|'58 Raleigh "Lenton Grand Prix"|
So, auction day...we wait 'til almost 1:00 before it came up. The day was pretty slow, and the auctioneer tried to start it out at $100. No takers, so he kept dropping it. We waited, and he finally said they would be passing this at $50 if no one bid. The Dude looked at me, I said 'yeah', so he raised his card. Someone else bid $55, he promptly bid $60, and no one else bid. Since I'd planned on going up to $100, I was very happy. With the fees, it came to $73.00!
Got it home, really looked it over, took off all the 'crap', and then re-checked the internet. Noting the serial number, hub manufacture date (Dec 1953), and I also found the remnants of an LA bike license with expiration date of 1960.
|Sturmey Archer AB hub (3-spd w/ expanding brake) and date of 12-53 (Dec 1953).|
Process of elimination through online sources such as Sheldon Brown (who had one set up like the one I bought) and various images, determined the bike was a 1958. These bikes would have come with caliper brakes and the most common gearing would have been an 8-10 speed with rear derailleur (4-5 cog) and the front double chainwheel with the Cyclo-benelux 'suicide' shifter on the seat tube. It was also offered as an alternate with a Sturmey Archer 3-speed IGH (no derailleurs). So to have both set ups is a little unusual.
|Cyclo-benelux rear derailleur attached to Sturmey Archer AB 3-spd hub w/ drum brake.|
|Cyclo-benelux 'suicide' derailleur for double chainwheel|
|Nice frame lugs on head tube.|
These bikes were the premier club bike for the day. Club bikes were manufactured for the recreational enthusiast, rather than professional racers. In my research, I found a few posts on bike forums indicating that enthusiasts would sometimes install this type of setup in the youth of the bike to get more gears. One post, indicated a few gear redundencies, but otherwise very operational. I personally can't imagine fiddling with all those options, but I guess we've always been fond of our technological add-ons. I can just imagine a couple of bike jocks standing around comparing their bikes, and the owner of this one, impressing his buddies with his gearing and braking prowess! Arrr Arrr Arrr!
I haven't started the tear down on this one yet, as I'm still working on my '55 Schwinn Lightweight (only recently found my replacement rim!). But, I hope to get to it soon!