The Sturmey Archer AW hub which was used for the pictures taken to make the hub servicing guide which formed my last post was from this Raleigh Twenty Stowaway; the folding version of the classic Raleigh Twenty. This Twenty belonged to a friend of mine and I was servicing the hub before selling it on her behalf. Prior to servicing the hub, I had done just about every conceivable bit of maintenance on this bike including front wheel, headset and bottom bracket bearings, a complete disassembling, cleaning, greasing and reassembling and replacement of the tyres, tubes, chain and saddle. As a result of this, the bike rides just like a brand new bike, despite being from 1976.
Raleigh used the ‘Stowaway‘ branding on some of their folding Twentys (in addition to several unrelated models).
The main hinge in the frame is perhaps inelegant but very sturdy.
Difficult to see on the picture, but the rear reflector is branded as Sturmey Archer.
Pletscher rear rack, complete with a rat-trap for carrying a newspaper.
Sturmey Archer AW hub, as featured previously.
The original Sturmey Archer grip shifter, controlled by rotating the entire grip to switch gears. In practice it works better than I expected.
Raleigh Twenty ‘R-20‘ branding.
‘The Raleigh‘ Nottingham headbadge.
Brand new Raleigh Record tyres, as originally specified with the bike.
The Raleigh Twenty design has undoubtedly passed the test of time. It is a shame that the equivalent models subsequently made by Raleigh have failed to match the comfort, handling and practicality of this model. Clones of the Twenty do exist, although they have their drawbacks including price and the use of V-brakes on the UK model. There is nothing to stop Raleigh bringing back the Twenty properly, a good, small utility bike could be a good addition to their range. A few concessions to modern manufacturing techniques and componentry could be made, such as a welded frame (rather than brazed) a unicrown fork (rather than lugged). These minor sacrifices could easily be offset by a few improvements, such as dual pivot caliper brakes (or drum/coaster brakes), 406 mm aluminium rims (allowing a greater choice of tyres and the ability to stop during rain) and a proper headset (rather than a nylon bushing at the top of the head-tube).
After courting the ‘sporting goods’ and ‘bicycle shaped object’ markets extensively for the past few decades, perhaps it’s time for Raleigh to look back on one of the models which once made them great, and bring it back.