Back in 1981, my mother and I persuaded my father that a brand new Raleigh Record Sprint would be a much better purchase at £161, than all of the other bicycles priced around the £80 mark in Roy Woods bicycle store.
£161 in 1981 was a lot of money, it is something like £450 in 2018.
For the money though I got a beautiful gloss black bicycle with exotic gold components and new-to-the market Reynolds 501 tubing. Compared to every other bicycle I had ever owned, it was fast and light and the ride quality was sublime.
The black and gold colour scheme echoed the JPS lotus cars of the previous decade, it oozed cool and Raleigh new it too.
Over the next few years despite being able to legally drive cars and ride motorbikes, I still managed to put a lot of miles on it. When I moved to my flat it became my primary transport for a while.
I have memories of riding to see friends on it, taking my cat to the vets on it and riding many many miles for pleasure.
That bike was a very early one, it had Campagnolo gears, safety brake levers and toe straps, it was lovely.
I eventually sold it, but for many years, I have looked for one to replace it.
In the last three years or so I have bid on a great number of them on eBay, usually they are way worn and in need of a lot of TLC, which is good, because this is what I am good at.
I dreamed about getting an old one, preferably a mark1, just like my original and then undertaking a ‘restomod’ on it.
This is where you take an old bicycle and keep little more than the frame, replacing the forks with Carbon blades, the 12 speed with a 2×11 setup and the wheels with something super light. Obviously the brakes would be swapped with modern ones and the pedals would be clipless LOOK or SPD jobs.
The problem is that the old Mark1 frames are virtually all in terrible condition, yet they still command a premium price.
The Mark2 was introduced in 1984 (I believe), it stuck with the 501 tubing, but with a twist, the Mark2 had ‘aero’ tubing. The frame was also slightly lighter. The decals are different too.
Thinking about this, I decided that finding a decent Mark2 frame would give me a good base, I could restomod it to my hearts content an maybe backdate the frame decals.
A week ago a Mark2 ‘barn find’ popped up on eBay. The seller had mispelled many words, it was advertised as a ‘Rayleigh Rekkord’. The photos showed what looked like a nice condition Record Sprint that had apparently not been touched in 30 years. I popped in a cheeky bid.
Amazingly I won it – there was one other bidder, had there been no other bidder I would have paid £30. As it was, the shipping was almost 1/3 of the total cost.