Raleigh Sports English 3-speed Bicycle

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Raleigh Sports 3-speed bicycle

Raleigh side
The Raleigh Sports is a 3-speed bicycle with a steel frame. This particular model has a Brooks Saddle and fenders to compliment the set-up. (c) Jerod Zackson

I was on Craigslist when I came onto an ad with the heading "Collectors and Cruisers Look Here! Antique Raleigh Bikes." I regularly ride an old Raleigh ten-speed that I stripped off the gears and turned into a single-speed commuter bike. So the ad got my attention, and I called the guy who listed it.

 

The bike turned out to be a classic black Raleigh 3-speed model from about 1970 called the Sports. It was being sold by an older gentleman who picks up bikes at flea markets, yard sales, etc., and then cleans them up and sells them. He had about 20 bikes in a workshop in his back yard, all of them for sale.

Anyway, after a test ride and some cash swapping, I brought home the bike. It looks sharp with original black and white paint job and it's big, heavy and slow - and fun as the dickens to ride.

Built by Raleigh primarily at their factory in Nottingham, England, Raleigh bikes stood for high-quality construction from their introduction in the late 1800s until the 1980s or so. After that, production dwindled away due to increasing quality of Asian imports, more demand among the public for ten-speed road bikes and increased use of aluminum in the manufacturing process.

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Crank

Raleigh crank
(c) Jerod Zakson

The Raleigh Sports has hard rubber pedals and the classic hockey stick chain guard.

Note the cable that comes down from the shifter to the center of the rear axle and on into the hub to activate the internal gearing mechanism.

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3-speed internal Sturmey-Archer hub

Raleigh hub
(c) Jerod Zackson

This model Raleigh used an internal hub, which meant that shifting was accomplished without the use of external sprockets and a derailleur.

Internal gears, such as the one on this model Raleigh Sports, are contained inside the hub of the rear wheel. This makes them generally more reliable than derailleur gears, especially for bicycles which are used in wet or dirty conditions because they are protected from moisture and grit by the hub. Another advantage of internal gears is that, contrary to standing shifting mechanisms, which require the rider to be pedaling to shift, the internal gears can be shifted even when the bicycle is stopped, an especially handy feature in city traffic requiring frequent stops.

This bike has a Sturmey-Archer brand hub, which was in fact built by Raleigh as well under that particular name. Raleigh was good at streamlining and internalizing much of the manufacturing process, creating a good many parts in house. In fact, the famous Brooks saddles, still considered one of the premier saddles in the world today, is another Raleigh house brand.

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Traditional Raleigh colors

(c) Jerod Zackson

Older Raleighs typically come in one of three colors: black (as on this bike); "Bronze Green," a dark metallic green, and "Coffee," a dark metallic brown.

A handful of the Raleigh Sports built around 1970s were fabricated in Malaysia. This version of the Raleigh Sports also had gold pin-striping, a feature not available in the version of the Raleigh Sport made at the Nottingham factory.

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Raleigh Sports 3-speed bike

Raleigh side 3
(c) Jerod Zackson

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Rear view of the Raleigh Sports bike

Raleigh rear
(c) Jerod Zackson

In addition to base brown or green models, The Raleigh Sports featured white trim with its primary black paint job. Note the built-in reflector.

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Chain guard and crank

(c) Jerod Zakson

The chain guard and crank on the Raleigh Sports 3-speed bike features the classic Raleigh design.

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English 3-speed Bicycle Bike

Raleigh crank
(c) Jerod Zakson