Vintage Beautiful Bicycle: A New-Old Raleigh Gran Sport

Once upon a time in a far away land, there lived a shiny new bicycle named Raleigh Gran Sport.

The Beginning... 1973

The ravages of time, evil stepmothers, poisonous apples, etc. caused Gran Sport to become a bit shabby.

Before...

Until one day a prince came along to whisk him off ebay (this is a modern fairy tale).  No mice or crustaceans helped with this transformation: it was all the prince, other than the wheel building.

After...

Now Gran Sport is way cooler than ever before, complete with internal hub gearing, roller brakes, generator lights, mustache bars, Schwalbe tires, and the ultimate classy-bike-combo of Honjo fenders, Nitto rack and Brooks saddle.  And they lived happily ever after.

More pictures and a complete list of parts used after the jump.  The bar tape has been shellacked and the cables more nicely secured since these pictures were taken.

Front Hub – Sturmey Archer Dynamo Drum brake Front hub 36h, Silver
Rear Hub – Shimano Nexus Inter-8 Premium Hub SG-8R36 36h
Rear Roller Brake – Nexus/Nexave-M70 dlx roller brake kit, rear
Bar End Shifter – Jtek Alfine/Nexus 8-spd Road Bar-end Shifter

Rims – Mavic Open Sport Rim – Silver 700c x 36 Hole
Tires – Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tire – 700 x 28c
Wheel – build Roscoe Village Bikes

Bottom Bracket – Sugino 103mm cartridge BB set tapered spindle
Pedals – MKS Sylvan Touring Pedals, Silver

Handlebars – Nitto Mustache Bar
Stem – Nitto Dirt-Drop Stem – LONG – 100mm
Misc – Hemp twine
Tape – French cloth tape

Chain – KMC X8 Chain KMC8
Crank – Sugino Single Speed 165mm Road 48t 3/32″ 130mm Alloy
Brake Levers – Cane Creek Drop V Levers for Linear Pull Brake Silver
Cable – Jagwire Hyper Brake DIY Kit, Chrome Silver
Cable – Jagwire Hyper Derailleur DIY Cable Kit, Chrome Silver

Front Light – Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Fly N-Plus headlight with Standlight for Hub Generators
Rear Light – Busch & Müller Seculite Plus

Fenders – Honjo 43mm Smooth Fluted Fenders
Rear Rack – Nitto Rear Rack Silver
Kickstand – Pletscher Two-leg Kickstand 320mm Silver
Bell – Japanese Brass “Sound” Bell w/ Handlebar Mount
Brooks – B17 Saddle

I don’t know the details well enough to explain them, but Mr. Dottie may stop by to answer any questions.  :)  He has been riding this bike since the late fall, currently with studded tires.

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44 thoughts on “Vintage Beautiful Bicycle: A New-Old Raleigh Gran Sport

  1. An inspiring tale!

    The prince is very handy, good to have those around : )

  2. John Nelson says:

    I’m envious. I wish I had the ability and patience to do that.

  3. Stephen says:

    How did you mount the front light, especially with fenders? Could it be mounted higher if you had a front rack as well?

    Is the rear light run off the generator as well?

    How reliable has the hub generator been? How long have you been using it?

    I received a Super Course new in 1974; I’ve since replaced the plastic derailleurs with Sturmey Archer hub gears (currently AW and front Dynohhub, but I found a rear FG four speed Dynohub I’ll try). I find the internal hub gears, hub generators and Brooks saddles very reliable and easy to ride.

  4. Dwainedibbly says:

    Nice build. I’m a big fan of internal gear hubs for city bikes & commuters. The hub brakes give a clean look. One question, though: why change the crankset?

  5. Vee says:

    I like this prince!!! Really nice bike. Mr. Prince Dottie, come tell us more!

  6. Tis a beautiful thing. I had most of the same queries as Stephen. Just one more, with the internal gearing, drum brakes and fenders it looks very ready for weather of all kinds. But wouldn’t a chain guard be part of that strategy then? I don’t have one currently, but am curious about the lower maintenance a chain guard promises.

  7. That bike looks so nice! I’m jealous, too! I just got through reading the buyers guide issue of Bicycling. Not that I plan to buy another bike soon, but it left me torn between a commuter with all the lights, racks and fendors or a better fitting mountain bike. Hmm.

  8. Jerry says:

    Nice refurbishment. My guess is that the internal gearing is good for the snow you ride in, but it is kind of complex and not easy to work with. Chicago is pretty flat, I might have turned this into a single, or put a 5 or 6 speed freewheel on the back with an old mountain derailleur. The old Raleighs are beautiful bikes.

  9. katie says:

    hot bike!! i love the orange mustache. How much did you pay for it?

  10. James says:

    Nice! I really like that old paint scheme and the chromed fork tips and stays.

  11. darren says:

    ohhhhhh sweet!

    how’s the front drum brake holding out? i’m thinking of getting that for one of my bike builds.. if i ever get round to it.

  12. Ron says:

    Nicely done. To me she looks incomplete without her derailleur but that’s just me… She’s beautiful.

  13. Dottie says:

    Thanks, all! Gran Sport is happy to have the spotlight.

    After checking with Mr. D, I have answers to the questions so far.

    @Stephen – The front light is mounted using a bracket that came with the light, placed between the fender and the fork crown. You could mount it higher using other attachments that came with it – you could attach it to the rack itself.

    The rear light is also run off the generator. No problems in the hub generator, been riding it since the fall.

    @Dwainedibbly – He really wanted to keep using the original crankset, but the threads were damaged.

    @John Romeo Alpha – He has not found a chain guard he likes yet. There’s no grease and not much chance of the chain eating pants legs, so it’s not a big deal.

    @Jerry – Gears were an important part of his ideal bike. Chicago does not have hills, but it has fierce winds, which are like never-ending hills, especially by the lake.

    @katie – The bike was about $100 off eBay. He probably could have gotten just the frame for less, but he had hoped to reuse some of the original parts.

    @darren – The front drum brake is working very well, with a huge improvement in rainy and snowy weather. No squealing!

  14. dukiebiddle says:

    There’s no grease and not much chance of the chain eating pants legs…

    I’m totally confused. I totally respect opting to not use a chain guard, but how can there be no chain lube?

  15. JazzBoy says:

    I’m curious to know which of the brakes performed better, Shimano or Sturmey-Archer?

  16. Scott says:

    Looks great! What kind of stem is that, Herr Dottie? I always liked the way the mustache bars look, but they lean forward too far for my taste on a city bike. I had to swap out the stock bars on my Velorbis for dutch bike bars because they weren’t comfortable to ride with a suit jacket.

  17. OliverHerbertt says:

    Hey Dottie!
    I started reading your blog about a week ago and I am addicted! I love the idea that you are promoting, that one can ride a bicycle without having to dress like a superhero.

    I just recently bought a bicycle, hoping for a real omafiets, I had to settle for an Electra Amsterdam (which I am still very happy with).
    I know it may seem like a silly question, but what are the straps on the luggage rack in the third picture called? I have been looking for some everywhere but I just haven’t known the name. Thanks, and sorry for the long message!

  18. Dottie says:

    @OliverHerbertt – Thanks for the comment! I can’t remember what those straps are called, only that the company is called Bilbo or something like that. I have the same brand straps on my Oma. I suggest contacting Dutch Bike Seattle (http://www.dutchbikeseattle.com) or Dutch Bike Chicago, whichever is closer, and ordering one from them. It’s not on their website, but they are the only shop I know of that sells the straps, which they get directly from Germany (I think that’s the correct country).

    I hope it works out for you. Those straps are awesome and hold anything down.

  19. Dottie says:

    @Scott – It’s a Nitto Dirtdrop stem. How is your Velorbis going? You should email pictures :)

  20. Dottie says:

    @dukiebiddle – That was just my impression. Of course there is chain lube, but the whole area looks much cleaner than my Rivendell or his other bike, which smears nasty black stuff everywhere it goes.

    @JazzBoy – He can’t tell a difference between the two brakes.

  21. dukiebiddle says:

    Dottie, I highly recommend one of these thingamabobs to make the gearing on all your bikes as squeaky clean as on the Raleigh. Plus using a retractable exacto knife to clean off the black gunk from the chain wheels, cogs and pulleys. Sadly, they’ll still leave an ugly mark on my pants leg if I forget to roll it up.

  22. 2whls3spds says:

    @ Jerry…how so? I find IGH hubs to much easier to deal with than derailleur systems. I have one old Raleigh Sports that has seen in excess of 15,000 documented miles (and possibly that many more undocumented) In 15,000 miles I have only to replace the chain once. It is about due for replacement again, but that bike is no longer my daily rider. It has never, ever failed me and that is with minimal maintenance. FWIW I have Sturmey-Archer, old Shimano and new Shimano and they have all been dependable.

    Aaron

  23. 2whls3spds says:

    Beautiful job! Love the choices on equipment. I probably would have done something similar.

    Aaron

  24. Alan@EcoVelo says:

    My compliments to the mechanic; sweet build!

  25. Thanks for sharing the details!

  26. Dave says:

    I’m curious if there was a rationale to using the Sturmey Archer front hub as opposed to a Shimano front dynamo drum brake hub?

    Raleigh, while it was still Raleigh, made some of the most stately looking bikes that have ever existed, I think. Really beautiful pieces of machinery.

  27. [...] Unfortunately I had worn my glasses that day (foregoing the contacts) and couldn’t fit my ski goggles over my spectacles. I decided to take the most direct (hopefully fastest) and well-lit route. The snowflakes fell on both sides of my eyeglasses – blinding my view and causing me to pause every few blocks to clear them off. At about the midway point – feeling on edge and anxious to be home already – while I was waiting at a traffic light, I saw another bike commuter pass by. I waived. He waived. And after he passed, the “ah ha” moment dinged in my head like a bike bell — “Hey – I know him! That’s Greg!” (for more about my recognition of this fellow commuter friend and his bike, please see Dottie’s LGRAB post) [...]

  28. GB says:

    Great build. What a transformation. You really put a lot of thought into what you wanted. Thanks for listing the components and accessories. My bicycle also evolved from being my first “brand new bike” into “falling apart bike” into “restored bike”. If you have a lugged steel frame and want a solid commuter it is well worth the effort. Nice job especially for making it an internal gear 8 speed.

  29. Giandubin says:

    Beautiful build. My ’73 Gran Sport (owned by me since then) is coming down from the attic. Single speed commuter is in the forecast with fenders. Seattle style!

  30. xander says:

    love you gran sport. I just finished cleaning up my Raleigh Clubman, but need to swap out to new rims, the steel rims dont like the salt and limit my stopping power. I love IGH mainly because derailleurs look ugly..

    Cheers

  31. 2whls3spds says:

    Dottie,
    Hate to dig this out of the archives..But I just got a Raleigh Record and plan to build a very similar bike. Is there any particular reason why he chose to put the gear shift on the left side of the bike?

    Thanks
    Aaron

  32. 2whls3spds says:

    Dottie,
    Hate to dig this out of the archives..But I just got a Raleigh Record and plan to build a very similar bike. Is there any particular reason why he chose to put the gear shift on the left side of the bike?

    Thanks
    Aaron

  33. [...] source="overstock" results="10"]Archer Shimano[/affmage] [phpbay]Archer Shimano, 100[/phpbay]bicycle gears? When my hubby had to change gear on his 3 speed sturmey archer gears he used to pedal…r when he is pedaling forward ,can someone tell him why this [...]

  34. David Fraser says:

    Looks great, I’ve an old raleigh routier with a 25 inch frame (I’m 6ft 2) I’ve modified it over the last 29 years but it doesn’t look this good.

  35. David Fraser says:

    Looks great, I’ve an old raleigh routier with a 25 inch frame (I’m 6ft 2) I’ve modified it over the last 29 years but it doesn’t look this good.

  36. Blair says:

    Wow great job!

  37. Blair says:

    Wow great job!

  38. How have I not seen this LRGAB post before?! A friend gave me his old ’73 Gran Sport (serial number: 5!) frame and parts last year, which I am just now getting around to building up. Great to see what I can look forward to.

  39. BornAgainBicyclist says:

    How have I not seen this LRGAB post before?! A friend gave me his old ’73 Gran Sport (serial number: 5!) frame and parts last year, which I am just now getting around to building up. Great to see what I can look forward to.

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