I like to think I’m above the bike geek obsession with ‘correctness’ in setting up bikes. For the most part, I don’t get finicky about tracking down complete part groups or poring over catalogs to find the original parts specification for a certain bike, and I don’t really own any true pieces of vintage bicycle exotica.
This is more about being cheap than any high-minded ideals about finding value in more modestly-crafted bikes, because definitely do keep an eye out for interesting and fancy older bike bits. My sights are just a bit lower than the standard collector, so I’ve ended up with a decent stash of semi-desirable and/or undesirable parts that I find interesting.
My 1984 Raleigh Competition road bike is a good example of this.
You might be familiar with the Raleigh company and their heyday in the 1970’s and before, when all of their bikes were manufactured in the UK, but my bike is not one of these. By the 80’s, Huffy, the famous maker of terrible bikes, obtained a license to design and distribute bicycles in the the US under the name ‘Raleigh Cycle Company of America.’ The quality of the bikes produced during this time was not particularly bad, despite the connection to Huffy, and most of the bikes were unremarkable and decently crafted. The high-end bikes like the Competition and Professional were built in Japan, supposedly by Bridgestone.
The Competition falls third in the line-up, behind the Japanese Professional and the English-made Team Professional. It’s built of Raleigh 555SL tubing, which I’ve heard may be re-branded Reynolds 501SL. Whatever it is, the bike handles well, and is not impressively light. The frame looks fast, with very tight tire clearance (23mm max.) The whole frame is chromed, which is proven by the various nicks in the paint, and the head tube and rear stays are unpainted chrome.
The parts on the bike are a hodge-podge of higher-end stuff from the 80’s, but nothing terribly outstanding or rare. One interesting point is the wheelset, which uses some unusual and obsolete 28-hole Phil Wood road hubs that I purchased from a former time-trial rider and laced to some basic Mavic CXP22 rims.
The brake levers are also kind of interesting (that is, if you find old brake levers interesting.) They are from Mavic’s SSC parts group of the late 1980’s, and I also got these from the same former racer.
The rest of the bike consists of nicer 1980’s road gear, nice enough to work well and look good, but nothing that required great sacrifice to acquire. Every part has a story, and most of them aren’t worth hearing.
The end result looks and rides quite nicely.
Frame- 1984 Raleigh Competition, Raleigh 555sl (aka Reynolds 501sl?) tubeset
Wheels- Phil Wood Road Hubs, 28-hole, rear threaded for freewheel, Mavic CXP22 rims
Tires- Michelin Pro 3 Race 700×23
Shifter- Shimano 600 left, low-end Shimano six-speed right
Derailleurs- Shimano 600 6208 front and rear
Freewheel- Shimano 600 six-speed 6208
Cranks- Shimano 600 Ultegra 39/53
Brake Calipers- Dia-Compe Aero Gran Compe
Brake Levers- Mavic SSC, made by Modolo
BB- Shimano 600 6207
Saddle- Selle Italia Super Turbo
Stem- Chro-moly steel
Bars- SR road
Headset- no-name chrome