This blog is not about any one topic. It is about the many things the interest me and places I've been. It's about Travel, Bikes, Photography, Fly Fishing, Nature, Scenery, Projects, Genealogy, etc (the order of importance changes constantly!). Usually whatever is currently occupying my mind and time. Maybe something for everyone....or not!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

1958 Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix

About a month ago, I picked up this old Raleigh club bicycle at the local auction.  So far, it's the only thing we've bought there, tho' the Dude goes almost every week!
'58 Raleigh "Lenton Grand Prix"
It was listed in the auction pages as a 1951 Lenton. When we previewed it the day before the auction, I didn't know much about the club or touring bikes, but saw the Raleigh headbadge and decided I wanted to try to get it as it had what seemed to be a really unusual setup: an internally geared Sturmey Archer 3-spd hub w/ expanding brake, as well as a rear derailleur (4 cog), front derailleur for a double chain wheel with a hand shifter mounted on the seat tube, and expanding (ie: drum) brakes instead of caliper brakes.  I really thought it was newer than the '50's, due to the plastic fenders.  It also had alot of 'crap' mounted onto it, like a rear cafe lock, beat up rear rack, chain lock covered in lime green plastic wrapped around the seat tube, front flashlight mount on the handlebars, a Schwinn bicycle pump jerry-rigged under the top tube (original pump missing), and a gel seat cover over the Brooks seat.  But, I went home and did some online research into what it might be worth so I would be prepared.  Mind you, I don't like to pay much more than about $100 for any old bike anyway.

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.

Serial number.

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.
I found out that the fenders were celluloid and original to the bike.  It is constructed of Reynolds 531 Tubing and is a Reg Harris model.

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!

1 comment:

John SWAN said...

Just for interest. Raleigh cycles are now made in China and this could have been just prior to that happening. The name Lenton is of a suburb of Nottingham, where the Raleigh works were.