Restoring & Updating A Classic
Touring Bicycle

22 March 2012

The pursuit of rebuilding a classic Raleigh that is safe enough for San Francisco or Seattle streets (e.g., hills, narrow streets, wet/slick pavement, etc.)

After all, all you need is a three!

Because contemporary versions of the classic are rare in the US (or even in England).

First, some safety tips:

Here is Sheldon Brown’s rebuild of a classic Raleigh intended to be an interpretation of the classic Raleigh Sports/Superbe 3-speed, only with higher-quality materials and with improved modern technology.

The closest stock production model found as of 2013 is from Linus Bikes of Marina del Rey, California.

Original Components

Original gear ratios compared to Shimano Nexus 7 or 8 speed hubs

      Sturmey    Shimano
      Archer     Nexus

    Ratio of front chainwheel
    to rear sprocket:
      46 / 13    46 / 13

                1.615 10.
    1.333 8.7     13.8%
                1.419 9.2
     33.3%        16.0%
     step       1.223 7.9
    1.000 6.5   1.000 6.5
     33.3%      0.851 5.5
     step         13.8%
                0.748 4.9
    0.750 4.9     16.1%
                0.644 4.2
                0.527 3.4

Crank arms upgraded to Race Face, which of course required new bottom-bracket. Fortunately, the bottom-bracket thread count that became the standard was the English version. Any modern set should work fine!

Original front fork: 87mm over locknut dimension

Original frame: 110mm over locknut dimension


Selection of tires:

If repainting, get vintage decals.

Internal Geared Hubs

While the Raleigh has an over locknut dimension of 110mm, the 155.0mm Axle requires 116mm over locknut dimension, which is easily accommodated by the steel frame. However, the big issue is that the 8-speed variety use 1:1 gear ratio for first gear and go up from there (whereas their 5-speed, the SRAM and Shimano models have the 1:1 gear ratio as the middle gear).

Building A Custom Bike

An excellent starting point: start with a fixie, flat bar, rigid/straight fork and frame that uses horizontal drop-outs, so custom washers may be used to ensure massive torque still won’t yank the hub out of the frame.

Conceptually, consider the Bianchi Milano but with substitutions:


Copyright © 2012 Daniel Joseph Pezely
May be licensed via Creative Commons Attribution.