I’ve wanted to put this bike together for a while, often changing plans and ideas of how I was going to build it. I had originally installed a Chris King headset to this with the intention of attempting to build something with more modern components. Sadly it has always been pushed to the back of the priority pile of “stuff I really want to do”. It is special to me because of its SBDU Denton connection. It is also Reynolds 753 tubing which was the ultimate tubing back in 1985. This was probably the best frame money could buy at the time for someone who wanted road geometry but touring clearances.
It was in a very sorry state when I bought it, not bad enough to warrant a full respray, but tatty and with a seized seat post.
I never saw the bike fully built but had seen a picture (bottom left hand corner above) – very tired looking with broken mudguards and rusty, dirty paintwork but underneath, it was a gem of a frame. I was unsure at the time of exactly what it was but the person I bought the frame from had the original customer’s account of ordering this from Dentons in 1985 as a 753 frame built by the SBDU. The research I did confirmed the Dentons link and confirmed it was 753.
Buying anything with a seized seat post, especially thin walled 753 tubing was a bit of a risk but after several hours of careful hack-sawing, the remains of the post were on the floor.
My recent experience of frame building and building my own Randonneur frame convinced me to move this frame up the list and finally build this bike. The donor bike for parts was my other SBDU randonneur, SB7660, another 1985 SBDU frame.
The 753 frame just needed a sympathetic ‘touch up’ cleaning the grime and adding a bit of fresh gloss black enamel to the battered chain stays. A few SBDU decals and a covering of lacquer brought the 753 frame back to life. Sometimes a frame just doesn’t need a full renovation, in this case, 75% of the frame was ‘used’ but ok. The parts for the build were also used, so it would have looked strange to have pristine paint.
It was strange that this 1985 frame was built without braze on down tube gear lever bosses – I’m sure there was a reason for this; probably so that the original owner could transfer parts over from an old frame without having to buy new parts. The only item I needed to get for this build were some band on gear levers. The front and rear mech are Suntour so the ideal levers to get were Suntour Power Shift. These were the touring levers of choice for any top end touring bike. Similar in feel to Simplex Retro Shift – east to pull back but resistance when pushing forward.
Stronglight cranks with TA chain rings
Brooks Professional saddle and Campagnolo 2 bolt Record seat post.
The Campagnolo Record bearings in the hubs and headset still run perfectly smooth. All the Stronglight bottom bracket needed was new 1/4″ bearings.
This is now my Winter bike; yes, a 30 year old Reynolds 753 SBDU Ilkeston bike as a winter bike. The basic restoration I’ve done should see it easily last at least another 10 to 20 years with only basic maintenance.