DL-1: One Year On

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It has been around a year since I took delivery of my Raleigh Tourist De Luxe. Of course by, “Took delivery,” I mean cycled to Didsbury on the Yuba Mundo to meet the old gentleman from whom I was purchasing this fine steed, and towed it back to home. At first I wasn’t sure if it would be for me, having had no opportunity to test ride it. What I did know however, was that if I didn’t like it, I could sell the bike (or its component parts) for a fair bit more than I paid for it that day.
When I got the bike home, I adjusted the saddle and took it for a spin. Whilst I liked the ride, it wasn’t quite right; the gearing was far, far too high, with first gear being what I imagine a reasonable third gear should feel like on a three speed. The rod-brake handlebar was limited in its range of height adjustment and the angle of the bar was fixed. Luckily, a few replacement parts allowed me to fix these minor gripes and turn the bike into the perfect everyday transport solution for me. Over the past year I have made numerous additions and upgrades to the bike.
Additions and upgrades:
I have also been forced to replace a few parts due to failure.

Replacements due to failure:
However, I should mention that the X-RD3 hub was at least somewhat faulty from the start, and that my own experience shouldn’t detract from the consensus that this hub, and internal hub gears in general, are the best choice for a practical, low maintenance utilitarian bike.
After a year riding this bicycle, I can sincerely declare it to be one of the smartest purchases I have ever made. Since getting this bike I certainly cycle a lot more. My odometer is currently displaying a total distance cycled of 13,029 km, up from 8,000 km at about this time last year, most of that distance has been for transportation (as opposed to leisure), covered on the DL-1 because it is such an easy bike to ride.
When I say the DL-1 is easy to ride, I am not just referring to its ride quality (which is excellent). As an upright bike with mudguards, a chain-case, comfortable Brooks saddle and (since the addition of the saddlebag) permanent luggage, puncture-resistant tyres, automatic & permanently affixed dynamo lighting and low maintenance brakes and gears, all I ever have to do if I want to go out is unlock the bike, hop on and go. It is my hope that all of these features represent part of a bigger future for cycling in the UK, even if a lot of them come from its past.

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 The Tourist De Luxe as it is kitted out today
Whilst not quite the same as my Tourist De Luxe, Raleigh has recently started to sell the Raleigh Superbe again in the UK, after courting the, “Sporting goods,” and “Bicycle-shaped object,” markets almost exclusively here for the past few decades:
The 2011 Raleigh Superbe, is specced and priced similarly to the Pashley Roadster Sovereign (although not made here in the UK). It is available from numerous cycle outlets, including Evans Cycles.

Repairing an AW hub

I have worked on a number of bikes with Sturmey Archer AW hubs, some over 30 years old, but this is the first time I have had to disassemble one. That fact alone is a testament to the quality of the design of the AW three-speed hub.
The hub in question is from a bike belonging to a good friend of mine, who received it as an Xmas present in 2010 and is now in the process of learning to ride. A lot of the work I did on the bike before Xmas was getting the gears to shift, due to a problem with the shifter it came with, meaning I missed the problem with the low-gear pawls as the bike was stuck in high gear until near the time it was ready for delivery.
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Cutaway diagram of the AW hub, taken from Sheldon Brown’s excellent AW article. The low gear pawls have been highlighted in red, these engage with the hub shell in 1st gear, and are disengaged in second and third gear, leading to the characteristic Sturmey Archer “tick” when in higher gears. The high gear pawls are highlighted in green.

To disassemble an AW, you first need to remove the nuts and bearing cone on the left side of the hub. Once you have done this, the innards can be removed by unscrewing the right-hand ball ring, which is the bit behind the sprocket which screws into the hub shell. To do this you will need a hammer, a screwdriver and brute force.
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Everything from the left-hand side of the axle (the washer should be between the two nuts for them to be in their proper order). The 1st gear pawls and pins can be seen to the left, as well as the remains of the pawl springs

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The AW internals with the 1st gear pawls removed

Upon disassembly of the hub, the problem became clear, one of the pawl springs for the low gear pawl had come loose and been ground into dust. The other one was in bad shape too. Luckily I was able to order some replacements cheaply online. Whilst I waited for delivery, I decided to completely dismantle the hub and clean the rusty grease away, re-assemble and re-lubricate it and replace the missing/broken pawls.
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The locknut, washer, cone from the right hand side of the axle, next to the spring and washer which push the mechanism into 3rd gear by default when the gear cable is allowed to go slack

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Left to Right, the planet cage (top left), gear ring, right-hand ball ring and driver

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Left to right, the clutch sleeve, sliding clutch, axle key and thrust ring

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Here is how it all fits together, the AW, shown as an exploded diagram, courtesy of hadland.me.uk (click image to enlarge)

The innards of the AW hub are not overly complex making servicing one a lot less daunting than you’d expect. Completely disassembling the hub allowed me to overhaul the bearings, of which there are three sets in the AW hub.
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The three sets of bearings in the AW hub, highlighted here in red.

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The parts of the AW hub after cleaning

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Here it is after being re-assembled, oiled (thanks to Jim for the oil tip) and screwed back into the shell.

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I also took the opportunity to install the white-wall Delta Cruisers which were requested by the bike’s owner


And here is the bike re-assembled with new Delta Cruisers front and rear. I think he should get a Brooks B66/67 next

It is difficult to take many/good pictures whilst doing this kind of job, because the filth and grease inside a 30 year old hub can make it undesirable to handle a camera. Despite this, I hope that this post helps others out there whose AW could use a bit of a tune-up, but have been put off by the fear that the innards would be too complex to deal with.

Mechanical Problems

I’ve had a few mechanical problems with the bikes this past week. The right hand pedal of Brompton has an aluminium outer cage, which I managed to snap whilst riding last week. Luckily replacement pedals are readily available and quite cheap. I expect that I must have hit the pedal on the ground one too many times, and the metal gave out suddenly whilst I was riding.

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A steel outer cage would not have failed quite so suddenly (if at all), and there would have been a negligible weight penalty compared to the aluminium part.

On Saturday evening, I had my first puncture on the DL-1 (and my first puncture at all in over a year). An industrial staple had worked its way through the tyre on the ride to a friend’s house and when I came to leave it had gone flat. When I got it home I attempted to patch it, but after applying the patch I kept found another hole. I decided to go to Bicycle Doctor for a replacement tube, intending to patch the old one to keep as a spare. However, after patching 6 holes (some of which were close together enough to use a single patch for) I found 3 more and decided to bin the tube.

Sadly, my front lamp mounting bodge-up also snapped this week. The aluminium reflector bracket I had re-purposed (admittedly it wasn’t designed for anything more than a reflector) snapped whilst I was riding over the high-quality road surfaces found in Stockport. Thankfully I ordered the proper Brompton bracket online last week, and it should be with me shortly.

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Before the bracket snapped

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Temporary solution until replacement bracket arrives from Brompton, this current solution slightly interferes with the front brake

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Remains of reflector bracket

With most bike components I’d rather have durability over miniscule weight savings. The puncture was the first one in over a year, thanks to choosing practical tyres designed for durability  over lightness. For non-competitive everyday cycling, why worry about a few extra grams here and there? Obsessing over bicycle weight can lead many people to make terrible decisions when choosing a practical everyday bike.

Everyday Bicycle

I was initially taken in by the pitch of “Cycling is sport,” that most British cycle shops sell their customers. My first adult bike was a god-awful sub-£100 “Full-suspension” (Y-frame) mountain bike from Halfords. I wanted it so I could avoid spending £35 a month on bus fares getting to my crappy part-time job and for general transportation. Despite the fact that I wanted a bike for transportation, my own perception of cycling as being either mountain bikes or racing bikes combined with the fact that the bike shops generally seemed to only sell mountain bikes and racing bikes meant that I decided to buy a ridiculously inappropriate bike for my needs. Surprisingly, despite its best efforts, I rode the thing for nearly two years. As crappy as that bike was, I learned a lot about the mechanical side of bikes from it (unsurprisingly).

When the spindle inside the bottom bracket snapped I had no idea how to do that kind of repair and I was painfully aware of how low-end my bike was. I was slightly better off by that point and decided to spend a bit more on a new bike. This time, I went to the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative and took a look around. What I saw were almost exclusively either mountain bikes, racing bikes or “hybrid bikes.” Once again, with the help of the sport-focussed sales people, I left with a hard-tail mountain bike, a rear rack and a crud-catcher mudguard. I had made a marginally more practical choice; a rack and less suspension, but still an impractical choice for my needs. Despite its limitations, this bike was a revelation about spending a bit more but getting value for money.

I rode this bike for 18 months and slowly made modifications to make it less of a mountain bike and more of a road bike. When I started reading about cycling in other countries (where it isn’t actively supressed by transport policy) and got the Yuba Mundo, I saw the limitations of the mountain bike for practical everyday cycling. By then I was aware of immensely practical bikes such as the Pashley Roadster, but I had just bought a Yuba Mundo and another bike seemed excessive. I started using the Yuba for almost all of my riding; it was much more comfortable, it had proper mudguards to keep me clean and dry and the upright posture made riding much more enjoyable.

Eventually I sold the mountain bike to someone who uses it as it was intended and I bought the Kona Africa Bike. I saw it as a “Yuba Mundo without the Mundo” and enjoyed riding it immensely. Longer trips were uncomfortable, but for the vast majority of my riding it was fine. The hub gears, coaster brake, basket and chain-guard were a revelation, and adding a front drum-brake made it even more practical as a transport bike. I wanted a roadster, but the price was off-putting and having not test-ridden one, I didn’t know what I was missing.

I was lucky enough to find my Raleigh DL-1 on eBay, being sold by a retired Raleigh employee. I was happy enough with the Kona and Yuba, but the price was irresistible. I put in my bid and was very happy to win. The bike had almost all of the utilitarian features I had wanted (or would have wanted had I known of them) since I bought that crappy Halfords mountain bike. Adding the remaining features hasn’t required too much effort:

Roadster geometry:

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This was the main draw of the bike for me, the geometry of the English Roadster, now commonly referred to as a Dutch-bike, (because they copied the same design and really made it their own whilst we lost our way, which as an Englishman I find quite sad), is a perfect trade off between the efficiency of the racing bike posture and the basic human desire to be comfortable.

Mudguards:

I cannot oversell mudguards. Once you have ridden with them you won’t go back. Getting rained on isn’t usually fun, but getting filthy water sprayed up from the road by your wheels is much worse. Groundwater is still there after the rain and mudguards will keep you dry. It is insane how few people I see with mudguards in Manchester, where it rains on more than 1/2 of the days of the year.

Rack:

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Not really a big ask, obviously needed if you want to carry anything on your bike. It is surprising how few bikes come with racks, and how many bikes I see used as transport but lacking a rack. A backpack will do in a pinch, but is less than ideal. The weight in a backpack moves with your body, wasting more of your energy than if it is on a rack and moving with the bike. Sweaty back is never nice either.

Chaincase:

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A chain-guard will keep the oil and crap from your chain off your clothes. A chaincase will keep the water and crap off your chain and keep your clothes clean. Seems fairly logical to me.

Permanent Dynamo Lights:

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Quick-release lights are a the norm when using batteries because the lights will work away from the bicycle, making them attractive to thieves. Dynamo lights are less useful to thieves because they require a dynamo. Permanently attached dynamo lights are hard to steal, of low value to thieves, always available and never need fresh batteries or re-charging. The combination of B&M lights I have fitted to my bike use a capacitor circuit (referred to as a standlight) to provide a few minutes of light when stationary, and a light-sensor so that they switch on automatically when it is dark. As a bonus, this feature also works when going through tunnels. The dynamo is conveniently sealed away in the front wheel hub. The dynamo rear light is a new addition, ordered from Dutch Bike Bits.

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Internal Hub Gears:

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Three gears:

1-Setting off and climbing hills
2-Cruising along
3-Long flats and down-hills

All sealed inside the rear hub. Clean, sealed away from the elements, durable and low-maintenance. One day I might swap it out for a 5-speed hub with a bigger range, for those big up- and down-hill stretches.

Drum Brakes:

Effective, sealed away from the elements, durable and low-maintenance. Drum brakes are long-lasting and unaffected by the weather. I find their lack of popularity slightly odd.

Practical Tyres:

The original tyres which came with the bike were fine, but I decided to replace them with more durable, puncture-resistant and grippy Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. As a nice bonus they are also cream-coloured giving the bike that extra touch of class.

Ding-Dong Bell:

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Ping bells don’t produce a particularly loud sound. The ding-dong bell common in the Netherlands and Denmark is both loud and polite-sounding.

A Leather Saddle:

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Brooks make the best saddles I have ever used. Whilst they do require a bit of upkeep, they are well worth it. I have enjoyed cycling on mine (after my arse got used to it) and would heartily recommend.

All of these features add up to a bike which is easy to just hop on and go, no special clothing and no need for showering facilities at the other end. It is the ultimate in cheap, fast and enjoyable end-to-end personal transport.

The Guv’nor

I noticed a Pashley Gun’nor in the parking shed at work earlier this week and decided to snap some pictures:

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Plenty has been written about the Guv’nor elsewhere online, but upon seeing one in real life a few things stuck me:

The Guv’nor is a very pretty bike, cream Delta Cruisers, leather grips, Championship B17 saddle and the lugged frame all come together to make a very attractive bicycle.

The Guv’nor however, is basically an ornament. It is a three-speed bicycle sold for £800 without any of the practical accessories you would get with other Pashley models such as even the basic £500 models of the Roadster and Princess. £600 would get you basically the same bicycle (with the handlebars flipped) including dynamo front light, battery rear light, mudguards, chainguards, a rack, a frame-fitting lock, a basket (on the ladies’ model), a stand and an extra two gears, in the form of the Roadster Sovereign or the Princess Sovereign.

The Guv’nor was likely aimed at collectors rather than as a bike to ride to work on, and I can see its appeal as an ornament, almost a museum piece. It does seem odd however, that someone would choose this over the Roadster Sovereign as a bike for general transportation. It seems to be a case of style over substance, much like the time an Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative salesperson suggested a rackless, lightless, chainguardless, mudguardless, kickstandless and possibly brakeless fixed gear bicycle would be better for “pottering around town,” than the Pashley Roadster Sovereign, despite the prices of the two bikes being nearly the same. Seems like a case of style over substance.

1951 and 2009

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This is a picture of a 1951 Raleigh DL-1 I found as part of a set here.  The set is very good and really shows off the bike at its best.  I was amazed to see how similar the 1951 version is to mine (especially with those Delta Cruisers).  The main differences are the rod-actualted stirrup brakes it has rather than the rod-actuated drum brakes mine came with.

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Here is my 2009 DL-1 for comparison.  It is nice to see that with the DL-1 not a huge amount has changed in 58 years.

New Shoes

I decided to get some new tyres for the Raleigh Tourist, partly for aesthetic reasons (inspired by Velouria’s DL-1) and partly because the old tyres didn’t make a massive amount of contact with the road and were only rated to 50 PSI, which meant the rolling resistance was quite high.

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Before, with the old tyres.

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After, with the new Delta Flyer tyres in cream, from Practical Cycles.