Hello friends, after enjoying an enjoyable slice of pizza this afternoon, I spotted this Raleigh LTD-3 off of SE Belmont in Portland.
Now spotting a three speed is still a thrill to me, even after all of these years. But what I found more thrilling was the degree of alteration and modernization done to this classic three speed:
- The cottered crankset has been replaced with a modern cotterless number.
- The wheels are new, and they are 700C (622 mm) vs the standard 650A or 26″ x 1 3/8″ (590 mm) originally found on this bike.
- The single-pull brakes have been replaced with center-pulls and the brake levers are more modern.
What still looks original are the stem, handlebars, and fenders (mudguards).
Seeing the extent of modifications on this bike brought up this pertinent question to me: At what point does one destroy the “spirit” of the classic three speed?
Now I am totally okay with doing things like rebuilding/replacing wheels, as I have done that with my Raleigh Wayfarer. But I kept the original wheel size of 26″ x 1 3/8″. Yes, this “outdated” wheel size means less choice in the tire department, but I don’t really mind* and I like the relative plushness of the 35 mm tire. But going for the larger 700C wheel means one has to go for a narrower tire, and the 28 mm tires on this LTD-3 are probably the largest you can fit without removing the fenders. If anything, I’d be inclined to downsize the wheels and go for the “standard” 26 inch (559 mm) size: even plumper tires and scads of choices.
And the crankset? Yes, yes, I realize that cotterless cranksets are “better” because they are easier to work on. But there’s just something about the classicness (and classyness) of a cottered crank, especially the Raleigh chainring.
But it does retain the frame, which is the most important thing. (Obviously.) And the three speed hub!
I guess what I’m saying is I wouldn’t choose the alternations that this person did, but at the end of the day, it’s still a classic three speed.
*As long as Schwalbe Delta Cruisers and Panaracer Col De La Vies are still available!