Saturday, June 11, 2011

Swimming in the deep end...

For those of you that read this blog, you will know what I mean by going off the deep end...  This picture should sum it all up...

Now for the back story..  There is ALWAYS a back story, isn't there?

I have recently been searching the interwebs daily looking for a very specific bicycle.  I would love to get my hands on a Raleigh Lenton Reg Harris from the mid 50's  I've set up auto-search and RSS on "Lenton" and  "Raleigh Bicycle" in the local and regional Craigslists and eBay looking for this hard-to-find bike.  I'm not sure why, I just love the idea of setting up a three-speed touring/road bicycle.  I'm getting sick of derailleurs and shifting 12-21 speeds...  I find I only use three of them anyway.

But I digress.  Yesterday, I came across a post in the local Seattle Craigslist for "a pair of Raleigh Twenty's."  I usually have pretty good will power NOT to look at these ads, because, well, they are just TOO tempting.  Not sure what prompted me to take a peek, but once I saw the pictures, I knew I was doomed to have a lighter wallet..

I knew there were white Twenty's, but I had no idea there were ORANGE ones!!  Does anyone know the complete color palette of these bikes in the US?

Pair the unique colors (and I had neither one in my current herd) with the fact that these bikes were IMMACULATE in terms of condition, and I was hooked.  Both bikes have pristine aluminum air pumps.  The decals are like new and the paint shows no signs of chalking.  Sure there are a few small blemishes and a tad of yellowing of the decals on the white one...  but hey, when I was that age, I had worse scars.

Here are a couple more shots just to give you an idea of how nice these bikes are.  There isn't even a speckle of black grease or dirty oil on the hub.  And in terms of wear, look at the pedals.  The rubber is perfect.

I purchased these bikes for $150 each from a very nice guy named Doug.  According to Doug, these bikes were his late parents and were purchased by them in the early seventies at a local Seattle bike shop - Gregg's Greenlake Cycle - it's still there.  "They just tootled around a bit... we took them to Stanley Park in BC once or twice... and then they ended up in the garage with a sheet over them for 40 years.."

In addition to the bicycles, I also got some other stuff.  A couple throw-away baskets for the front. But the most impressive thing was the original "Assembly Instructions...." and a set of Raleigh-specific "spanners.".

So that is about it... I gotta run to some graduation party now... but my mind will be elsewhere :-)



  1. SWEET!

    I have seen white ones (don't have any) But have never seen an orange one. What year is the rear hub? I have seen blue, green and coffee brown. Supposedly there was a burgundy colour too.


  2. I wonder if that Orange bike was either Canadian spec or Euro spec. It looks like it has the one piece handle bar/stem. AFAIK those were not on US spec bikes.


  3. Hey Aaron-

    Yeah, I was pretty excited to see them as well. They are essentially new. Amazing condition.

    The guy I bought them from said they were purchased here in Seattle, but we are pretty close to Canada and there may have been a bit of cross pollination between shops at that time. Greenlake Cycle was a more innovative shop at the time and might have imported some.

    The date on the hub is very hard to read, but appears to be " 70 1 " It does have a one-piece handlebar. Both are completely stock, yet lack the Brooks-branded mattress saddle. The saddles are sprung mattress style, and the quality of the vinyl feels better than the Brooks ones I have - go figure.

    I thought the one-piece handlebars were an indication of age, not country orientation. The blue on I have also has a one-piece bar. It's hub is a 3-speed coaster brake dated " 70 2 "

    If there is a burgundy one, I'm doomed... I'll keep looking at craigslist forever... ;-)


    PS: how are your plans to visit Pacific NW shaping up?

  4. Charles,
    I am basing my guesses on the handlebars from copies of US catalogs and general observations. Haven't seen any Raleigh Canada or Raleigh UK catalogs for verification. I also wonder just how many colors that they actually were available in. In the US catalogs, only Green, Coffee, Blue and White were the listed colors.

    I have seen pictures of yellow and burgundy.

    Not sure on travel plans...yet.


  5. Hey Aaron,

    Thanks, that is interesting. I was aware of the green brown and blue in the US, but not the white. I've seen a few white ones up in Vancouver BC.

    Do you have a copy of the US catalogs? Are they the ones on Sheldon's site?

    I wonder if anyone on the Ralei Twenty site has copies of the UK or Canadian catalogs... I may try and post in the forums there about this.

    Burgundy and yellow would really round out the rainbow!


  6. Most of the ones on Sheldon's site are incomplete.
    The most complete collection that I have seen is at The Headbadge

    I have not located a similar source for UK or CAN ones yet.


  7. These are nice looking bikes, and the colors are just right too.

  8. Ben, sorry for the late reply... I've been on vacation the last couple weeks.

    Thanks for the comment! Yes, as I mentioned, if these new ones hadn't been orange and white, I probably wouldn't have gone for them... They are in spectacular condition though. It would have been tough to pass up.

    Do you have a Twenty??


  9. I like the bikes as well. The colors are very compelling most especially the orange one. I have a bike as well and I always make sure to check the tires every time I go out. If it doesn't have enough air, then I put air to it. Good thing I have my own air pump.


Let me know what you think!