Thursday, July 18, 2013

1953 Raleigh Sports Tourist Model 23

In my previous post "And so it Begins" I described refurbishing my custom Reynolds 531 10-speed, then getting redirected to a classic 1949 Comrade 3-speed.  Both of these efforts required numerous trips to my local bike shop Velo Classique for parts and advice.  On each of these trips I would walk pass a rusted hulk of a bike standing upright in a stand in front of the shop.  I paid little attention to it until the interest in three-speeds set-in.  This poor bike sat outside in all weather, the paint and chrome were completely rusted, someone had used a hacksaw to make the full fenders into half-fenders and removed the lower portion of the enclosed chaincase.  It had two sets of rusted headlamps on the handlebar, and both a tire driven bottle generator and a Sturmey-Archer front Dynohub.  There was industrial strength Scotch brand yellow reflective tape on every frame tube, these were the only places rust was not growing.  At some point it had been painted over including all decals, it did have a Raleigh headbadge, which was also painted over.  From the fork, and what was left of the fenders I could tell it was a Raleigh Sports. It had a Sturmey-Archer AW hub stamp dated 10-53 (Oct. 1953) and a Dynohub dated 9-53 (Sep. 1953).  After some research on the web I was able to determine this was a Sports Tourist Model 23, the distinguishing feature is the enclosed chaincase. The Model 22 Sports Light Roadster came equipped with a "hockey-stick" chain guard.  The Tourist model also could be equipped with optional Dynohub and lighting, which this bike has.      

I've always wanted to replicate the look of the classic English path racer/scorcher type bike.

These are very minimalistic looking bikes with no fenders, chain guard , brake levers etc. I thought the frame from this rusted hulk could serve as a starting point for a path racer type project, so I became the owner of a forsaken, mistreated 1953 Raleigh Sports.

I envisioned the project being a mix of modern and period parts, I wanted to retain the cotter cranks and iconic Heron chainwheel.  I started sourcing/ordering parts the project, but soon got involved in other interest and priorities.  In the intervening time I acquired a good assortment of used three-speed parts, and 2 additional  Raleigh Sports, a 1970, and 1972 "Gold Edition" (unique Gold paint, but lower quality components).  Once I got reengaged on the path racer project I started disassembly of the 1953 Sports.  Unfortunately I did not take any pictures before disassembly.  This is picture of the rusty components removed from the frame.


I sprayed all of the rusty fasteners with penetrating oil and let everything sit overnight.  The only component that resisted removal was the fixed cup of the bottom bracket, after several attempts I ordered the fixed cup remover from Bike Smith Design which took care of the problem.

Once the frame was stripped of its rusty components I could appreciate some of the unique aspects of this frame compared to later Sports frames.  There is a oiler port in the bottom bracket.

Below the set lug there is a braze-on for the traditional Sturmey Archer pulley, later models used a clamp-on pulley.

There is a braze-on the chainstay behind the chainwheel for attaching the enclosed chaincase  

The front fork dropouts are forged instead of stamped, with reliefs on the outer edges to accept the earlier style shoulder axle nuts (if you have picture of this type of nut please send a picture).  The Sports fork on the right is the later stamped style.  The fork on the right is the 1953.

The seat lug also shows the frame serial number 8811BT, according to the site at this seems to confirm the frame as being a 1953.

I'm now starting to re-think my decision to use this frame for a path racer project.  It has several  original characteristics that were unique to the older Sports frames, so I'm thinking now I will use the frame from the 1970 Sports for the path racer project, and return the 1953 Sports to a near original state.  Next step will be replacing the hacksawed enclosed chaincase.

Please share your thoughts and experiences.  


  1. Interesting blog, I collect and tinker with English bicycles but have maintained "radio silence" on the Internet. I worked at a well known shop that specialized in antique and collectible bicycles. Myself and a friend ran a British bicycle weekend in Philly in the late 90's . I also gave talks about sturmey 3spds, last one I did was at the Philly bicycle expo 3 years ago. The fork on this Raleigh you fixed up with the chaincase here could easily be straightened. Also I can send you pictures of the shouldered nuts for the earlier style fork. You also need to watch out for how you install the cotter pins, standard practice is crank facing back drop the pin in. When I see cotter pins installed the other way on a bicycle I become suspicious what might be wrong with the bicycle. As far as filing cotter pins the only time I have to do it is when the cranks are out of phase or it is a French bike with a cotter pin profile that is unavailable. I agree it is hard to find good cotter pins, I try as hard as I can to save original ones if I can and re-install them. Sometimes that is not an option if they are damaged. We used to get good ones from quality bicyce products and Mel pinto imports. When I have to file cotters I hold them in a park axle vise. As for Raleigh brake levers they all have a lot play in them, even modern bicycle levers do. As for the Raliegh ones maybe if they made them too "tight" they might seize up with corrosion. As for dynohub cones it is rare to open one without damaged cones, since you have a lathe regrind the old ones. I have a myford and a southbend lathe and finally got the myford set up, it's fun to play with. One more thing I would hesitate to lube anything but the ball bearings with grease in a sturmey hub. Oil is best, on new sturmeys on bromptons I have had to clean them out and lube with oil because the grease is impeding proper shifting/ function, the reason new hubs are greased is the lack of an oiler port then they can claim they need no maintenance, but if you have the oiler port oil away.
    I also have a similar Comrade bicycle in my collection which I can send pictures of, good to see another one!

    1. Thanks for your observations and comments, very helpful. I attended your talk on SA hubs at the Philly expo, well done. I would definitely like pictures of the shouldered axle nuts, do you have a source for these? Any info you can provide about Comrade Cycles would be appreciated, I've been unable to find much information about the bike I have, would like to see pictures of yours.

      Also, I would be interested in how you would go about straightening the bent fork.

    2. I will gladly send pictures to your e-mail? which is?