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Upgrading a 1988 Raleigh Esprit Roadie

BarnabroBarnabro Posts: 2
edited September 2014 in Road general
Hi guys,

I've picked up a Raleigh Esprit 80s racer that was donated to the bike workshop I volunteer at (charity run place, we do up bikes and sell them on), and I've adjusted it all up and been riding it for a few weeks. I'm really enjoying the bike, looks great and it's a perfect size for me.

The wheels need sorting. Buckled, loose spokes etc. Whilst I could sort this, I'm thinking it might be worth getting a set of new wheels for it? I'm looking at the Shimano WH-R501 wheelset. Will the frame need bending to fit them?

Obviously I will then need to replace the cassette and derailleur, and I'm contemplating 9 speed for it (potentially Sora, as I have it on my Giant Defy, and it's nice, I may stick with downtube shifters, and go STI later.)

The Sachs-Huret wheels say 1988 on them. The frame is 18-23 steel.

I'm not really asking if it's worth doing, more I'm asking if it's actually possible? The real questions are:

a) will modern 700c wheels fit into the frame? It's currently got 28" in there, but I mean width wise.
b) If I came to upgrade the full groupset, what can I do about the BB? Sheldon says Raleighs can be a pain in terms of BB threading, but supposedly I can get andunthreaded BB or retap it? Anyone got any idea what size I have here?

Picture below (not my picture, but this is identical to my bike.)

Any advice would be much appreciated!! (Sorry about the essay)


  • I'm not going to sugar the pill, it's not 'special'. If that were made today, it would probably be a Carrera from Halfords.

    HOWEVER, that isn't to say that you can't ride it, enjoy it, and upgrade bits on it; there's nothing wrong with it. It's just not worth trying to turn it into something it fundamentally isn't.

    In terms of what you want...

    For wheels, your best bet is probably to have a look on forum classifieds (eg Retrobike) or eBay, and find some decent secondhand ones - 700c. If either of your wheels isn't buckled and the rim and hub are in serviceable condition, you might be able to rebuild - but for not a lot you will likely end up with much better than what you have at the moment, and hubs good enough to relace in future.

    I'm assuming the rear spacing is 126mm, but measure to be sure. You could use either freewheel or 7 speed cassette, without altering anything. Downtube shifting is fantastic anyway, but sticking with it will save you a lot of money and hassle.

    Everything else, just leave as is unless it doesn't work - and if it doesn't, again, use the forum classifieds or eBay for replacements - you can get really good ones for very little money.
  • gozzygozzy Posts: 640
    If it doesn't have 700c wheels already then you'll probably find you need to switch to long drop brakes, as the current ones may not reach the rims.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    If the tyres state 28" then they're 700c rims. By 1988, most frames were 130mm OLN - easy to measure the inside width of the rear drop outs. Frame-wise 18-23 is pretty low-end chro-mo steel, one step-up from gas-pipe. I would simply do the minimum to keep it road-worthy, spending money on upgrades isn't really worth it as it'll still be a cheap, 26 year-old bike with a few modern parts.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
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