New chain - Raleigh Richmond Vintage Bike

tidal_storm Posts: 6
edited January 2013 in Road beginners
Hi all,

I'm new here and new to cycling!

I have recently acquired a vintage ladies Raleigh Richmond bike and I'm hoping to replace the chain.

Could someone advise me what chain would fit this bike? I did buy one online (KMC Z510) and took it into a bike shop yesterday. They advised that it wouldn't fit my bike and that you cant just replace the chain that easily, however, they were unable to advise what chain would be suitable.

If you need, I can upload a photo of the bike.




  • Htron
    Htron Posts: 47
    Hi Hannah,

    How many cogs are on the rear cassette?

    I learned from experience on old bikes it's a good idea to ensure you can also buy a replacement cassette before you swap out the chain. Often the chain and cassette will both be really worn, and a new chain will skip on an old worn cassette.

    7 speed chains and cassettes are readily available.
  • Hi there,

    There are 5 cogs on the rear cassette.

    Thanks for the advice re a replacement cassette, will have a look into that.

  • Hi Hannah,

    For a 5 speed freewheel, you should be able to use any chain up to 8-speed. 5 speed gearing (which I also use, as it happens) is so old that specific chains aren't made for it (though you can get chains advertised as suitable for 5,6 and 7 speed); 8 speed transmissions are still in production. 9 speed and up use specific sprockets and narrower chains to accomodate the extra sprockets, and whilst the chains will work with a 5-8 speed transmission it isn't ideal, and they are actually weaker and more difficult to work with.

    However, not meaning to discredit Htron, but 'cassette' and 'freewheel' are NOT the same thing and shouldn't be confused; they look very similar and do essentially the same job, but they aren't interchangeable. You almost certainly want a freewheel (the predecessor of the cassette) for your bike (I am not aware that 5 speed cassettes have ever been made). Indeed you can almost certainly replace your 5 speed for a 6 speed (assuming that you don't have indexed shifters), which is a worthwhile upgrade. The rear spacing of your bike would probably have to be changed (which isn't difficult, incidentally) to accomodate a 7 speed.

    I should add though that it would help for you to post a pic; the names of old bikes (and Raleigh has been known to keep them going for decades!) may not change but the specs are often very different dependent on when the bike was made.
  • Hi Simon,

    Thanks for your response. There is so much to learn and so many considerations that hadn't crossed my mind!

    I will look into all the above.

  • No problem Hannah. I appreciate that there's a lot to take in, particularly with non-current equipment! If you have any further questions do feel free to post them...

    As a reference I recommend Sheldon Brown's site, particularly as he was keen on old bikes. He's often quoted in answer to a lot of queries about cycling (and with good reason), but he covers many subjects that you'll need to know about. A lot of today's cyclists (of any age; I'm 23) started off riding modern bikes and aren't concerned with maintaining friction shifters and freewheels!
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    I have recently acquired a vintage ladies Raleigh Richmond bike and I'm hoping to replace the chain.

    Possibly silly question but.... why do you want to replace the chain? Do you know it is worn or does it just look a mess or a bit rusty?

    The latter is probably more likely than that it is actually worn - most bikes, particularly ones with hefty chains like on 5 speeds, don't get ridden enough to wear the freewheel out so I'd not assume that one is needed until you've replaced the chain and found a problem.

    But if the bike is working well at the moment, I wouldn't rush to replace it.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • pinarellokid
    pinarellokid Posts: 1,208
    one note to make
    I have an 84 raleigh Corsa 6 speed, when i put a chain wear indicator on the chain it nearly fell through it was so worn, i could get my hands on a freewheel at the time so just changed the chain and hoped for the best.
    a new chain cost me £7 from the LBS and once fitted has never missed a beat and doesnt skip what so ever.
    so its not always a requirement to change the chain along with the freewheel/cassette unless i have been very lucky that is.
    Specialized S Works SL2 . Campagnolo Record 11spd. rolling on Campag Zonda wheels
  • Htron
    Htron Posts: 47
    Thanks for the correction Simon. Agreed, 5 speed is definitely a freewheel.

    The reason I suggested to check availability of replacement rear cogs is that you need to be able to replace if a new chain shows up a very worn freewheel. You don't want to be left with an unrideable bike if the new chain skips on a worn rear cog and it's hard / long lead time to procure a replacement freewheel. Of course you may not need to change it at the same time as the chain, but give yourself the option.

    I'm just trying to keep Hannah on the road :-)
  • Hi all, apologies for the late reply.

    Simon - thanks for the link, have saved it in my favourites.

    Rolf, I actually wanted to replace the chain to a gold one! Purely aesthetic. Just thought it would be a quick 5 min alteration, hadn't considered the potential complications.

    In light of the potential headache, its probably not worth risking it at this stage...given that the change was for superficial reasons.

    I did take a photo though (attached), is anyone able to advise if the freewheel appears worn?

    thanks for all your responses!
  • I like your style! That chain indeed won't work. I can't seem to find a gold chain in the right size, but there might be something; that doesn't also cost an arm and both legs...

    Freewheel looks ok to me. They are pretty hard wearing. Generally it's pretty obvious when they're getting worn out as they'll skip and won't shift very well, and you'll be able to see that the chain isn't meshing with the sprockets. It's possible to wear out the ratcheting mechanism as well, but you probably won't. I've only done it once.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Rolf, I actually wanted to replace the chain to a gold one! Purely aesthetic. Just thought it would be a quick 5 min alteration, hadn't considered the potential complications.

    Lol! I thought as much. Anyway, your bicycle is a dignified elderly lady - she's too classy already to need a bit of cheap bling!

    Personally, I'd get a chain cleaner and give the chain a thorough spin through a few times to clean it up and then just re-oil it. I think that there is a conscensus amongst the old bike crowd that chains just ain't what they used to be; the old ones are just much better engineered and longer lasting. Chances are, if you did find a suitable gold chain, it wouldn't last anywhere near as well as the old chain. It's never a good idea to replace good quality with iffy quality even if the latter is shinier!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,441
    See if you can track down a Sedis silver chain, it would look just right on there. Unfortunately they were taken over by Sachs I believe who are now SRAM so it's a case of trying to track down a NOS version on Ebay probably. They did do a gold version too IIRC.
  • Thanks Simon. I thought the gold chain would just complete the look of the bike quite nicely :) Its nice to hear that you are after the same thing!

    Haha Rolf - she is indeed a dignified elderly lady. I just cant resist the inner urge to pimp my ride! I have some degreaser which I've used to clean the chain and I've also lubed the old dear up. I know what you mean about the quality of the chain being superior to newer chains, a couple of people have mentioned that before - but I'm more about the looks than functionality.

    Will keep my eyes out for a sedis chain (NOS) on ebay. Thanks!