Adios Technium

My road bike - an ancient Raleigh Technium.

My road bike – an ancient Raleigh Technium.

As I’ve said before, I’m not sure I can remember every car I’ve owned – but I can sure remember every bicycle.

My first really good bike was a 1974 Raleigh Super Course – Reynolds 531 steel and stock leather Brooks saddle – that I bought my freshman year in college. It was my major form of transportation for years. I lost it in Dallas in 1982 or so when it was stolen off my second story balcony one winter. I bought a replacement road bike from a pawn shop and rode that thing hard for a couple years until I literally tore the big chainring off.

I was living near White Rock Lake and was riding around the thing almost every day (back then there would be no more than a handful of cyclists on most days – hard to believe now) so I decided to spring for a nice new bike. I’m not sure exactly which year – either 1986 or 1987. I went down to the local bike shop and, remembering my fondness for that old Super Course, bought another Raleigh, a Technium 460.

These were very popular bikes at the time, among the first mass market aluminum bikes. The three main tubes were aluminum, while the rear triangle was steel. What set it apart is that the main tubes were glued together, not welded or brazed. That made some folks nervous – but my glue joints held.

I rode the heck out of that bike. I was young, thin, and pretty fast.

Until my sons were born and I spent a quarter century going to soccer practice and eating at McDonalds.

Then, three years ago, July 2012, I dug my old Technium out and cleaned it up. A few replacement parts and it was as good as new. I still mostly rode my commuter or, later, my folding bike – but I enjoyed having the high efficiency option of the road bike if I wanted to have some fun or try a longer distance.

Then, recently my older son Nick had been riding the Technium, both for fun and transportation. He is young, strong, and fast and was pretty hard on the old bike. He wore out the cranks, chainrings, and wheels. So he took it down to the local bike shop and had it all redone.

But then, only a few days later, he was coming home from work when the drive-side rear dropout broke off. That side of the frame takes the stress of pedaling and after thirty years… that’s a lot of metal fatigue on the thin steel of the dropout.

Broken drive-side dropout on my Raleigh Technium 460.

Broken drive-side dropout on my Raleigh Technium 460.

So it’s adios to my old Raleigh Technium 460. Nick rides a lot and is getting fast, so he picked up a modern entry level road bike (a Specialized Allez) off of Craigslist. He loves it. It is an amazing machine – so much lighter than the old school road bike.

But now I feel there is something missing. I thought about having the frame welded back together – but I’m worried the heat will affect the bonded joints – another frame failure could be a catastrophe. It’s a shame, there are two brand new wheels (27 inch – so they won’t fit on a modern 700c frame) and a lot of good parts there…. I’ve been scanning Craigslist for a vintage frame – maybe I can build something new/old back up.

In the meantime, here’s some pictures of my old Technium.


Cross Timbers Bike Ride

Candy and I at the finish if the Cross Timbers Bike Ride in 1988

Les Ondines, by Henri Laurens, and my Raleigh Technium

Les Ondines, by Henri Laurens, and my Raleigh Technium


My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

White Rock Lake

I always seem to get sick between Christmas and New Year. Since I haven’t been able to breathe, I haven’t rode my bike since the day after Christmas. I miss it.

So I’m looking at photos I took not very long ago.

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. December 15, Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. December 15, Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Technium Rex

I love exploring the city by bicycle. Here’s my old Raleigh Technium locked up and guarded by the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas.

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

Taken during the Deep Ellum Holiday Boutique Shop & Ride.


At a recent Vintage Bicycle Show I was fascinated by all the geriatric brake technology on display.

For example, I have been interested in the Flying Pigeon Bicycle from China, though I don’t know if I’d actually want to own one. They are, after all, the most popular single means of mechanical transport in history. When I read about them, I was especially interested in the rod brakes – very simple and reliable. They use a series of levers and rods to pull a pair of brake shoes into the inside of the rim. At the show, I saw a bike with rod brakes (not a Flying Pigeon).

Phillips Bicycle with rod brakes.

Phillips Bicycle with rod brakes.

It’s a Phillips. I talked to the guy that had bought it and restored it about the brakes. Another guy said, “If you think about it, a rod brake isn’t that much different, you replace the wire with a rod.”

I don’t know about that. I asked the owner how well they stopped. His reply was a classic, “Well, they stop well enough… when you consider you can’t get going very fast on this thing anyway. You have to be careful… really careful, if you find yourself going downhill.

Across the aisle was an even older and cruder technology.



The rod brakes on this bike push a rubber block right down onto the tire. I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught going too fast on that bad boy. Cool bike, though. Love the generator.

Finally, there was a bike with a Campagnolo Delta Brakeset.

Campagnolo Delta Brake

Campagnolo Delta Brake

I’ve always loved these. They are heavy, complicated, and don’t work very well… but what a work of art.

One fun story from the show. While I was standing around a guy came in with a vintage Raleigh – about the same age as my 1974 Super Course that I bought my freshman year in college. He was restoring the bike and was about half done – it was rideable, but still looked pretty ragged. I told him the story of how I lost that beloved bike.

“I lived in a third story apartment,” I told him. “I never thought about it, but I left it out on my balcony unlocked. Somebody stole it. It must have been a tree trimmer, working in the neighborhood with a ladder, and he yanked it off my balcony.”

“That’s how I got this bike,” he said to me.

“What, did you steal it off a balcony?”

“No, I saw this guy, he was a landscaping guy, riding this bike. It was in terrible shape, the bar tape was falling off, the paint peeling, but I recognized it as a vintage Raleigh. I asked him if he’d sell it to me. He said, ‘I can’t sell you my bike, it’s the only way I have to get to work.’ So I told him, ‘Tell you what, we’ll get in my car and I’ll drive you to Wal-Mart and you can pick out any bike you want. I take your beat up old bike and I’ll buy you a brand new Wal-Mart bike.’ He said it was a deal and that’s how I bought the Raleigh.”

I loved that story.

Now that I’ve decided I can’t afford a new bicycle I am concentrating on making do with what I’ve got.

I’m lucky in that my Raleigh Technium is old enough (1986 or so) to be vintage and therefore, semi-cool, it is not old enough that I need to keep it stock. So I took it apart and rebuilt it.

You would think that the parts that I would have to upgrade would be the drivetrain – new super gears and integrated shifters and whiz bang shit like that – but that’s not what I did. Old friction shifters and ancient freewheels still work pretty darn well. Dallas is flat, I don’t have to shift very often. What I did upgrade – the place where technology has improved – is brakes.

My Raleigh had old single pivot sidepulls (my even older Raleigh Supercourse from 1974 had center-pulls) and stopping was not a reliable thing. Riding in an urban area – you need to stop. Stop or die. Plus, the cables were rusting and I never liked the awkward cables looping up from the brake levers.

So I bought some new long-reach dual pivot sidepulls from Nashbar, some nice used aero levers from Ebay, and a set of high quality, high tech brake cables. I tore the bike apart, repacked everything that had grease in it, tightened everything down tight, and put the new brake system in. The Technium routes the rear brake cable inside the tubing, and that was a pain… a lot of fishing for cables, but I finished it up and now it rides like a dream. Well, except the engine, of course.

So, now I turn to rebuilding my commuter bike – the creaky old Yokota Mountain bike I bought used at a pawn shop around 1990. The rear shifter won’t shift down any more, so I needed new shift levers – so I bought new ones, and I bought new integrated brake levers too – so I bought new brakes. I’m replacing the old-school cantilever brakes with more modern V-brakes. All this I picked up from fire sales on various places, so I didn’t pay too much money for any of it.

Now, next, I’ll strip the bike down, then paint it (I’m thinking a dark English racing green) – and put all the new stuff on.

That’s the ticket.

Raleigh Technium

I’ve been doing good – riding my crappy old mountain bike almost every day. Over the week of July fourth I took a couple days off – plus I’m commuting home from work at least a couple times a week (when I don’t have to go somewhere after work and I can get someone to drive me in) so I rode over ten miles each day for ten days straight. I’m not losing as much weight as I want (yet) but my bike riding fitness and skills are improving faster than I thought they would at my age.

The mountain bike works well as a cargo bike or a fitness bike. It’s inefficient so it works well to build fitness. With the panniers mounted it can hold a surprising amount of groceries or work clothes and stuff. Like me, it’s not very cool and it creaks in unexpected places – but it gets the job done.

But something was bugging me – tickling the back of my brain. Out in the garage is my old road bike, my Raleigh Technium 460.

I bought the bike back when I was a young, thin, serious bicycle rider… as best as I can remember that was 1986 or so. It was a very popular and common entry-level bicycle – but was innovative in its day. The three main tubes are aluminum – one of the first affordable aluminum bikes. To keep the cost down the rear triangle was steel. Instead of welding, it is all held together with custom swaged fittings and is glued with industrial epoxy.

At the time a lot of people were afraid of a bike held together with glue. Now, of course the best frames are carbon fiber… sheets of woven fabric impregnated with adhesives… so I guess the idea was proved out.

I loved that bike. I would ride it around White Rock Lake after work more days than not. Never a racer – I rode organized rides – including the infamous Wichita Falls Hotter than Hell a few times. On weekend I’d take long rides out from East Dallas north into country roads piercing the cotton fields around Frisco and Murphy (these are now endless tracts of suburban sprawl) until I’d fight my way home bonked, tired, thirsty, and with weird sunburns.

All that ended when my kids were born. I bought the mountain bike hoping to get in short rides here and there but the time it took to stay in riding shape was all soaked up by work and soccer practice. The road bike fell into disrepair and disuse. I thought about throwing it away but there was always some dusty, cobwebby corner of the garage where I could stuff the thing or some disused rafter where I could hang it.

I haven’t rode the Raleigh Technium for at least a dozen years.

But it was bugging me… so I took a look at it. It was dusty and a little rusty, but other than the tires, it seemed to still be in one piece. So I found some tubes and bought some tires (it has 27 inch tires instead of the now-standard 700c, so it was tough to find some to fit) and sat down with some solvent, soap, oil, and wrenches and had at it.

About five hours later I had black grease stains tattooed deep into my hands… but I also had a bicycle.

The Raleigh Technium – an example of bicycle technology of the 1980’s. I think bikes of that vintage are gorgeous in an almost sculptural way.

It sat there for a while… I had a surprising amount of trepidation about climbing on board. It was like a time machine had suddenly popped out of thin air and sat beckoning, the siren song of the past forever gone. Finally, as the sun was beginning to set I walked out to the bike path that runs behind my house, leaned on the bike, and swung my leg over.

The seat was set too high and my foot caught. Both me and the bike tumbled down hard on the pavement. I now have a big black bruise on my thigh from the motionless crash. I guess I’m not as flexible as I was over a decade ago. I pulled out my hex wrenches and lowered the seat a bit, raised the handlebar about the same, and set off again.

This time it was amazing. I slid my feet into the old-school toe clips (I have some Shimano Clipless pedals I will put on the bike soon) and hunched down over the dropped bars, pumping the long light alloy crank arms – I felt the bike shoot forward in a way the clumsy mountain bike can’t and won’t. It felt like a leg-powered rocket. It was a little unsteady, the steering more twitchy than I was used to but it didn’t take me long to get the hang of it. I looped around the ponds at the end of my block, came back along the trail, went down to Saigon City on Jupiter and then turned and rode along Duck Creek to Plano.

What surprised me was how much more efficient the road bike was in cutting through the wind and going up slight inclines. The lighter weight of the bike, more ergonomic positioning, and less wind resistance made so much difference. I must have been grinning like an idiot as I looped over the creek and started north along the Owens trail under the high tension lines.

Quickly, though, the front tire began making a noise and I realized I had a flat. As I dismounted to look at the tire, the seat dropped down against the tube – I had not tightened the bolt enough. Now I remember the rigors of road bike maintenance – patching the narrow high-pressure tires, trying to keep everything adjusted and lubricated, trying to keep the myriad bolts tight. I had shot away without any tools or even my phone so I had no choice but to walk my bike the mile or so back to the house.

I couldn’t find any reason for the puncture… but I looked at the box the tube came out of (I had the tube in a crate in the garage) and it said Oshman’s on the price sticker. Oshman’s went out of business over a decade ago – so I guess that’s why the tube went.

So, after work, I stopped off at the bike shop and bought new tubes and a portable pump, and made the bike ready again. This time I was able to make a long ride in the evening without any major problems – stopping a couple times to adjust the seat or brakes with the tools I carried. I rode until I wore myself out.

The thing is fun. Still, though, the back wheel is seriously out of true, the bottom bracket has an ominous click, and the seat needs adjusting. I need to dig through the garage for my long-idle bike tools (if they are still there) and then try and buy what I can’t find. I’d like to bring it… if not up-to-date, at least back to where it was in the waning years of the last century. The problem is that bicycle technology has passed it by – I find myself looking at new road bikes. Christ! The things are so expensive – I paid around five hundred dollars for the Technium… I think, back in the day. That was a lot of money but I was able to just go to the bike shop and write a check. I didn’t have the expenses then that I have now. I didn’t have two kids in private college. There is no way I can buy a five hundred dollar bike right now.

So, I’ll fix what I can and hope nothing else breaks. I’ll do what I can to muddle through. I’ll try to keep riding every day, keep expanding the times I commute by bike, get stronger, get thinner. I feel like I’m looking into a time machine, trying to roll the calendar backward. I have been here before, I’m here again – with the same hunk of steel, aluminum, and rubber. We’ll see what happens, won’t we.

Hugh’s Bicycle Blog – Raleigh Technium 460 Restoration Part 1

Part Two

I just purchased a lightly used Raleigh Technium bike from a garage sale for a few bucks.?

Raleigh Technium Fixie Project