Can I fit Mudguards (Fenders) to my Bike and which ones will fit? Posted on 16 Nov 10:07 , 0 comments

This time of year demand for mudguards goes through the roof! People who have been happily riding "fender-free" through the summer want more protection from the weather for themselves and their bike. We get lots of messages "will your mudguards fit such and such bike?" Well it depends.

A customer read the recent "fat tyre" articles in the press and decided to go up from 25mm to 35mm. His existing 35mm mudguards obviously won't cover them. but what can he choose? First he needs to measure..

1. With his new tyres mounted, the distance between the tyre and the brake bridge at the rear and fork crown at the front, he needs ideally 20mm, or 15mm minimum to fit ANY mudguards. Less makes it difficult or impossible. There needs to be a fixing point for mudguards at the fork crown and rear brake bridge. If there are none, P clips or even cable ties have been used.

2. The width between the fork blades at the top needs to me at least 5mm wider than the mudguards you choose, although they can be crimped in a little with some risk of the tyre rubbing. Ditto for distance between the seat stays at the rear brake bridge.

3. At the bottom bracket, between the chain stays, there needs to be an attachment point, ideally a bridge. The width between the stays here  is not so important as the mudguard fan be squeezed in or trimmed. Again resourceful people have used P clips or cable ties. 

4. Ideally there should be mudguard fixing eyes at the dropouts, but if there are none, Velo Orange Fender Stay mounts which mount to wheel axles or quick release are purpose made for the job. They work really well we supply a lot to one of London's finest frame builders.

I am advising you choose the mudguards first and then the tyres to fit if possible. Ideally the mudguard width needs to be 10mm wider than the tyre you are using, Measure the tyre yourself. Don't go by what is printed on the tyre.

Gilles Berthoud Mirror Road Test Posted on 23 Nov 15:29 , 0 comments

Road testing the beautiful new Gilles Berthoud Bar End Mirrors

Fitting a Velo Orange Randonneur Front Rack Posted on 11 Nov 15:56 , 0 comments

Fitting the VO Randonneur Front Rack to a 1960's Steel Road Bike

Servicing SunXCD Hubs Posted on 30 Sep 18:39 , 0 comments

It is quite straightforward to service these hubs or to change/swap the freehub. I have found with the latest batch of hubs, you can remove the the end-caps without using the trick I show you in the video. Just grip them firmly with a vice or mole wrench and they just pop off. If you don't want to mark them use the pedal vice I show in the video.


Velo Orange Threadless Bottom Bracket Posted on 15 Sep 18:52 , 0 comments

We take a look at the Velo Orange Threadless bottom bracket and its applications.

Installing a 7/10 speed cassette on the SunXCD 120mm OLN Cassette Posted on 1 Sep 22:35 , 0 comments

Eroica Britannia 2017 Report Posted on 23 Jun 13:41 , 0 comments

Well we got both the Lenton and the Severn Valley built in time and took them up to Derbyshire to Eroica Britannia. Friday night there was twilight ride to a pub led by the  Pannier 15 kph club. I am sure many of the riders were doing a lot less than 15kph! We were asked to illuminate our bikes, but I forgot to pack the decorative lighting. Many of the bikes had fairy lights wrapped around the tubes  and some riders had them sewn onto their clothing!

The ride was on the High Peaks trail and completely traffic free, apart from crossing the road to the pub. A lovely relaxing first evening.

Saturday was real scorcher, so we skipped the family ride and had a good look around the various stalls at the festival. Not quite so many traders as last year I think, but I have never seen so many old bikes for sale. It is perfectly feasible to turn up without a bike and buy one for the ride. There were several mechanic services there to fettle it for you and bike jumbles to buy any missing bits! The period clothing and accessories were also for sale.

Sunday was even hotter, so we opted for the short ride. The pace was very relaxed - the biggest challenge being to keep hydrated. Buxton Water were one of the sponsors, so it was "help yourself" to as many free bottles of water as you could carry.

While the vast majority of the bikes were "period" there is no scrutineering and I was following a modern mountain bike with disk brakes for some of the ride! A lot of kids were on their everyday bikes, but that is understandable. About half of the entry were in period costumes and quite a few in fancy dress. Including a few men in dresses. I was following this one "woman" and I thought here legs didn't look very feminine and would have benefitted from shaving, when I came past it was burly bloke with a beard!

The lunch stop provided a free lunch box, free beer and free water and a brass band to serenade us, just so you remembered this was "The North"! We had a very long lunch break to prepare us for the massive steep hill out of Monyash in the searing heat. This was one of the very few on-road sections of the ride. 90% of it being on "white roads" The High Peak Trail and the Tissington Trail. Some parts of the trail were in very poor condition with large stones instead of gravel, so I worried about my choice of Grandbois Cerf 700x26mm tyres, but they were fine. We did hear a couple of loud bangs and saw some repairs being made so not everyone was so lucky. Next time I would go for 32mm + width tyres or even 650 x 42B. Maybe the Calla next year then.

We got back at 2.15pm about 4 hours after we started and even including the 90 minute rest break it was a relaxed pace. Apart from Monyash no serious hills. 

As for the bikes they did well. The Raleigh Lenton was faultless throughout the ride and the Severn Vally dropped the chain a couple of times  changing down to small ring. I think I have fixed it now, but there may be too much slop in the 50 year old Nouvo Record front derailleur, so if it continues I will fit a SunXCD front mech, as the bike is such a joy to ride otherwise I don't want any disincentives to using it.

Happy Cycling



Build Report Raleigh Lenton - Final Part Posted on 15 May 21:37 , 0 comments

I was really pleased with my restoration of the Lenton and it became my favourite ride. Although I am still note sure it was "the right thing to do", when the SunXCD 120mm OLN rear cassette hub was introduced., I decided I could fit derailleurs without modifying the frame - and keep the original 4 speed hub gear wheel, so that I could go back to the "factory spec" in a hour or so.

The plus points are the much wider range of gears and choice of intermediate ratios and removing some of the back-heavy feel of a hub geared bike. The wheel was soon built with the SunXCD 120mm hub and 700C rim. I had already fitted a Stronglight 49D single crankset, so the upgrade to a double, using new TA Pro 5 Vis (Cyclotouriste) rings, was another quick and simple job. The longer bottom bracket was obviously needed. I used a Velo Orange Threadless cartridge bottom bracket, to preserve the original Raleigh 26 t.p.i. threading. A Sun Race 10 speed cassette, which has loose sprockets, was depopulated to 7 speed.

The choice of SunXCD derailleurs and 10 speed indexed shifters, mounted on the down tube was obvious.

The 48/32t chain rings and 31-32t cassette give a great range of ratios and I think the conversion looks pretty tidy and the bike is much more usable in hilly Dorset.

Build Report Raleigh Lenton 1951 - Part 2 Posted on 1 May 10:57 , 0 comments

Readers may have noticed that my Lenton was featured in a recent blog post on the SunXCD 120mm cassette hub, but much more work was to be done on the Lenton before that project was even contemplated!

I had got involved with an amiable bunch of guys and gals who liked to tour on traditional  hub geared bikes "Toggle Chain Tourers" they called themselves - now sadly disbanded and the "tours" have ceased. I did the first tour on my 1964 Moulton, but fancied a more traditional bike for this purpose, so over the winter I decided on a full restoration of the Lenton. Nothing drastic, just a respray and a handlebar change, to the drops originally specified for the Lenton Sports Road Model.

Choice of colour: I wanted something that looked 50's, but wasn't keen on the original green. I think the petrol-blue colour suits it well. It is  2 pot polyurethane to MOD spec and is tough as old boots. I got the correct transfers from Lloyds and borrowed a pin-striping machine to replicate the box lining.

I built the bike up pretty much as before, except I substituted some dropped handlebars, Brooks B17 leather saddle and an alloy cotterless chainset, which was the only non-period component used.

It now looked almost identical to the illustration at the top of this post taken from Peter Kohlers article in Retro Raleighs. An "invisible" change I had made was to acquire a 4 speed inner mechanism for the hub gear - an FW rather than an FM. The wide-range FW is more reliable than the FM and suits the hilly Dorset countryside better. I think it is a very clean build and instantly recognisable as a Lenton by those who remember them back in the day.

There are a couple of technical hitches with old Raleighs I should mention. Raleigh had their own threading standard for bottom brackets and headsets: 26 threads per inch rather than the now universal BSA 24 tpi. When you are the biggest bicycle manufacturer in the world, you can do what you like! These parts are now rare, but they were so well made that we can strip down 60+ year old bikes and the bottom bracket cups are still fine. The headset wasn't a problem as I had bought a batch of NOS Raleigh headsets years ago and still had one or two left. You can still get 26tpi headsets and bottom bracket cups from India by the way as the copies of Raleigh roadsters they still make there still use 26tpi. They are not 60 year quality though! As I wanted to use a cotterless chainset (I hate cottered ones!), I had 3 choices: 

1. Re-thread the bottom bracket shell to 24tpi and use a modern cartridge bottom bracket. This is what I usually do with old Raleighs.

2. Use the original cups and find a square taper spindle of the correct length

3. Use a threadless bottom bracket.

In this case I went for option 2, as I did not want to destroy the integrity of the frame and wanted to keep the original 26tpi in case i wanted to go back to the original cottered chainset. 

The Lenton was then used for several Toggle Chain Tours and was used as my winter bike for some years, until the time came for the next "upgrade" (see Part 3). I did make some minor changes. The Toggle Chain Tourers  like to do a bit of "rough stuff" now and again. On a tour of Rutland including a circuit or 2 of Rutland Water, I found that braking from the hoods inadequate on steep descents off road and braking from the drops somewhat terrifying, as it felt like I was going to be pitched over the 'bars! So I fitted some "cross tops" brake levers which are very convenient and powerful. The non period chainset was bugging me a little so when I came across a set of "period" Stronglight 49D cranks, they were fitted along with a TA "Cyclotouriste" Pro Vis 5 chain ring. So although it was thoroughly usable as a modern bike for everyday use and light touring, the Lenton was in a spec. that a clubman could have specified if he had a bit of spare cash to invest in upgrades to alloy rims, chainset, handlebars and stem.

Build Report 1951 Raleigh Lenton Sports - Part 1 Posted on 30 Apr 12:44 , 0 comments


The Raleigh Lenton Sports is an iconic bike. See Peter Kohler's article  and is still much sought-after  65 years on. I was fortunate to acquire a few years back, that rare thing -  an untouched original Lenton. It was complete and original down to its original Brooks B15 leather saddle. This was no barn find however, the bike had been very well used and there were a couple of problems too. The lightweight Bluemells white celluloid mudguards were long gone and had been replaced by some ill-fitting white painted steel objects, which I suspect were Post Office surplus from the original postmen's bikes (now sadly replaced by little red vans). Also inside the original alloy shell of the rare 4 speed Sturmey Archer FM medium ratio 4 speed hub gear, was nestled a common or garden 3 speed AW wide range mechanism.

It was also encumbered by a heavy Sturmey Archer "Dynohub" hub dynamo along with the headlamp and "Allrounder" type handlebars that I didn't fancy. I wanted my Lenton to look like the picture above! However I do believe that the Dynohub and straight bars had always been with the bike, possibly as a factory fitted option, or maybe fitted by the bike shop for the first owner.

Here is the bike as I received it.


Apart from the saddle it looked quite serviceable, so I was surprised when the previous owner shouted "I wouldn't ride it until you have had it checked over", as I loaded it into the car.

I ignored the advice, gave it a quick once over, swapped the saddle and took it on an 8 mile ride to get the full Lenton experience. I enjoyed riding the Lenton immensely, so I swapped out the mudguards for some white plastic ones similar enough to the originals; changed the rusty rims for new alloy ones of a similar section (Ryde Sputnik); discarded the broken Dynohub and headlight and fitted an alloy stem and handlebars and used the bike as my daily runabout. Considerably more sprightly than in its original guise, I was beginning to see the attraction of the Lenton to the clubmen of the 50's.

Replacing the rims was a problem. The 50's clubmen favoured 26 x 1 1/4" (597mm) rims and these have been unavailable for decades and even if I could find some NOS chrome ones, tyre choice is very limited. There are in fact 3 alternative solutions to consider: the closest being 26 x 13/8" (590mm or 650A), as used on traditional English "3 speed" bikes. These are still very numerous and alloy rims are readily available, as are tyres in this size, but mainly in the "utility" weights. if I were just going to use the Lenton as a local runabout/commuter bike the this would have been the logical size to go for. However it was essential to me that the original 40 hole alloy shell for the hub gear was retained, not least because it showed the build date of the bike, so I needed 40 hole rims.

The other 2 rim choices: 700C or 650B, both of which would require changing the brakes, as the cheap and nasty steel calliper brakes original fitted by Raleigh would not adjust enough. Why on earth did Raleigh fitted these low spec. brakes to a lightweight bike, especially in view of their fitting an alloy hub shell and even an alloy seat post? Perhaps this reflects a blind spot they had at the the time. The main competitor at the time, the Viking Hosteller (still easy to find) was much better equipped. The need for a 40 hole silver rim dictated 700C. 

As implied above I would not regret upgrading the brakes! This was complicated by Raleigh's habit of having different "reach" (distance between brake bolt and rim centre) requirements for front and rear. However, I was able to find period Weinmann centre pull brakes individually of the necessary sizes and matching Weinmann "Red Dot" levers of the same era.

So while the photo above shows a bike, at first glance very similar to the original, quite a lot of work was required to get to this stage. However, I loved the bike, but its spec would not be adequate for future plans I had for this  bike...

More to follow