Export Raleigh DL-1s

Raleigh's DL-1 model is perhaps best known in the States in the form shown at right; a tall, 24" (and occasionally 22") frame, 28"-wheeled behemoth; fitted with fragile wire fender stays, slightly curved handlebars, and an open chainguard (as opposed to the enclosed chaincase often associated with these bikes).

Such is the American version of the late-model Raleigh DL-1, which doesn't differ much from the English version, save for the chaincase. Nevertheless, while both England and America were receiving cookie-cutter DL-1's like these in the 1970's, very interesting variants were being produced for export, even into the mid-1980's.

The late-model DL-1 export:

To begin with, the 1970's-1980's export DL-1s were very much a continuation of the traditional DL-1 as it was known in the 1940's and 1950s. Equipment included beefy fender stays with adjustable ends, narrow handlebars, and full chaincases - all the traditional details that you would otherwise have expected on a DL-1 had Raleigh's quality standards remained the same throughout the decades.

Some of these export models were produced with singlespeed hubs in lieu of Sturmey-Archer AW's, and others were built with all the trimmings; depending on the market. Others were built with the rod brake system deleted in favor of oversized 26" balloon tires. Arguably the best known of these variants are a series of all-chrome examples produced in 1979/1980 (presumably dealer promotionals made for the American market), of which most are stereotypical examples of fully-equipped export models.

Following are photos of an all-chrome example and the author's 1979 Rudge DL-1 Export, which - save for the locking fork - is otherwise identical in specifications.

1980 Raleigh DL-1 all-chrome (U.S.)

1979 Rudge DL-1 (Export)

Many thanks to Public Bikes for the use of their chrome DL-1 images.

Note the inclusion of the slogans and small darts surrounding the slogan text in the chaincase logos. This is one of the quickest identifiers of a late-model DL-1, and also a possible indicator of an export model.

At least one all-chrome example is known to have been built for 26" wheels, with a rod-brake delete option in favor of a singlespeed coasterbrake. With exception to the chrome finish, this configuration is very common on DL-1s and DL-1 knockoffs built for third-word countries, wherein simplicity and large tires for rough terrain takes precedence. The bike that I speak of was once shown on the Schwinnbike.com forums (since closed), and I have yet to locate the owner or photos since.

Export/Caribbean Raleigh DL-1s not built in Nottingham:

In addition to "normal" Nottingham DL-1s, some oddballs do exist, such as this 1978 example owned by Spencer Howell, with a "KS8..." serial number. Unfortunately, Raleigh's documentation fails to indicate which production facility the letter "K" stood for, so until that bit of information is located, the origins of this DL-1 remain a mystery - other than the fact that it was sold in the Bahamas; specifically, Nassau.

Nevertheless, unlike other subcontracted Raleighs (such as the Gazelle Grand Prix), this example comes from notably different tooling. Most of the small hardware on this example differs from a Nottingham DL-1, and the fittings are stamped differently (most notably, the crankset - which is marked with a large Sir Walter Raleigh logo at the pedal end of the crankarm).