World Championship Raleigh: Jeff Bock Lake Pepin Rider

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One of Iowa’s most esteemed frame builders, Jeff Bock, is a self-confessed Raleigh addict. After a long stint working in shops that were Raleigh dealers and participating in last year’s Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour, he decided to build one of his own.

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Jeff graduated from college in 1974 with an art degree, which he happily discovered enabled him to work at the local bike shop, which happened to be a Raleigh dealer. Within a year he had acquired a small collection of Nottingham-built bikes.

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With that modest stable of roadsters, he still had a hankering for a full-dresser touring bike but, with all the American frame builders specializing in racers, he was faced with a trip to the UK to source one, or learn how to build one himself. He chose the latter.

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He built his first frame in 1975 with the help of Mike Bornstein, thus beginning a long obsession with both bike touring and frame building. He’s participated in more than twenty RAGBRAI tours and many more cross-state rides.

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Last year he was introduced to the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour by a friend, and it piqued his interest. The Tour celebrates the English tradition of 1930s-era cycle touring, where the natives would pack up their troubles in their old saddle bag and hit the road, aiming for pubs and cafes that displayed the Cyclists’ Touring Club badge.

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The 85-mile route heads around Lake Pepin, the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River, and the ride attracts a big consortium of vintage bikes. That got Jeff thinking about a modern interpretation of the classic Raleigh 3-speed.

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He decided to build a frame inspired by the English-style bike constructed from, naturally, Reynolds 531. The tubing was selected from the traditional diameters, a pair of 13mm seat stays found in the bottom of his seat stay bin, and a 25.4 threaded steerer.

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The geometry, based on an early ‘60s Raleigh Superbe, was tweaked to accommodate 650b wheels, and the lugs and BB shell were cut from blanks, inspired by the old Prugnat lug set. He also built the front and rear racks with 4130, 5/16 inch diameter tubing.

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The original Superbe paint scheme of Bronze Green was maintained, with box lining by John Parker (with a brush), but the real star is the rear hub: a 1953 Sturmey Archer unit with an alloy shell, which had sat in a bin at his shop for decades, waiting for this build.

Jeff is opening up his order book again, so if you’re after an American-made classic by a living legend, get in touch with him via his Facebook page.

Special thanks to Christopher Maharry for the photos.

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