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A Pictorial Tribute

Hardy Menagh   8/03/07

Men's Front

I started riding Raleigh Bicycles in 1973. As a teenager who needed basic transportation, I purchased a new Raleigh "Record". I rode it constantly with a friend who I discovered already had a Raleigh "Grand Prix". We loved those bikes and developed quite a bit of brand loyalty. I later lost that Raleigh and the subsequent one I bought, in accidents with cars.

Recently, two Raleigh bikes came back into my life.

There isn't much information about the Raleigh "Ltd-3" model on the Web. This is partly due to the fact that it's really just a feature-challenged Raleigh "Sports" model. When my wife and I came into possession of two Ltds, I thought it might be worthwhile to take some pictures and share them.

The Raleigh Ltd-3, an Economy Version of the Sports

The Ltd doesn't have mounting points for a pump (or the pump), nor did it come with a saddle bag. The tires are all black rubber not gum wall. Instead of the leather version from the Sports, the Brooks saddle on the Ltd is an economical, albiet fully sprung, vinyl model. The headlight bracket, also standard on the Sports is conspicuously absent. In some years, the Sports came with self-adjusting brakes. The Ltd never did. However, the frame, hubs and wheels and all other parts of the Ltd are common to those that you find on a Sports that was made at the same time.


These two 1972 Ltd-3s were given to us by relatives who had purchased them new. They had been ridden very little but were badly out of adjustment and had suffered damage from moving and storage. It took 3 full days to repair them, including replacing bent and missing spokes, truing wheels, cleaning, lubricating, adjusting, plus fabricating the broken and missing parts.

Wire Nuts

The Plastic Fulcrum Sleeve

Sometime just before or during 1965, Sturmey Archer changed a small and simple but important part for the 3-speed-hub bikes. The "Fulcrum Sleeve", a kind of ferrule and guide for the shift cable, had been made of machined steel. In a move to cut manufacturing costs, this part (and others) would now be made from molded plastic. It worked but was obviously less durable than the steel part and became quite brittle with age.

If you have an old 3-speed with this part, chances are you have had to replace it because it crumbled away, possibly at the worst possible time, while you were downshifting. The replacement part (also plastic) will cost about US3 to $4, or you can make one from a Bakelite wire nut.


A Home Made Version

The one shown in the pictures was made by prying the wire coil out of the nut with an awl, drilling a small hole for the cable in the end from the inside, flattening one side with a bench grinder and finally cutting a slot for the cable with a hack saw. Depending on the wire nut you use, you may also have to grind the outside radius down a little next to the flange. This will allow it to fit the Fulcrum Clamp properly. If you want, you can grind the flange back a little and round the edges to make your substitute Fulcrum Sleeve's true identity, less obvious.

The finished wire nut sleeve will work just like the original plastic one but may last a little longer. Bakelite is a fairly tough material.

Plastic Pulley

The metal Fulcrum Sleeve on the right in the picture with the wire nuts, is from a 1952 Raleigh Sports.

If you have metal working ability, you can make a metal replacement from a mild steel bolt of the correct diameter. You will need to cut it to length, drill two different sized holes in the ends, reshape the head into a flange, flatten one side and cut the slot for the cable.

Cruder, Quicker, Cheaper

There is a remarkable decrease in the quality of many of the parts of these '72 Raleighs as compared to the '52 but unfortunately, that's only to be expected and doesn't just apply to bikes. The average modern consumer doesn't have a clue about quality and wouldn't be willing to pay for it even if they did. Corners have to be continually cut to produce a competitive product. That and corporate greed is what led to the demise of the Nottingham Raleighs.

I'm unlikely to ever own a new Raleigh bike. They are just clones of all of the other cheaply assembled bikes from the far east. The only selling point they have is the Raleigh name and unfortunately that name as applied to these new bikes, is completely meaningless. There is no Raleigh heritage, nor quality, nor character (rant over).


Three Speeds may be all you Need

If you have never ridden a well adjusted English 3-speed bicycle, you have missed a very pleasant experience. Much has been written extolling the virtues of these bikes which were designed only with reliable transportation in mind but you really have to ride one to fully appreciate how beautifully they accomplish that task. These bikes are quite comfortable and have a geometry that works very well for most people. You can easily cruise along at a normal pace but if you want to go fast, the 3rd gear is plenty high enough to give you the speed rush you crave.

If your legs aren't strong, you may find the low gear with the stock 18 tooth sprocket to be a bit too high for some hills. For around US$4, you can get a 20 or 22 tooth replacement sprocket for your Sturmey Archer hub. This will also lower the other two gears but if you typically coast down hill instead of pedaling, it probably won't be an inconvenience.


Now that English made Raleighs are history, these old 3-speeds from the past century have a special significance. We will never see their like again. Treasure yours and keep it clean, lubricated and well adjusted. Most importantly, ride it and as you pass someone hunched over a modern lightweight omni-speed bike, going the other way, smile because, more than likely, you know something very special that they don't.

Drive Train

Trigger   Lady's Frame

Support your Local Bike Shop

Need a part? Before you order it online, check with the friendly folks at your local bike shop. If you don't, the next time you need something that you can't wait for, you might discover that they are no longer there.

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Copyright © 2007 Hardy Menagh