A New Old Bike in Progress

Not for me, but for Mr. Dottie! Thus far he’s gotten by with his Jamis Coda Sport, but has been saving up for another. Instead of buying a new bike, he’s custom building it himself with a vintage frame.

Greg testing the Raleigh

Greg testing the Raleigh

He started with an early 1970’s Raleigh Gran Sport frame that he bought for a low price on eBay. He’s a practical engineer, building it up with components to make the most utilitarian bike for his purposes, including a lot of winter riding. I’ll have a full write-up when he’s finished, but it includes an internal hub, roller brakes, generator lights, and mustache bars. He still has to adjust the parts for the perfect fit and add accessories, but he was able to take his first test ride today. He’s having fun, learning a lot and soon will have the perfect bike that he deserves!

31 thoughts on “A New Old Bike in Progress

  1. maria says:

    Oh, I love the vintage frame. Awesome.

  2. dukiebiddle says:

    Oh my God I’m jealous of his frame AND his project. I’m a ways away from being able to start mine.

  3. Trisha says:

    It has wheels! And handlebars! And a front fork! What a difference a week makes. Greg must have been hard at work. Looks like a great fit. Yay Greg!

  4. hitjoey says:

    With all the rain/snow/grime/salt that bike’s going to see, the drum brakes are worth the investment.

  5. Very cool. We once found a very old Schwinn on the curb near our apt and decided we’d try our hand at restoring the Green Beast (a couple cousins twice-removed from my own Red Beast). It didn’t work out, sadly, as there was just too much damage in too many parts of the bike, but it would’ve been cool. Though honestly, I can’t see myself being THAT handy.

    Anyhoo, rambling on. Cool bike and neat project. Looking forward to the end result.

    (I wonder, do girl bikes also have mustache handlebars?)

    • dukiebiddle says:

      “(I wonder, do girl bikes also have mustache handlebars?)”

      Of course they do. They just bleach the handlebar tape.

      So I’m presuming Mr. Dottie (née Greg) is going to shellac cloth tape? I don’t think photographs capture how awesome shellacked cloth tape looks. One important tip to shellacking tape (that none of the online instructions I read indicated: grrr) is to give them as close to a week as possible to dry, which is hell when you’re dying to ride your new bike. If you only give them a day or two to dry, the finish will get a bit matted at the hand contact points.

      • Trisha says:

        Please don’t make me laugh that hard; my chest cold can’t take it.

      • Interesting point re shellacked tape. Personally, I prefer the matted look and feel and try to achieve it intentionally. But for shiny, I agree that the longer you wait after shellacking the better.

        • dukiebiddle says:

          I can see that. I would have considered giving the bars a good even groping (that’s what she said)12-18 hours after the final coat. As I didn’t, they were super shiny and textured everywhere I didn’t touch them, and matted but more smooth where my sweaty hands were (that’s what she said). An easy enough fix, I just put on one more coat, but they are much more smooth to the touch at those points.

  6. emma says:

    Oh i love that you have a blog all about bikes!
    I really want to get myself one and just cycle around the countryside all of next summer xx

  7. 2whls3spds says:

    Good start! Most of my bikes are built up from bits and pieces or heavily modified from stock. He needs to learn to build wheels next ;-)


  8. grambev says:

    Bike looks good, he’s smart! :)

  9. cyclemaniac says:


    Congratulations, Mr.Dottie, Sir.

    Awaiting more details to learn something more from you.


  10. tom says:

    He’s going to love the (newish) LED generator light.

  11. What a nice frame and build-up! I like the colourscheme very much, and those moustache bars look excellent!

  12. Steve A says:

    You do NOT need special tools to build up a wheel.

    • dottie says:

      Thanks for the emphatically delivered information :) Good to know.

    • Scott says:

      Well you sort of need a truing stand, a spoke wrench, and a tension meter. But other than that, you do NOT need special tools.

      Herr Dottie, how did you get the hub brakes to work on a frame that doesn’t have those little slots for the brake tab to fit into (i.e. what keeps the hub from spinning around when you brake)?

      • Mr. Dottie says:

        The roller brake arm is secured to the chainstay (or fork arm) with a clamp that is supplied with the roller brake/hub. I love seeing frames built with more mounting options included. I’ve seen A.N.T. Bikes and Violet Crown Cycles with various features: roller brake arm slots, fork crown braze-ons, chainguard mounting tab, light mounting tabs, and rack mounting plates.

        • Scott says:

          This is good to know. I had believed that internal brakes would not work on this kind of bike. My lady’s 1970’s Panasonic mixte needs a wheel upgrade, and I think it would be rad to have internal gears and brakes.

    • Dean Peddle says:

      Dottie, wheels are actually quite simple to build (especially a front) and you can do so with as little as a spoke wrench which is a couple of bucks. While Scott is right it is nice to have a truing stand and tension meter and maybe a nipple driver you can get buy without these. Some of the best wheel builders in the world don’t even use a truing stand. You can substitute a nipple driver with a screw driver, a tension meter with just comparing to a already built wheel you have and a truing stand with you bike upside down using your brake pads. Park Tools, Jim Langley and Sheldon Brown have great info on their website on how to build them. I think you should really push Mr. Dottie cause it looks like he’s becoming a great mechanic for all your bikes :)

  13. I call these bike “re-cycles”. I am building up the same frame (different colour scheme) as a touring bike for long distance riding.

  14. Edward Lark says:

    One may not need special tools to build up a wheel – and Mr. Dottie being an engineer, he will probably give him an advantage in the learning – but after several failed attempts at truing some existing wheels and then building one from scratch, I decided that it was an aspect of bike maintenance that was better left to the pros.

    I like to be as self-sufficient in regard to bike maintenance as possible, but in the end avoiding the time/frustration aspect was worth the expense of taking them to the shop.

  15. Beany says:

    I’m looking forward to reading up the final write up as well. We’re looking around for an old bike so we can have a spare one in case our main bike is unrideable for some reason.

  16. Jessie says:

    This is great! My boyfriend loves fixing up old bikes. Both of his bikes were found (after being discarded by previous owners), rehabbed, and customized, and both of my bikes have been modified somewhat by him. I’d still like to buy a shiny new commuter bike someday, but it’s fun to ride on our old, one-of-a-kind creations.

  17. E A says:

    Awesome! I’m still tweaking the fit on my rebuilt commuter bike. I’ll be posting on bikecommuters,com about that soon. :-)

    Yay – Mr. Dottie — enjoy your new ride. A generator light would be great – but too heavy for my purposes at the moment.

  18. cratedigger66 says:

    Great ride! I too have a soft spot for Raleighs!

    I customized a Grand Prix last year for some WI rural riding and it turned out great. I was not as brave as you, as I did not build new wheels, but found that the Raleigh road frames (even a low end one like mine) provide a great ride and an excellent platform for customization.

    Looking fwd to the detailed write up!

  19. Stephen says:

    My first good bike was a 1973 or ’74 Raleigh Gran Sport. I recognized that color combo immediately. I rode my GS to and from high school (I was one of perhaps three or four bicycle commuters in a school of over 2,000 students), and rode it all over the Portland, OR and Washington, D.C. areas. I also rode it through graduate school in Tallahassee. Years later, I finally, foolishly perhaps, decided that it had done its duty, and gave it up to a metal recycler. However, it’s cool that these old frames are still in circulation. Imagine a car that old still driving around!

  20. Benben says:

    I have a respect for older frames because they are the only ones tall enough for me to ride. One tip for winter bicycling: V-Brakes and cantilever breaks do not work because the pivot point is below the fender and gets very salty. Caliper breaks work much better because the pivot sits above the fender. Hebie chainglider is a great product to protect the chain, but will limit your sprocket ratio and is pretty expensive for a plastic thing.

  21. […] bikes. The Let’s Go Ride a Bike blog is sort of in the middle of exploring the style and utility of vintage bikes. Like diving through bins in used clothing stores, the appreciation of and search for high quality […]

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