My 1936 Raleigh Sports is a great bike, but combination of the original steel rims and ancient side-pull brakes do not give me stopping power for confident commuting on a good day. When the rims get wet, get ready to Flintstones your way to the stop sign. I considered swapping out the rear wheel for a 3-speed hub with a coaster brake. I am a big fan of coaster brakes on my commuter bikes. I like to be able to stop the bike with one hand off the bars. This is very handy when I am drinking coffee, shooting pictures, or signalling a turn.
But I also wanted to add a dynohub powered light to the bike, which meant swapping out the front wheel as well. Enter the Sturmey Archer X-FDD 6 volt, 3 watt dynamo hub with cable actuated 70mm drum brake. This hub gives me better brakes and the dynamo power I wanted all with one wheel swap. I ordered everything from Vince at Ben’s Cycle. I purchased the 36-hole hub, a Sun L20 single wall Aluminum rim, 14g Stainless straight gauge Wheelsmith spokes and brass nipples. Normally I would build the wheel myself, but Ben’s has a deal going right now that if you buy hub, rim and wheel, they build it for free. Free labor? Yes, please.
It took me about two hours to install the wheel and hook up the front light. That seems like a long time to put on a built wheel, but there were a number of funky modifications I had to make to get everything to mash-up and work. I still plan on swapping out the Planet Bike Blaze light for a more vintage looking light with modern LED innards, but that is another project and I am not quite done with it yet, stay tuned. I describe the project in the photos below.
What a joy to have the cool old Raleigh with modern stopping power and a good light. The Sun L20 rim looks very period. The SA hub is clearly a modern hub compared to the old SA dyno hubs, but it is still a Sturmey Archer. I felt better about putting that hub on this prewar English Gentleman than I would a product of the Axis Powers like Schmidt’s Original Nabendynamo or a Shimano Alfine.
What do you think? Is it sacrilege to put these modern conveniences on such a great 1936 vintage bike? Should I have saved it in exact original condition and only ridden the bike on sunny days? Is it OK to make these temporary mods as long as I save all the original parts?