I have a 1962 Raleigh Blue Streak in my stable. It’s a survivor, covered with over 50 years of patina, rust and grime.

The Raleigh's top tube. How many riders and how many miles created this patina?

Riding it takes me to a simpler place. For about 10 years, I had it set up as a fixed-gear, putting about 7,500 miles on it. I’ve got a TRO Orange Speedhound belt-drive for fixed-gear riding now, so I recently put the Blue Streak back to something like its original specification, as shown in a 1962 Raleigh catalog. I think of it as a sympathetic recreation, and even though I’ve used some new bits to keep it on the road, such as an alloy 27X1-1/4” rear rim, an alloy seatpost, and Kool Stop brake shoes, it’s still a Raleigh Blue Streak, from Nottingham, England. It says so right on the frame and it doesn’t matter what parts might adorn it.

The rear cog on my fixed-gear Speedhound ONLY ONE. It's a 50 X 20 with first generation Gates Carbon Drive componenets. That's a tensioner at the end of the dropout.

Messing around with the old Raleigh got me thinking about the essence of a bike’s identity. Yes, a bike is an assembly of parts, but it’s the frame that defines it. What would I get if I took the old parts from my Blue Streak and put them on a Speedhound frame? The result would be a Speedhound bike, not a Raleigh. That’s because the frame is the soul of a bicycle, its DNA, what it is. The parts an owner chooses for it will depend on his or her purpose – sport riding, commuting, gravel racing, or just getting around. It might have cantiliever brakes, dual pivot calipers or hydraulic discs. Single speed, internal gear hub, or 30-speed derailleur gearing. A belt or a chain, puffy tires or skinny racing slicks.  How about high rise handlebars and a banana seat? (I’ll have to try this sometime.) But no matter what, the bike you build on a Speedhound frame will always have that Speedhound soul. That’s the beauty in creating one for yourself. As we like to say, “Quavis velocitate” — go your own speed!

The Blue Streak's antediluvian Cyclo Benelux rear derailleur. The early 1960s were the end of the pull chain era. It shifts slicker than you think.