Monday, April 28, 2014

My 1970's Raleigh Sprite Show Bike Restoration

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete
Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Award
About ten years ago I restored a pair of Raleigh Sprites for a couple as summer cottage bicycles.  This was before I knew about web sites and taking photos so I have no photos.  One sprite was white and the other was yellow.  I really liked the Sprites when I restored them and thought about finding a large one for me but I did not find one.

Those two Raleigh Sprites from the past get some of the inspiration for this build but most of the inspiration goes to my friend Darrell.  Darrell has a white Raleigh Sprite that he restored and added fenders, a rack, a head lamp and very nice Acorn bags, Darrell's Sprite is on of the most beautiful bicycles I have seen, it got my mind thinking about Raleigh Sprites again.

A couple weeks ago Darrell gave me a lead on a very tall Raleigh Sprite in White Water, Wisconsin.  I drove up to White Water one Saturday after noon to pick it up.  The country in that area is beautiful rolling hills, I am going to get back up there to ride soon.

The Sprite was in good shape, a few problems but the paint was in fantastic shape.  I quickly purchased the Sprite and started my build plans.  Those plans where quickly accelerated as a bicycle I was working on for the Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show was not going to be done in time, I decided to restore the Sprite as a replacement in the show.

I originally saw the Sprite as a camping bicycle, something a little rugged and he sprite has a lot of tire clearance.  With the show in mind I still see the Sprite as a camping bicycle but now a little more upscale.  The plan for the Sprite is to completely restore the Sprite, install a new Brooks B67, build new 700c wheels to replace the original steel rims, install new Velo-Orange fenders, install new Velo-Orange constructor racks, install new handlebar grips, install a Velo-Orange water bottle cage and finally new wider tires.

As I mentioned above the Sprite was in good starting condition.  The paint is dull, the alloy has a little corrosion and the chrome has a little rust.


Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Handlebars

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Front Brake & Fender

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Before - Stem & Shift Levers

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Sprite Decal

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Raleigh Decal - I Love the Font

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Cable Stop

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Front Wheel

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Front Derailleur

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Before - Crank

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Drive Train

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Before - Seat Tube Decal

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Rear Brake

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Before - Rear Derailleur

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Rear Wheel

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Before
Rear Fender
I stripped the components from the frame.  The cotter pins in the cotter crank where the worst I have had to deal with.  I heated them probably 15 times and used a gallon of penetrating oil.  None of that worked, I finally had to drill out the cotter pins.


Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Pressing Heated Cotter Pins
Did not Work!

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Drilled Cotter Pins


After the cotter pins where removed I got down to the frame.  The frame has a few chips and scratches and is dull but overall in really good shape.  I cleaned the frame and then power polished it.  the green paint came back to a deep luster.  I am very very happy with the results and I love the green, the green is now one of my favorite all time colors.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Frame Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Frame Before - Head Tube

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Frame Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Frame Before
Bottom Bracket

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Frame Before - Seat Lug

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Frame Before - Seat Stays

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Fork Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Frame Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Frame Polished - Head Tube

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Frame Polished
Raleigh Decal

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Frame Polished
Bottom Bracket

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Frame Polished - Drop Outs

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Fork Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Fork Polished


The headset and bottom bracket where pretty dirty and had a lot of old grease but the chrome is in good shape.  Both the headset and bottom bracket are loose bearings, no bearing cages, this allows for more bearings but also makes it a bit of a pain to put the bearings back.

After polishing the headset and bottom bracket look great.  Better yet both the headset and bottom bracket spin surprisingly smooth and easy with new bearings installed.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Headset & Bottom Bracket
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Headset & Bottom Bracket
Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - New Bearings

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Headset Cups Pressed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Headset Bearings
Packed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Headset Bearings Packed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Headset Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bottom Bracket Bearings
Packed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bottom Bracket
Complete
I like the handlebars and stem a lot.  The stem is a very nice alloy stem with some nice lines and details.  The handlebars are very nice and I like the angles of the swoops very much.  he handlebars took a lot of work to get to look nice the stem polished very nice.  Both look great installed.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Handlebars & Stem
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Handlebars & Stem Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Handlebars & Stem
Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Stem Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Handlebars & Stem Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Handlebars & Stem Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Handlebars & Stem
Installed

Next I started work on the shift levers.  The shift levers are an early version of Sun Tour Power Shifters.  The levers are huge but I like them very much, I might replace them with bar end shift levers but for now I like them a lot.  I think the large size makes them easy to use and function very nice, its not a race bike so the weight of the large  levers are not a problem.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Shift Levers - Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Shift Levers
Exploded

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Shift Levers
Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Shift Levers - Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Shift Levers - Installed
With the shift levers complete and functioning perfect I got to work on the crank.  The crank is chrome steel and is heavy because of it but i really like the design, style and looks.  I was thinking of replacing it with a retro new crank from FSA or Siguino but after polishing it and seeing the character I could not.  Super happy with the results of the crank.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Crank - Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Crank - Exploded

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Crank - Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Crank - Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Crank - Installed
I was a little worried that the brake calipers where not going to be strong enough to stop the large Sprite but here is a preview, they work very well after restoration.  I exploded the brake calipers and got to cleaning and polishing, I am glad the Raleigh labeled spacers where in good shape and have the original look.  I am happy with the polishing results and they look fantastic against the green of the frame.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Brakes - Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Brakes - Exploded

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Brakes Polished
New Brake Pads

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Brakes Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Front Brake - Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Rear Brake - Installed

While I worked on the brake calipers I also worked on the wheels.  I did not have time to build new wheels for the Raleigh before the show and I am looking for a Dyno Hub also.  Instead of restoring the old steel wheels I installed some alloy 27 inch wheels I restored a couple months back but did not use.  I also installed new Kenda 27" x 1" 3/8" tires.  They are wider then the standard 27 inch tires and I think will give a better ride for now being a camping bicycle.  The replacement alloy wheels look fantastic against everything else restored.  As you can see I forgot to take photos.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Free wheel & Pie Plate
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Front Replacement Wheel
The derailleurs are nice, Darrell told me he derailleurs on his are Hert derailleurs and not very good, on mine the derailleurs are Suntour, he rear is very nice and I really like the looks of the front derailleur with the holes drilled in the cage.  I cleaned the derailleurs and polished them, they took a ton of work to get them looking better then new but every second was worth it!! they look fantastic installed!!  Oh, and they function smooth and perfect!

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Derailleurs - Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Front Derailleur
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Front Derailleur - Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Front Derailleur
Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Front Derailleur
Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Rear Derailleur
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Rear Derailleur
Exploded

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Rear Derailleur
Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Rear Derailleur - Installed
A little detail that makes all the difference is the cables stop on the down tube.  I polished it and it looks great, installed even better!  Small details make the difference in a great restoration.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Cable Stop
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Cable Stop
Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Cable Stop
Installed

The original saddle was in fairly good shape for an old spring mattress saddle but looking at the bike there with all the shiny components and green paint there is only one saddle for this Sprite, a Brooks B67 in honey!  I have had countless old Brooks and Wright saddles, B15's and many B17's but this is my first B67.  It looks perfect for the Sprite and is very comfortable to ride.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Seat post Before &
Old Saddle

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Seat Post - Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Seat Post Binder
Before

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Seat Post
Polished

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
New Brooks B67

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Brooks B67 - Installed
Here is where I started to run out of time because parts where very late in getting to me and I had about an hour to get the parts on before heading to Ann Arbor.  The place I have been having trouble with I am not ready to call out yet, I order a lot from there and there quality and service has really gone down hill this year.

Because I did not have much time I did not get a chance to take many photos.  The original fenders where very plane so I decided on the Velo-Orange Zeppelin 52 mm fenders.  I was thinking the hammered fenders at first but you always see those, the Zeppelin fenders have very nice lines, I like them a lot and they are different from the hammered fenders.


Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Velo-Orange
Zeppelin 52 mm Fenders - Installed
Next came the Velo-Orange Constructor front and rear racks.  I do not have photos of the racks before and after because I was hurrying but they turned out fantastic with some quick and creative thinking.  I ordered the Velo-Orange mounting brackets, I would have liked to mount the racks to the fenders below but the size of the bike made that impossible.  I had to bend the front rack upper mounting bracket straight down and drill a new hole to attach to the front brakes lock nut, this worked well.  For the rear I had to bend the bracket over the rear brake.  Now that the show is over I am going to cut and shape the brackets for a better refined look.

The last to install was honey leather handlebar grips, they are a good match for the saddle.  I also chose a charcoal/Silver brake cable housing, the color choice was perfect, not to bright like white would be and not to contrasting like black would be.

I got a quick ride in before loading the Sprite up for the trip.  The ride was fantastic, so smooth, like a Cadillac!!  The size is perfect and I really like the handlebars, they swoop back just right, not to short and not to far.  I really like the large shift levers, it shifts perfect.  What really strikes me is the momentum of the ride, even being fairly heavy the sprite just wants to go and once its up to speed it doesn't want to stop!!  I love it and has a place forever in my stable.

We had a fantastic weekend at the Ann Arbor Classic Bike Show, click here for the Ann Arbor Post.  At the show I entered the Raleigh Sprite in the 1970's Classic Division and was lucky enough to win first place!!  I am very proud of the Raleigh Sprite, the work and the first place.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Receiving Plaque

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - The Plaque

 While at the swap I found a Raleigh head lamp for a generator hub.  I installed it on the Sprite after getting home but am still looking for a hub.

Also during the weekend, Darrell was very kind and gave me two crank cotters with the original Raleigh thread so I can use the Original cotter nuts with the red Raleigh Decal.  I am going to install them as soon as a new cotter press shows up.  believe it or not the new cotters I have installed are already stuck, I think it has to do with the crank but will examine when I remove them.

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Raleigh Head Lamp
& Bracket

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Inside Raleigh Head Lamp - Still has Original
Replacement Bulb Inside!!

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Head Lamp
Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Head Lamp
Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Head Lamp - Installed

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Raleigh Thread
Cotters - Thanks Darrell!!

Now for the final photos for now, I still need to find a generator hub and build new wheels.  I also would like to install at least 38 mm tires, I think that is about the max that will fit.  I am also thinking of what kind of saddle bag I want, I looked at the Acorn and they seem small an a few other companies but I think I am going to go with the large Rivendell saddle bag.  I think this will be a great camping bicycle and a great all arounder for riding, you won't win races with it but that is not the idea of it.  The idea of this Raleigh Sprite is to ride all day comfortably at a pace to see stuff and at a pace for getting lost in the day and country.


Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Complete

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete - Front View

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete - Front Rack

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Complete
Handlebars

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Complete
Shift Levers

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete - Front Half

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete - Brooks B67 Saddle

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Complete
Drive Train

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete - Rear Wheel

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Complete
Rear Rack

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade
Bicycle Complete - Rear Wheel

Raleigh Sprite Restoration & Upgrade - Bicycle Complete
Rear View
Right now the Raleigh Sprite weighs 33 Lbs, that is pretty heavy but it does have full racks, fenders and the B67, but that is not Schwinn Varsity heavy or as heavy as some fully equipped mountain bikes I have seen.  I think I can easily get that weight down to about 27 lbs but right now I don't think its necessary, I like the way it is.  To get it lighter I would make it an 8 speed cassette rear with a new derailleur, a new alloy Sugino Retro crank, Dura Ace bar end shift levers and a few other things, but like I said, no way necessary!!

Thanks for all the interest and congratulations, check back soon for the next restorations!!
John Z.

6 comments:

  1. Hey John, I'm a little late to the party but here goes: How did you get the front fender to sit on the wheel like that? I have the same Zeppelin fenders on my Sprite 27, and the fender doesn't fit well. It lips up high off the front wheel. Is there a better way to mount these? Can they be molded/bent to provide a better and closer fit?

    ReplyDelete
  2. John, I only discovered your website this eve: that Raleigh Sprite is a work of art. Congratulations, Richard

    ReplyDelete
  3. Howdy Neighbor!
    Today is 08SEP2016 I came upon this site as I was searching the web for replacement crank bearings for my brown Raleigh 27" frame with 27" wheels. And my white Sprite 26" frame with 27" wheels.
    I bought the Sprite new in 1975.
    AFTER SEEING WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!
    I am really ashamed of myself for not treating my Raleigh's with the royality these Brits deserves.
    Respectfully,
    Gary Canant
    Alcoa,TN USA

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was exploring new fenders for my wife's sprite. I though 45mm fenders would be ok. Do you recommend the larger vo zeppelin instead?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Cris. I do reccomend the Zepplin. There is very little tire clearance with these. Narrower fenders did not fit at all.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Really? My wife had original steel wheels, I just swapped them for 27" alloy. She runs 27 1 1/4 tires, which wouldn't that be 32mm metric? I keep reading that 45mm fender should be about right. What about them didn't clear? Are you running much larger tires?

    ReplyDelete