Thursday, May 17, 2012

Past Projects: 1973 Raleigh Record

Working on old bikes, there are times that you want to just take the damn thing to the top of the tallest parking garage in town and throw it off.  Other times, the planets seem to align and it's almost as if the bike rebuilds itself.  When I look back at the restoration of this 1973 Raleigh Record road bike, it's hard to believe how quickly, easily, and inexpensively this bike went from a beat-up old barn find to an immaculate eye-catcher.  What's more, I even had the wherewithal to take some before-and-after pictures to document the bicycle's transformation.  I've put these pictures side-by-side to better illustrate the difference.

My uncle gifted me this bike in the fall of 2010, right around the same time that my cousin Zac told me that he was wanting a bike for his commute to and from work.  What a fortunate coincidence, I thought.  So I loaded it up, brought it home, and took it apart.  I decided to rebuild this bike the same way that I had my 1972 Raleigh Record.  This included conversion of the cotter-based bottom bracket to a square-taper cartridge, which had been a major expense on my old '72 Record, as I had to use a costly press-fit bottom bracket.  For this project, however, I was able to use an inexpensive threaded Shimano cartridge.  And I picked up a sexy Sugino crankset off of eBay to replace the old cotter cranks.  Next came a new aluminum wheelset with a new freewheel, rubber, and tubes.  Then the bike got a new saddle, bar tape, cables and housing, and chain.  As usual, everything got a thorough cleaning and degreasing before the components went back onto the frame.

I took the 'before' pictures of this bike on the 5th of August, and took the 'after' pictures 11 days later.  Pretty astonishingly quick project, considering that I was working on my doctorate dissertation at the time and also had a month-old baby boy as an audience/distraction.  In fact, I brought him out to the shop with me so that he could watch me work.  I explained all of the steps to him while I went along as if I were training him.  Good stuff.

Zac tells me that he still rides this rig to work on a regular basis, and also takes it out for recreational trips.  It's been nearly two years since I finished this project and delivered the bike to him, and yet I just recently had a mutual friend of ours tell me how impressed he was with this machine.  I'm definitely proud of how the bike turned out, but I'm even happier that the bike is appreciated, well cared for, and ridden regularly.  But then, I've been riding with Zac most of my life, so I knew it would be.

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