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Grandad’s Bike Back on the Road 73 Years On

Heron's head detail
Raleigh Lenton
Restored 1947 Raleigh Lenton
Raleigh Lenton pre restoration

A former colleague asked me last year if I could restore his Father’s bike for his son Guy to ride. The bike was a bit special as it was a Raleigh Lenton with its original bill of sale from 1947. However, Grandad had clearly covered a lot of miles on his trusty steed and it was coated in a sort of film. I have a 1950 Raleigh Lenton and was aware they were the bike that clubmen riders aspired to, having a lightweight Reynolds steel frame and especially as champion rider Reg Harris endorsed them … and they had four gears! After discussing the project with Guy, though mindful that bikes are only original once, it was agreed a full restoration was best. The restoration involved repainting the frame (by Jim King), replacing wheels with a rebuilt set, modifying the dynamo lights to have led bulbs and run off batteries, restoring the enamel head badge, rechroming many parts and a lot of polishing, we even salvaged the original Bluemels mudguards. There are some wonderful details on the bike, for example the chainset incorporates the Raleigh emblem, a heron’s head and on this early model the eyes and beak are chiselled, a detail Raleigh dropped by the time my 1950 model was made. The end result was very pleasing and Guy plans to ride it to his home in Switzerland.