For the last few months my beloved Raleigh Clubman has been hanging on a hook in the shed. No I haven’t fallen out of love with riding. Rather I’ve fallen in love with the other, much simpler bike in my shed.
Last year a black Raleigh Record Sprint came into my possession. A neighbour of mine spotted it in the local Aladdin’s Cave and procured it on my behalf. It was complete and original but it needed some TLC. Its wheels were shot, frame was scuffed up and the gears weren’t up to much.
I already had a great geared bike in the shed so I decided to create something different. Something with little functional overlap with the Clubman. So I stripped the mechs, cables and shifters from the bike, along with the worn old chainrings from the stock crank. I replaced the wheels with a pair of freehub wheels I had lying around, added a single speed converter kit and a single front ring and I was set.
I’ve ridden single speed before and loved the low-maintenance and the simplicity of the ride and the first spin on the bike brought back the love for that purity straight away.
Recently I’ve taken up rock climbing and the stealthy single speed is the perfect bike to thread through the city and down to the climbing wall.
It’s a hilly four miles down from Old Swan to the docks, where Awesome Walls is located, dropping down over Everton Brow is always magical with the city and the river spread out in front of me.
And muscling the bike up over Everton Brow after two hours on the climbing wall is a great way to empty the tank.
The bike is a beater and no mistake. It’s scratched up, it’s got odd wheels but it runs like a dream. Silent, thanks to the SS drivetrain and whippy too, courtesy of those skinny Reynolds 501 tubes.
I’m tempted to repaint it but I think it will lose its ‘lock me up anywhere’ charm. There’s no anxiety about catching more dents and dings. It’s ugly. It flies under the radar. But I’m enjoying my riding more on this £25 beater than I have done in years.