[CR] Old Raleighs and Getting My Head Examined

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Content-Class: urn:content-classes:message
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 12:21:38 -0500
Thread-Topic: Old Raleighs and Getting My Head Examined
Thread-Index: AcoROjJTno3zYmBES8O/vHlNX1zxKA==
From: "Strickler, George M Jr." <gstrickler@tulane.edu>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR] Old Raleighs and Getting My Head Examined

Several days ago a contributor to this list called attention to a 50's era Raleigh club bike (Reg Harris Leyton) on ebay. Out of curiosity, I looked at it (probably a mistake). No bids. I started thinking about the bike and feeling bad that this piece of history was being left neglected and unclaimed. So, I put in a bid. I may have been the only bidder, due no doubt to the less-than-pristine condition of the machine. I clearly need more therapy (but what kind?) for starting down this road. I have never even seen a "rod actuated FD" (except in one of Jan's books), Benelux? (I thought they made refrigerators). I will obviously have lots of questions in order to get the bike ("from the golden age of cycling") in rideable condition. One reason I put money on the line was that looking at the ebay picture reminded me (kind of like Proust's macaroon cookie) of my first light weight bike. Bear with me. Around 1952 or 53 I became enamored with the idea of the "English Racer." I had never seen one and knew of their existence only by reading about them in Boys' Life. But I wanted one. My parents, being the kind of people they were, gave me one for Christmas in 53 or 54. The bike came from Sears & Roebuck and I believe was sold under the "J.C.Higgins" brand but it was definitely made by Raleigh (Nottingham, I think). I knew this because in pre-holiday investigation I found the box under my parents' bed and I studied the label with great interest. It was a thing of wonder. It was the first bike anyone in my neighborhood had seen w/o a coaster brake - you stopped it with your hands! And it had gears - 3 speed Strumly Archer which had limited utility in flat-as-a-pancake Houston but were immensely fun to play with. It was light as a feather, at least as compared with the bloated Schwinns with shocks and battery operated horns that were the height of bike technology in post-war Texas. I could have made money by charging people for a ride around the block. Does anyone remember this bike? I can't imagine that Raleigh would have made a model just for Sears. It was undoubtedly one of their regular models that they just labeled with Sears' house brand. Any ideas?

George Strickler
Walden, Vermont