Friday, May 18, 2007

How can something so wrong feel so right?

Here's some snaps of my hacked Raleigh Record. I call it my Raleigh Wrong. I picked up the bike for ten bucks from the Community Cycling Center in Portland, where I learned to wrench (Hi Paul and Rich, if you're out there!), thinking it'd make a sweet fixie that was just short enough to fit me. From the decals and with the help of RetroRaleighs, I think the frame's from around 1962. Me minus twelve! The frame had obviously spent too much time outside - when I started to overhaul it, the seat tube was literally full of dead bees.

So I rode home, happily oblivious to the numerous compatibility issues of updating old Raleighs with more recent parts. The bottom bracket and headset use a different thread pitch, for one. For two, the wheels were some odd "juvie" size (not 650B, cross my heart), and had had their inner tubes replaced with blobs of solid rubber. The fork took a 90mm hub instead of the now-universal 100. So the part-swapping began... Three forks, two stems, much hacksawing, cussing, and JB welding (and many happy rides) later, here 'tis.

The long story:

I crammed a 700 wheel on the back by hacksawing the ends off the dropouts, hacking off the existing brake bridge and JB Weld-ing on a new one. I switched out the front fork for a standard 700, but kept kicking the front wheel due to pedal-toe-overlap issues. So I installed a (gasp!) carbon 650C front fork i picked up off ebay and built up a 650C wheel (Shimano XT hub, Alex rim) to go with it. I built a "matching" rear wheel lacing a Kogswell rear to an Alex 700c rim, but that got stolen, so now I'm back to the old Quando/MA3 wheel off my first fixie.

To any i-bobs, fork re-rakers or bike geo-meters tuning in: The Raleigh Record has the slackest head tube angle I've ever ridden. Before the front-end swap, the ride was totally stable no-hands, but really floppy at low speeds. Switching to 650C effectively pointed the front of the bike down 2.5 cm and steepened the head-tube angle somewhat. The result - still stable, but much more maneuverable in urban (i.e. swerving up to the light between idling taxis) situations - not to mention no longer kicking the front wheel and crashing to earth while attempting to track-stand. In short - now it's better suited for how I use it.

The other parts and gizmos:
Stronglight 93 double cranks, single-ized (44/18 gearing)
Brooks pro saddle
Nitto bullhorn bars, cork-taped on top, hockey-taped at the ends
Shimano UN-73 bottom bracket with Phil retaining rings (see Sheldon's article for the whys and wherefores)
Wellgo pinned BMX pedals - no retention
Ritchey Logic headset
Shimano 600 brake levers, one of which goes to a Reich PowerBell-BRRRRING!
Ortleib bar bag
reflectors galore

Also check out my flowery chain - It's an Abus I picked up during the Kryptonite recall - the original nylon chain-cover wore out, so I quilted myself a new one. I know I shouldn't ride with my lock around my waist, but I do, so it might as well be pretty!

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