ten Speed" and the heavy black bike with only 3 gears was no longer wanted. It was common to find a mid 50's Raleigh Sports with very little miles on it standing up by the metal pile as if there was at least a little of respct.
I remember going to the Natick Dump by bike and finding a 23" Sports without wheels and coming back the next week to find the wheels.
There was a time at Natick that there was over 15 26x1 3/8 Raleigh Patern Rimed wheels. About a third were Sturmey Archer AW hubs and a couple SW. Being on a bike, I cut the spokes, locked the rims to the dump's fence and brought the hubs home.
The Raleigh became what we called our "Moble Units" Set up with racks (Also from the dump) We could get into the woods and set up a campsite quicker that walking. Leaving our 10 speeds at home, The Raleigh became our legs for normal every day life and our "Truck" to deal with it. This was my begening to owning more then one bicycle.
For the first time I had a bike I felt safe locking up and walking away. The go anywhere bike and it was free.

Mobile Unit One, 1970

1 comment:

  1. I can remember back to the early '70's when working at A.R. Adams Cycle in Erie, PA (Schwinn/Raleigh/Roger Riviere/Astra/Concord), we couldn't give the Sports away. Everybody just had to have drop bars and ten speeds. Never mind that the Sports was a better bike for what most of those customers would have needed. Which was usually an evening slow ride thru the neighborhood after dinner. Unfortunately, three speeds weren't fashionable.