Raleigh Wayfarer three-speed

This bike left the stable in late 2015

The Raleigh Wayfarer. While I had owned a couple three speeds before this one, the Wayfarer got me really into three speeds, so much so that I’m now president of the club!

The Wayfarer was acquired as a project bike with the idea of it being a fun “sunny day” bike, but then in the restoration process became a true utility/commuter/everyday/citybike.

I purchased it from the depths of East Vancouver in December of 2010 for a paltry $30 by an old guy who likes to work on old bikes, just like the guy I bought the Cycle Truck from.  He said that he got the bike 10 years ago, fully intending to restore it, but never got around to it.  The main issue was the 3 speed Sturmey-Archer hub “doesn’t work”, which usually means the person doesn’t know how to adjust it.

The Wayfarer is part of the classic British 3-speed sports roaster tradition, the type of bike Raleigh is famous for.  While I’ve seen my share of Raleigh Sports, the “standard” 3-speed model, the Wayfarer is a bit more exotic, as it was a UK only model from the 1970’s.  The Wayfarer is featured in this Raleigh UK catalog from 1971. (I have found no record of it through Raleigh USA catalogs from the era.) I had suspected that for awhile, since the brake levers are “reversed” from what they would be for a US bike, a tell-tale sign  that someone brought it over from the British Isles.
When I got it, the bike was remedially rideable.  The restoration was done slowly, most of the major stuff happened when the Raving Bike Fiend visited Portland in Jan-Feb of 2011 (unless noted otherwise).
Here is the exhaustive list of all the things that happened to the bike in its first iteration:
  • Replaced front wheel with new handbuilt alloy wheel.  Aluminum (alloy) Sun Rims CR18 650A/590mm size rim, spokes, Dynotech dynamo hub, V-O locking skewer.
  • Replaced internals of the 1956 Sturmey-Archer 3 speed hub (AW model) with a working 1954 internals.
  • Rebuilt rear wheel with original hub/shell (see above) and new aluminum (alloy) Sun Rims CR18 650A/590mm size rim, and new spokes. (March 2012)
  • Replaced tires with Schwalbe Delta Cruisers 26″ x 1 3/8″ (650A/590mm), and new tubes.
  • Generator lights: Spanninga front and rear LED, plus wiring and bracket accessories.
  • Replaced handlebar/stem with “North Road” handlebars,used stem , cork grips , Japanese Crane chrome bell.
  • Replaced block pedals with used “rat trap” style, then MKS Lambda “Grip King” pedals (fall 2011).
  • New cotter pins for cranks.
  • Water bottle cage.
  • New chain and 20 tooth cog for rear.
  • New brake cables and brake pads.
  • Took off old kickstand, replaced with Greenfield rear-triangle kickstand.
  • New longer seatpost.
  • Brooks B-66 saddle and Carradice saddle bag.
  • Hoseclamp and rings to rear rack for attaching panniers.
  • Replaced original rear rack with black “Dutch” style one (spring 2011).

Since then, I’ve tweaked the bike some more. The original rear wheel eventually failed, so I had a “new” wheel with alloy CR18 rim built around the original hub, and an even bigger 22 tooth cog. And I got a better headlamp (B+M) and classy Linus rear rack. The rear seatstay on the drive side separated from the cluster, so Bob of Bantam Bicycle Works repaired it.

In 2014, I had the bike stripped, repainted, and rebuilt. Here’s the new bits:

  • Cockpit: Nitto Albatross/North Road handlebars, Kalloy stem, Rivendell Miesha Portuguese cork grips, Sturmey-Archer bar end shifter
  • Kickstand: Pletscher double-legged kickstand
  • Fenders/Mudguards: Velo-Orange steel fenders
  • Saddle:  Brooks B-17 saddle, new seatpost
Read the entire story on the restoration project in my Raleigh Wayfarer category.

And see more photos on my flickr page.

10 thoughts on “Raleigh Wayfarer three-speed

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  1. Nice work on your bike’s upgrades. How much work was done to the fork in order to make the Dynotech dynamo hub fit?

  2. I spotted a rusty old Wayfarer for sale last week in Brisbane, Australia. I liked the Raleigh badge on it and odd looking forks, but didn’t know anything about them. Did a web search and found your site. I went back and as a result I am now the new owner. The Sturmey Archer hub is dated April ’75. Needs a lot of work, but it seems solid.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. Ok. I’ve since found the frame number that dates it to Feb ’75.

        Not sure if these links will work, but here goes…

        I did say it was rusty. Maybe I should start a blog…

  3. Update:
    I have stripped most of the parts off and am pleased with how straight and structurally sound the frame is.
    Photo at http://japantrip.tripod.com/Wayfarer_frame.jpg
    Out of interest the frame as shown in the photo weighs 2525 grams on the kitchen scales.
    Rather than respray it and remove all that “character” I will clear coat it.
    I have sourced 2 good 26″ rims from a $4 donor bike. Hoping to start the rebuild this weekend.

    1. Finished!
      I was amazed at how much rust came off revealing good chrome underneath. It is a credit to the chrome platers in England during the 1970’s.
      The use of clear acrylic spray paint has allowed me to keep the original paint and decals, rather than do a bare steel restoration.

      Photos at

      It is pretty much stock and weighs about 14.3 kgs.
      Great little bike to ride. My test ride this morning saw me going way further than I had planned.
      I have to thank you so much for your wonderful site. Without it my $30 Wayfarer would have stayed at the dump store.

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