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Rebuilding a Retro Raleigh Bicycle in Bulgaria

As many people know I am a keen cyclist and have been since giving up smoking around 1992. , mountainIt was in 1992 I bought a Mountain Bike from Halfords in Huddersfield and that was the year #I never looked back in terms of the love for cycling.

Rebuilding a Retro Raleigh Bicycle in Bulgaria
My 25 Year Old Raleigh Kalahari
The bicycle was a Kalahari which I used for commuting and beyond that touring France after a bit of modernising to accommodate panniers for my tent etc. I also gave it three coat so Hammerite on the frame, strong downhill rims and put dropped handlebars on it. It turned out to be a fine if not slightly heavy tourer, but we got on very well.

When I went to Bulgaria for the first time to live in 2005, this Bike came with me. I used it not only for riding for fun, but carrying water and gas bottles for the home in the village. It was a great workhorse. Then I had to return to the UK again in 2011. The bike was given to Galia's son and he used it for the next 6 years on a regular basis. The bottom bracket finally gave up on him along with other problems due to lack of maintenance. He finally got himself his own bike and my Kalahari was waiting for me in disrepair when I arrive back in Bulgaria gain in April this year.

I really felt sorry for that bike after all the adventures we have had on it, and helping out Galia's family here. Due to the Hammerite treatment the frame was in perfect condition, it was just the components that needed replacing or TLC. So, a project was born to rebuild the Kalahari.

Rebuilding a Retro Raleigh Bicycle in Bulgaria
Stripped down A waiting for refitting
There are cycle shops in almost every big town and city in Bulgaria, Yambol is no exception, however, bike shops are not the same as in the UK. Most bikes in the shops here are low budget machines and I understand completely why with the ways things are here. the parts needed to rebuild my bike are universal , but somehow the local Shop doesn't have most of what is needed. Simple replacement bottom bracket and the grease to use for installing, both where unavailable. Degreaser, an essential for chain maintenance, they didn't sell that either and recommended washing up liquid! And tools for the job such as a crank extractor. 

This may drive many expats crazy, but I know how it works here, I except that is how things are and just try and get around the problem the best I can. And yes I did use washing up liquid as a degreaser, not perfect but good enough. The bottom bracket was bought online form the UK and the grease to instal it was bought from the the car parts shop next to the bike shop, not dedicated to bike bottom brackets but does just as good job. Found out many years ago paying stupid money for designer products when general purpose products are just as good. Another example of this is with the sourcing of Hammerite which I intended to use giving the bike frame another couple of coats. But at over 20 BGL that to me was stupid money I didn't want to to pay. Next to this was a similar Bulgarian brand of coating at half the price and with a free paintbrush. No question, this is what I went for and after applying two coats the results were just as good!

I must admit there are a few things I bought online from China on Ebay. Purely down to price, every involuntary practical and prudent Bulgarian would go for this option. Cable casing, handlebar tape and cable seals all are coming for China at around 2 BG Leva for each item.

Needless to say I am now well on my way to restoring my Kalahari and will in due course give updates of progress. For now though the bare frame is prepared for serviced and new parts and the excitement grows.

This post first appeared on Bulgarian Slivatree - An Expatriate's Eye In Bulg, please read the originial post: here

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Rebuilding a Retro Raleigh Bicycle in Bulgaria


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