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:





A Tale of Two Three Speeds

Last fall I relocated our offices to the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Northeast Portland.  Now, I commute to work in a lovely and historic part of Portland’s awesome east side, leaving behind the stressful and gnarly traffic surrounding our old Victorian on SW 5th near PSU.  I usually commute on one of my daily riders, but also keep extra bikes on hand at the office for errands and lunchtime rides through the neighborhood, including my two favorite 3 speeds:  a 1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist, and a 1947 Peugeot PH55.  I restored both bikes many years ago, but the Peugeot was a more involved process because many of its original parts were missing.

The restoration process involved sourcing a vintage 650b wheelset and fenders, as well as handlebars, stem, brake levers, saddle, dynamo, lamps, and saddle.

My goal was to come as close as possible to the bike featured in this 1947 Peugeot catalog, and to err on the higher quality side when possible.

I think I achieved this objective and am happy with the way the build came together.  The NOS Ducel dynamo lights work well without excessive drag.  The bike is much lighter than its Raleigh counterpart, weighing in at a respectable 28 lbs. compared with the Raleigh’s 45 lb. bulk.  This is because the tubing is high quality Rubis, and the bike features many alloy components.

The Peugeot’s drive train is all original, with a 19-24 “Twister” freewheel, Simplex TDF rear derailleur and Peugeot 46T crankset.  That puts the gear inch range, with its 650b wheel size, at 50 to 63.  Very narrow and with no low or high gears.  The Simplex TDF shifts just fine, but needs a bit of correction both shifting up and down the gear range.

The Raleigh’s drive train is, of course, a Sturmey Archer internally geared hub, mated to a 46T Raleigh crankset, which is fully enclosed in its full length chain guard.  The AW hub with its 19T cog gives a gear inch range of 47 – 84.  A much wider range than the Peugeot, but mostly very high, especially given its bulk.

The Raleigh has steel rims, as compared to the Peugeot’s lightweight alloy Super Champion rims.  Both wheel sizes are similar, and both bikes feature full length fenders.  The Raleigh’s are steel (of course!) and somewhat mangled from years of use, and the Peugeot’s are lighter weight alloy.  All of these elements contribute to the significant weight difference between the two bikes.

1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist

So, what bike wins my vote?  Believe it or not, it’s the Raleigh.  While it is MUCH more challenging to conquer hills on the Raleigh, the comfort and quality of this machine is no match for its highly competent counterpart.  The bike kind of self-propels once it gets going, due to the inertia of the heavy wheels.  And, the convenience of shifting whether stopped or not adds to this bike’s appeal.  It’s the bike I most often select for neighborhood jaunts, even though I may have to stand up and stomp to get it up the hills.  It’s a pleasure to ride and gives me a great workout.  And, it’s a reminder of what it’s like to experience the quality and craftsmanship of this era’s legendary Raleigh marque.

For Your Enjoyment

1929 Griffon as restored – out on the Springwater Trail in Portland, Oregon

1929 Peugeot freewheel and fixed cog – for the Griffon’s flip flop hub.

On this Friday evening, with the gentle cool breeze blowing across my summer garden, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite photos of my bicycle restorations from the 1920’s through the 1950’s:

1947 Camille Daudon

This custom Daudon was built for Irene Faberge Gunst. The engraved cap can be unscrewed, with a tool kit stored inside the steerer.

A 1946 Peugeot Polymultipliee Gent’s bike

Headlamp by Edelko – 1946 Peugeot

A 1947 Peugeot Mixte. The bike when acquired consisted only of the frame and a few components.

A beautiful Simplex TDF rear derailleur on the 1947 Peugeot Mixte.

Early 50’s Mercier Meca Dural head tube. The upper head badge is missing.

Early 50’s Mercier Meca Dural in a Portland snowy winter. I’ve taken this bike out on the road – very fun to ride. It is built with duralumin tubes which are held together with ornate lugs via internal steel expanders.

A 1953 French mixte with Oscar Egg lugs.

Astoundingly gorgeous Fratelli Brivio (“FB”) hubs were among the many interesting components found on the Oscar Egg mixte.

A 1941 Goeland. My restoration of this bike is still in progress. A rare pre-WWII example.

The Goeland belonged to Annie Laurin – with her address noted on the engraved tag.

1950 Sturmey Archer shifter.

1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist. This bike gets the most views and comments from my readers. It’s an amazing machine, and a joy to ride.