It's funny how when your younger you take certain things for granted....
I grew up in Nottingham, home of the late, great Raleigh factory. The factory was huge so a good few people in Notts worked there.
When me and my friend first got into bikes at the age of about 13, it was Raleighs that we rode (I had a Pioneer and my friend had a Mustang).
As we rode more and more we got to the innevitable stage where we were breaking stuff on our bikes, finding the need for better parts to cope with the new levels of skill we were slowly finding, and as with most young teenagers money was always going to be an issue affording the parts we needed/wanted.
And that bring us the crux of this story- Nottingham was home to lots of Raleigh employees as i've already said, but a certain number of these employees were leaving work with more than just an empty lunch box every day. Security, it was said, was so lax that you could literally walk out with anything
. And as such, there was a network of employees around our way that had made their homes into nothing short of fully kitted out bike shops
Everyone knew at least one such place, I used 3 different ones- We never even considered going to our LBS for spares. It was simply a case of gong to this fellas house anytime between 6pm and 10pm, knocking on the door and getting the parts we wanted.
He had EVERYTHING. From an innertube to a full groupset, it was in his garage/spare room/kitchen. His house was literally full to the brim with brand new bike parts.
I baught a brand new 93' LX groupset, boxed, everything bar the hubs, for Â£30 when it had only been out a few weeks! I regularly bent wheels and I only ever payed Â£5 for a new one, often with a cassette still attatched. If he didn't have it in stock, he could get it for us in days.
And we wern't alone. There was often a few kids in front of us buying their stuff from him.... thats right, a queue in this guys driveway most nights to get to his enourmous selection of hooky stock! He must have been raking it in
My friend wanted his Mustang re-spraying- he gave it to this guy and the next weekend it came back as a Raleigh Lizard!
Frames and forks were always available too, massively discouted like everything else.
So yeah, it's a bizzare set of circumstances now I look back on it, but as kids we took it for granted and it just became normal.
I kinda wish i'd made more use of it and baught up a load of stuff to punt on at a profit, but my entrepreneurial days were years off and Ebay even further off back then
So, was anyone else familiar with this set up? In Nottingham but perhaps elsewhere? I heard rumours that the Giant factory had a simular problem, but I can't imagine it was on the scale of what went on at raleigh
Thanks for reading