Project Raleigh: With More Photos!

Well, this was supposed to be a multi-part article covering the conversion from a 3×8 with front and rear derailleurs to a 1×8 Nexus IGH conversion, but it turns out there wasn’t much to the conversion. I stripped off the shifters and derailleurs, then removed the wheels and cranks. An inexpensive single speed crankset was purchased, along with a narrower bottom bracket, so I could get a straight chain line. The Alfine trigger shifter is located on the right side of the handlebars, and uses the original cable routing. Special Shimano washers were ordered for the hub, to keep the proper orientation in the vertical dropouts. Despite my best efforts, I had to install a Singleator from Surly to maintain chain tension. Even swapping rear cogs didn’t help. Removing a full link left the chain too tight, and a half link made it just a bit too slack. I may get a different spring for the Singleator, which will reverse the tension, pushing the chain up, rather than pulling it down. That should give it a cleaner look.

Raleigh Detour 6.5 with Nexus 8 wheelset

My Raleigh Detour 6.5 with Nexus 8 wheelset

Here’s the spec: Raleigh Detour 6.5 frame, with factory fork. Although the fork has disc mounts, they wouldn’t work with my front hub, which is a Shimano generator unit with 20 spokes radially laced to a Shimano rim. Rear is the Nexus 8, with 24 spokes. They are crossed on the drive side, and radial laced on the non-drive side. Fyxation 700×28 tires keep it rolling in style. Generic bars and stem are topped off by Tekro levers which match the v-brakes, plus the Shimano shifter and some Ergo grips. A Bontrager seat post carries a Specialized Body Geometry saddle. The clamp is a special order item, tapped and threaded for the rack mounts. That keeps them up and out of the way of the brakes. Despite a lack of branding, the rack itself is quite sturdy, although a bit narrow. I picked it up in Australia, and used it on my Cannondale for a while, when it still had v-brakes. The fenders are SKS Velo Urban.

Raleigh Detour 6.5 with Shimano Nexus 8 wheelset

The Alfine shifter looks right at home

Of all the bikes I have ever owned/built, this has to be one of my favorites. It’s smooth and fast, and rides nearly silent. The shifting is eerie as it switches from gear to gear with no sound. Other than the change in resistance, shifts are nearly imperceptible. Being able to change gears while at a stop is nice too, and a feature that I find myself using more than I thought I would. I’m certain it would be great for cyclists that don’t quite grasp front and rear shifters too. As for the rest of the bike, in my opinion Raleigh is one of the most underrated brands out there. You can pick up previously owned ones at very reasonable prices, and they’re really well-designed, quality bicycles. Thanks to some carefully selected used parts, this bike has probably cost me under $300, which is undoubtedly less than half what a comparable bike might sell for new. One of the items on my list of things to track down is a decent light for the generator hub. I’ve also seen a USB charging unit that would be equally cool. And sitting on my desk is some reflective tape that I’ve been considering applying in a strategic manner. That will get done before it sees any evening rides. Other than that, I have no plans to change anything else, and will just ride it until something wears out or breaks.

- Brian


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