Back in 1981, my mother and I persuaded my father that a brand new Raleigh Record Sprint would be a much better purchase at £161, than all of the other bicycles priced around the £80 mark in Roy Woods bicycle store.
£161 in 1981 was a lot of money, it is something like £450 in 2018.
For the money though I got a beautiful gloss black bicycle with exotic gold components and new-to-the market Reynolds 501 tubing. Compared to every other bicycle I had ever owned, it was fast and light and the ride quality was sublime.
The black and gold colour scheme echoed the JPS lotus cars of the previous decade, it oozed cool and Raleigh new it too.
Over the next few years despite being able to legally drive cars and ride motorbikes, I still managed to put a lot of miles on it. When I moved to my flat it became my primary transport for a while.
I have memories of riding to see friends on it, taking my cat to the vets on it and riding many many miles for pleasure.
That bike was a very early one, it had Campagnolo gears, safety brake levers and toe straps, it was lovely.
I eventually sold it, but for many years, I have looked for one to replace it.
In the last three years or so I have bid on a great number of them on eBay, usually they are way worn and in need of a lot of TLC, which is good, because this is what I am good at.
I dreamed about getting an old one, preferably a mark1, just like my original and then undertaking a ‘restomod’ on it.
This is where you take an old bicycle and keep little more than the frame, replacing the forks with Carbon blades, the 12 speed with a 2×11 setup and the wheels with something super light. Obviously the brakes would be swapped with modern ones and the pedals would be clipless LOOK or SPD jobs.
The problem is that the old Mark1 frames are virtually all in terrible condition, yet they still command a premium price.
The Mark2 was introduced in 1984 (I believe), it stuck with the 501 tubing, but with a twist, the Mark2 had ‘aero’ tubing. The frame was also slightly lighter. The decals are different too.
Thinking about this, I decided that finding a decent Mark2 frame would give me a good base, I could restomod it to my hearts content an maybe backdate the frame decals.
A week ago a Mark2 ‘barn find’ popped up on eBay. The seller had mispelled many words, it was advertised as a ‘Rayleigh Rekkord’. The photos showed what looked like a nice condition Record Sprint that had apparently not been touched in 30 years. I popped in a cheeky bid.
Amazingly I won it – there was one other bidder, had there been no other bidder I would have paid £30. As it was, the shipping was almost 1/3 of the total cost.
So, what did I get for my modest outlay ?
Pretty much a time capsule. It looks pretty much the same as it did on the day someone emerged from the bicycle shop back in August 1984.
The seat has some storage damage and is cracking underneath, the handlebar tape was crumbling, the tyres and tubes were dry and cracking and the chain was in desperate need of some lube.
So I swapped the tyres with some lovely Continental Grand Prix ‘Classics’, nice modern tubes went in, my favourite Cinelli cork bar tape was carefully applied and the chain got a good clean and oil.
It was in the state that I rode it around it around the block.
It was wonderful. It rode just how I remember, agile but comfortable.
Following that brief ride I made a new list…..
- New Saddle – the existing one it cool, but damaged and cracked underneath
- New brake pads – 34 year old pads are rubbish
- New cables are needed all round
- The cheap shifters need replacing
After a lot of thought these little upgrades will be in keeping with the bike, there is no big restomod needed here.
- The saddle will be a 1990 Sella Italia Flight Ti
- I found a 1988 Campagnolo Aero seat post to complement it.
- A set of New Old Stock (NOS) Shimano Golden Arrow shifters will replace the plasticky Suntours.
- The brakes will continue to be the beautiful golden Weinman 500’s but with CoolStop pads
- Clarkes cables will replace the stiff originals.
In other words, gentle improvements.
I may replace the chain, it is a tad stiff in places and I’d love to find a Shimano Golden Arrow (braze-on) front shifter to match the rear item, but these are apparently super rare.
I am very happy with it, even if it is not a Mark1, the Mark2 had a better frame remember…..
I am looking forwards to putting a lot of miles on this thing…..