Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Micro-Bike In The Fleet

This is a red-letter day here at The Cycle: Our fleet has a new addition, and it is not (repeat, not) intended for our Chief Word-Dork. Instead, this one will be piloted by our Maker of Graphically Designed Stuff. And, seeing as it will be a part of our little Island of Misfit Toys, it's a bit... well, weird:

That, for those who don't know, is a Raleigh 20 folding bike. Cosmetically rough, but as far as I can tell, all original and mechanically solid as a rock -- which is especially important considering some of the oddball proprietary parts. I'd be lying if I claimed to have any knowledge about these things, but thankfully, I can rely on the late, great Sheldon "Who Else?" Brown.

Looking at the joints, you can see that this is a worker, not an elegant show bike:


Still, she's been getting miles (if the patina's to be believed) for almost as long as I've been on the planet, so the ladies and gents in Nottingham clearly knew what they were doing. This one also features Raleigh's tubular fork crown (shown here with more of that patina):


My understanding is that these were just made from tubing scraps, though that could be apocryphal. (Update: I recant! 'Tis a real fork crown, though an unusual one, per the comments of ever-wise Tarik of Moscaline, who has/had his own seriously pimped Twenty). When we brought the bike home, it was still wearing original brake pads (which the new owner described as "Fred Flintstone Brakes"), so I dug some Kool Stops from the stash. Had to run the front ones backwards due to tight fork clearances, but they work much better and don't squeal.

As I've already proclaimed my ignorance about these bikes, I'll spare you my drivel and just show off some gratuitous detail shots. Headbadge? Check:

Box lining? Oh, we got box lining:

Chainrings full of herons, and a pump peg behind (historical re-enactors should disregard the not-period-correct pedals):

Since this is our graphic designer's bike (and she's a giant typography nerd) , I'll throw in a "cool old logotype" shot:

Even the giant, dorky chromed mirror rocks a pretty cool reflector design from another era. I've yet to figure out how to adjust this thing so it reflects anything happening behind the rider, but it adds so much killer mod-scooter-style to the bike, it has to stay:

And, being a Raleigh, it has one more heron. My laughable research tells me this doohickey is a "lamp bracket", though I don't know what sort of lamp fits on there:

Since I can't resist trying out everything that comes near the top-secret laboratories here at The Cycle, I gave this one a very short spin. My first impression? I get why these bikes have a bit of a cultish following. It's certainly not as nimble or light as my Xootr Swift, but it wasn't intended to be. These were supposed to be a more compact version of the workhorse Raleigh Sports 3-speeds, and given that design brief, I'd call the bike a success. It is surprisingly solid -- if you didn't see the hinge, you'd be hard-pressed to tell that it folds.

Once I get some fresh rubber on the hoops (time has not been kind to the original tires), I'll feel safe turning our design staff loose on it and getting a report from the intended user.


Tarik Saleh said...

Apocryphal! The cross tubes have sockets that drop into the fork legs. I will upload a photo of the lamp that goes there. I have lots of advice if you need it. I would lube the everloving crap out of the headet bushings if you have the headset bushing variety. The ride will improve mildly at that point.

Tarik Saleh said...

The lamp:

I think those cross tubes are actually formed pieces of metal into the socketed-tube-crown shape. Raleigh was awesome that way...