Raleigh Twenty Folder

Yes, I got one of these.  Not because it is some amazing bike, but because it is such an amazing oddity.   20″ (451) wheels on a bike for full-size people and it folds and it’s a 3 speed Sturmey-Archer.  Waiting on new tires so I’ve only ridden up and down the neighborhood a time or two.  My thought on it so far is that it may look a bit weird but it rides just fine, certainly better than my 26″ Sports which is also a 3 speed Raleigh, albeit a couple of decades older.  Ya’ know as long as I don’t have to look at myself riding it, I think I will be okay.  If I catch my reflection in a window though, I may laugh myself into a crash.

In reading, I’m finding that the Raleigh Twenty in all its colors, styles, and brands is one of the most successful bike of all times, but if you don’t live in Europe or own an RV/boat then you may have never even heard of them.  They were the city bike of choice during the 60’s & 70’s due to their relative lightweight, their small size, their ruggedness, and the simplicity of an internally geared 3-speed hub.  They could also be quickly adjusted to fit a wide range of riders.  There was a basic model and a Shopper model, which was fitted with racks/baskets.  There were also folding and non-folding models.  Mine, a mid-70’s model, is actually named Raleigh Folder and as the name says, it folds.

As with so many things that were wildly popular in the past, but now mostly forgotten, the Raleigh Twenty has developed a cult following and the price for a clean unmolested example now exceeds the original sticker price.  So when popped up on Craigslist for $100, it caught my eye.  I keep my eye open for interesting or unique bikes, but I can’t have them all and I initially passed this one over.   Some weeks later it was still for sale and now discounted by $20 so it again caught my eye.  It wasn’t perfect, missing a front fender and the original seat, but is was in generally good shape.  I thought it would be fun to give it a go, so I drove out to the far reaches of the Ferndale zip code and came home with my own Raleigh Twenty Folder.  Was I  now a member of a cult?  Maybe just cultic dabbling, because I thus far haven’t abandoned all my other non-Twenty bikes.

My plans for this little bike are simple.  First, I plan to get it rideable and in good working order.  Second, I will wait for the missing original fender and seat to come up on the Ebay and snag them, returning my Raleigh to all it’s original glory.   Last, I will occasionally ride this little gem around looking somewhat stupid here in America, but probably having fun.