Saturday, 19 March 2011

Raleigh Winner Singlespeed Handlebars

The drop bars were not fun on this bike. When it comes to drop bars my current thinking is --Velodrome : Yes. Fancypants racing bike : Maybe (I have no real experience). but this bike : No. 

So the initial plan was to do what countless other builders of fixies and SS's have done and turn those drops upside down, chop the ends off and create a set of bullhorn bars with the original brake levers mounted on the end of the horns. It was all going swimmingly until my brother suggested I see what the set of bars from a Raleigh Stowaway would be like upside down in the style of a Pashley Guv'nor (but with slightly less elegance and a bit more bodginess)
Hmmmm, not a bad idea said I. 

I took a couple of photos of the drops upside down with the levers roughly mounted so that, in Bullseye fashion, I had a photo of what I could have had, then got started on fitting a moustache to this bike.

My thumb is at the point where I was thinking of doing the cut:
You can see here roughly what the outcome would have been. There are plenty of tutorials about doing this, such as this one.

The original Raleigh drop bars are aluminium with a 1 inch stem mount. Whereas for a 'Raleigh only knows why' reason the Twenty/Stowaways come with chromed steel bars that are slightly less than an inch in diameter at the mounting point. They overcame this by welding a shim into the stem on the Twenty and the Stowaway. So to fit them to the stem on this bike required a new homemade shim. This was made out of a piece of plate steel (actually a Corus rainscreen cladding sample).

This is the homemade shim just before the bars where slid fully in, once in you can't see it.

The brake levers are ones I bought on impulse as part of a larger order from SJS cycles a while ago. They cost a whopping £1.99 and purely by chance they match the bend of these bars perfectly.
Note the very short cable run this setup allows on the front brake. It also shortened the rear by about 6 inches too.

The red bar tape was recycled for grips and the chrome plastic end plugs modified with a pair of scissors to help them fit into the thinner gauge tubing of the steel bars. The final result is a bit Caff Racer.

This is now is much more to my liking. The effect on the steering is pretty profound as these bars place your hands a good few inches further apart that the drops allowed. And finally....this bike is veeery fast. It weighs bugger all and is so easy to get up to a high speed cruise. It's given me a new understanding on having only one gear, in a metaphysical la-di-da kind of way you don't have just one gear - you have a very short range of infinitely variable gears, because you are varying the gearing with your legs and not the mechanics of a deraileur or a hub. It's certainly not a practical everyday bike, but is now a great option for a sunny day and a fast ride.

As a Brucie bonus, the old single pivot brakes on this bike are now exceptionally good. Something I never thought possible. The combination of bmx levers, v-brake pads, super short cable run on the front & 4 hands instead of 2 when setting them up results in a fairly decent set of brakes.

The final result with mandatory Charge Spoon saddle fitted.