I present you with a small collection of photos of a fairly well-known (in the UK at least) commuter bicycle from the 1960's-1980's, the Raleigh Twenty, both modified and un-modified. It has a dedicated following/fanbase who have taken the basic principle and frame of the bike and built upon it, modifying it to suit their own diverse needs.
Why the ubiqiuitous mountain bike (the run-of-the-mill 26 inch wheel one) has become so common over the smaller bike is a puzzle to me. The 20" bike obviously has many advantages over the 26" mountain bike, below are some advantages that immediately spring to mind:
- Lighter (because there is less tubular steel).
- The folding bikes are smaller thus easier to store (which is a boon if you're living in a small house, flat, or bed-sit where space is a premium).
- The hub-gears are encased rather than exposed to the elements (rain, water, mud, dirt, dust) thus are less likely to malfunction, and rarely need cleaning.
- It can be used by people of all heights and ages: the short and tall, the young and old.
- The bike is shorter which means a more upright and ergo comfortable seating position (which is a bonus to those who suffer from back problems but still want to be able to ride a bike).
- It can be very easily dis-assembled and transported. (THIS photo shows a folding-Twenty that has been packed into a suitcase so it can be taken over-seas.)
- Smaller tyres are cheaper to produce and are less wasteful when the worn-out tyres are thrown away.
Some Un-Modified Raleigh Twenty's:
For those unfamiliar with the Raleigh Twenty, here are a few photos of the bikes in their original condition, with a variety of different components on them (rack, basket, lights etc).
A purple Twenty with mudguards/fenders only. (Mud-guards and chain-guards were standard fittings on the Twenty).
A red Twenty with a rear rack.
A green Twenty with a rear-rack and a dynamo lighting system.
A Twenty with a front-basket, and rear-rack.
One with a front rack and basket, rear rack and bag, and a dynamo lighting system.
A price list of six commuter bicycles fom 1970.
£30 might not sound like much in 2014, but back in 1970 it was a fair amount of money. The average salary was £2,000 per annum, or £38 per week. So a top-of-the-range commuter bicycle was roughly one weeks wages. If we compare this to figures from 2014 when the average salary is £27,000 per annum, or £519 per week, then we can see that many commuter bicycles are roughly the same cost in 2014 as they were in 1970.
(As an aside, HERE is a link to an inflation calculator that shows what money from 1970 is worth in 2014, or any other year that you decide to choose.)
Some Modified Raleigh Twenty's:
Handlebars, mudguards, chainsets, saddles, paint-jobs, and tyres are just some of the aspects of the Twenty that have been modified in these examples.
A stripped down version with drop-down handlebars, and front-derailleur and rear-derailleurs.
Another stripped down version with (what could be) it's original bicycle pump behind the stem.
Very distinctive wheels.
Amongst many modifications this particular Twenty has new front-forks for a more comfortable riding experience.
Another Twenty with front-suspension. This one has also been converted to a fixed gear. The Fixed Gear Gallery website that hosts is has lots of other DIY bicycle projects that you might find interesting. (Or just copy and paste 'site:www.fixedgeargallery.com' into a search engine and click 'images' to see the photos without having to trudge through umpteen links, like this.)
This Twenty had a new coat of paint, marine paint to be precise, which improved the lifespan of the steel frame as it travelled along salted Winter roads.
A photo of a Twenty with all the mods very helpfully identified.
A heavy-duty cargo conversion.
A long-distance touring bike kitted out with camping gear and high-visibility pannier bags. There is a rear-rack somewhere under all of that gear!
Another Twenty laden with camping equipment.
A third Twenty kitted out for touring.
One with an electric motor in the front hub.
Raleigh Twenty's Being Ridden:
A few photos of Twenty's being ridden, for when photos of stationary bikes just don't hit the spot.
Call the Cops! She may look stylish, but she should have both hands on the handlebars. Hands-free sets are availabe from all good retail outlets.
A happy chappy on a modified Twenty.
# The roads are alive to the sound of music. #
There are numerous websites dedicated to the Twenty all over the internet, below are a few of them:
Closing Thoughts - A New Everyday Bike:
It seems odd that someone hasn't gotten around to converting (large sized) BMX bikes into an adult everyday bike. It would be based on the Four E's principle:
- Easy to build, easy to maintain, easy to repair, easy to upgrade.
A large BMX has roughly the same frame size as a Raleigh Twenty (20" top tube) and would be ideal for all people of different heights. It also has a commonly available wheel size (406mm, which are used on BMXs, children bikes, and some bicyles trailers) which means that spare wheels parts and tyres are easily available.
The Everyday Bike would include some or more of the following components:
- A longer seat post for a comfortable riding position.
- A longer stem for the handlebars.
- A 3-speed, 5-speed, or more, Hub gearing system, to make travelling long distances and undulating terrain easier.
- Lights. Perhaps dynamo lights, or a dyno-hub, or friction-free dynamo lights. Most modern dynamo lights have capacitors which basically function as batteries, which would store a charge and keep the lights going while the bike is static (e.g. at traffic lights).
- Front and/or a rear rack and/or basket, for shoppers to put shopping in, and for commuters to put pannier backpacks on. The basket and pannier bags could be of a standardised size to accomodate the average shopping bag full of goods (milk, bread, jam etc). The pannier bags would be made of different material (e.g. nylon, wicker, steel etc), and look different (colours & patterns) but would conform to the same size.
- Mudguards/fenders to keep the rain at bay, and keep your clothes relatively mud-free. Either steel, aluminium or plastic.
- Chain-guard, to stop the riders trouser leg getting caught in the chain and torn to shreds.
- Slick or semi-slick tyres for use on paved road surfaces. Most of us use bikes to commute from A to B, which usually involves riding along tarmac or concrete roads, not mud or loose gravel. The knobbly tyres which are standard-fitting on many mountain bikes are un-necessary for paved roads. The only reason that they are so common is because of marketing and the 'cool' factor.
- The paint job would be a 2-tier affair: 1) The toughest most robust paint known to man, regardless of asthetics would be used to cover the bike frame; 2) vinyl-wrap would be used on-top of this. The vinyl-wrap would use whatever pattern the owner wants to use, which would therefore allow for greater level of customisation/individuality. It would also mean that children could/would keep their bike and simply replace the vinyl-wrap as they get older (e.g. replace 'Thomas the Tank Engine' kids vinyl-wrap with 'Urban-Camoflage' teenagers vinyl-wrap, and then with 'British Racing Green' adults vinyl-wrap). This would obviously save a lot of money for the parents/children, as they would keep the same bike from a young age until the bike wears out; only changing superficial aspects over the years like vinyl-wrap and other accessories.
- All components would be of a standardised size to make it easier for manufacturers, and for cyclists (for repairs and upgrades). This would include nuts and bolts, wheel components, spokes, and all clips that are used to attach components to the bike (for light, speedometers, PDAs etc). This standardisation would make it easier for both manufacturers and cyclists.