Raleigh Sports Bicycle Guide and History

The Raleigh Sports is one of the most iconic bicycle models ever made.  These were made in their legendary manufacturing facility in Nottingham England.  It was made for a very long time, so long I’ve not yet been able to determine for sure when they started making them.  The earliest reference I have found so far is 1931.  This bike is a bit different than the classic Sports most think of and has drop bars with the 3-speed shifter mounted on the top tube.  I believe it is a model 31 Sports.  The Sports Roadster and Sports Tourist of these early years had more of the classic Sports look with Northroad handlebars.  This look stayed mostly the same until they stopped making it in 1981.  Well, 1981 is the last reference I can find for it, so I believe that was its last year. 

1974 Raleigh Sports

Raleigh was known as The All Steel bike, and they delivered with the Sports.  They have an all steel frame, fork, bars, crank, fenders, rims…really an all steel bike.  And they also called them the bicycle that lasts forever.  This seems to be the case, unless a Sports was abused and allowed to rust, it probably still rides just fine.  My 1974 is almost 50 years old and had been sitting for a long time when I got it.  A little cleaning up and it’s a joy to ride now.  I didn’t have to do anything major to get it riding again.  And this seems to be the case with most of these old bikes, they just keep on going.

1954 Raleigh Sports
1974 Raleigh Sports Ladies

Northroad Handlebars

These are very comfortable for a nice upright cruise.

Northroad Handlebars

Lugged steel frame

Made of highly tensiled (2030) steel tubing joined by lugged fitted with inner liners.

Lugged frame

Cottered Cranks with Heron Chainring

The Heron chainring really gives the bike a touch of class and uniqueness. Cottered cranks really say vintage.

Raleigh Cottered Crank Heron Chainring

Steel fenders

Classy steel fenders with chrome accent, rear fender has a reflector.

Steel Fenders

Curved steel fork

Great for, really helps absorb the bumps in the road.

Curved Steel Fork

Steel wheels

Chrome steel wheels are really strong, mine cleaned up nicely.

Steel Wheels

Model

DL22 is the men’s version.

DL22L is the lady’s version.

Sizes

Men’s: most common sizes are 21” and 23”.  Some years also offered 18” and 19.5”.

Ladies: most common sizes are 19.5” and 21”.  There were some larger or smaller sizes depending on the year.

Colors

Bronze green and black seem to be the most common colors.  Other colors are sky blue, lemon yellow, white, silver, coffee, and platinum.

Bronze Green
1972 Raleigh Sports Catalog Image
1972 Raleigh Catalog Construction and Warranty

Similar Models

Raleigh made several models with a very similar look, including the Sprite, Tourist, Superbe, and LTD.  They also had other brands which had similar models, including Triumph, Robin Hood, BSA, and Hercules.  So, there are a lot of these types of bikes out there.  These are all going to be good reliable bikes. 

1971 Hercules

Dating a Sports

Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hubs have the month and last two digits of the year stamped on them.  This is the easiest way I know of to date a Sports.

Gallery

1971 Raleigh Sports Coffee
1974 Raleigh Sports
1974 Raleigh Sports Ladies
1954 Raleigh Sports

1931 Popular Sports Raleigh – The Online Bicycle Museum

Vintage Raleigh Catalogs

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