A Raleigh Alyeska Touring Bike

During the mid-1980’s Raleigh came out with a whole touring line-up that ranged from the top-end 650b Portage to the entry level Wyoming model.  In between were the Kodiak and the Alyeska models which used 27inch wheels.  All of their touring frames were built with Reynolds double butted 555R tubing and forged dropouts, with the main differences among the models being the fork material, braze-ons and components.  All of these bikes were simply amazing in their build quality, and any one of them would be a great platform for many different kinds of riding.

When I purchased the bike 16 years ago from an eBay seller, it had gone through a restoration which involved having the frame powdercoated.  The job was well done, and the brick red color is evokes somewhat the hue of the original paint.  The lugs and lettering were highlighted with gold, a nice touch.

The Alyeska model featured so many nice touches:  a rear brake bridge, double eyelets front and rear, vertical rear dropout, 2 bottle cage mounts, a pump peg, rear rack and front low-rider braze-ons, and classy engraved Raleigh lettering on the seat stays, as well as the Raleigh logo engraved on the fork crown.

I believe this bike hails from 1986, given that the bottom bracket serial number begins with a 6.  The above scans are from a 1986 catalog I found at kurtkaminer.com.  You can also find a beautifully scanned 1984 catalog at Josh Capps’ site,The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles.

The original Sakae CR touring crankset was included with the bike when I purchased it.  However, I did swap out the middle 45T ring for a 39er, to make shifting a little easier, as not everyone is a fan of half-step gearing.  These chainrings are now 50/39/30.

I also made some other drive chain changes from the previous build to make the bike more user friendly:  a 14-28  7 speed indexing freewheel, Shimano indexing/friction bar end shifters and a bullet proof Shimano Acera rear derailleur.  The front derailleur is the original Shimano model and works well with the triple crank.  Gearing is now 29-96 gear inches.

The wheels are a new in 2007 set built by legendary Harris Cyclery (RIP) using SR M13II rims laced to Quando sealed bearing hubs.  I’ve never had to true the wheelset in all this time, and the Quando hubs are spinning perfectly as well.  The previous owner kept the original 27 inch wheel size for this upgrade, but the cantilevers will easily accept a 700c wheel.

And, the upgrade done by the previous owner included my favorite cantilevers:  Suntour XC Pro in classy Champagne finish.  There’s nothing to improve here!

I enhanced the elegance of this bike with a rando style bottle cage and some lovely MKS touring pedals.  I also added SKS fenders and removed the gigantic Surly touring racks included with the bike when I first purchased it.

Custom Meral and Raleigh Alyeska at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island.

We had loads of fun on the many rides we enjoyed over the last 16 years, but as of late the bike has not been ridden much.  It is time to pass it on to a new custodian.

I gave the bike a complete overhaul, and while most of the bike was in surprisingly great shape, I did find some nearly complete paint loss on the rear dropout.  A few small areas of paint loss also developed underneath the bottom bracket.  I have found similar issues on other powder coated frames I have worked on.  A bit of surface rust had developed on the exposed areas, so it was necessary to sand the compromised areas down, then apply primer and paint.  When I applied the first several coats of primer, I noticed that it was nearly the same color as the powder coat itself.  So, I called it good and added a few coats of clear coat on top.  The color difference is not really noticeable, as you can see from the previous photos.

It’s time to sell this lovely 37 year old.  It’s looking spry and should last for decades to come. The frame size is 21 inches which translates to a 53 cm seat tube.  Top tube length is 54 cm. I prefer to sell it locally ($900 firm) and not ship it, so if any Portland area readers are interested, please contact me:





5 thoughts on “A Raleigh Alyeska Touring Bike

  1. I love these mid 80’s Raleigh USA bikes. I loved by Crested Butte MTB and would have kept it for another decade if it actually fit me OK. I still find it highly amusing that Huffy (!) had the licensing rights for Raleigh USA at this time, and they did an amazing job, which cannot be said for most of the USA made Huffys.

  2. Very nice! I don’t know much about the Raleigh bikes after Worksop/ Nottingham. This looks like a fine touring model and built up with a utilitarian attitude for every day commuting or touring long treks . My wife had an eighties Touring 14 that she loved when we were car free for a while , similar in color to yours with “rando” bars , bar end shifting , and touring geometry. That was one of the best built touring bikes of that time period without breaking the bank. Although it cost more than the racing bike I was riding! The mid to upper level Raleigh’s were not inexpensive, but you could ride the heck out of them and they needed very little adjustment.I hope it finds a good home, Joe

  3. What a delightful Alyeska, Nola! I have an incredibly long history with mid-80s Raleigh touring frames but most of my time was spent with an ’85 Alyeska. For about 6 years, it was my main commuter when I lived in Portland and rode anywhere between 6-8 miles (one-way), 5-days a week to get to work. That bike saw it all—wind, sleet, rain, minor snow, hot sun and frigid hail. I took it on the Portland light rail and easily popped it on the front of the bus when times were just too debilitating to ride. I would load it down with two, massive Ortlieb rear panniers in the back and despite getting just a touch squirrely when fully jam packed, this bike handled the load along with every other obstacle I could throw at it. It was meant to be an “in-between” bike as my previous bike was destroyed in a car crash. I picked this up on a whim but soon discovered it was the ultimate commuter, grocery-getter and multi-day touring rig, so I ceased searching for its replacement. I ended up selling it only because my commute now is 1.5 miles (one-way) and I’ve got a different setup now for longer distance touring. But, to this day, it is still one of the finest bicycles I’ve ever had in terms of utility, classic good looks and rock solid performance.
    What’s great about yours, Nola, is that you’ve taken care of all the minor issues one would have to deal with if buying one that hadn’t been upgraded by the previous owner. These aren’t big issues but they take time and money to accomplish! As you said, there is nothing to improve here! If you are even mildly interested in this bike, I encourage you to reach out as you won’t find anything nearly as good as this, in this price range, in any bike shop.

    • Josh, I didn’t know you were an aleyska rider while you were in Pdx. Thanks for your assessment of the bike, gained from valuable experience. It really is a do it all machine.

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