This 1957 Raleigh got Suresh Kumar Nama interested in slow-moving machines

Suresh Kumar Nama gravitates to road-tearing superbikes. He has run the wheels of a Honda Repsol and a Honda CBR600RR over speedways and has done numerous joy-rides on an MV Augusta, an R1, an R6, a Suzuki JSXR and a road edition of Harley Davidson. But tucked away in an odd little corner of his heart is a slow-moving machine - a 1957 Raleigh (special edition).

Nama found this bicycle in 2006 at a dilapidated garage. "A racer, I hopped from garage to garage in search of spares that could enhance my bike's efficiency." It was not so much the cycle as the variety of names and symbols that had been stamped on its body that got Nama interested. The majority of these trademarks underlined the Englishness of the bicycle.

The Brooks saddle, the Sturmey Archer front brake hub, the three-speed Sturmey Archer transmission, the Princip carrier manufactured by Ashley, the Miller dynamo and headlights, the Dunlop rims and the Raleigh reflector constitute an overwhelming evidence of the bicycle's continuing link with its past.

As the cycle had been in limbo for long, it needed servicing. The dynamo and headlight required more attention than the rest. While Sundar, Nama's trusted motorcycle doctor, attended to the headlight, he discovered that the bulb was an old Philips. After lighting the bicycle's path for many years, the tiny incandascent bulb was still alive. "All in all, the bicycle had lost little to the ravages of time. It remains a window to bicycle technology of those days," says Nama.

As the old chain case is intact, the lubricating process is simple. An oil inlet with a small nut makes the job easier. A hand pump attached to the down tube is in its best possible condition. In addition to the Raleigh's peacock logo on the head tube, an image resembling flying wings is found on the chain case. The text 'Special Edition' goes with this pictorial form.

Says Nama, "In that period, two Raleigh special editions were made. One was black and the other, a shade of green. "This bicycle encouraged Nama to read up on Raleigh's history. Nama says in contrast to his bicycle, another Raleigh, roughly from the same period, featured a front hub that combined the functions of the dynamo and the front brake.

And if he chances upon this Raleigh model, Nama is certain to add it to his collection of slow-moving machines.


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