[CR] Raleigh Pro part 2


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Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 17:30:10 -0500
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
From: Larry Osborn <losborn2@wvu.edu>
Subject: [CR] Raleigh Pro part 2


Greetings campers

In response to several more comments and questions on and off group, in the interest of saving myself some time, apparently it's time for my annual Raleigh Pro / Raleigh serial number system rant. Part 2

MK I Pro. White was used on that frame model/design, for however long they were falling off the end of production line. A year? 18 months? Part of 69 and part of 70? 10 months of 69 and 6 months of 70? Who knows. How important is it? The D serial corresponds to something 1969-ish. The E serial corresponds to something 1970-ish in Raleigh World. The D and E serials both appeared on white Pros. What matters is that it is a white Raleigh Pro model frame, in geometry and crude construction, from around 69-70. It is what it is. Precise birth date does not change that. Some little changes and variations in dropouts and brake cable stops, and components, etc along the way. Cause unknown. Whatever kept product moving out the door. Specifications subject to change. Only time it really matters is when I see blue paint on a frame with wrap around stays. I can use the D or E serial to confirm to myself that it's 99.9% probability a repaint, and act accordingly.

MK II frames (no chrome on the stays, fastback stays) alleged Limiited Edition, regardless of birth date and F serial. Reasonable facsimile appears in the 1970 catalog but what does that mean about actual precise production dates? Nothing. Doesn't matter. Call it a 1970 model or whatever else you need to do to make peace with it and communicate accurately to other people what frame/model we're talking about. It's about communication and mutual recognition, not precise birth dates.

MK III frames (brown, chrome stays) definitely post MK II. 71-ish, regardless of the fact that they share an F serial with the earlier MK IIs.

MK IVs are a mess. They turned blue (despite being brown in the 72-ish catalog) and have fancier lugs (on the specs page of the catalog, and live in the wild), with a G serial 1972-ish (so were they MK III.5 ?). Around 1973-ish they went back to the simpler lugs and went to block lettered graphics, but they were still Gs, and still MK IVs in the catalogs and price lists despite the different lugs (or are they MK IV.5 ?). There were also some "A" serials with the block lettered 73-ish frames that nobody has ever explained to me. The A serials were NOT 1966 frames. Look at the bikes, compare to the contradictory info in the catalogs and specs pages, and if you make any more sense out of it than that, please let me know.

Lots of overlaps and information gaps. This ain't a science. They were building bikes to sell, to make $$, not trying to create historical artifacts with accurate supporting documentation. There are no expiration dates on the catalogs. They are sales literature, not reliable reference documents. Things in appear in the catalogs that didn't exist. Things existed that didn't appear in the catalogs. How much can you rely on those catalogs? WHY would you rely on those catalogs? Any similarity between a Raleigh catalog and actual bicycles and events (or any other factor you wish to compare to) is purely coincidental.

A lot of the confusion would go away if we just referred to them as white, brown MK II or Ltd Edition, brown MK III, blue script, blue block lettered, and quit trying to attach precise years to them or any other Raleigh models. After all that initial mayhem before 1974, the W date codes seem to be more reliable indictors of birth date, but the Pro frames didn't change significantly for several years, until ~ 77-ish (maybe 78? MK V, no chrome, end of fastback stay period) so any specific year between 74-76 doesn't really matter much.

What is the point of trying to establish GPS level precision coordinates along the Raleigh time/space continuum? What would be gained from that exercise or inference? Nobody has yet found the Rosetta stone for the late 60s/early 70s that could clear up the mess Raleigh created in the first place. Until that miracle occurs, we're just trying to find reasonably reliable, rational ways to work in that mess. The early date codes are useful general guides, but that's all they are. And probably all they ever will be. Relax. They're just Raleighs. Ride 'em.

I just laugh every time I see a Trek for sale on ebay with the exact birth date the seller found from Skip Eckert's excellent Trek site. How important is that level of precision? Does it sell the bike? Does it change the bike? Does it change the bike's desirability or riding characteristics? I know for certain what will happen if the spousal unit ever catches me having a birthday party for one of my bikes and all it's rusty little friends in the living room. It won't be good. Life as I currently know it will come to an end, very suddenly and dramatically.

I greatly appreciate clear precise statements about any topic discussed here when there is something to be precise about. But for the most part this particular topic is very imprecise. The situation only becomes worse with every attempt at precision "stated with authority" but unsupported by any facts. Maybe that's just me. But we, as a reasonably informed group should know better. And can do better.

DOH ! It's D 9778's 40th birthday THIS YEAR, and I haven't bought anything for it yet. Not even a card or a can of Frame-Saver. Only 308 shopping days left. And then I have start shopping for E 4806 or it will become jealous of D 9778 and there will be no peace at all at the shack in the woods. The caretaking responsibilities just never end.

I gotta go Larry "Obviously tired & cranky" Osborn Bruceton Mill, West Virginia USA

"I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think." - Socrates