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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Raleigh Wayfarer Saga, Part 8: The Final Tally

The Raleigh Wayfarer right after I got it in December 2010. No modifications yet.
The Raleigh Wayfarer Restoration Project has been an interesting journey!  When I purchased the bicycle two-and-a-half months ago from an East Vancouver pack rat for the paltry sum of $30, i would never have guessed how much time, money, and energy I would end up investing into the bicycle.  

When I procured the bike, I intended to do some stuff to it, but probably not a lot.  Originally I thought, "It would be nice to have a Raleigh so April and I can go ride Raleighs together!"  I was never intending it to be anything more than a "sunny day" ride. 

But then a series of events was set into motion, and now I have a great everyday bike, one that I can use as my primary means of transportation around town. In short, it's been restored to what Raleigh intended the bike to be: a city bike.

How did this happen?  I think it's mostly due to my current obsessive nature around my bicycles.  I can't have a junker, all my bikes should be nice.  This wasn't always the case.  

When I decided to give transportational cycling/bike commuting a go ten years ago, I found a budget bike, $150.  To me then, that was a lot of money for a bike!  I accessorized it slowly, and fretted over any cent.  When I got lights, I got the cheapest possible, a Cateye halogen front which was about $10 and a generic rear blinky.  I remember hating that Cateye: it took C batteries, the light would be dim after two days of use, and the cover would fall off.  Thankfully you can do a lot better with $10 these days, but you get the point.

Nowadays I can easily spend more than $150 for a bike, I tend to go for better lights, buy Brooks saddles, etc. etc.  It's hard for me to stop myself and do only so much.  I go full out. And that was the case with the Raleigh Wayfarer.

So what have I done to the bike?  Here's all the changes, and the estimated price from what I can recall:
  • Replaced front wheel with new handbuilt alloy wheel.  Aluminum Sun Rim CR18 650A/590mm size $25, spokes $35, Dynotech dynamo hub $35, V-O locking skewer $10. Labor free.  Total $105
  • Replaced internals of the 1956 Sturmey-Archer 3 speed hub (AW model) with a working 1954 internals. $10
  • Replaced tires with Schwalbe Delta Cruisers 26" x 1 3/8", $18 each, and new tubes $3 each. Total $42
  • Generator lights: Spanninga front $42 and rear $20, plus wiring and bracket accessories $12. Total $74
  • Replaced handlebar/stem with "North Road" handlebars $12,used stem $8, cork grips $10, Japanese Crane chrome bell $10. Total $40
  • Replaced block pedals with used "rat trap" style. $5
  • New cotter pins for cranks. $2
  • Water bottle cage. $4
  • New chain $3 and 20 tooth cog for rear $5. Total $8
  • New brake cables $5 and brake pads $5. Total $10
  • Took off old kickstand, replaced with Greenfield rear-triangle kickstand. $20
  • New longer seatpost. $8
  • Brooks B-66 saddle and Carradice saddle bag.  Already owned.
  • Hoseclamp and rings to rear rack for attaching panniers. $3
I think that about covers it.  So the total tally of stuff done adds up to $366!  Add that to the cost of the bike (and the bus fare needed to pick it up), the total I've sunk into this bike has been $400!
Ai yi yi...

It can be argued that I could have purchased an adequate new city bike for that much, like one of those Linus bikes, which really do look nice.  But I'm so fussy with bikes that I wouldn't be satisfied with an "off the shelf" bicycle, I'd tweak and modify it from the get-go.  This is the reason why I bought a Long Haul Trucker frame and built it up, rather than get a complete bike. And I think the process of restoring a bike, despite some headaches, is fun for me. Besides, the Raleigh is a classy older bike, and I've modified it in such a way that it's uniquely mine.

In the end, I'm happy that I've gone through the process.  I've learned a lot about old English bikes and three speeds (thank you Sheldon Brown!)  I have a bike that's fun to ride, useful, and practical.

A big thank you goes to Keith Mr. Raving Bike Fiend, who not only put up with a barrage of emails from me before and after I bought the bike, but flew all the way down from Edmonton (it's in Canada, y'know) to help me with fixing the bike.  Well, he came down to be with his fiance, but I'll just think of it that way.
Raleigh Wayfarer, February 23, 2011. Done for now.

So I have a British bike restored with a mix of British and Asian parts (plus one American part!) by Canadian labo(u)r, in America.  How's that for a collaboration?


  1. I bought my aged Raleigh Wisp for a mere £56 pounds (I think it was 56) and have since spent a hell of a lot more fixing, repairing and replacing parts...although I haven't totalled up the cost (and am too scared to, so won't).

    But it's worth it. Satisfying.
    You enjoy riding the bike more I think.


  2. Yeah, when I told April I was going to tally the cost, she was like "Don't!" But I agree, in the end it's worth it!

  3. Looks like a great bike...worth the $$ invested...=-)

  4. It was really enjoyable to be able to help bring this old Raleigh up to speed and make it what it was intended to be.

    The Sturmey Archer 3 speed was ideally designed for wet British weather and Portland provides enough of that.

    If anyone else has such a project in mind and wants my help all you have to do is cover my air fare to and from Portland... :D

    If not, you could expect that the cost of overhauling a bike like this would probably add a few bills to the tab... depending on how much work a bike needed.

    We spent a bit of time running around looking for parts but that was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the whole adventure. A couple of guys out pootling around on Raleigh speeds (I have my own).

    I teach classes on how to care for your English three speed (my mentor was Sheldon Brown) and do this kind of work here at my shop.

    Looking forward to pootling around Portland and turning wrenches again in July.

  5. Hey, don't forget to factor in the cost you saved to the earth/populace/humanity for saving a bike from being unecessarily junked (or taking up space unused in someone's garage).

    Even if restoring a bike is the same or even a bit more than an equivalent new bike (within reason of course) it is (usually) worth it for all the reasons you stated and more.

  6. Prairie Voyageur--Good point! There's plenty of old serviceable bikes/frames out there, it isn't always necessary to buy new.

    Of course, that won't stop thoughts of custom bicycles in my head!

  7. It turned out beautifully. My Raleigh Sports, especially with a new Brooks, will easily top out at the same cost as your Raleigh. Worth every penny!


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