The Superbe gets a few tweaks

Minolta SR-T 101. MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 lens. Lomography 800 film.

I’ve had my 1968 Raleigh Superbe in riding condition for five years. The bike has remained pretty static since it got built up: I knew what I wanted in a vintage British three speed through my experiences with my former bike, the Raleigh Wayfarer. I always wanted the overall aesthetic of the Superbe to remain “classic three speed”. But unlike many vintage bike restorers, I had no problem upgrading with modern componentry that wouldn’t look out of place. Things like steel rims, which were replaced with aluminum ones. While old Raleigh wheels look nice, they are heavy and provide sub-par stopping power in wet conditions. Other bits and bobs were transferred when needed.

I’ve been pretty happy with how things turned out. But the departure of the Raleigh Crested Butte has shaken up things a bit. Having one less bike in the fleet has me rethinking some things. Now is a good time to change some things. Nothing major, mind you, but sometimes changing up things can be fun.

I moved the Brooks B-68 saddle and Ritchey leather grips over to the Superbe from the Crested Butte. The black “John Bull” style grips I had on the Superbe were ok, but I was never that plussed with them, especially since bits of rubber wear off onto my hand when riding the bike. I thought about going back to cork grips, but I hate having to glue grips onto a bike. Locking grips mean easy mounting and unmounting. And the grips and saddle match each other!

Minolta SR-T 101. MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 lens. Lomography 800 film.

And with the different saddle and grips, I wanted to give the Superbe an even more upright ride. I liked the look of the Nitto Bosco bars on the Crested Butte, and wanted to try something similar on the Superbe. I didn’t want to go with Boscos again, as they are just a bit too big and too expensive. I decided to go with Left Bank bars offered by Velo Orange. These bars are a bit narrower (49mm vs 55mm) than the Nitto Albatross bars that they replace, but they have more of a rise and lots less forward sweep. It gives the Superbe a more “Euro city bike” look. When I first got on the bike I did notice the narrowness, but after a few minutes that went away. I do like the rise. It makes the ride more comfortable as I’m not putting as much pressure on the bars. I’ve put the Albatross aside in case I want to switch back, but I think the Left Bank bars are a keeper!

And that’s about it for now. This bike still does me well, and will give me many more years of good service. Old British bikes will probably outlast us all…

For photos of my Raleigh Superbe over the years, see the dynamic flickr album below. Or click here.

Raleigh Superbe at Rose City Park, 22 Nov 2020
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