Originally plain gauge, it has over the years been available as: * taper gauged, * butted, * oversized, * undersized, * wafer thin, * ovalized and even larger diameter in the centre of the tube than the ends.It has also been used by the master builder Horace Bates in his ‘Cantiflex’ frames with perhaps the weirdest incarnation being the “Curly Stays” fitted to Hetchins and now some Bob Jackson cycles.It was being sold by an older gentleman who picks up bikes at flea markets, yard sales, etc., and then cleans them up and sells them.
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This makes them generally more reliable than derailleur gears, especially for bicycles which are used in wet or dirty conditions because they are protected from moisture and grit by the hub.
Another advantage of internal gears is that, contrary to standing shifting mechanisms, which require the rider to be pedaling to shift, the internal gears can be shifted even when the bicycle is stopped, an especially handy feature in city traffic requiring frequent stops.
No other manufacturer of cycle tubing offered this kind of range and flexibility (and probably will never do so again) so 531 became THE tubing for custom build frames.
Its availability in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes to the custom builder meant that elements could be picked and mixed to match all different rider combinations and purposes.
Built by Raleigh primarily at their factory in Nottingham, England, Raleigh bikes stood for high-quality construction from their introduction in the late 1800s until the 1980s or so.