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The tables below are being compiled by examining bicycles that come in for service, and appear to be in original condition.
It is possible that some of the equipment listed is anachronistic, but I believe this information is good.
In general, the quality reached its peak in the 1950s, and quality started to go down around the early 1960's, as management kept searching for ways to make the bicycles cheaper.
This table is focussed on the mainline Raleigh/Rudge/Humber "Sports" model.
The mystique of steel caused the British cycle industry to be slow to adopt newfangled materials such as aluminum, and many British cyclists believed, even well into the 1960's, that steel rims, for instance, were superior to aluminum ones.
These days, this seems laughable..if you look at an older Dunlop steel rim, you'll find a very respectable, well-made product.
That is not what a Raleigh Sports was about...these were designed to provide solid, dependable transportation for the British public, at a time when only the upper classes had motorcars.
Note that the serial number information below is fragmentary and incomplete, and many bikes have proven to be much newer than the serial numbers would suggest.hub (c1903-1990s), it should have on the hub a date of manufacture, which would normally also be the cycle's date of manufacture. "6" for "1936." After that, they started using two-digit date stamps.If you are not sure the rear wheel on your bike is original, the charts below should help you determine the approximate date of manufacture.Britain's rise to an industrial superpower on the crest of the Industrial Revolution was based, as much as anything else, on the steel industry and the new technologies it made possible: steel ships, steel bridges, steel buildings..steel bicycles.Raleigh originally introduced the slogan "The All Steel Bicycle" to differentiate Raleighs from competitors who used cast iron for some critical parts, a heavier and cruder technology.
The fact that Raleigh 3-speeds are made of steel shouldn't fool you into thinking that these bikes were cheap or inferior in any way..were not..were the finest utility bicycles money could buy.