I decided to go to work on the Twenty today, it has a front brake now and a Dutch-style O-lock so it can be used(After my first post a user from http://raleightwenty.webs.com/ told me that the mount I recognised as an O-lock mount is also used to mount a pletscher rack). My first impression of the ride was that the bike deserves its cult status. It is very comfortable and for someone a bit shorter than me would provide a nice upright riding position (I have to have the seat too high for a perfectly straight back). The bike doesn’t have the overly twitch steering common to smaller wheeled bikes, making it very pleasant to cruise about on. The stock gearing is pretty high, with a 15 tooth sprocket on the hub making third gear pretty much redundant. I have a few spares knocking about so I will have to fiddle about to find the optimum.
I had heard that bikes with steel rims (and calliper brakes)had pretty feeble braking made worse by water. The front brake at first seemed reasonable considering its advanced years. I made the mistake of passing through a puddle and getting the rims wet, it was only a few minutes later I had to brake and when I did I genuinely thought my brake lever was jammed because the wet brakes provide absolutely no friction. They may warrant further research to provide new ultra low-friction materials for the future. Suffice to say I will be looking into alternative solutions to the braking issue as the project progresses.