Raleigh Road Ace (and Shimano 600 groupset)

Raleigh Road Ace head tube badge

Maybe I’m a bit too obsessed with order, but I can’t help being a little shaken by the variety of names on the parts of my latest machine (Sora, Tiagra, Tektro, ITM, 2200 etc). Another trip down memory lane, then: a racing bike that I bought in the 1980s. It hasn’t had a lot of use and I haven’t had to modify it much (a 24T rear sprocket to replace the 21T original); it is almost entirely assembled from Shimano 600 components. A sprinkling of rust and a few scratches. My Raleigh Road Ace:

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 gear levers

Friction gear levers mounted on the downtube. I think when I bought the bike in 1987 it was the previous year’s model. Not long after I got it Raleigh upgraded the Road Ace to Shimano 600EX with SIS gearing.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 front derailleur

Older front derailleurs could cope with larger chainring differences, I believe.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 rear derailleur

The rear derailleur took a rear sprocket up to 28T. This one has a scratch from when I fell off in a multi-storey car park in Lincoln. I was racing some fellow youngsters.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 chainset

The classic racing chainrings of 52 and 42. The big ring hasn’t got much wear.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 front brake

I changed the brake blocks to Aztecs. They chewed up the rims. After I hit a kerb on a cycle path and flattened both rims I put the Shimano blocks back on for the replacement wheels. Note the Shimano 600 headset.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 front brake lever

You knew where you were with brake levers in the 1980s. They were happy enough being used for braking only.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 pedals

The steel clips rusted early on. A review at the time lamented the fact that the only British-made components on the bike were the Sturmey Archer toe straps. These are the originals.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 front hub

Shimano 600 front hub. Note the Campagnolo chromed dropouts. My touring bike from the same period rusted quickly around this area: the first time the wheel is replaced the paintwork on bikes without chromed dropouts is compromised.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 stem with Dura Ace handlebars

The stem was unusual in that the owner was presented with an extra long allen key wrench that came with its own metal sleeve (about 5” long) that you slipped over the shortest length of the wrench to get extra torque. It’s still in my cycling toolkit.

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 stem with Dura Ace handlebars

The stem is Shimano 600, of course. Gasp! Dura Ace handlebars. Oh, well…

Raleigh Road Ace Shimano 600 front hub

… here’s the bike. It needs a little attention, obviously. The frame was too big for me and it is over-geared. And although I probably don’t need to keep it anymore, I don’t think I could part with it after all these years.

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