Now this is a little something very special for me. This frame came up in a topic on the Retrobike forum. It got my attention because of the SB frame number and the ‘DENTON’ decals. As you may know, I have a small interest in the SBDU frames from Ilkeston. I also “learnt my trade” at Denton Cycles, so this frame is a unique item for me.
The story I was given was that the original owner of the frame had this until only a few weeks ago. He said it was a 753 frame that he purchased from Denton Cycles in Newcastle upon Tyne. Dentons placed that order with the SBDU.
A couple of things that concerned me were the fact that Dentons were not Raleigh Dealers, so how could they place an order? Also, this frame has several unique features that mean that it was not a standard ‘stock’ frameset. Any special orders built by the SBDU had an ‘H’ reference stamped under the bottom bracket – this didn’t have that reference. It is definitely an SBDU frame; all the quality and features of these frames are present, so it is just the link to Dentons that was a puzzle.
The SB serial number is present on both the BB and the steerer. The customer said he ordered it in 1985, and the SB number does fit in to the 1985 period.
Some of the features of the frame that stand out are…
- The double eyelets on the front and rear Campagnolo drop outs
- The lack of down tube gear lever bosses on a 1985 frame
- Cable guides on top of the BB – this and the point above normally indicates a late 70s frame
- The internal rack fittings on the inside of the top of the seat stays
Did I mention it has a stuck seatpost? That is going to be fun!
I posted a message to the TI-Raleigh group that I am a member of, hoping for a reply from certain people. Within a couple of hours I got the reply I was after. This reply came from Mike Mullett who managed the SBDU from the late 70s. The ‘Colin’ referred to is Colin Davison, who was a retired pro, the owner of Denton Cycles and my former boss…
“…I am casting my mind back some 40 years so some dates are a little hazy. In the mid 70’s I was a senior coach and on the coaching committee of the BCF as it was then, now British Cycling. One of my remits was to watch 1st cat riders for international selection.
Colin was on a coaching course I was running at Lilleshall and I had noticed him in the racing results and was impressed with him on the course. We were looking for riders for an England team for the Milk Race, and I recommended Colin and he was duly selected. Can’t remember the exact year.
Over the next few years I was a team official on international races in which Colin rode. He was the proprietor of Denton’s during this time.
In the late 70’s I became Workshop Manager at SBDU Ilkeston, and suddenly found I had lots of friends in the cycling world!
Colin came to visit me at Ilkeston and asked if I could build a bespoke frame for him even though Dentons were not Raleigh dealers. GOD (Gerald O’Donovan) agreed and left it to me.
A couple more bespoke frames were built to Colins spec which could well be one of the frames you have acquired.
So it looks like this frame was one of these GOD authorised builds, it explains why it is unique, and it explains that link back to Denton Cycles – that is why it is special! In the next few weeks, I should have the stuck seatpin out and an idea of what I am actually going to do with it.