This late 50’s junk store buy is a made in England, all steel classic. All-Steel was Raleigh’s claim to fame for years and they weren’t kidding. They also weren’t comparing themselves to makers of aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber bikes. No their steel bikes were far superior to bikes made from wood, cast iron, etc. This bike is really all steel wheels, bars, cranks, frame, fenders, well everything.
Back to mostly original and mostly unsafe condition. By today’s standard and the seat of my pants feeling all bikes from the 50’s were mostly unsafe. This particular bike has the infamous TCW 3-speed coaster brake hub in which the brake becomes non-existent should the shift cable get glitchy or the shifter get out of adjustment. Maybe if you’d recently had WWII on your doorstep, the occasional lack of brakes wouldn’t be so alarming. I live a safe secure life in the U.S. far from Hitler in both time and space, so the possibility of no brakes makes me uncomfortable.
With a “spare brake” on the front wheel and a new set of Schwalbe tires this bike is still a low speed, flat ground, peek into bicycling’s past. The iconic Sheldon Brown even devoted a page on his site to this model, the Raleigh Sports. From what I understand, until sometime in the 60’s all Raleigh’s were made in Nottingham, England and exported all over the world. My version, as indicated by the white fenders, was exported to Canada. Not surprising to find a Canadian model at a local junk store with Bellingham so close to the Canada/US border. Amazon Prime, probably other sites also, has a great video simply named Bicycle that delves into England’s long history and strong relationship with bikes.
Do I ride my Raleigh Sports? Not so much. Mostly it hangs on the wall in my office, with an occasional ride mostly just to keep it rolling and ride capable. One of the images in this post are from a local bike to work day a couple of years ago. The 3 flat miles each way was not too taxing on either my nerves or the old bike. I may look into any retro rides that may be around, something where nerdy tweed suits or other period clothing is NOT required or the norm.