Saturday, June 30, 2012

So Whats With the DL 1?

Why would anybody want to ride a bike that is twice the size and weight of any other bicycle? Why do their owners love them so?

Mostly steel, the Raleigh DL 1, has not changed in design for over 90 years. Rod pull brakes need to be understood to stop. Hopping on a DL 1 can be an adventure all in it self

The first thing you notice is how far away the front of the bicycle is from where your sitting. Two Zip Codes away is how some put it. The wheels are huge, the tallest of any pneumatic road tire available. They measure 28 1/2" and roll over anything smoothly.
My bike measures 6 1/2 feet long and weighs over 45 pounds. When you get a bike like this up to speed, it seems to want to roll for ever.
People describe riding a DL 1 to like the ride of a Cadillac. That is what I heard first when I was told of the model sold at Olkens in Wellesly in the early 70's.
Not many were sold, but Richard Olken, brother of Benny from the Bi-Ex, did stock the bike. Hearing about the bike without seeing one first, it was hard for me to understand why one would ever want such a bicycle. It only took one ride.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The DL 1's and Hurricane Mountain Road

Back in the late 70's when I first started riding a DL-1, we took them everywhere.There wasn't a place that we had been on our "Lightweights" that we had not wanted to ride with what were now our favorite every day bikes.
Having a few days off from work, Good friend,Steve Fagon and myself went up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, parked his car and headed off for an overnight ride and camp out.
Lightly loaded we left his VW Squareback parked in Ashland NH and headed north.
It was late Summer and the weather was perfect for a ride and overnight stay in the woods. We arrived late in the afternoon, so finding a place to camp off the road was first on the list of things to do.
We woke the next morning for a nice breakfast of hot coffee and Swiss Familia. Powdered milk kept cold overnight in the river's rushing water made it almost taste good.
Without a plan of where to ride, I remembered that the company that made my Gortex jacket, "Log House Designs" was possibly near by. All first issue Gourtex fabric delaminated causing big ugly bubbles all over the jacket. It still worked fine, But because of its ugliness, It had been recalled and makers of Gourtex clothing were exchanging your old for their new.
The tag on my jacket said, "Chatam NH" but looking my map I couldn't find anything close to that name.
We packed up and headed to town to find a phone booth and call to find if it made sense to do the ride.
The folks on the phone were great, They said Yes, we will be happy to exchange your jacket. I told them where we were and asked them the best way to ride. It sounded simple, "Head 12 miles South, 6 miles West, 18 miles North and you will be here."
I said, that's all fine, but how about if we just head 6 miles West and then 6 miles north?
The voice on the phone said," You can't go that way, You would have to ride up and over Hurricane Mountain Road!"
Funny, Hearing the word "Can't" was all the more of a reason to do it.
We had never heard of the road before. We knew about the "Toll Road" And the road to "The Cog", but never Hurricane Mountain Road. It sounds great, doesn't it? Maybe constant strong winds caused it to be called "Hurricane." Yes, all the more reason.

We started out going up. Constant up and then up some more. Up and up. There were times that passing cars looks as if they were not going to make it. The look on the passengers faces were like they were looking at ghosts. Us.
It got to the point that Steve realized that he might leave thing behind to later come back and pick them up. I told him, "I'm not climbing this again today, so if your leaving anything, say good by to it."
He removed his kickstand and bolted it to a sign of a truck going up hill through a bullet hole.

We made it to what seemed to be the top, but it kept going up. I started to think that the voice on the phone was right, You cant ride over "Hurricane Mountain Road on a Bicycle."
It took us a while to finally reach the top. The only thing worse then the climb was the decent on the Maine side. The road crossed over the state line and if you have ever ridden over state lines on back roads, you would know that neither state cares enough about the surface to keep it smooth. Rod Brakes worked well on the down hill, It was all a matter of stopping every once and a while and then heading off again. Fast.

We arrived at "Log House Designs" in Chatham. Funny the only way to get to this New Hampshire town was to go into Maine. The staff was so impressed that we had made it, they stopped work and came out to see what they called "Our Special Bikes" One person called them "Mountain Bicycles" years before we ever heard that name used again.

Check out this video of a ride down what we rode up:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Warrens Raleigh Roadster

Good friend and long time riding partner, Warren has been riding Raleighs off road before the Mountain Bike Craze , He was on the first Veterans Day Ride back in the late 70;s as well as last years.

His most resent acquisition to his collection is this Beautiful 1949 Raleigh Sports.
Beautiful shape, His Raleigh Roadster is the perfect specimen of a time gone by.

1949 Raleigh Sports

Starting Them Off Early

Some were lucky enough to experience the Roadster style at an early age. Check out this beauty the came into the shop the other day. Enjoy the Photographs

1950 Sunbeam Winkie

Chain Drive, 18" wheels, with a Gearcase!

Rod Brakes, Elegant!

There was a collection of pebbles in the seatbag. They had been there for 58 years!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sunday Breakfast Ride

Another Beautiful day on Planet Earth. This past Sunday morning was the best weather for enjoying,,, period!

The rain from the night kept the dust down and made the air clear, clean and crisp. Cool in the shade, warm in the sun! "Intoxicating!" is how my friend William would have said it. New England at its finest.

Concord Center was in full swing. The bustling little village was swarming with life. Smiles galore.

A wonderful breakfast was had by all!

Back on the Battle Road, for the most part, all to ourselves . Lets hear it for the unpaved trails!

Ain't Life Grand!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hot Fun in the Summer Time

Is there any better way to enjoy a hot summer day then on your Raleigh Roadster on a beautiful shaded country road. Away from cars, that only seem to make things hotter, the Raleigh Roadster carries you along as if on a cloud.
Getting out early and staying in the shade is the best trick for enjoying the Summer heat.
There is a big difference today between the temperature in the sun and the temperature in the shade.
Week day New England bicycle touring has you riding alone. Enjoy the day and remember to bring something cool to drink!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stuck Cotter Blues

There are two types of Raleigh Roadsters collectors. The ones that have had a stuck crank cotter and the ones that haven't had a stuck cotter yet.
"They just don't make them like they use to!" and its a good thing they don't. Stuck cotters are no fun at all. You know it is stuck almost as soon as you start to remove the crank. Pounding on a cotter that is completely bent over from a press usually doesn't help and can bend a BB Spindle.
Time to drill. Carefully cut off the top with a hack saw. Drilling will eventually free a stuck crank, but it can take up to an hour and if your not careful, you can ruin a good Bottom Bracket Spindle by drilling through the flat.
My advice to those in the hell of stuck cotter removal is from a good friend Chris Cooper. Cooper advises to simply ride with the nut and washer removed after soaking the cotter and crank with some kind of thin oil. Surprisingly enough, It works!
Look at it this way, wouldn't you rather ride the bike instead of working on it? This way you are doing both!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Simple Tips About Adjusting Rod Brakes.

Its funny how I read and hear about Rod Brakes, or what some call, roller brakes. For the most part, its all bad news.
Rod Brakes scare most mechanics. They don't understand them. They say they do, but if they cant adjust them to work, they don't.
The brake is simple. Its multi pivots and binder bolts confuse the best Wrench. They for the most part, don't know where to start.
Let me first say, Adjusted correctly with fresh pads, Rod Brakes work great. I have used them in the Berkshires, Green Mountains and in the Whites. Hurricane Mountain Road comes to mind. A hill so steep its scares the rider of any style braking system.
The first thing to understand is that most Rod Brake bikes were never set up correctly to begin with.

Out of the box, they were never right and when delivered to the customer, they were never adjusted. Figure you have only ridden rod brakes that were not set up correctly if you don't think they will ever work safely.
The quick fix is to raise the Handle Bars. About 1/4 inch will suffice. This by design of the brakes will move the pads closer to the front and rear rim at the same time.
Next, make sure the pads are hitting the rim correctly, Out of line brake pads wont stop the bike, so loosen the holder and with a rosin or rubber mallet, knock them into line.

The most important thing about Rod Brake Adjustment is Brake Lever Throw. If you don't have enough throw, you wont have enough leverage. To adjust this, its time to do some metal bending.

Hold the lever at the out most boss, or handle bar mounting. Be careful not to allow the boss to be used as a bending point or else you could strip it from the bar and then its all over.
Hold the bar and lever and bend down on the lever. Its soft enough that over time, you will need to do this again. The bend for most unadjusted rod brake levers will be about 1".

Proper adjusted rod brakes will have the bike stopping safely. It take a little time for the pad and rim to adjust, but over time ,they will smooth out and cause less front end shutter. Remember, wet steel rims need to be warmed and wiped before sure stopping. In the rain. I like to ride with the brakes on every once in a while.
The DL 1 is my bike of choice for deep snow, winter commuting. Big wheels and just the right tire cross section are perfect and with these simple tips about adjusting rod brakes, will have you stopping as well as any cable style system.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Fathers Day Ride

So you say, "Hey!, How Come I wasn't told about the fathers day ride?"

Turns out everyone that would have showed up, showed up!

A New Day has Come. No Busrug adventure is complete with out lubing up the Raleighs. This time, The Raleigh Riders.

The Man with the "Special Lubricant"

Funny the older can of Lube tasted just like "Sambuca" and the newer "Lube" like "Kahlua"

Funny how good this old oil tasted in our coffee!

What a beautiful day for such a special event. Three riders, Three smiles.
The Raleigh's did their part suppling total enjoyment for the on and off road Bosrug Fathers Day Adventure.

An Extra special breakfast at the Main Street Market, Cafe in Concord Center was had by the riders 3, and back on the road to finish with the "Battle Road"

I Hope you had a wonderful Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day

My Father was not a cyclist. I don't think I ever saw him even sit on one. He provided many a bike for us Chamberlain's, but never one for himself.
He knew how to fix them as well as anything around the house.
I once gave him the book "Bicycles and Tricycles" A 536 page book by Archibald Sharp, reprinted by the MIT press about bicycle design from 1896's. He read it in one afternoon. I asked him, "What did you think?" His comment was, "Not bad if you like pluming." He wasn't trying to be funny. He was a designer for Raytheon and had hundreds of pattens.
I don't remember him working without a "Lucky Strike" near by. He loved those things, but quit overnight when he was told to.
We were always allowed to ride. Out of town tours were common at age 6. As long as we promised to walk across intersections, we could venture into other towns, exploring at an early age. We always traveled with friends, never alone. Rides of 20 miles before I was 10 had us seeing the world on our own and at the same time giving my mom a break and a little quiet.
I remember we use to drive my father crazy going in and out of the house all day long. He put a counter on the door just to keep track for the fun of it. We broke it in short order. It's no wonder he didn't mind us riding off for the day.
I miss my Dad, I can't imagine ever riding with him, just not his thing, but he knew how much we loved it and always provided us what we needed to continue our adventures.

He would have been 96 years old on June 18th.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What a great time of year!

I Always Carry a Camera.

I always carry a camera, sometimes two.
I was told back in the early 70's to NEVER carry a camera in a bag on the bike.
The reason was because of the road shock, the camera will eventually get beat up. The couple were a Husband and Wife Film company in Bennington, VT. They went on to tell me that the edges of the lens elements cant withstand the shock and will develop marks that will eventually ruin the lens. Delicate electronics weren't designed to withstand pot holes, (Go Figure!)
As a result, a Mountainsmith waist pack is what I use for my antique cameras and a small Jannd waist pack when its raining for the GoPro.

Some of my cameras are light enough to not suffer to much with the constant abuse of our New England roads, but sometimes good as well as bad habits are hard to break. Having the cameras on me to absorbe the shock has worked well over time.

Carry a camera with you any way you can and use it a lot. Having to carry it in a bag attached to your frame is better then no camera at all, but think about it, Would you want to be in the bag while someone is riding on these streets?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another Rider Checks In

I had another Raleigh Roadster Rider check in yesterday. Its so nice to see folks enjoying my work. Thank You Don!


My wife and I ride Raleigh Roadsters, a 1948 and a 1978 Tourist. We
have the same leg inseam allowing two mens bikes to make a pair. We
use these on the gravel roads near us in SE Michigan. As you suggest,
this is where nature actually exists without automotive blur. As a
fortieth wedding anniversary I gave Suzanne a set of Brooks roll up
panniers. She finds them delightful for farm market shopping. They
also look good in the up position, suggesting forward movement.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rainy Day, Raleigh Roadster

A Rainy Day is good for a lot of things.Sometimes the last thing to come to mind is a bicycle ride.
What better bike to take out then a bicycle that was designed for a rainy world. The Raleigh Roadster is just that. Full fendered, up high and comfortable! Slow going will have you missing some of the rain drops and smelling the clean air. Hard not to smile.
Sunny days bring everyone out. Bike trails become a human slalom course. Nice to be alone with the one you want to ride with and see only the daring. Walkers and commuters alike don't miss the sun when it comes to extra space in the places we love to ride.
Enjoy the day on your Raleigh Roadster and remember to warn the walkers by shouting "No Brakes!"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This Made My Day!

A simple note from a reader came in yesterday morning. Its great to see that someone enjoys my blog enough to take the time to wright. Thank You Bruce!

Hello Scott,
I have just recently found your blog while searching around for images of older Raleigh roadsters. It has been completely enjoyable reading your observations of the hobby.
Your writing, pictures, and website design are all beautiful, and to my mind very evocative of the three speed experience.
Restoring Raleigh three speeds has been a hobby of mine for about 5 years. My wife and I use them for errands and for pleasure cruises around town.
We also sometimes take them with us on day trips to islands off the coast, or to Acadia Park. It is one of lifes simple pleasures.
I will be a regular visitor to your blog, and look forward to your future articles. Thank you for the gift.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunny Sunday

What a beautiful day for a ride. Perfect for a Raleigh Roadster. Too nice to ride with your head down, seeing nothing but the broken glass and cigarette butts.

Heads up and happy at a speed that you won't miss a thing. Roll it out and roll out! Getting passed by the heads down riders isn't as bad as having to ride like them. I love it when they go away extra fast!
Heads up riding with good friends on a Sunny Sunday is a Lovely way to ride.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Matched Pair

Its hard to find with people, harder to find with bicycles.

Its not often you find the perfect couple. Relationships are tough and what one person loves, your lucky if the other sorta likes.
You sometimes wonder why couples stick together and their motives. One might guess, but one can only hope that their "Stick to It" is solely love.
You hear of couples that are celebrating there 40th anniversary. Forty years is a long time to stay as two. You really have to congratulate folks for dealing with another person after the honeymoon is over and keeping the flame burning.
Call it luck, but what ever, lucky are the few that can stick to the plan and follow through for the good of it all.

Forty year old Matched Pair of Raleigh DL-1's

Matched bicycles are hard to find. Years of collecting I have only come across 3 sets of bikes that were purchased on the same day as a men's and women's pair. You can two bikes that are alike and match their components, but its just not the same. Reason of love were their connect but in most cases, in time they get split up. The men's gets run into the ground while the women's, sits and waits.

Many a women's bike has been bought only to be dismantled and its parts used to restore a men's model. Its true. Ask any collector and they will tell you that men's bike sell for more and the only reason to purchase a women's is for parts. Usually for about one quarter the price.

Having a matched pair of mens and womens bicycles that were originally purchased together is rare. Keeping the pair together makes using the bikes extra special and all the more reason of enjoyment. People notice and smile. A ring of their bells and a friendly good morning, the matched pair will roll gracefully, forward in time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Speed Magic

I have used a Sturmey Archer AW, three speed hub for years. I could build one in a trash bag if asked. Except for loading the pawl springs, I could get one back together from a pile of parts without looking.
This might seem like a lie to anybody reading this that doesn't know exactly what's in that little can shaped "Black Box", but if you have ever built one twice correctly, you can do it again and most likely without looking. Its funny to me that most mechanics that know how to assemble an AW, don't know how they work. True! Ask.

I like to explain how the hub works by telling a story about a fishing reel. High gear (3rd) is like your legs powering the hand crank and the bail is the wheel.
Low gear,(1st) is like your legs powering the bail and the wheel is the hand crank.
Second gear is direct drive.To explain any more would require a hub in hand to show how the clutch is pulled and pushed to engage the planet cage or disengage the high gear pawls.

Both the three speed hub and the fishing reel are what's known as a "Planetary Gear" or "Epicycle Gearing."

Here is the magic and a story. As long as the "Sun Pinion" on the axle doesn't break, almost anything else can and allow you to keep riding in 2nd gear.

On my last day of my tour in Totnes, Devon, Uk, I spent the day riding around going back to GPS points to set up and take photos.

1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow
After 3 stops, I needed to ride down town, about 200', and ride up on the other side of the valley for 3 more photo shoots.
Riding through town I felt and heard a large crack. After that a click, click, click. Not Good.
I needed to take the photos at 250 feet above town, ride back and then climb 265' up to the B&B to pack the bike for the trip back to Boston.

Other then the click, the bike worked fine in all three gears. I stayed seated in the saddle and did the climb expecting the hub to give way.

Returning back to Boston, I dismantled the hub and found a broken Planet gear.

Broken Planet

As seen in "Raleigh Project One" the AW hub will work for years missing one of these little gears. In this case, the broken chip was never found.

An extra note to this story, I have had 3 Sturmey Archer AW hubs "Explode" while on tour. Another story for another day.

1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow with broken hub