Commute on a Raleigh Twenty

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Lpo90, 14 Jan 2018.

  1. Lpo90

    Lpo90 Active Member

    So I haven't cycled for a good few years, am rather unfit but really want to start to get back into cycling. My old bike has long gone. I live about 5miles from work and have just acquired a tidy, roadworthy Raleigh Twenty. How easy would it be to start riding this on my commute after a good few years away from cycling. Don't want to buy a decent bike as if I don't end up liking it(riding to work) I dont want to have an expensive bike going to waste.
  2. KneesUp

    KneesUp Veteran

    My mum commuted on a Twenty over about 3 miles each way for a decade, in which time she had replaced a few brake cables because water gathers in the U bend on the back brake, replaced a crank because the bike blew while she was at work and bent and otherwise just fixed punctures and replaed tyres and brake blocks.

    If it's not too hilly a route it will be fine. They're not the ligthtest and bottom gear isn't that low, so a hilly commute might be hard at first, but unless you live in a very hilly part of the country I'm sure you'll be fine.

    EDIT - god luck! Let us know how you get on. There are things you can change if the gearing is too high - the 20 is becoming a bit of a cult bike.
  3. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Fine! Just depends on distance, terrain and speed! 20s will go a long way in comfort but are not speed machines.
  4. DCLane

    DCLane Found in the Yorkshire hills ...

    I'm half-thinking of riding a Raleigh Twenty in next year's Paris-Brest-Paris, which is 765 miles in 4 days, so I'd guess it'd be fine.
    dan_bo, Bodhbh, raleighnut and 3 others like this.
  5. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    L2B is readily doable, so PBP should be as well ;-).
    Aerodynamics is the main issue, but that’s much the same as on a Brompton, which much though I love mine is less comfortable over long distances. You’ll be grand!

    Go for it!
    DCLane likes this.
  6. OP

    Lpo90 Active Member

    Thanks for your input, once iv done it once or twice it won't be as daunting, plan is to see how I find it on this old bike and maybe by summer I'm fitter and enjoying it to go spend the money on a better faster bike.
    annedonnelly likes this.
  7. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    .... but far less cool :becool:
  8. graham bowers

    graham bowers Über Member

    NW Leicestershire
    I have a few of these types of bike and find them quite charismatic in a quirky sort of way.

    How easy will it be?? Give it a go and find out, maybe every other day to begin. It will be a lot easier after a bit of practice.

    How hilly is it?
    1) Its easy to change the rear sprocket for a bigger one to make it easier to pedal, but this will limit your max speed. May need a longer chain.
    2) If it has steel rims (I believe they all did from new) , braking is poor in the dry. Its almost non-existent in the wet, some reckon brake blocks with leather in help.

    How well does it fit you?
    Longer seat posts are available for the longer legged. For 5 miles I'd say saddle height is the most important aspect of fit.
    Alan O, Bodhbh and Fab Foodie like this.
  9. SkipdiverJohn

    SkipdiverJohn Über Member

    A Raleigh Twenty IS a decent bike, like pretty much all Raleighs of that era are decent bikes. There's nothing really wrong with them in engineering terms, but the drawbacks of small wheel "shopper" bikes are they don't deal so well with bumps and potholes and they are fairly hard work pedalling, along with having a riding position that will feel cramped to a larger man.

    If you decide to keep commuting you absolutely don't need to waste a load of money buying an "expensive" i.e. new quality bike, you just need something useable with bigger diameter wheels and maybe more suitable gearing. A Twenty is better suited to local shopping than commuting, that's all. Loads of cyclists get fixated on the idea that if they need another bike, that is has to be new and they have to spend £3/4/500 or more to get anything worth riding. This is complete nonsense; a cheap secondhand hybrid or even a fully rigid frame mountain bike is perfectly adequate, so long as it is fitted with sensibly stout p*ncture-resistant tyres not off-road knobblys. I own 3 old Raleighs I bought secondhand, the most expensive one was only £20, and they are all cracking bikes. My favourite one, a Reynolds-framed 1995 Pioneer hybrid, would make a perfect machine for your commute, although I keep mine as my "best" bike and treat it with a lot of care.
  10. Bodhbh

    Bodhbh Veteran

    This is pretty much it. I did the commute a few times on my stock R20 before starting to modify it (modding R20s is a hobby in itself). It was fine...the downsides being: it was a bit small for me at 6ft and with long legs, the braking is pants in the wet, and the stock tyres don't have any puncture belt and only go up to about 50psi. Gearwise, I thought the stock 3-speed was fine for rolling Wiltshire. With proper hills it might be different.

    I don't know why they don't still make them, arbiet with modern components. Seems like it'd be a great little utility bike for 2-300 quid (?!).
  11. SkipdiverJohn

    SkipdiverJohn Über Member

    Market for these is too small. There's loads of old ones still in existence and utility bikes of that era just keep going. Posh commuters buy expensive folders like Bromptons, if they need a compact bike. Let's be honest, most people are too lazy these days to do their shopping in any way other than by car or even by minicab!.
    Bodhbh likes this.
  12. biggs682

    biggs682 Smile a mile bike provider

    i used a Dawes kingpin for a few days a while back purely so i could check the bike over before selling it on , i actually found it quite good .

    Things worth thinking about based on my experience for commuting use

    Use some good quality tyres
    Try and stick to proper roads as i cant imagine they are great on tow paths etc etc
    Check it out on a non working day and see how you get on
  13. OP

    Lpo90 Active Member

    Really appreciate the feedback, I'm in cardiff only 1 hill on the way home. Will deffo give it a go, just ordered a decent set of lights, tyres next..
    Paulus likes this.
  14. roadrash

    roadrash cycle chatterer

    its very easy to change the rear cog for a larger one to lower the gearing if you find the hill too hardbut you will need to replace the chain for a slightly longer one, if you go down this route , DO NOT throw the old chain away, if its the original it will contain a half link which you will probably need to make the new chain the right length, guess how I found this out.........:whistle:
    Paulus and Fab Foodie like this.
  15. furball

    furball Veteran

    I had a Raleigh 20 when I was at school. I cycled to stables after school and at weekends. The route was about 4 miles each way with uphills about a mile and a half long in both directions. Never had any problems but didn't know any better.
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