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).
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!!!
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.
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.
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.