1957 Raleigh RRA Moderne

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Recently, I had the unexpected pleasure of being able to ride an entirely new model that combines the best there is to be had in accessories and components, a frame of tuning fork vivacity, and above all has the quality of making the rider feel instantly at home

– “Nimrod” review of the RRA Moderne, Cycling, 25 October 1956

The RRA Moderne was the last in a line of popular Raleigh lightweights. Unfortunately, despite excellent reviews, it was too expensive for its time and production ended the following year.

1957 Raleigh RRA Moderne

Model No 57

22″ Frame

27 x 1 1/4″ Wheels

Frame No 94021AA

(Now sold)































Cycling enthusiast Peter Kohler owns an RRA Moderne, and he wrote an excellent article on it, extracts of which I have reproduced below:

Since its introduction in 1933, the Record Ace was Raleigh’s best lightweight, the pre-war version establishing itself in competitive and long distance record cycling to a greater degree than any factory produced model of its era whilst the post-war version was an iconic masterpiece of craftsmanship, finish and components unique to the model. The RRA was last produced in 1954, its popularity diminished by its very high price and its somewhat dated specification especially its lack of derailleur gearing. The Super Lenton, too, was no less behind the times as a hub gear or free-fixed single-speed machine when the derailleur was becoming all dominant in the competitive cycling trade and, increasingly, in the sports/leisure market. Raleigh’s ownership of Sturmey-Archer had rather led it into a dead-end in terms of remaining competitive in the entry to mid-level lightweight cycle market without derailleur-fitted models.
So it was that the Raleigh Super Lenton, Rudge Aero Sports and Humber Streak were withdrawn from production in late 1956. In their place would be a revived Record Ace for the 1958 model year which, like its predecessor, would only be offered as a Raleigh model. This version, however, would from the start be of lesser specification, largely derived from the Super Lenton and lacking the exquisite custom designed components of the previous 1948-54 model. However, significantly it featured Cyclo-Benelux derailleur gearing in additon to options for Sturmey-Archer hub gears or traditional fixed/free. It was not the first Raleigh to offer derailleur gearing, that being introduced in 1954 with the Trent Sports but it marked a new departure for a high-end Raleigh model.

To distinguish it from previous versions, the new Raleigh Record Ace was dubbed the RRA Moderne (model no. 57) which also imparted the au currant Continental flavour lightweight cycles of the era now assumed. Even so, this was a wholly British effort and employed essentially the same frame as the Super Lenton with its all Reynolds 531 butted tubing, 71º/73º angles, thin taper backstays and chainstays and attractive lugs. This was updated, though, with the essential provision for a Cyclo-Benelux derailleur on the rear driveside dropouts and braze on for a single gear lever on the down tube as well as cable guides/stops whilst keeping the braze-on pulley boss should Sturmey-Archer hub gears be chosen. The pump pegs were moved to under the toptube and Tecalemit lubrication nipples added to the bottom bracket and lower head tube and the lamp bracket mounting changed to a bolt-on bosing on the drive-side front fork blade. Finally, the mudguard eyelets were moved down to the drop-out/fork ends. Frame size choice was greater than the Super Lenton with 22″, 23″ and 24″ being offered. In size 23″, the frame weighed 4 lbs. 3 ozs.

The RRA Moderne came in two finishes: the traditional dipped Raleigh Black enamel with cream peak head and seat tube panel with white ‘guards, cabling, handlebar tape and pump or polychromatic Sunset Yellow (really more of a gold) with black peak head and seat tube panel with black ‘guards, cabling, handlebar tape and pump. As with the Super Lenton, the front fork ends and rear triangle ends were chromed. “Raleigh” appeared on the down tube in a new script style with “RRA Moderne” in vertical block letters on the seat tube panel and Herons Head surrounded by Olympic rings and in script on the top tube near the head. In either colour (the Sunset Yellow examples being far rarer than the black) this was a thoroughly attractive machine.

The components were largely upgraded from the Super Lenton save for the GB Courer alloy brake calipers and Superhood levers, Raleigh steel racing quill pedals and steel seatpost. The wheelset comprised the familar Dunlop HP 27×1¼ wire-on 32/40 rims laced by db spokes to Airlite Continental large-flange hubs with domed wheelnuts instead of wingnuts. The chainset was a Williams C1202 with single 46t ring and fluted 6½” cranks. Although the 2½” steel stem was the same as that on the Super Lenton, the steel “Contentental”handlebars were new and very distinctive with swooping ends rather like the old Stratalite South of France or GB Road Champion bends and same fitted to the Lenton Grand Prix and Lenton Marque III of the same year. The saddle was a Brooks B17N.

The choice of gearing represented the biggest departure for Raleigh with the option of a Cyclo-Benelux Mark 7 5-speed derailleur with a 14-16-18-20-22t freewheel, Sturmey-Archer FC,FM, AC or ASC hub gear or16/18t fixed.

It was in cost that the RRA Moderne was at a disadvantage and while the Super Lenton represented a substantial reduction in price over its immediate predecessor, the Clubman, the reverse was true for the new RRA. In its stock fixed-gear form, it cost 35 Guineas (itself a rather elistist manner of pricing more associated with racing horses than bicycles even then!) or £39.19s.6d. in its most common form with the Cyclo-Benelux derailleur.

The RRA Moderne, alas, was not particularly successul and in production for but two years. Its sales were hurt by its high price and although modestly updated was still a variation on the 1950 Clubman in basic frame and quality. Despite this, it was a superb riding and handling machine and to this day, cherished for these attributes which as the “Cycling” reviewer noted were as intrinistic as they were hard to define.

With thanks to Peter Kohler – http://www.ipernity.com/blog/286349/809892

Copyright © 2005 Peter C. Kohler