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Raleigh bicycle, about 1949

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Raleigh bicycle, about 1949
Smithsonian Institution , Negative #: 48-168


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1935-1965

Raleigh bicycle
Catalog #: 313,481, Accession #: 187,321
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

The Raleigh bicycle, made in Nottingham, England, is a popular make of bicycle. This particular bicycle was donated to the Museum in 1950.

On 3 January 1950 Alvaro Zabala left Bogota, Colombia, on this bicycle, and headed for New York City. After pedaling through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, the Mississippi Valley, and Ontario, Canada, he reached New York City on 2 June, five months later. It is estimated that about 8,000 miles were covered during the trip. Subsequently, Mr. Zabala pedaled the bicycle to Washington, where the machine was presented by him to the museum. Small flags of the 10 countries through which Mr. Zabala travelled are draped from the handlebars to the saddle.

Physical Description

Artifact. This bicycle weighs approximately 33 pounds. It has a lightweight, tubular, diamond type frame and is supported on two Dunlop metal-rimmed wheels, with 32 tangentially laced steel spokes in the front wheel and 40 in the rear. Each wheel runs on a pair of ball bearings, an oil hole being provided in each hub for lubrication. Large wing nuts are provided on each wheel axle to facilitate the removal of the wheels. The 26-by-1 1/4-inch tires are equipped with inner tubes. The fork, also of lightweight tubular construction, is mounted on a pair of ball bearings, while the curved handlebars are made of tubular aluminum and are provided with rubber grips.

The sprockets and the Perry roller chain are on the right side of the frame. The 46-tooth driving sprocket is mounted on a 3-piece crank assembly supported in two ball bearings in the crank hanger. An oil hole in the crank hanger permits their lubrication. The 6 -inch crank arms are detachable from the center section of the crank assembly, but are not adjustable. A ball-bearing-mounted, all-metal pedal with a metal toe clip is fitted to each crank arm. Attached to the rear wheel is a 3-gear, compound sprocket, made by Cyclo, of Birmingham, England, that contains 16, 20, and 24 teeth, respectively, in its three gear sections. These turn as a unit with respect to the wheel, and contain an overrunning clutch between the hub of the unit and the hub of the wheel so as to permit coasting.

In use, the chain is engaged with one of the three gear sections, depending on the terrain to be covered. Changing is accomplished by loosening the wing nuts of the rear axle, placing the chain over the gear section desired, adjusting the chain tension by moving the wheel and axle within slots provided at the rear of the frame, and tightening the wing nuts. Another 16-tooth gear is rigidly attached to the other side of the wheel. By removing the wheel and turning it around in the frame, this gear, which allows no coasting, can be used.

Front and rear brakes are provided, and each consists of a pair of rubber-faced, metal shoes which clamp against the metal rim of its wheel. Each pair of shoes is controlled by a cable and hand lever attached to the handlebars, the right lever for the front wheel, and the left lever for the rear wheel. A heavy wire spring keeps each pair of shoes normally away from the rim.

Lighting equipment consists of a tail light, a Lucifer "Aero B1" front lamp with two bulbs and a built-in switch to select the bulb that is to be used, and a Lucifer "Baby 700" generator, clamped to the left side of the front fork, that operates through contact with the side of the revolving front tire. Both of the Lucifer items were made in Switzerland.

A Brooks B-17 Champion Narrow saddle, made of heavy leather on a wire framework, is attached to a tubular aluminum post adjustable for height. The saddle is fully adjustable. There are no mudguards on the machine. A removable aluminum tire pump bearing the name "Britannialloy" is secured to the lower tube of the frame. Carried on the handlebars are a pair of aluminum water flasks and a tool bag.

Date Made:
about 1949
Gift of Alvaro Zabala

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