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):
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.