// //

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - Welcome, guest user!

Introducing Bloodbear, my 1972 Raleigh Super Course Fixie

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

November
11
2014

In yesterday’s blog I talked a bit about the vintage 1972 Raleigh Super Course bike I picked up, which has been converted to a fixie. A lot of my friends ride fixies, but this is my first one.

Today’s blog is mostly going to be a photo gallery, but before I dive into that I wanted to answer the questions that I received in response to yesterday’s blog.

One obvious question is, “If the bike doesn’t have brakes, how on Earth do you stop it?” There are a few methods of stopping a brakeless fixie:

– The most basic way to slow a fixie with no brakes is to resist the pedals, which are always turning when the bike is in motion. This technique will allow you to reduce your speed, but it’s not going happen quickly.

– Skip-stopping and skid-stopping. These techniques require practice and skill, and they will eat up tires. Here’s a video that shows skid-stopping, and here’s a quick one that shows a skip-stop.

I said in yesterday’s blog that I was undecided about adding a brake. I’ve now decided, and I will be adding a front brake (a rear brake on a fixie isn’t really needed). Having a brake is much safer, especially in a group ride situation, and I really don’t want to be eating up tires for no reason.

Another question–and a good one–is “Why would you NOT want to be able to coast”?

There are a lot of reasons why fixies are great (but not for everyone). Here are a few:

The incredible workout. Getting up to speed from a stop with just one gear takes MUSCLE and POWER. Hitting hills with just one gear is HARD. Not being able to coast, rest your legs or stand and stretch at any point is BRUTAL. Think about this: after battling your way up a hill (and doing so with a single gear), while everyone else is spinning out their big ring and going aero for a nice fast coasting decent, fixie riders have no choice but to keep pedaling. And not just pedaling–generally pedaling insanely fast (140-150+ RPM) since there is no gear choice.

Simplicity. Fixes really are the purest form of cycling. It’s just you, the bike and the road (or trail). No gears to worry about, no derailleurs, very few things to break or go wrong, no freewheel and, often, no brakes. Maybe one day I’ll feel comfortable riding without a brake, but it seems downright stupid to do so before I have mastered the required skills.

Become a better cyclist. Learning to tame one of these beasts takes practice and skill. Fixie riders are forced to pedal at a very wide range of cadences, and they are often riding way outside their comfort zones.

Easier isn’t always better. Challenges are what makes life interesting.

I love this little snippet from Stephen Regenold, who is editor of GearJunkie:

The first time I rode a fixie, in 2006, it nearly killed me. My legs locked in motion with the wheels, I built some speed to crest a rise.

On top, I gazed ahead down the hill, and started to descend. In an old habit I stopped pedaling and attempted to coast. Bad move. My cranks bucked sharply and the bike swerved, the pedals forcing my feet in circles as the frame cut air on the steep downhill.

The machine was alive! This horse wanted to run, and I wasn’t about to stop it. I felt a rush, the intoxication of riding on the back of something wild, a little dangerous and, most of all just plain fast and fun.

 

I bought this vintage fixie for fun social rides with my friends. My Madone is still my go-to speed machine, and that won’t be changing any time soon. However, if the fixie bug bites–and I expect that it will–I will probably add a fast racing fixie to my stable at some point. In fact, my friend Roger Sutton has a Jamis Xenith Team carbon frame that he’s offered to sell me just for this purpose.

Anyway, I hope that answers your questions. If you have any more, just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Here’s a gallery of pictures I took last night. While I was working on the bike, her name came to me. Introducing “Bloodbear” (click any image to enlarge):

1972 Raleigh Super Course Fixie Frankenbike. I call her Bloodbear.

1972 Raleigh Super Course Fixie Frankenbike. I call her Bloodbear.

Stock chromed fork crown.

Stock chromed fork crown.

Original Raleigh headbadge and Nervex Lugs.

Original Raleigh headbadge and Nervex Lugs.

Original Gerry Burgess quill stem.

Original Gerry Burgess quill stem.

Reynolds 531 steel frame.

Reynolds 531 steel frame.

42 years of character. Original coffee paint and decals.

42 years of character. Original coffee paint and decals.

Ultegra 170mm cranks, 39t chainring, KMC blood red chain.

Ultegra 170mm cranks, 39t chainring, KMC blood red chain.

14t cog. The axle nuts that came with the bike are not correct, and will be replaced with proper track nuts with integrated washers.

14t cog. The axle nuts that came with the bike are not correct, and will be replaced with proper track nuts with integrated washers.

Not that it matters, but in case anyone was wondering (sans pedals).

Not that it matters, but in case anyone was wondering (sans pedals).


John Stone Fitness Comments

15 Responses to “Introducing Bloodbear, my 1972 Raleigh Super Course Fixie”
  1. At the risk of sounding like a total n00b (which, in fairness, I am when it comes to bikes), isn’t “skid stopping” exactly what we all did when we were kids on our first dirt bikes (you know, back before they got all fancy)? I mean, I have vivid recollections of seeing just how long a mark I could make on virgin concrete parking lots after getting up to speed by simply jamming my heels back to stop the pedals and locking up the rear wheel. Not to mention finding that perfectly sized puddle sitting near a buddy that you flew up to then skidded to a stop in, spraying your pal hockey-stop style.

    Did I dream all that? It’s possible. I miss my childhood sometimes.

    (The bike, by the way, looks awesome, John. Anything from the 70s rocks.)

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Yes, always clipless.

      I should have said, “I’ve read that a rear brake on a fixie isn’t really needed”. As this is my first fixie, I have no firsthand knowledge.

      Most of the braking power, and this is true on all bikes, comes from the front brake. Because you can lock up your rear wheel with your legs on a fixie, many feel a rear brake is pointless.

      That said, it was quickly pointed out to me by a friend who has lots of fixie experience that he feels a rear brake (along with a front brake) is very important.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  2. From my childhood memories, I suggest that you could just lift up your legs or extend them out to sides while rolling down a hill. You’ll look silly but you may not care if you’re really worn out from reaching the top of the hill! 😀

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
      • Ah, that’s why they invented the dual platform SPD pedals!

        Very nice vintage Raleigh – I’m planning to upgrade my ride later this year but will still hang on to my 1986 Raleigh Technium I currently ride. It too is a bit a of a Frankenbike with all of the parts updates I’ve made. Enjoy!

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
  3. I’m late to the thread, but NICE FRAME! I’m considering selling a similar Nottingham steel frame — wrong size — but it’s hard to get rid of given how classic they are. If you want to try to nail down the actual Year of Manufacture, check out Sheldon Brown’s guide at http://sheldonbrown.com/retroraleighs/dating.html. (Sheldon was an exceptionally smart, cool guy whose priceless online bike / repair resource is still available and lovingly maintained.)

    Fixed gear bikes are where it all began. For example, if you look at bikes from the beginning years of racing (early 1900’s), gear changes were accomplished by having a fixed gear on either side of the rear wheel and flipping the wheel to the lower gear at the bottom of climbs. It took many years of various designs to move into the derailleur era. We are spoiled!

    But meanwhile training junkies have loved their fixies, because it keeps you very honest. Yo’ feets jus’ keeps moving! You learn to turn circles and pedal FAST no matter what. Perhaps not ideal for folks with bad knees because of the forces that push the legs in addition to the legs forcing the pedals, and areas with long, steep descents aren’t ideal, either. (One friend of mine reports cadences of over 165, and his knees have been getting worse every year. But the man rides like a bat out of hell.)

    People like fixed gears over “freewheeling” bikes for the same reason that I like rollers over trainers indoors — you can’t slow down without falling off. One hell of a workout, but I think I would ride caged pedals — at least initially. But that’s just me…w/ four knee operations, etc.

    Have fun John!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Neil, I love your comments–I always learn something! I had no idea that gear changes were once accomplished by flipping the wheel?!?!

      I’ve been all through Sheldon’s site, but somehow I’d overlooked that page you linked to. That information doesn’t seem to jive with everything else I’ve read about my particular frame. My serial number, which is stamped on the left rear dropout, is a six digit number (no letter). Based on everything else I’ve read, this is the serial number scheme that was used for 1972 Super Course bikes.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  4. Two ideas come to mind about your frame:

    1. Back in “the day,” there were several manufacturing facilities for Raleigh, and probably a handful of additional small ones. I’m sure that Sheldon hasn’t captured them all, and many have been lost to history. Raleigh’s “Nottingham” badge referred to the company as opposed to the actual place of manufacture.

    2. The lugs on your frame are beautiful and look hand-hammered, certainly one of the nicest Raleighs that I’ve seen. This may set it apart from the pack and hard to trace. That’s good!

    But of course it’s the drop-outs that make these great for fixed-gear and single-speed riders: Oriented horizontally so the chain can be tensioned without a derailleur. Score!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...

You must be logged in to post a comment. Not yet a member? Registration is fast and free!