A fresh look for the 1971 Raleigh International

Here it is, a week and a half into 2013 and I’ve yet to make a new post on The Early Morning Cyclist. Time, I suppose, to rectify that situation and I’d like to do so by sharing the build I’ve been working on this winter.

Earlier this autumn I had an opportunity to pick up a 1971 Raleigh International. The frame had been repainted at one point in it’s life – good quality stuff once upon a time, but the elements weren’t terribly kind. Although the frame itself was in excellent condition, the paint was looking pretty grim. After a few good rides I concluded the frame fit me very well and the ride quality was superb, especially for long, leisurely JRA outings.

Had the original graphics remained, I would have been fine with the “patina.” But they had not been replaced following the repaint and as I considered whether or not to give her a fresh coat it occurred to me that I actually rather liked the “naked” look without logo and lettering – rather a heretical thought for a graphic designer, but there you have it. The frame was stripped and sent to my friends at Groody Brothers.

Starting with the drivetrain, the crankset is a Sugino AT triple 54/44/28 with modified crank arms that yield an effective length of 180. These are mounted with self-extracting crank bolts – an absolute necessity, I think, for touring. The pedals are also customized to yield a nice broad, deep platform that will fit a variety of shoes. Right now I’m riding in warm Keene’s but I’ll be able to hit the KATY Trail in sandals next Spring if I so desire. The Sugino bottom bracket and bearings are freshly serviced and spinning smoothly and the Suntour MounTech front derailleur has more than sufficient range to throw all three rings.

Illustrated here is the Suntour Lepree rear derailleur. A couple of scratches mar the graphics, but following cleanup all else looks good. More importantly, it functions perfectly. The rear is a seven speed sporting a 13-15-17-19-21-24-28 range, which provides me with a 27 to 112.2 gear inch stretch! The 44 tooth chainring sees the most service and leaves me with a quite decent gear inch range from 42.4 to 91.4.


The gold stem, handlebars, and MAFAC brake set really compliments the Harley Burgundy sprayed by Groody Brothers. Quite frankly, I love center pull brakes and these MAFAC 2000 brakes are more than serviceable. The bell is a vintage Raleigh model and if you look closely you’ll clearly see me in the surface reflection.

The derailleurs are friction shifted and of course it’s pretty tough to beat Suntour bar-cons. I’ve run them on many bikes over the years and what can I say? They just keep on working. I bet I have three or four sets in storage at any given time.


And chrome lugs… my goodness – what is there not to love about chrome lugs? (The Campy headset ain’t no slouch either.)

I’ve had numerous Jim Blackburn rear racks but this is the first front rack I’ve used. Very functional piece of equipment, although I’ll most likely add a Bagman to the rear to support the vintage Carradice saddle bag I’ll use for longer rides. In the background of the shot above you can see the pedals. I neglected to shoot a detail of them, but I cut off the rotted leather covering on the toe clips. Using waxed upholstery thread and black leather, I replaced the old stuff with new. Now I’ve leather toe clips to match the black leather handlebar wrap.

Silca pump – and it works perfectly!



5 thoughts on “A fresh look for the 1971 Raleigh International

  1. Finally I have an opportunity to comment on this post. Being that you are a member of the academic community, you know how chaotic it is as the beginning of a new term. Such is my case as the winter semester began this week.
    As for your International, very nice work, Mark! You have worked magic on this fine steed.
    Funny, over December, I was commissioned to tear down, overhaul and build up a very well loved but very well used 1976 Raleigh International. The machine I had in the shop was a very classy British Racing Green, which had seen better days but I could imagine the grandeur it held a decade or two ago. As I built it back up, it was the first time I had really had the opportunity to work with Mafac “Racer” center pulls. They came together surprisingly easily and I remember noting how impressed I was with their performance. It sounds like you may have had a similar experience?
    I would also like to point out the Coup de grâce, the Suntour Lepree. I find these 3-wheeled oddities highly interesting and have been keeping my eye out for one since I read some posts on them through the BikeForums site. They are the Loch Ness Monster of derailleurs. I read that this particular derailleur wrapped more chain than any standard long cage mech (no chain sag in small/small combinations) and it kept the chain a little higher (and probably cleaner). Can you tell any difference or do you feel any difference in the ride/shifting?

  2. I’m anxious to see photos of the International you’re working on Josh. I agree: the typical green you see on these bikes is pretty fantastic. I seriously debated going with that color or the copper that these models were originally available in… even though I checked every nook and cranny, the first repaint was very well done and nary a molecule of the original paint was anywhere to be found. I guess it will always be a mystery!

    You’re right about the Lepree, it is a very interesting chapter in the Suntour bio. I’d also read about them on BF, but never gave it much thought until one showed up on this International. Of course my curiosity got piqued at that point! The lack of chain sag in the small/small combo seems to be one of the key reasons for this design. I’d also add that the design allows a lot of chain wrap without requiring nearly as much clearance as a long cage RD. So far as functionality is concerned, I don’t notice a bit of difference from other Suntour mechs – which is to say, I expect it to continue to shift smoothly and to be an efficient and durable component.

    You’ll appreciate this, I’m sure: a few years ago I was chatting with a guy at an LBS. We got on the topic of Suntour and his reaction to their products was something like, “Oh gawwwd.” He was, of course, about twenty and had never had any other experience than to yank them off customer bikes and replace them with “better” cheap ass, low end Shimano crapola. Their loss!

  3. I’m intrigued by your 180mm crank length. I’m assembling a bike with 177.5; I wanted to try 180 but my LBS talked me out of changing too much at once. How did you arrive at that preference? Do you have unusually long femurs? Did you find that the length was better for certain types of riding? Thanks.

    • My crank length preference has always been 175. That said, I have bikes with 170’s and 172.5’s also, and quite frankly I can’t detect a whole lot of difference other than a bit more spin on the shorter arms and a bit more torque on the longer. This bike came to me with 170 length arms that the previous owner had modified to 180’s. He is almost the exact same bike fit as me and the fact that he used 180 length for several decades – even to the point of modifying arms that were shorter – intrigued me. The long and short of it (so to speak!) is that even with the longer arms I really can’t tell a whole lot of difference. I still prefer the longer arms climbing hills, but after twenty minutes in the saddle the difference that I personally feel between the 170 arms on my Boulder and the 180 arms on the International is negligible and I quickly acclimate.

      More to the point, I notice a much greater difference in Q-factor. Specifically, I prefer smaller Q where my feet are closer together on the spin. Some triple rings have wider BB spindles and thus potentially greater Q factor; I’m more sensitive to that than the crank length. I do think some riders’ knees are more affected by crank length though – especially if they’re mashers rather than spinners. I’d have to bet, though, that unless you’re a racer you won’t notice a difference between 117.5 and 180.

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