Re-gearing the DL-1

After lowering the gearing on the Brompton in December, I found the bike much easier and much more enjoyable to ride. The downside of this was that the gearing on the DL-1 now seemed to be ridiculously high by comparison. Whilst I had lowered the gearing on the DL-1 when I first purchased it, by replacing the rear sprocket, the stock gearing was obscenely high and this reduction never really felt like enough. Whilst an even larger sprocket could have been substituted on the rear, the reduction in gearing this would have brought would be limited; the current sprocket is a 21-tooth, and I believe they only go up to 24-tooth sprockets for this type of hub. Add to that the spatial constraint imposed by the chaincase and the only option left was to replace the chainset.
The chaincase made finding a replacement chainset difficult, due to the problems with crank arm clearance. There didn’t seem to be a lot of information out there online, so I took the plunge and bought a Stronglight chainset which looked like it might fit. It quickly became obvious that it would not fit, and so this became the chainset I used on the Brompton instead. Eventually I spotted a promising looking chainset on David Hembrow’s shop and asked him about the dimensions. Reasonably convinced I could make it fit, I ordered the chainset and it arrived last week.

The new chainset is a 38-tooth, replacing the original 46-tooth one. It sits within the confines of the steel chaincase pretty well, although the chainset cover had to be modified with a metal file.

The chainset cover is basically a paint-tin lid with a hole in it to accommodate the crank arm and a removable plate to allow it to pass over the pedal. The base of the new crank arm is slightly thicker than the original one, so it had to be filed a bit to accommodate it
The filing is a bit rough, but functional. It doesn’t look this bad when fitted to the bike. The result is much the same as it was with the Brompton, the bike is generally much easier and much more enjoyable to ride. Whilst I did use the highest gear occasionally, oddly enough I do not find myself missing it.

I also attempted to switch the left crank so that the left and right would match, however the left crank is stuck on so well that it broke my crank puller tool. The tool was originally part of my Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operativecycle tool kit, many of the tools from which have since broken through normal use. Needless to say, I would not recommend. Until I get a replacement, it appears I am stuck with odd cranks.

Sturmey Archer recommend that you use at least a 2:1 ratio for the number of teeth on the chainring relative to the sprocket. With this modification, I have gone below that minimum, to around 1.8:1. Whilst not officially recommended, I expect this will not cause any problems. It is likely that the 2:1 ratio is erring on the side of caution, and combined with the large wheels of the DL-1, I expect that I will not be pushing the hub beyond what it can take. The new smaller chainset will prove beneficial when I eventually realise my dream of re-building the rear wheel around an eight-speed hub to increase the useful range of the bike sometime in the future.

18 thoughts on “Re-gearing the DL-1

  1. Excellent news that it fits properly.As for the stuck crank… There are people who argue that cranks should always be fitted with grease and then there are those who say they should never be fitted with grease. I fall into the camp which says you should always use grease (though very little of it in this instance). It's incredibly irritating when you can't get things apart easily.

  2. Must admit my Gazelle Wimmins' bike is a bit the same way Chris, although it only becomes noticeable with full panniers when pedalling uphill!A larger sprocket should be enough in this case when I get round to it…(…he says 12 months later)

  3. @David,I've never had cause to take the left hand crank off before, but I'm guessing the people at the Raliegh factory are in the 'no grease' on this issue. I don't think it is particularly badly seized, just a bad tool which had enough. I'll get around to it eventually, but it works fine at the moment, so that could be a while.@Ian,Lowering the gearing was something I put off for ages, but I wish I hadn't. Riding the bike now is so much nicer, and sprockets are very cheap.

  4. Good to hear that it's working out. I have heard of stories of hub failure when the gearing goes below 2:1, but I don't know how common it is and how far down below 2:1 they've gone.The Raleigh Wayfarer is at 46:22, which is pretty close to 2:1. I could get a smaller chainring, but I'm too attached to the original heron chainring that I wouldn't want to put just any old ring on there. Maybe if I find a smaller one someday…

  5. Pingback: Bell End | Chester Cycling

  6. Good article.
    My grandfather was a draftsman engineer at Chevrolet and Cadillac. the “Harley Earl fins” are really my grandfathers.
    I have been chasing the Raleigh and collecting D.L.1.’s. for 36 years. I have a few thoughts, comments and tips with links.
    From my own extensive, experience putting alloy cotterless cranks and double front sprockets from Japanese Raleigh clones from the 1980’s back fitted onto 1950’s Raleigh Lenton Sports Reg Harris editions. and the same tricks with the Raleigh Tourist D.L.1. later renamed the Royal Roadster, one of the last 5 to leave Nottingham , I own.

    And fitting a smaller front chainring combined with any rear sprocket larger than 22 tooth and guess what happens to the poor Sturmey- Archer A.W. 3 speed hub?
    Sometimes you get away with it. But lowering the number of teeth on the front chainring is what
    gives the poor Sturmey Archer A.W. the Widowmaker heart attack.
    You kill it. It dies immediately. You come to a dangerous screeching halt
    Specifically, what happens inside the shell of the a.w. is it cracking up in pieces.
    you shear off the ends of the clutch key and pull the clutch key into pieces. The Sturmey- Archer A.W. (not the new ones) cannot take this.

    You can fit a 42 tooth front original Raleigh chainring from an older Raleigh police rod brake D.L.1. Tourist. You can fit up to a 24 tooth rear sprocket. The 46 tooth front Raleigh with the Herons is not the smallest original front chainring they went down to 42 tooth.

    You can fit a cyclo 3 sprocket derailer type onto a A.W. 3 or a F.W. 4 SPEED and use a Huret Alvit (Schwinn Sttingray) 5 speed derailer with the cyclo cog and use narrow 1/8 th chain thru the Huret Alvit or Huret Svelto
    making the D.L.1. Tourist a lower geared 3 speed or a 9 speed or a 12 speed

    Oh , the smaller front chainring is wonderful for about a minute. You do a: “Roger, go at throttle up” and the hub cracks up.

    Replacing the Sturmey Archer with an old B.S.A.( Sturmey Archer type x) with a modified threaded driver and derailer cluster sprockets and guess what? The B.S.A. holds up!

    Other internal hubs pass the test, derailers are great. but you lose the enclosed chauincase, and it changes the flavor of the bike past what is acceptable.

    hub gears and enclosed chaincases are for keeping grit out of the transmassion.

    I have a retrofit kit for the Sturmey- Archer hub that improves it dramatically.
    Adressing the Dirty Secret with the Sturmey- Archer hubs.

    Same with the dynohubs. A.G. and G.H.6.

    The funeral wake for the Nottingham, Raleigh Tourist bottom bracket fixed cup was held recently
    in San Antonio, Texas. At the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse
    We paused to remember what a horrible little bastard it is to remove and how everybody including mechanics, run like scared little girls and leave the fixed cup in place.
    the days of re-greasing the worn out cups and reinstalling them is over!



    Scott Mathauser brake pads are back. I fit the red rubber in the steel rod brake Raleigh D.L.1. brake shoes. crimping the steel to hold the replaced pads. face the brake pads and the steel attaching piece backwards as this is the correct way to do it. A common mistake is to have them face out and away instead of backwards and directly under. The shops assembled these brakes wrong!

    the Scot/Mathauser company is back! Reforged as :

    all white 28 x 1 1/2 tires are available from:

    Brooks Saddles are dong better than ever!

    Replacement G.H.6. dynohub LIGHTBULBS HALOGEN BULBS are available from

    It is important to keep the spokes tightened and the wheels on these rod brake Raleighs true.

    For black paint work use a tin of Kiwi shoe polish and buff it out. Rudge Maroon, use ox blood.

    On Flickr, I am: Christopher’s British cycle solutions products.

    Questions answered with 36 years, hard fought experiences.
    In vintage British bicycles,

  7. 28 x 1 1/2 gumwall tires that fit the raleigh tourist are available. the company name escapes me. I will have to get back to you all here and add the info. They are awesome!

    Alloy rod brake 28 inch westwood rims were made by Sunbeam decades ago.

    28 x 1 1/2 Westrick rims for use with either rod brake or cable brakes Original Raleigh, Nottingham, England rod brake D.L.1’s were factory fitted with these rims. These were for the British home market and are somewhat rare with many long time collectors unaware of their existance.

  8. Raleigh is now owned by Germans. the Raleigh Tourist D.L.1. is copied exactly and on sale now with a few changes, like a German fork.
    go to the current Raleigh web site.

    I ll visit again tomorrow.

  9. it would have been nice to show everybody the cotterless bottom bracket spindle you have in the photo of the Raleigh tourist D.L.1 or even give the number and maker information so people can go and buy one for themselves .

    People have used the T.A. Specialities chainrings on the Raleigh Tourist bikes.

    while I myself, am all for changing the crazy gear ratios on the Raleigh Tourist D.L.1.
    Funny how: “The Worlds Most Traveled Man” J. HART ROSDAIL never complains in his book:
    Biking alone around the world.

    on an old $7.00 Irish bicycle with 28 x 1 1/2 wheels, a spoon brake and a Sturmey- Archer 3 speed with a drum brake This hub replacing a New Departure D.D. 2 speed that Jesse pulled it’s axle in two by over tightening the axle nuts.

    I have a 10 speed hub. a 5 speed cluster on the New Departure DD two.

    • The bike itself is a modern DL-1 and so came with a cartridge bottom bracket with a cotterless spindle. There is nothing specific to the DL-1 about this cartridge, other than the spindle length, which I will likely document on this blog when the time comes to replace it.

  10. Pashley re-introduced the B.S.A. W.W.2 folding bike but now it does not fold!
    running away from bright ideas of long ago is a pattern. Same with

    Sturmey- Archer’s gear range and Raleigh’s huge front chainrings that resulted in hard to pedal, deal killers that annoyed cyclists and drove everybody to derailer gears.
    But changes are in the works.

  11. The Raleigh double (alloy) chainring from the Japanese made for Raleigh Nottingham was a 40/ 49 double. I took the whole bottom bracket out of the Raleigh Super Tourer bike and put it in the 1950 Raleigh Lenton Sports Reg Harris Road Model with 26 x 1 3/8 wheels and it was a perfect exact fit. The cotterless bottom bracket spindle, and cranks fit perfectly. The cotterless spindle fit like a glove in the original Raleigh 26 t.p.i. cups and everything was awesome with derailer gears in back.

    Not so great, because the 40 tooth front combined with a 22 tooth rear killed, outright the Sturmey- Archer 1974 A.W. 3 speed. Like I said I pulled the clutch key ends apart and broke the key into pieces.

    Also, tore up the clutch key in the Raleigh Tourist D.L.1. with it’s 28 inch wheels doing the same thing, using the same crank combination and with a longer cotterless spindle.

    So, using a 40 tooth (or lower) front with a large rear sprocket like a 22 and this is where the trouble starts. So you can get away with it to a point, but the wrong combination of front chainrings and rear sprockets will destroy the clutch key in the Sturmey- Archer A.W. 3

    I don’t mean to scare people off from hybrid gearing. There is no need for that. I just found ways to go beyond the limits and I managed to tear up the Sturmey- Archer 3 speed hub by going past them.

    for refrence, take a look at the old Cyclo Birmingham company and their 2 and 3 cog adaptors.



    I am happy to see our beloved bike still for sale. There have been a few changes but the bike is in fine form. In closing, The silver lining of this is, The love and devotion to quality the Germans have always shown and continue to do so.

    It’s European again, too!

  13. Sorry, the link is not going thru. Search for the German Raleigh bicycle company. Raleigh was bought by a German Company.

    • e- bay. Sellers on e- bay ask for it. People have stuff and don’t list everything they have. roadsters section. ask the guys there. also

      they have spare parts for sale. this chainguard is not difficult to find. probably the best bet is uk e- bay. sellers such as “rachaelphelp” and others good luck

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