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1986 Raleigh Record Sprint – My new bike


Me on my red BMX

I’ve been a keen cyclist ever since I was a child. I started with a little red BMX, then went on to a GT Interceptor that I thrashed around the neighbourhood on – skidding the tyres to ribbons and slipping across frozen rivers (this was somewhere in Kansas), until it was stolen from outside Truesdell Middle School. Bastards.

We moved from Wichita to Uckfield, England. I remained bike-less for a while, borrowing my friend’s mum’s Raleigh Lizard mountain bike (thanks Birgit!) for occasional outings. Then, I rediscovered BMX, first with an old chrome Torker that I struggled to fit a Gyro to, then with a GT Performer.

Eventually age and practicality got the better of me, and I bought a Giant Rock SE (mountain bike). And we had such fun! We rode to work, through Buxted Park, over hills and across Ashdown Forest. I bunny-hopped up curbs and flew over mud humps. I completed the London to Brighton on her, in a relatively fast time (considering I was on a mountain bike). Then some git nicked her from outside our flat on Third Avenue, Hove.

Again, I remained bike-less for a while. Then, my thoughtful in-laws gave me a shiny pink mountain bike for my 30th. Although the bike developed some catastrophic faults, it rekindled my interest in cycling.

So I scoured Gumtree and found a Mongoose Rockadile. And what fun we’ve had! Together we’ve explored the South Downs, whizzed through city traffic and travelled to countless meetings.  But all this city riding has made me yearn for more speed, less friction and something sleeker.

Update: some bastard stole the Mongoose.

The Raleigh Record Sprint

Raleigh Record Sprint
So I wanted a road/racing bike, but they’re not cheap. And having never ridden a racing bike, I was reluctant to spend £500 on something I might not like. So I scoured eBay, looking for a clean old racing bike.

It’s not easy to find a reasonably-priced classic racing bike at the moment, because there is a trend for converting these old bikes into fixed-wheel rides. So the prices are higher than they should be.

Anyway, eventually I found her: a 1986 Raleigh Record Sprint, in pristine condition. She’s spent most of the past 23 years in a loft, protected from decay by a coat of grease.

When I collected the bike, the original owner was clearly sad to see her go. He actually said, “bye bike,” and watched us walk up the stairs to the train platform.

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1 comment

  1. davidchristmass

    Just a message to say good to find another anti fixie person, I guess after the pedals spin and wack the back of the legs a few fellows will be wishing they had not done a conversion. Thing about the sprint, is two fold. Make sure you have a 700 mm seat tube insert all the way down the vertical down tube, and the seat bolt is in good order, its a standard raleigh part but must read cr v or cr mo on the bolt that means its chrome vandamin high tough security steel, not your general purpose zinc bolt, which will give under stress of course.

    Back of the deraileur, two adjusters high and low positions, leave those alone if correct set, check the rear position screw, that moves the whole gear set back, that presses against the lug on the frame, its best to not screw that in at all, and leave the gears forward, and so a flat surface presents to the lug on the frame. Cable tie wraps, for fixing cables together, get six small ties from a packet from the hardware shop, put one under one to form a cross, and wrap around the handle bar near the brake cable, link the two ends of the now open and secured wrap, and insert a third through it to secure to the brake cable. The first and third should wrap tight around the handlebar and cable, leaving the middle one as a daisy chain to adjust according to desire. Do that for both front and rear brakes, if the brake cable ever busts, and they do occasionally if neglected and then stressed with firm use, that minor detail, stops those cable ends pinging in your face. You will be glad you done those things. Well 21 years on, and my sprint has got a workover, new handlebars that are straight, and a nice comfy saddle, and new high performance raleigh brakes, I found the pin on the front tended to bend with braking, but hey, I guess thats what you expect with a mass of 12 stone at 30 and up to 50 mph stopping. I aint got one complaint about the bike, love the beast in it!



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