Even though Raleigh’s current bikes wouldn’t exactly qualify for the North American Handmade Bike Show, there were two Raleighs on display in Salt Lake City that had every reason to be there. Part of a collaboration between Raleigh and Don Walker, the two parties teamed up to build two very special show bikes to commemorate Nelson Vails’ career. Don and Nelson go back to the warmups for the 1983 Track Nationals, and they have been friends ever since. Nelson would go on to win a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics for the individual track sprint and then go onto be a part of the Levi’s/Raleigh pro team.
Getting the band back together again for 2017, Raleigh worked with Don Walker to create two custom Cheetah track bikes – one very much in the spirit of Nelson’s 1984 medal winning bike, and the other a modernized track racer…
The Cheetah Replica is a Vari Wall ThermLX butted chromoly steel frame and fork built by Don Walker. In an attempt to keep them as Made-in-the-USA as possible, the Vari-Wall tubing is from Cincinnati, the castings from Henry James in Portland, and components come from Phil Wood in San Jose, Velocity Rims in Michigan, and Cane Creek in Fletcher, NC. This bike will actually be available for sale in extremely limited production, with Raleigh estimating that maybe a dozen will be made. Pricing is estimated at $6500 and they are available for preorder now with delivery around June.
The far more modern looking Cheetah Race is another Don Walker/Raleigh collaboration which features a Columbus Zona steel frame with aero tubing and a No22 Carbon Track Fork. Fitted with the latest track racing parts from FSA, Vision, and Metron, the Cheetah Race is also built by Walker in Louisville, KY.
While we’re on the subject of replica track bikes, Don Walker also had this amazing replica of the 1988 Olympic USSR Masi track bike that was raced by Ekimov. Built for Matt Haldeman (doing his best Soviet hard pose above), the bike features a number of tongue in cheek details written in Cyrillic.
In addition to the “Walker” in Cyrillic on the downtube and seat tube, other details include the phrases “built in Louisville, KY by American Capitalist Pig” and “We don’t destroy walls, we destroy records.” Clearly they had some fun with the build. The handlebar which is an obvious focal point based on its low low location, took over a year to find and is an actual team issue 3T bar. Finally, those amazing wheels were on loan from the Pro’s Closet to complete the build for the Campy build competition.