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Determining the Age of a Raleigh

We are happy to answer technical questions by email but please:

Do not write or phone us to ask the age or value of your bike.
All of the information we have on that is on this Web page or on SheldonBrown.com/raleigh.html

Also see information at Kurt Kaminer's Headbadge site.

Denmark's Bicycle VIN/dating system

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Note that the serial number information below is fragmentary and incomplete, and many bikes have proven to be much newer than the serial numbers would suggest. It appears that Raleigh recycled many of the older serial numbers in later years, so there are lots of bikes from the 60s and 70s that have serial numbers that would suggest much greater age.

Note that the serial number information below is fragmentary and incomplete, and many bikes have proven to be much newer than the serial numbers would suggest. It appears that Raleigh recycled many of the older serial numbers in later years, so there are lots of bikes from the 60s and 70s that have serial numbers that would suggest much greater age.

Sturmey-Archer Hubs 1988 - 1925 1925 - WWII WWII - 1955 1955 - 1966 1967 - 1973 1972 - 1980's 1980's - Present

Sturmey-Archer Hubs

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Almost all English 3-speeds have Sturmey-Archer rear hubs. Sturmey-Archer was a division of Raleigh, made many different models since 1902, and were still in business until October, 2000. The company was sold to a group of money manipulators who shut it down in hope of making a quick profit by selling off the assets. The Taiwanese company Sunrace bought the equipment, stock and rights to the name and is back in business.

Most older Sturmey-Archer hubs have two or three-letter model codes, which are usually stamped onto the hub shell. Conveniently, they also usually have the month and the last two digits of the year of manufacture stamped onto the shell. This is the easiest way to date a 3-speed bicycle, if it has its original rear wheel.

1888-1925

Prior to 1925, genuine Raleighs (not necessarily brand names made by Raleigh) had a straightforward numerical frame number.  Early years have been estimated by the Company.  (Info from the Nottinghamshire Archives)
Note that the serial number information below is fragmentary and incomplete, and many bikes have proven to be much newer than the serial numbers would suggest. It appears that Raleigh recycled many of the older serial numbers in later years, so there are lots of bikes from the 60s and 70s that have serial numbers that would suggest much greater age.
1888: 1500
1889: 3200
1890: 5200
1891: 7600
1892: 10500
1893: 13900
1894: 19100
1895: 25300
1896: 32100
1897: 39913
1898: 45981
1899: 54032
1900: 65152
1900: 69868
1901: 77342
1902: 89622
1903: 102954
1904: 112673
1905: 129228
1906: 154917
1907: 183073
1908: 215650
1909: 249081
1910: 285669
1911: 328748
1912: 375693
1913: 427829
1914: 482851
1915: 517198
1916: 545198
1917: 569737
1918: 592473
1919: 621678
1920: 654502
1921: 688291
1922: 738447
1923: 809184
1924: 899465
1925: 998077

1925-Second World War

Between 1925 and the cessation of cycle production during the Second World War, letters prefixed or suffixed the running frame number although no indication is given of the starting point of the numbers. They seem to reflect only the number of machines produced whilst each letter was in use. All dating would therefore be approximate.    (Info from the Nottinghamshire Archives)
1925: A1
1925: B34181
1926/27: B56536
1929: E15693
1930: G94785
1933: L84682
1934: T93945
1934: U14540
1935: W71147
1936: W93161
1937: Y184552

Post Second World War - 1955

After the war, Raleigh began adding letters after the running number series which restarted when a new letter was used.   (Info from the Nottinghamshire Archives)
1947: 437689 P
1948: 556894 P
1949: 695051 P
1951: 151179 T
1952: 236530 T
1953: 367369 T
1954: 566722 T
1955: 747951 T
1956: 852312 T
1957: 872584 T

1955 - 1966

A new numbering system was introduced in 1955, though this ran concurrently with the old one for two years. The new system involved a second running letter, added to the first, which began at the start of the alphabet.
1956: 23839 A
1957: 27227 AB
1958: 17910 AD
1960: 27273 AE
1961: 13126 AF
1965/6: 40814 FD
1966: 64521 FE

Note:  Some of the mid-60's straight guage 531 frames had serial numbers starting with a single letter which was towards the end of the alphabet.

1967 - 1973

Yet another number system was introduced in 1966.  This new system applied to the high-end (i.e. Reynolds 531) frames, and involved the placing of a character at the beginning of the serial number.  The character began at the start of the alphabet, and indicated year of manufacture.  Detail about the numerals that follow the alphabet are sketchy, and are presumably sequential serial numbers of some kind.

1966: A, followed by four numerals
1967: B, followed by four numerals
1968: C, followed by four numerals
1969: D, followed by four numerals

1970: E, followed by four numerals
1971: F, followed by four numerals
1972: G, followed by four numerals
1973: H, followed by four numerals

Note: While this numbering scheme is generally true, there may have been some crossover use of letters at the beginning/end of each year (e.g. a "G" serial number may have been built into a bike in 1973, but the frame may have been built in 1972).

1974 - 1980's

In 1974, an entirely different numbering system was introduced for the higher end (531 and subsequently 753) Raleighs. Serial numbers should begin with a "W", which stands for Worksop, the facility that produced theses frames. This is followed by another alphabet. This alphabet indicates the fortnight in which the frame was built (i.e. A = 1st fortnight, B = 2nd, etc.). The third character is always a numeral. It indicates the year of manufacture, the decade being assumed (i.e. "4" could be '74 or '84; it is up to the interpretor to know enough to tell if the frame is from the 70's or 80's). What then follows is a series of numbers. At this point, these appear to be some sort of sequence, but this has not been substantiated.

American made Raleighs manufactured in Kent, Washington, By Derby Cycle

Sample number: R 003310123 A

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Notes:
  1. The 531DB Gran Sports built in the early 70's did not have letters in the serial number.
  2. Frames built at the Ilkeston facility have serial numbers that begin with "SB".
  3. The 1973 track frames begin with an "A".
  4. There are several documented cases of  '73 and '74 Professionals, Internationals, Competitions and RRAs with "A" serial numbers. Let the color scheme, decals and components be your guide.

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We are happy to answer technical questions by email but please:

Do not write or phone us to ask the age or value of your bike.
All of the information we have on that is on this Web page or on SheldonBrown.com/raleigh.html