MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

INTERNATIONAL INTRO

INTERNATIONAL FIND

INTERNATIONAL BUILD

 

BICYCLES OF ENGLAND

 

 

 

 

 

BUILDING/RIDING THE INTERNATIONAL

The one thing that I did not do to the Raleigh International was build it.  In fact, I parted the bicycle out for resale purposes.  Though it grieved me to take such a well preserved bicycle apart, I had little choice.  With no spare storage room left in The Old Shed, and bicycles flowing out into the backyard, something had to go.  The Raleigh was one of those somethings.

Though I only paid twenty dollars for the bicycle, it was worth a great deal more.  My guess would be that, parted out, the bike would fetch about a thousand dollars.  With that in mind, I listed the complete bicycle on Ebay and set a reserve price a couple of hundred dollars less than I would get if I parted the bike out.  I was hoping that the complete and original bicycle would go to a new home.  Sadly, there were no takers and, as promised in the first Ebay listing, if the bicycle did not sell, it would be parted out.  And that is exactly what happened.  The day after the first auction ended, I completely disassembled the "International" and listed just the frame and fork set for sale.

I did pay close attention to quality details, as I disassembled the bicycle.  It is one thing to use quality materials to build the frame set.  It is also important that a high end bicycle be fitted with quality components.  Finally, when attempting to determine bicycle quality, I focus on workmanship.  If the best materials are used but in the hands of an inexperience or careless builder, the bicycle will not be well made.  Experience, coupled with pride in one's skills, are the two main ingredients for quality workmanship.  As I took the bicycle apart, I was watching for signs of good workmanship.

The paint and art work on the Raleigh International had stood the test of time really well, suggesting that the paint and application were both of good quality.  So too was the chrome plating in good condition.  Though a light patina of rust had formed on the chrome, it cleaned off easily leaving a gleaming surface, a testament to the quality of English chrome plating.  The frame set itself was full Reynolds 531, good stuff to say the least but I must comment negatively on the workmanship.

As far as I am concerned, the workmanship on the bicycle was not all that it should have been.  If this bike was built in the Carlton factory, then the mystic surrounding the work done there must be questioned.  Filing marks abounded on the lug work.  Stays did not fit smoothly into the drops and both front and rears suffered from poor installation.  Lumps of brass had been left untouched by the craftsman file, once again detracting from my evaluation of the craftsmanship associated with the bicycle.  In my opinion, if a bicycle is sold as a higher end unit, then the materials and workmanship must be of higher quality.  I would expect many of these workmanship blemishes to show up on a lesser bicycle but not on one of the Raleigh's advertized quality.

In all fairness to Raleigh, very few really high end bicycles of the Raleigh's day were all that well finished off.  More often than not, a bicycle would be riddled with workmanship deficiencies.  Was this a product of lack of care or a Bean Counter's result of increasing the profit margin?  I don't know but it saddens me to see these examples of poor workmanship on supposedly quality bicycles.  I should add that I have seen similar examples of poor workmanship come out of the Carlton factory before.  Though my 1971 Carlton Professional was a bike to remember, it too suffered from built in cosmetic deficiencies.  Too bad.

But all in all, the Raleigh International is a nicely presented vintage road bicycle.  It is pretty and has been well kept over the years, probably because it saw very little use.  If the bicycle had been my size, it would have become a permanent member of my humble collection of vintage road racing/touring bicycles.  But it was not my size and now lives out what is left of its vintage life in beautiful Hawaii.  I should be so lucky!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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