Monday, July 18, 2011

1973 Raleigh International - last one.

I found a price list that Raleigh sent to dealers online; you can see that the bike I recently added to my collection retailed for $350. This is interesting to look at because of what the bike was; it was a hand brazed, high end example of the framebuilder's art, built in what remined of a small shop that had been swallowed up by a giant company that was at it's height, but soon to come upon hard times. The components on the bike were the best in their day, but their time on the top of the heap was limited; Japanese component manufacturers like Shimano and SunTour were nipping at their heels by building quality parts that funcioned well and were much cheaper than Euro components, thus lowering the price of dependable cycling for the masses. 

This list is confidential, so be cool.

1973 was the very heart of the bike boom with 15 million bikes sold that year - and in 1973 more and more  of those bikes were wearing Shimano and Suntour gear than Campagnolo. Campy was the ne plus ultra - but Shimano Dura Ace/Crane was nearly as beautiful, and certainly as functional, but most importantly were available. Euro component manufacturers were overwhelmed by the demands of the boom, and that gave the Japanese companies a toe hold in the market - one that soon turned to dominance. 

 Hubbard's 1973 Schwinn World, complete Crane/Dura Ace. Hub has short legs.

So in a way, the Raleigh is very representative of the end of European dominance in cycling manufacture - within 6 years of the 1973 International's release, Raleigh was reorganized and partially owned by Huffy, no longer the great company it once was, riding the fumes of it's good name. Campagnolo released a new group in 1973, but wouldn't release a new gruppo for another decade - while the Japanese quality continued to get better even as costs continued to fall. The two Japanese giants Suntour and Shimano slugged it out, squeezing a big part of the market away from the european component manufacturers - through lower prices and innovation. The International heralded the end of an era, though no one knew it at the time.

1973 Raleigh International with complete Campagnolo gruppo.

This will be the last post about this bike for a while - I know you are all bored with this crappy old green 10 speed. Not too long ago I took a "Tour De Garland" through my old stomping grounds, and I finally found the photos I took on the ride. The ride was fun, if a little bittersweet, but I'll finish that post soon.  

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