Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Corvallis, Oregon
Some items come from the most unexpected sources. This was proven to me yet again when an obscure document comes my way from Dan, a cyclist from Baltimore, Maryland.
Over time, Dan has contributed regular, thoughtful comments on multiple Simplicity posts and clearly has been an avid rider for decades. His first email came to me discussing nuances of the alternative Raleigh shifter boss issue but also had a quick one-liner at the end offering up images of original Raleigh Kodiak assembly manuals, owner’s manuals, and warranty cards. Noting that those were pretty standard fare, he also mentioned a 1984 Raleigh Touring Catalog that he could scan and send. How could one say no to such an offer?
Cover to cover, the catalog is only 12 pages in length but within those paper walls is valuable information that has been buried in time with the advancement of new technology, materials and schools of thought.
Page one quickly outlines Raleigh’s 100-year history. But standing proudly, next to the historical column, is a prominent, 10-point guideline on the key elements of touring frame design philosophies. Many of these points may stand out as obvious to seasoned cyclists but just knowing that Raleigh felt compelled to highlight these core attributes as what their touring frames were to represent is an honorable and extremely informative gesture. One that I, as a owner of multiple Raleigh frames, appreciate.
Other elements outlined is frame tubing. Raleigh, being a large bicycle company, had their own tubing materials that has been debated about for decades. Some say that the Raleigh USA 555 steel is nothing more than rebranded Tange chromoly tubing. Others argue that 555 was rebadged Reynolds 501 tubing or that 555 Taiwanese chromoly. Hours of research exists online so there is no point debating the evidence here. What the document does provide is a verbal hierarchy lineup of Raleigh’s tubing levels and a diagram of the double butted 555 T chromoly steel featured in all of the touring bicycles mentioned in the catalog.
On my Raleigh bicycles I have noticed a single, threaded mount under the downtube, just below the shift bosses. Always curious of what it was for but not motivated enough to investigate, I dismissed it. When I purchased my latest Raleigh, a 1985 Portage, it came with what I now know is a Quickstand (also known as a Flickstand). The idea behind the Quickstand was to facilitate easy parking. When stopped, you move the wire into the down position. This wire forms and grabs onto the front tire and allows one the ability to easily lean the bike without the steering mechanism turning, causing the bicycle to fall. Some claim these were brilliant devices when you need them yet others claim them to be utterly pointless. I do plan to add the Quickstand back onto to my Portage for the final build so I am interested in testing just how valuable this small addition is. Thanks to this document, I am now aware of the device and clear on its intended purpose.
As expected, no product catalog would be complete without a full lineup of the actual products. The touring models showcased were, in order of highest ranking, the Portage, Kodiak, Alyeska and the Wyoming (both men’s and women’s models shown but neither pictured below).
For me, being interested in the fine details, perhaps the most exciting bit of information presented in the catalog came at the end. Each bicycle was broken down, in detail, and represented with its different configurations, options and specifications. This was the pay dirt. Finally, no longer is the hard to read Sheldon Brown, 1985 Raleigh Specifications catalog the only location I can find Raleigh touring specifications. Clear and crisp, that information is available below.
Showing only partial shots and keeping this obscure document as images would be a crime against all vintage Raleigh touring owners. So, thanks to Don, presented in its entirety, this rare and slightly forgotten Raleigh Touring Catalog is offered here for download as a PDF.
Excellently done! Your affection and appreciation for these old rides shines through! I’m glad the manual is appreciated.
One note on the quickstand of supertough engineering resin. It wasn’t. The plastic piece through which the mounting bolt passes and on which the metal wire hinges broke rather early on in my Kodiak’s lifetime. I may have tightened the mounting bolt too much (but I’m usually pretty careful with those types of things.) In addition, after I changed the 1 3/8 std tires to 1 1/4 Kevlar road tires, the wire was no longer long enough to securely hold the tire in-line with the frame when the bike was leaned against a support. Great idea, but less than perfect execution.
One last point: I bought one each 21″ and 25″ Kodiak in Aug 1984 (for my wife and me) from a bike store in Pittsburgh, PA. Each was $347.95, new, including toe clips and straps. Not a bad investment.
As always, thank you for your insightful contribution. Myself, and the readers certainly appreciate it. As for the Quickstand, that advice will be taken into consideration upon installation (once my Portage is in a spot where that is a possibility).
$350 for a couple decades worth of regular use on your Raleigh’s isn’t a bad ROI at all! Even with only having my Kodiak for less than two years, it has seen enough daily usage to go above and beyond what I paid for it in terms of a return on the initial investment.
Great stuff! I really like the Raleigh USA mountain and touring stuff of this era. And love seeing the catalogs, too. Now if he had some scans of the 1984 Raleigh USA Mountain Tour catalogue, everything would be golden!
The mid-eighties were a special time in cycling craftsmanship, weren’t they? Raleigh, and many others, had their mountain lines out that had nice, long chainstays making them acceptable touring bikes. Currently, mountain bikes and touring bikes are not even on the same planet in terms of similarities. Ah well. Trends come and go. Maybe, one day, those two bicycles will parallel each other once again.
I think with the interest in bikepacking and the profusion of “touring mountain bikes” like Surly Ogres and Trolls, we are starting to move back to a more similar path.
I rebuilt a Raleigh Wyoming for a customer last winter. Nice bike. It was worth every hour of loving attention.
Quickstands work as intended, but don’t make a big enough difference that I’ve ever bothered retrofiting one onto a bike.
Although the Raleigh touring line was mass produced (as opposed to hand built), it is satisfying to hear that those who have built, worked on or ridden them have generally had nothing but accolades and praises for the Raleigh hierarchy of lightweight tourers from the mid-eighties. Thanks for sharing your experience!
As for the Quickstands, from my quick, initial research I am also under the impression that they can help out in certain instances but are not something to seek or really go out of ones way to retrofit onto a bike without existing hardware. Then again, what I have been seeing around are plastic clamps that grip the downtube making an instant Quickstand on any bike. But even those aren’t in painfully high demand.
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