Reconditioning a 1971 Raleigh Record Bicycle - Doug Barnes

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Reconditioning a 1971 Raleigh Record Bicycle

You might be asking the question whether it is worthwhile to a put lot of time into reconditioning a heavy 1971 ten-speed Raleigh Record bicycle. The answer is definitely no. The sales value won't match the price of the new components. However, this was my first road style bicycle, so for sentimental reasons the answer for me is resounding "yes."

Riding History

This bicycle has taken me up, over and down the mountains in western Pennsylvania. On this bike I have taken bicycle tours with heavy panniers in Nova Scotia, New York, Connecticut, Wisconsin and other states. There have been many century rides near and around Champaign, Illinois. For years I commuted to work on this bicycle in Washington DC, braving heavy traffic and clueless drivers. Eventually I bought other bikes, so I gave this Raleigh to my brother in 2001. In 2006 as a Christmas gift I reconditioned the bicycle for him, replacing some of the original components, but keeping most of them.

My brother rode this bicycle for local transportation in Washington DC. He did not have a car so this bike took him all over Bethesda and DC. In addition, he also spent a summer riding this Raleigh in Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The bike snobs looked down on the old Raleigh, but on return he was proud to say to me, "Going downhill I passed many of those $2000 bicycles." Of course going up those mountains was another story. Unfortunately my brother passed away in 2013. As a writer and enthusiast for the English language, he loved this bike because it was made in England. It reminded him of living in England during his graduate school days many years ago where he rode an old English roadster.

Once back in my possession I again reconditioned the bicycle in 2016. After replacing all ball bearings and cones during, the bicycle now rides like the day I bought it. It's heavy, but as my brother found out that means it goes really fast going downhill! The ride is steady as the Raleigh's steel frame geometry absorbs bumps and allows you to guide the bike straight and true on the open roads. The bike also feels very stable leaning into curves on hilly city streets. The Raleigh now serves as my bicycle of choice to ride around the neighborhood and to bike to local shops.

Technology History of Parts

This Raleigh spans several generations of bicycle technology development. The original 1971 model was manufactured entirely in Europe with all European components. The frame, forks and seat were made in England. The crankset, stem, derailleurs and freewheels all were made in France. The brakes were made by Weinmann in Switzerland.
Text Describing Raleigh Record
Raleigh Catalog, 1970
(Source: The Headbadge: A Vintage Bicycle Resource)
The replacement of the French made Huret Allvit derailleur and Atom freewheels came in the 1980s. The new components were from Suntour manufactured by Maeda Industries in Japan. The new Suntour derailleur was a superior design compared to European components (with the exception of Campagnolo). This was followed in 2006 by Japanese Shimano components made in Singapore and China. Finally, in 2015 in honor of my sore back I put a pair of Cane Creek Crosstop brake levers on the handlebars. Both this 1971 Raleigh Record and the bicycle industry have seen many changes during the last 40 years with production of bicycles and components moving from Europe to Japan, followed by Taiwan and Malaysia and more recently to China.
1970s Bicycle Components
Suntour Rear Derailleur and Shimano Front Derailleur
(Photo: Doug Barnes)
Be sure to watch the 2011 video on the refurbishing of this bike. I used the term refurbishing because this is not a museum piece. It is built to ride on the city streets of Washington, DC---today!

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