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It actually took longer to find my collection of AF spanners than it took to turn a 42 year old Raleigh shopper into a pile of scrap. I say ‘scrap’ because I had 2 boxes, 1 for bits that would be getting re-used and a second for everything that wouldn’t … nothing except the frame found its way into the box 2! I hadn’t really intended for this to happen but every time a piece fell under the ‘spell of the spanner’ and into my hand, I realised something lighter would be taking its place … The rear 3spd dynamo hub nearly had a reprieve but the steel hub shell was its undoing and committed it to box 1.

That lot weighs about 35lb.

Considering the complete bike weighed 39lb I was pleasantly surprised how little the bare frame contributed to the heft. I suppose, that when you look at the frame and realise just how little of it there is, that surprise is a little unfounded.

The shopper frame’s a bit of a weird beast. Once you start to dig about it soon becomes apparent that Raleigh were going their own way with this one. Things like the 1″ headtube and 28.6mm seatpost are par for the course but the 116mm rear hub spacing, 76mm bottom bracket featuring Raleigh’s own (and long obsolete) 26tpi threads and 451 sized 20″ rims make life slightly more challenging … but nothing that can’t be overcome.

Hopefully it can only get better from here.

So the frame preparation (butchery) has started. The first job was to remove any redundant brackets and fittings … the second job was to add some more hopefully more useful bits. I was a little concerned about the amount of un-supported headtube on the frame and figured adding a bit more support wouldn’t do any harm. Making a plate gusset would have been the easiest solution but it wouldn’t have been the neatest. Instead I chose to add another tube to support the toptube / headtube join. After half an hours cutting, grinding and filing, I had a tube profiled to shape.

Headtube brace awaiting welding.

The next job was to sort out the bottom bracket. As I said above, the Raleigh 20 / Shopper has a shell somewhere between 74mm and 76mm depending what day of the week the frame was made … the BB shell is also off-set so isn’t central in the frame. I wanted to end up with a shell 68mm wide and I wanted it to sit in the middle of the frame rather than to one side. Firstly I cut 3mm off the non-driveside, then a further 4mm from the driveside. This left me with .5mm to play with on each side for filing … the shell is now 68mm, the faces are parallel and it sits centrally within the frame.

Make sure you use a new blade.

The shell still needs re-tapping to 24tpi from the standard Raleigh 26tpi to make it compatible with 21st century chainsets and bottom brackets but that’s a minor detail.

The rear spacing will require ‘cold setting’ … which is reality is a posh name for bending but by just how much bending will depend on the choice of hub. I’m a little loathed to go to 135mm as it’ll involve putting a noticeable kink in the seatstays or removing the chainstay and brake bridges, so at present a modern Sturmey Archer rear hub is on the cards.

Shortened shell ready for re-threading.
More soon … sorry. PART 2


  1. markenduro says:

    Have a look at the Brompton luggage block and associated bag frame, might be useful on the back?

  2. ResRobin says:

    Loving the idea of this 🙂 Hope it works out (so I can steal the ideas and apply them to my folder).

  3. Fingers crossed it should work okay. It certainly won't suit everyone but it should hopefully be useable.

    I'll take a look Mark, ta.

Comments are closed.

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