Monday, April 18, 2011

wish granted!

Thank you for your support and finger-crossing!

Last week, I became the owner of this marvelous 1951 Sports Superbe.  The seller was Rick, ace mechanic at my LBS and accomplished racer.  On a visit to the shop last month, another mechanic mentioned that Rick was looking for me, wanting to sell a bike.  Rick was out of luck, I informed the messenger, as I have not one more inch of room to store another bike.  A few minutes later, Rick walked in.  I pre-empted the sale, telling him I couldn't possibly buy another bike. The only bike I could be interested in, one I was sure he'd never sell, was the green Raleigh Superbe.

That, Rick said, was just the one he was hoping to sell.  And here, he inserted a bit of remarkable news.  He would sell it for the extraordinarily affordable price he himself had paid for it a few months earlier.  The deal was done.

I like to think of myself as fair and ethical, but I'm not completely sure that if I stumbled onto an amazing deal on a bike I would pass that good fortune along, intact, to the next owner.  I mean, I think it'd be OK to profit a little bit from finding a lottery ticket in the street, no?  Thankfully, Rick is made of better stuff in this department. I did, when it was all done, ensure that Rick saw at least some profit from his remarkable stewardship of the bike.

Now, a word about the bike -- with more to come at another time.

In 1951, Raleigh sold a number of different bikes under the Superbe name.  It seems to have been a designator of "trim level" rather than a distinct model.  You can see what those extras included in 1951 here.

This new bicycle rides as you'd expect a bike owned by a mechanic to ride.  The four-speed Sturmey Archer hub shifts easily, with the middle two of the gears being sufficient to me.  The lowest, marked "B" for reasons I don't yet understand, is extremely low.  This could come in handy, I suppose, but "1" seems adequate for the few hills in our region.  At the high end is "H" and I think I can guess what that stands for.  The gear equating to "2" on a three-speed is marked "N," which, I learned, stands for "normal."  That strikes me as a very English way to view things and I like it.

It's also complete.  You'll notice a difference in the rendering of the bike as sold in 1951 and in my photo of it soon after coming home (below).

That cylinder on the seat tube is a battery pack.  It holds D batteries and powers the lights when the bike isn't in motion.  Rick wisely decided some of the wiring issues were outside his expertise, but included all the gear with the bike.  Now, I need to find someone less phobic than I about these kinds of tasks and put the bike back into original condition.  Next on the list is more authentic tires, but that's another story.



  1. Great looking bike -- an investment.

  2. Beautiful. I had similar love for a 1975 gorgeous Schwinn Collegiate, which I now own. But I so rarely ride it that I am now going to sell it.

    Your's however, is far more classic and I hope you really enjoy it.

  3. Thanks, Clyde. I've got a thing for 70s Schwinns myself, so I understand your need to "save" one. Send me a photo and we'll post a farewell tribute before you sell it!

  4. The "B" stands for "Bottom"...very English.