A 1970’s Raleigh Gran Sport and a 1980’s Viner

Simplex Super LJ and Campagnolo shifters

Simplex Super LJ and Campagnolo shifters

Sometimes I purchase bikes that I intend to disassemble.  Often these are perfectly decent bikes, and sometimes very nice ones, that have suffered from what I call unfortunate upgrades.

Recently, a colleague asked me to help him to try out commuting on vintage steel which will be a nice change from his aluminum hybrid. My plan was to take a nice frame and build it up to his specifications.  I purchased this 1970’s Raleigh Gran Sport that had gone through a few prior iterations, both good and bad.

1970's Raleigh Gran Sport

1970’s Raleigh Gran Sport

The frame is full double butted Reynolds 531, with a Reynolds 531 fork, chrome stays and fork legs, with single eyelets front and rear.  There is lots of room at the brake bridge and fork crown for fenders, even with the 27″ inch wheels it was designed for.  So, converting this to 700c and adding some wider tires and fenders should work well.

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The good upgrades included the Simplex SLJ front derailleur and Campy shifters shown at the top, which would have been upgrades from the ugly plastic Simplex models of this era.  The spacing at the rear drop outs is 127 mm so we will have lots of options to consider for the wheelset – either vintage or modern.  Actually, the bike was mostly intact from its original state except for some no name Aero levers (with shifter cables installed where the brake cables should be – yikes!), and some hideous bar tape.  Because the bike looked kind of bizarre and was a bit dirty, it didn’t sell for much.

At the same time I spotted this 1980’s Viner that was even weirder looking,  It sported some 1970’s suicide brake levers, ugly bar tape (again!) and a Shimano 105 headset shimmed into the head tube.

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After just a bit of cleaning, the frame looks great.  It’s an odd color – it looks black sometimes and brown/purple in low light.  It is built with Columbus Cromor Tubing and is in great condition.  These road frames from the 80’s can make nice conversions to 650c or 650b.  It’s my size – 49 x 51.  However, I am going to resist the urge to build it up for myself and will probably keep it in inventory until someone comes along who wants it built up.

There were a few nice surprises with both of these bikes.  The Raleigh’s components were in great shape, and in addition to the Simplex SLJ and the Campy shifters, the prior owner had added a Brooks Professional Saddle (it would have come standard with a B-17).  The original Stronglight crankset has many miles left on it and has the interesting feature of a built in chain guard.  I may use this crankset for my friend’s build since he’s going to be commuting in his work clothes.  The headset and bottom bracket are also original and very nice and will be re-used.

Brooks Professional Stronglight with chainguard Stronglight Bottom bracket

Sadly, the Viner had most of its original Campagnolo parts stripped off.  Fortunately, though, the crankset and rear derailleur were left undisturbed:

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The Viner also had a good wheelset – Maillard sealed hubs on Weinmann concave rims with stainless steel spokes – 36 front and rear.  That seems like a much more robust wheelset than I would have expected, and the wheels will come in very handy for other projects that may come along.  The bottom bracket fixed cup was in really tight.  It is shown above with my removal tool still attached.  Of course, it did help to finally figure out that the BB was Italian, so the fixed cup goes the OTHER way…


6 thoughts on “A 1970’s Raleigh Gran Sport and a 1980’s Viner

  1. The Gran Sport is a real gem. I’m refurbishing a late 70s Peugeot UO-10 for a friend: Normandy hubs, Rigida alloy 27-inch rims, the better quality Simplex derailleurs and shifters. I’m not sure of the model but they’re mostly metal. French stem, Mafac brakes. The biggest challenge was the Stronglight cotterless crankset. Fortunately, I have a friend who is an experienced bike mechanic, and he happened to have the proper crank puller, which is 23.4mm, I believe. I got the left-side cup off, no problem, but the fixed cup wouldn’t budge. I was expecting French threads. After a round of grunting and cursing, I decided to try a spare English cup on the non-drive side, just for the heck of it. Sure enough, it threaded right in. With help from my special Sheldon Brown bottom bracket tool, the left-threaded fixed cup came off easy as pie. Apparently this bike was manufactured during the transition period when Peugeot had begun to join the rest of the world. When I started in on this project, I warned my friend that weird French sizing could make finding replacement parts a challenge. For instance: The pedals are French threaded. Fortunately, the races on the hubs, headset and bottom bracket were all in great shape. She’s super excited, and this should be a nice vintage ride.

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think the Raleigh Gran Sport was a nice machine and many are still around today. Your UO-10 project sounds fun. Yes, the Stronglight cranksets take a special puller. You can get them from J.A. Stein: http://jastein.com/index.htm

      Sizing issues can be very frustrating, and there does seem to have been a bit of mixing an matching during the 70’s and 80’s. There are still a lot of nice French threaded pedals out there, but don’t be afraid to tap them out to standard size if she needs modern pedals. When you are done with your project I welcome you to post your photos on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/RestoredVintageBicycles

  2. I realize I’m late to the party but I can’t stop reading about the Raleigh Gran Sport. I found one near my home place and in the process of bringing it back to life. I’m in the process of doing a write up on it on my website. http://vintagemikesdirtybikes.com/vintage-bicycles/my-projects/76-raleigh-gran-sport/

    The one thing I love about the bike is it’s color scheme. It’s just so damn fascinating to look at! As mentioned above it does need a special crank puller. I ended up using a gear puller and a steel punch. Anybody else know of any tricks besides buying the special puller?

    It’s fun to see others like the gran sport as much as I do!

    • Hi Mike, the blue and white color scheme is fetching, almost irresistible. An automotive gear puller is one option for removing a crank arm, but something I have only done with stripped threads on the arm. Otherwise, using the correctly threaded crank puller is the way to go to minimize any mishaps. I use J A Stein pullers for both Stronglight and for T A. Well engineered tools, and worth the price.

      Thanks for sharing your site! It’s encouraging to see how many cyclists are realizing the value and utility of well crafted vintage bicycles.

  3. I have a similar Raleigh project with the same Stronglight crankset with a chain guard. When I realized the chain guard was basically a blank gear I checked the reach of my front derailer and it had enough travel to cover a triple so then I did something a little different.
    I sourced a 56 tooth Stronglight gear and mounted my over drive gear where the chain guard was.

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