Thursday, January 21, 2016

1950 Raleigh RRA - or It's all about the little things

I had to admit to my wife last week,
that I had fallen in love...again.
She was, I have to say, very relaxed about
my confession,maybe she is just getting 
used to it...
...the object of my latest affections is a
beautifully preserved 1950 Raleigh
Record Ace, known to enthusiasts as the RRA.
The reason I have fallen so hard for this quite sedate looking
piece of British iron, goes back to my very first interests in
classic racing bicycles....
The first serious racing bike I acquired, just as part of
a swap, was a late 70's Team Raleigh.
Although it was to big for me, and I knew nothing about
 racing bikes, I instantly realized that
this was something special.
Being the slightly obsessive type, I spent the next
little while learning all I could about top end Raleigh's.
As I was also then already developing a bad habit for 1950's
British style cycle racing culture, and I had an existing sort of 
loyalty for the Raleigh brand, the RAA became 
the obvious machine of my desires.
What I really liked about the RRA, was all the small 
stuff Raleigh made especially for their flagship model.
You know other makers might get their name/logo stamped
into a component or two, but Raleigh went all out,
 for the RRA,  starting with a specific
set of slim, profiled cranks, and chain ring.
An absolutely beautiful sculptured chrome saddle bag support,
that came with it's own bag (of course).
 Ultra stylish alloy wing nuts for the 
No Weight Blumels mud guards.
And my favourite bit, the very modern (for 1950) pedals.
The whole pedal body is alloy, with steel cage, featuring the
famous Heron Raleigh logo.
The only problem was that as far as I could find

out, they weren't imported into New Zealand, so
unless I could strike it lucky, and find one brought over
privately, I was out of luck, because finding one in the 
UK is neither cheap, or easy, and getting a whole bike 
like this brought over is very expensive, 
well to much for me anyway.
So you can inagine my pleasure, when, about six months ago
a chap I was buying some bikes from, mentioned that he had
"an old RRA" at his bach, if I was interested..was I!
He talked it down, saying that it had been converted into a
town hack by the previous owner, and not to get to excited.
He obviously doesn't know me that well..
So cut forward to last weekend, I arrive at his house, after a
very long drive, and see, what looks to be a old Raleigh Sport
parked up his drive.
I quickly notice the chrome fork ends, so know this is the RRA.
My slight disappointment, instantly turns to real joy when I 
start looking it over...
It still has it's saddle support in place, and GB  Hiduminium
brake calipers..'s Blu Mel No Weight guards are present, and
most surprisingly, uncraked, the Raleigh decal still bright.
The correct chainwheel,crankset and pedals are intact.
 The original paint and decals are in pretty good order,
just a light clean and buff will bring the frame up to
fine fettle.

 RRA lugs, pin stripping still pretty bright.
Reynolds butted tubes..of course.
The bike also came with original Raleigh bag, Blu Mels pump.
One of the most unusual things about the bike, is that the original
owner has ordered a Sturmey Archer FG 4 speed Dyno hub, on 
26" wheels. I know this is the original wheel set, because this
would be one of the few FG/26" wheel sets in the world with
double butted stainless steel spokes!, which was the standard spoke
for the RRA.
I will bring the bike back to original, the first task
is to replace the handle bars, luckily there are many correct
period options, I am going to use this set if Stratalite 'OPPY'
bars, and Reynolds twin bolt stem.
 aahh the small stuff, Oppy stamp on
the Stratalite bars
Reynolds twin bolt stem, with alloy bolt/washer, 
and wedge,all up weight 170grams, not bad.

I am going to store the original wheel set away,
and build a set more in keeping with the bikes sporting
Dunlop 27" Special Lightweight rims
1951 Sturmey Archer AC Ultra Close Ratio
3 speed TT hub.
Some times you do get what you wish for.

For a more indepth look at the RRA history visit Peter Kohler's
great articles on ipernity


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