I decided I wanted to look into a step-through bike frame, to replace my current and beloved frame with a top tube. First, I felt guilty for betraying a trusted stead and faithful companion, about whom I’ve often said, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” (The Mechanic says I need to not personalize my bikes.) Then, I pondered whether or not a step-through frame fit my personality and style. To assist with that decision, I did some online research, and identified bicycles and brands that did not fit my personality and style, and some that did. Ultimately, I came back to the bike I had as a kid – I want exactly that bike!

I even have leg warmers now!

I even have leg warmers now!

The Mechanic said, “You’ve always loved those vintage Raleigh bikes because of the fork crown detail, so why don’t you look into those?” He did some research and felt pretty confident that he can upgrade a vintage 3-speed bike to gears closer to what I currently have, better suited for hilly Arlington, as well as whatever else might need to be done.Smart man, excellent mechanic.

A few minutes on Craigslist, and we came up with some contenders. One looked lovely but was olive green, and although I like olive green, it’s not my style, so I passed on that one. Two were listed as being silver, but one ad had neither pictures nor contact information, so there was no way to follow up. Therefore, Saturday we drove out to Leesburg to check out a silver early 70’s vintage women’s Raleigh. And I ended up buying it.

The beautiful little Raleigh

The beautiful little Raleigh

It’s a lovely, lovely bike, purchased from the original owner, who apparently rode it once after purchasing it in 1976, fell, and hasn’t touched it since then. The couple is downsizing to move into a retirement community, and the bike needed to go. It is in such good condition that the husband even handed us the original receipt (from Fort Hunt Bicycle Center in Alexandria, VA) and owner’s manual! What a find! I’m in love with the fork crown detail, the design of the front fender, the chain guard, the chain ring with it’s heron design, the rear fender with the huge red reflector, and the sleek silver color.

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However, it is waaaaaay too small for me. I knew it when the gentleman pulled it out of his truck. I knew it when I rode it around. But I thought The Mechanic could play with it and make it work. The Mechanic admitted that he didn’t measure it because he, like me, didn’t want to say no to the nice couple, with whom we chatted for a while. So, I am fostering this bike until I can find it a Forever Home. It is currently parked next to Fauntleroy, who initially threw it the evil eye, but knowing that it won’t replace him, he’s warmed up to the Raleigh. (In an attempt to not bond, I tried not to name it, but somehow it ended up as Quincy.)

They look like they should be closer in size than they really are, don't they?

They look like they should be closer in size than they really are, don’t they?

We might do a bit of clean up on the bike, replace the (original) break pads, and see if we can’t get the Sturmey Archer gear hub to shift more smoothly. But there isn’t much else to be done to it. We’ll put up a Craigslist ad of our own for this bike, and I’ll keep looking for this exact same thing – but in a larger size*. Because now that I’ve seen one, held it, hauled it up the stairs to our apartment, and ridden around on it, I really want one *just like this*!

 

*The seat tube measures 19.5″

4 thoughts on “Fostering a Vintage Raleigh Bicycle

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