www.indianasmallwheelenthusiasts.com is now...
The newly available .bike top level domain name extension has finally made the iswe URL as compact as the bikes we love. Whew!
While the ISWE staff is socked away warm and dry during the thaw from Indiana's recent Snowpocalypse, Polar Vortex, or whatever it is they call it, enjoy this pic of the last small wheel sighting of 2013, a nice little vintage Raleigh Twenty. The summery appearance of the Raleigh belies the setting, 20-degrees (F) at the Indy Cycloplex Cyclocross 2013.
While the post-volunteering late day cold discouraged more thorough inspection and any additional photos (apologies), several interesting details are visible. From the rear, we see a really cool, vintage rack with plenty of storage for trips to the grocery, or in this case, across the pits. I hope they were hauling hot chocolate, sweaters, and gloves. Above that, a nice Brooks Flyer Saddle. Note the springs. With small wheels come bumps. With no rear suspension on the Raleigh, those generous springs combined with a well broken-in leather saddle would go a long way to smoothing the terrain. Frame-wise, we see a single straight tube, step-over design similar to a Bike Friday or older Dahon. The frames are so similar, in fact, that Bike Friday and Dahon both currently offer under-seat shock options to compensate for lack of rear suspension. The u-shaped bars look very similar to Brompton bars, especially with what looks like a Sturmey Archer three-speed shift lever (if only those levers looked as nice on current Bromptons). Looks as if there could also be a bottle-style dynamo on the far side of the rear wheel, powering the front and rear-integrated lighting, which is quite similar to lighting setup on the ISWE Brompton.
In the late 70s, early 80s, Raleigh produced a lot of Twenties, so there are Twenties to be had on eBay or Craigslist. Because Raleigh built them to last, they are great for restoration or modification, but they probably won't come cheap. A clean, complete Raleigh Twenty will probably cost you two or three times more than the original price of perhaps a couple hundred bucks. There are a lot of bikes out there that look similar to Raleigh Twenties. Keep your eye out for a real one at a garage sale or tag sale or whatever they call it in your area and you might get yourself a pretty good deal. For more on Raleigh Twenties, check out Sheldon Brown's Souped-up Twenty or the Twenty Wikipedia page.
Stay tuned for more, warmer, adventures on ISWE.bike.