1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist

1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist C Model

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1951 Raleigh Catalog

Here is an all original 1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist Ladies model.  The above photo shows its condition after much cleaning and mechanical work.  The bike includes the original frame pump, plus a Brooks B-72 saddle and a rear Dutch carrier (both upgrades from the base model shown from the 1951 catalog above).  The frame serial number dates to 1949, and the Sturmey Archer hub shows a 1950 date, so I have concluded that this is a 1950 model. The price in British pounds indicated in the 1951 catalog translates to about $850 in today’s dollars, suggesting the bike’s quality and also the massive depression in bike retail prices concurrent with the advent of mass-produced aluminum frames built in China (more on that in a separate post).

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This “All Steel Bicycle” really is ALL steel.  The rims, cranks, handlebars, chain guard, stem, steatpost, fenders and rack are steel.  It weighs 45 lbs!!!

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The original black paint was very vibrant after cleaning and polishing – an example of the quality that was part of Raleigh production values.  The rear rack is a Dutch after-market model of the same era – but its paint has chipped and faded over the years.  The original rubber block pedals show wear, but were in perfect mechanical condition and were easy to overhaul.  The Sturmey Archer shifter was designed to be used with a 3 or 4 speed hub.  It’s a bit fussy, and combined with the tuning of the cable tension on the rear hub took some time to perfect the shifting so that the hub did not freewheel under hard effort (not a pleasant experience while climbing).  The rear fender displays a 1962 bike license from New England (plus indications of a mishap years ago).  When I purchased this bike I learned that the original owner had ordered the bike from the Raleigh factory in England, had it shipped, along with her husband’s bike to New England, and there the two of them toured all over the countryside on their Sports Tourist models.

Raleigh steel rims – matching serial numbers front and rear

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Rust on internal portion of rim

The wheels, with matching serial numbers front and rear, were seriously rusted.  It literally took days of cleaning to get the majority of the rust off the interior and exterior of the rims.

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Sturmey Archer AW 1950 3 speed hub

I call this 1950 Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub,  the “self-propelling hub”.  It may never wear out.  Combined with the massive inertia of the steel wheels and steel cottered cranks, once this bike gets going, it keeps going.  While it does take a certain psychological mindset to ride this 45 lbs machine up the steep hills in my neighborhood, the bike bring smiles to all passersby, and amazes me with its ability to absorb road shock.  The upright position is a little bit Wizard of Oz, but that adds to the fun.

Recommended by kitties worldwide.

47 thoughts on “1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist

  1. I have a 1974 Raleigh Sport that I love and ride to the store all the time. I am in awe of your builting expertise-did you take a class or are you self taught?? I am 67 years old and a retired school teacher. I have rediscoveried bicyles and they are my passion. Keep up the website and your collecting. Violet

      • Hi Nola.
        I have a 1954 Raleigh Trent Tourist that my mother bought me when I was 11 yrs. old & I still ride it.! I am now 70. It cost her £20 at the time , she could not afford to pay for it all at once so she paid so much a week until it was paid up. I would never part with it.

      • Hi Peter, I am so glad you are enjoying your Raleigh. The Trent Tourist was a nice model, from what I see in catalogs I have found. A bike to be treasured!

  2. Hello Nola,
    I have a similar bike as your Raleigh sport ladies model. I have recently restored it, I believe it is from the forties. I was wondering what type of oil should I fill the hub with. I wanted to verify the age of the bike as well as try and establish a value for the bike. I am considering selling it. Any information would be greatly appreciated. I can also send photos for your opinion as well.
    Thanks Mike

    • Hi Mike,

      As far as hub lubrication goes, the spec manuals for Sturmey Archer hubs say to use SAE 20 weight oil, which is what I have been using. Sheldon Brown recommended Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, and John Allen recommends automotive transmission fluid. You definitely don’t want to use a heavy or “gunky” oil in the hub. You should be able to date your Raleigh by the SN on the frame (maybe on the seat tube lug or possibly on the BB), but the easiest and very reliable way to date a bike with a Sturmey Archer hub is to look at the hub shell which will contain first some letters, which indicate the model, and then a two digit number, which indicates the year. I suggest checking out the Raleigh Nottingham Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theraleighbicyclenottinham/
      There you can post photos and get feedback about values and how to go about marketing your bicycle. There are many vintage Raleigh enthusiasts out there!

  3. Pingback: 1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist | Three Speed Mania

  4. Hello, love your website. I recently purchased an old vintage Raleigh much like the one in the post above. I’m in the process of restoring it, but how on earth do you get that full chain guard off?

    • HI Jeremy, the full chain case is designed in sections so that it can be disassembled. At the back and on the inside you’ll see some seams and nearby screws. The front of the chain guard has a tab that slides out and then the round front plate can be removed. Good luck with your project!

  5. Hi there!

    I’m a new owner of quiet old Raleigh bike. I can’t find out it’s production year, but it is around 1920-1930. It’s got some remaining decals – one on the front (Raleigh) and one just under the seat (War time finish). It’s hub is K5 of Sturmey Archer and the whole bicycle is in poor condition. It is lacking a saddle, gear shifter, part of the front and back lamp. Tires are original Michelin, but way gone by now. I’m about to give it a good couple of extra years to serve. Is there any advice to renovation process I can follow? I’ll post all of the photos of that veteran from before and after the tough job. Missing parts are on their way and I can’t wait to start working on it. Hope to show it on it’s full glory very soon.

    • Hi Andy,
      Congratulations! It sounds like you and your new/old Raleigh are well matched. For the steel wheels, and other steel parts on the bike I use brass or copper brushes to remove rust along with a cleaning oil such as Menotomy’s magic potion http://oldroads.com/clean_kit.asp. For paint cleaning and reviving I use a polish and then a wax. If the paint is really bad, a cleaning oil such as the previously mentioned product may be necessary. The main thing is to restore the bike to its original glory without altering it. A certain patina is just fine. Hopefully the bike’s mechanicals can be overhauled and the bike can be made rideable. Please post your before and after photos on our FB page. https://www.facebook.com/RestoredVintageBicycles

  6. I’m an old Raleigh collector that is giving it up. I have a bunch of old DL’s in parts and complete bike. I’m looking to sell. Curtis

  7. Thanks for sharing your wonderful, lovingly restored example of a 1950 Raleigh Sports. I also have one, the gents version…The hub has the dates of 50 7, though the serial on the frame ends in the letters BE, which places mine squarely in 1951. It has the front dynamo, and the lights and original bulbs still work….I rode home in the dark tonight with them. The paint is not so pristine as yours, due to decades of damp storage, but I’ll never repaint it. Yes, it also took days for me to remove the rust from the rims and everything else (matching serial numbers, too). I carefully repacked all the bearings (a few ball bearings in the left pedal were replaced, since some of them had become broken split peas). The original Brooks B72 saddle is still supple and comfortable….Brooks contacted me, expressing it may be one of the oldest of their saddles still in service for daily riding. Since rescuing this wonderful heavy all-steel Raleigh a year ago from almost certainly being scrapped (it was actually free, with my persuasion that it needed a loving home), I have ridden it at least 800 commuting miles. While dependable and stable to ride even in the rain, it’s quite a workout climbing up hills (every incline becomes a “hill”)! I think you can get the idea it’s become my favorite ride, and a testament to the endurance of a vintage Raleigh.

    • Hello Garth, congratulations on your wonderful find. What a delight it is to hear about how much you are enjoying your “new” Raleigh. Thank you for salvaging it and I am glad to hear it is being ridden and is part of your life. It is a great work out, too, riding up those hills. Enjoy!

  8. I too have an old Raleigh.
    I have had a brake cable snap but have found it impossibel to source replacement cables. Can you give any advise?

  9. ive just sourced an old dark green 1950s Raleigh mens bike all complete 30pnd over the moon just need to sort the old chrome out any ideas thanks

  10. Hello. I have a Raleigh Trent Tourist – claret and cream colour but unfortunately very rusted and with one twisted wheel. It dates from 1955 and I wonder if you can advise if there is anywhere in Scotland where it could be refurbished. Many thanks. Susan Smith

    • Hi Susan, I hope you can bring your Trent Tourist back to life. I don’t know any cycle shops in Scotland, but there are forums where you could ask for a reference. You would be best served by a shop that has knowledge and experience refurbishing vintage Raleighs and other internally geared bikes. Good luck!

  11. Hi Nola,
    I enjoy your blog very much! I am rebuilding a 1940 Sports Tourist that is nearly identical to this one, except it has the early quadrant shifter. On your recommendation I am trying the Menotomy cleaning fluid and like it a lot. My rims are in similar condition and I’m wondering how you decide when you’ve removed enough rust. Is the photo of the inner surface of the rim above the “after” photo? Mine are looking about like that but still have the brownish rust color. Is there a way to determine the rust has been completely removed? Thanks for any advice you might have.

    I have a 1940 Raleigh Sports Tourist and a 1958 Raleigh Sports. It’s interesting to feel the differences between them. They are both 21″ models, but the Sports Tourist feels smaller. It’s a much more comfortable bicycle for me to ride. At 5′ 1″, I find the later Raleigh Sports to be almost too big for me. I haven’t measured the tube lengths to find the differences, but the angles seems to be identical between the two bicycles. The bottom bracket on the Sports Tourist is a little higher.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us!

    • Hi Emily,

      The photo in the blog post you reference shows the rust removal at a “mid point”. I continued to work on the rims for a bit more, but the worst of the corrosion was off the rims by the time I took that photo. You don’t have to make the rims pristine, but it is good to arrest the rust with something like WD40 or Weigle’s Frame Saver, after cleaning. Then, sheltering the bike in a dry space is important as well.
      Your comments about the frame geometry and comfort differences between the 1940 model and the 1958 model are interesting. Usually, comfort is increased by wider, lower pressure tires, longer chainstays, saddle design, and slacker angles. As to geometry, I haven’t researched the differences among the Sports models over the years, but one thing that is interesting about my 1950 model is the narrow North Road bars, which are much narrower than bars on later iterations. These bars are very comfortable, and give the bike a feeling of a close fitting cockpit, which I find personally very comfortable.

      • Thanks, Nola! I took out the tape measure and did a quick comparison. The ’40 is disassembled so I couldn’t measure distances to the ground, but maybe I’ll do that later for my own curiosity. I’m still learning about frame geometry and what it all means. The frames seem to be the same except the head tube of the ’40 Sports Tourist is about 1.25″ shorter than the ’58 Sports. And yes, the North Road handlebars are significantly narrower. I didn’t measure but there is maybe a 4-5″ difference. If you have the time, I’d love to know how you think the difference in head tube length affects the ride, for my own education. Thanks again!

      • Hi Emily,
        When I get a chance, I’ll provide some geometry measurements for the 1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist, and maybe we can start a small data base of vintage Raleigh frame geometry.

  12. I have a 1958 Rudge Sports. The build quality is incredible. The bike seems to have sat for years/decades in a garage, yet was rideable once air was put back in the tires. The wheels were still spinning “true”. The paint and chrome also held up very well.

  13. I must get rid of a men’s one-owner (me) ’52 Raleigh Sports Tourist. Mostly original, but with some frame damage (down tube slightly bent by car pulling into garage). Be good for parts or after frame repair. Contact if interested.

    • Hi Wally, too bad the frame is damaged. Your best bet might be to disassemble the bike and list the parts for sale on Craigslist and/or eBay. Due to high shipping costs for a complete bike, damaged bikes are usually not worth shipping.

      • How much do you want for the bike? Where are you located?

        Curtis

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • The bike is in Richmond, VA. I saved up from my paper route and bought it when I was 12. Many years later, a friend of my dad’s accidently bent the frame ever so slightly while pulling his big Buick into the garage where the bike was stored. The damage went undetected for years until I rode it and realized something wasn’t right. I don’t know if frames can be straightened. If so this bike could be a real “barn” find. It has been stored inside for decades. I have not put a price on it yet.

      • The bike is in Richmond, VA. I saved up from my paper route and bought it when I was 12. Many years later, a friend of my dad’s accidently bent the frame ever so slightly while pulling his big Buick into the garage where the bike was stored. The damage went undetected for years until I rode it and realized something wasn’t right. I don’t know if frames can be straightened. If so this bike could be a real “barn” find. It has been stored inside for decades. I have not put a price on it yet.

      • Damage is barely noticeable, but affects what was a perfect ride. I am relocating and have no time to disassemble and advertise. But thanks for the sound advice.

      • Still have the bike. Moving in a couple of weeks. Frame damage is barely noticeable visually and could probably be fixed using a jig and hydraulic pressure. It would make a good affordable restoration project for someone. I might be willing to assist with costs for a share of the final value.

    • Wally, I have an all original ’51 Raleigh Sports Tourist (original lightbulbs still glow; original Brooks saddle is holding up fine in usage). The rear hub is stamped “7-50”. When I found it, it was caked in rust, and for some reason, the forks were bent back about an inch. I had the forks carefully re-bent to the correct angle, and it has been a wonderful bike to ride ever since (I’ve added at least 1,000 miles to it). Strangely, nothing was wrong with either matching wheel rim (they share the same matching serial number as a set). I hope the downtube can be successfully repaired on your ’52. These were such well built bikes.

      • To be accurate, I also posted a reply above as “Garth Herrick” on September 28, 2014. Same bicycle…. the hub date stamp is “50 7”.

  14. Besides the rear hub ( I think mine may have been replaced) is there any other way I can date my Raleigh Dl 1 ? Regards Luke

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