Friday, November 14, 2014

The Golden Arrow

It wasent until I found my first Golden Arrow in the Sherborn Dump back in the early 70's that I really fell in love with a bicycle.

At that time I had owned 1 Raleigh 23" Raleigh Sports 3 Speed and a 24" Raleigh Sports 4 Speed, but it wasn't until the Golden Arrow that I realized "The Raleigh" was a bicycle of the highest quality that was looked at for years as one of the finest racing machines.

Before the Golden Arrow I had used my Raleighs as "Woods Bikes". Something to get me up to the pond and save time as well as the wear and tear on my racing bike and lightweight wheelset. Sort of a all purpose bicycle for camping and shopping the dump. Named by my close friend, Jon Currier, "Mobile Unit 1", was my pick up truck of bikes. I could move two complete bikes on my Raleigh Sports and not have to worry about puncturing a Tubular Tire or "Sew Up" as they were known back then.

My first Golden Arrow came in 3 phases. The first was the frame. I noticed immediately the differences in the frame angles, headset and removable chainring. The bicycle had no wheels. Figuring it was a three speed, I shopped the dumps for a set fitting for my new bike.
About a week later back at the Sherborn Dump, I found the wheel set. Fixed and Free, front and rear with the "R" wingnuts. There must have not been enough room in the car for the wheels on the first trip to the dump. The bicycle at this time still had black North Road Bars instead of the Lauterwasser style that it was originally sold with.

26 x 1 1/4 EA1 tires were rare back then I managed to scoop a pair of near perfect Dunlop Roadsters with the wheelset, but bicycle shops no longer sold that size.
It wasn't until about a year later, a roommate of a close friend came across a 30's Raleigh with Drum Brakes that felt the bike more fitting with up right bars, so we swapped.

Me on my Golden Arrow in October of 1977 after crossing into the infield at the flooded track at Watkins Glen for the US Grand Prix

The Golden Arrow as a fixed gear became my primary bicycle. I rode it everywhere. After becoming use to it super laid back feel with its very relaxed headtube angle and extremely raked fork, It became normal to me and felt right.
As time went on I would meet older riders that recognized the bike from having owned one. They too knew the feel of the Arrow and the love for the Raleigh. I learned that the bicycle was made in two sizes, but it was only the smaller 21" frame that was preferred by riders of all heights. The laid back seat tube angle would create the perfect top tube length as the seat was raised for the rider.

Bill Vandell on his 1936 Raleigh Golden Arrow. This shot was taken by Mr Landry in Concord, Ma in 1937

The Golden Arrow to this day remains my favorite Raleigh. I have owned three. On a later date I will do a "Part Two" to this story of how I came across my third. It was truly a dream come true!

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