Dating rudge bicycles
Raleigh, in its glory years (up into the 1960's) was the absolute opposite.
In their enormous Nottingham factory covered 40 acres and employed nearly 7000 workers.
In general, the quality reached its peak in the 1950s, and quality started to go down around the early 1960's, as management kept searching for ways to make the bicycles cheaper.
This table is focussed on the mainline Raleigh/Rudge/Humber "Sports" model.
Modern steel rims, cranks, etc are of low quality, because they are aimed at the cheapest possible price point.
From the mid 19th century, well into the 20th, the word "steel" was magic in Britain.
The tables below are being compiled by examining bicycles that come in for service, and appear to be in original condition.
It is possible that some of the equipment listed is anachronistic, but I believe this information is good.
When a modern company sets out to build a bicycle, what they really build is the frame (if that.) They buy sets of tubing from a tubing company, cut and weld them together into a frame, paint it and install parts which they buy different specialized parts companies.The fact that Raleigh 3-speeds are made of steel shouldn't fool you into thinking that these bikes were cheap or inferior in any way..were not..were the finest utility bicycles money could buy.Raleigh 3-speed bicycles were introduced around the turn of the century, and kept improving in technology over the years, reaching a peak in quality probably in the mid-to-late 1950s.Actually, many well-known brands don't even do that; they order bicycle frames to be built to their specifications, with their name painted on, and equipped with parts from a variety of vendors.These companies are actually trading companies, even though their image is that of a manufacturer.