A new project…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that The Godfather Part III is not as good as the previous two films. However, it has its moments, and the one moment that always stays with me is when Michael Corleone frustratedly exclaims “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back IN!” 

Which is a roundabout way of saying I have another vintage bicycle to restore…

So the backstory starts with my fiancée’s bike, which is a beautiful 1987 BSA three-speed with a loop frame and in A1 condition for its age (see below). I really didn’t have to do very much with that bike, except hide it until Christmas. This involved keeping it in the house I jointly rent in Leamington, sharing with two colleagues, one male one female. The female housemate did rather like Catherine’s bike, and has since been occasionally pumping me for info on how she would go about finding such a bike.


Well, I found her a bike. It was advertised on Facebook as in Stafford and absolutely free. I got in touch and the lady was quite happy to hand the bike over, along with a smaller girls bike. They said they’d bought the bikes for £10 each on holiday, but after using them a few times didn’t have a use for them but did have a use for the shed space they were taking up. So I got two bikes, without spending so much as a penny.

My housemate’s bike is a loop-frame 1987 Raleigh ‘City’ three-speed. It’s very much a budget model, and apart from Raleigh branding appears to be identical in all major aspects to my fiancée’s bike. The condition is nowhere near as good though, with lots of cosmetic rust and a fair way from a rideable condition. The rims seem straight enough, although I did advise she get some alloy rims fitted when budget permits. Happily, the bigger headaches such as cotter pins and stems are all loose and good to go. 


Anyway, that’s her bike, which she’s going to restore herself (she used to maintain helicopters for a living, so she should be ok…) MY new bike is a girl’s size Raleigh Wisp, 1983 Mixte frame, with 24″ wheels and five speeds on a Huret derailleur. What the hell am I supposed to do with it? I have a couple of ideas:

  1. Strip it and use the components for my own purposes (cries of “you heartless monster!”)
  2. Restore and sell/give to a petite lady or someone with a daughter
  3. Restore and give it to a charity shop
  4. Restore and hang on to it, and keep my fingers crossed I don’t have all-male offspring

The thing is, it’s a beautiful frame. The Mixte frame in general just looks really good as a design, and the blue paint scheme (which has survived rather well) is very pretty. The chrome mudguards have barely a blemish on them, the rims are OKish and of the two bikes this was in better condition. If it was a full-size ladies bike it would be quite desirable.

Well, I’m going to strip it down, clean it up and see what I think. There is at least one part I definitely want to steal – the handlebar stem. It’s a Suntour Custom, a perfect match for Major Tom’s stem but with a shorter reach. I’m also tempted to steal the odd bit for the Bike formerly known as #2, such as the handlebars and brake callipers, but I’ll resist if I can. Ultimately the basic bike will always remain, since I’ve no use for 24″ mudguards or wheels, or the derailleur (I’ve already got an identical spare). 

It’s in bits now. The cotter pins put up quite a fight again, thank goodness for a bench vice…

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