All I can say is… “That was a very busy year..!”

Well actually, I can normally say a lot more than that. 2015 was an awesome year for many reasons. Not only did I get the opportunity to buy several SBDU frames, I also completed the build on a couple of frames to get them back on the road. But best of all, I took a frame building course with Dave Yates and built my own Randonneur frame and forks.

My blog, which is named after my first, and main project, my TI-Raleigh Team Pro, was viewed 18,000 times in 2015 by people around the globe, 99 countries to be precise.

SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh 2015
SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh 2015

The blog started slowly in 2012 after a suggestion from Karen, my wife, to document my TI-Raleigh build, and it has grown from there. I didn’t post much in the first couple of years and even in 2014, I only published 7 posts. However, I still got lots of views, meaning that people were taking an interest. In 2015 I must have gone on a mission to do more and published 30 posts – I guess I had lots to talk about. To date, my blog has had almost 37,000 total views. That still amazes me for such a specific topic like the SDBU and the unit’s relatively small output of hand built frames.

I’ve acquired 5 SBDU Ilkeston frames this year, starting in April with my first Time Trial Special. I have a list of SBDU bikes I’m looking to collect and at the start of 2015 I didn’t have a Time Trial frame. Then this one came along.

Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special 1982 SB5464 Frame Details
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special 1982 SB5464 Frame Details

This is a 1982 frame built from Reynolds 531 Special Lightweight (531SL) metric tubing. It is very light and with original paint and decals. You can read more about this frame by clicking here.

Although it is a beautiful frame and ticks Time Trial Special off my “want” list, it wasn’t the ‘ultimate’ Time Trial Special. That would have been an SBDU 753 Time Trial Special with features such as drilled Campagnolo vertical dropouts. So luckily, in May, I had the opportunity to buy one. SB2692 built in 1978. It was risky as it was rusty and had a seized seat pin – 2 things that didn’t give me much confidence for such a thin tube as Reynolds 753.

Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special 753 1978 SB2692 H591 Frame
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special 753 1978 SB2692 H591 Frame
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special 753 1978 SB2692 H591 Frame Decals
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special 753 1978 SB2692 H591 Frame Decals

Thankfully, the seat pin came out and the rust is only surface rust! You can read more about this frame by clicking here.

That was 2 SBDU frames bought in the space of a month. But before May was finished, I had the opportunity to buy yet another! I already own a Randonneur model built at Ilkeston, SB7657, made from Reynolds 753. SBDU only built 2 models, 1 in 753 and the other in 531c – so when I got the chance to have the 531c version, I went for it. It was built in 1985 and also happened to be another in original paintwork and coincidentally, it was only 3 frame numbers away from my other frame (meaning they were built at exactly the same time).

Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur 531 1985 SB7660 Detail
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur 531 1985 SB7660 Detail
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur 531 1985 SB7660 Complete
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur 531 1985 SB7660 Complete
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh SB7660 1985 Randonneur
Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh SB7660 1985 Randonneur

You can read more about this frame by clicking here.

The year moved onto July and I moved back to my Team Pro 753. I finished building this bike in 2014 but it always had a few items that just weren’t perfect. I built it to a spec detailed by the SBDU and there were always a couple of things I just couldn’t find in a condition that I wanted. After searching and searching, I found what I was looking for and added them to the build.

SB4059 TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Team Pro 753
SB4059 TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Team Pro 753
SB4059 TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Team Pro 753 Components
SB4059 TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Team Pro 753 Components

August brought yet another Time Trial Special to my collection. The 4th new frame in 2015 and the 4th in original paintwork. Original paintwork is always the desired way to find these bikes, unmolested and with 30+ years of patina. This time it was SB5794 which dates to approx 1982/83 – the lack of detailed original SBDU records means that dating these frames is not precise. This example of a Time Trial Special was built using Reynolds 531c, but which I later found out, was a ‘different’ gauge to normal 531c making it extremely light and unusually for 531, requiring a 26.6 mm diameter seat pin. You can read more about this frame by clicking here.

SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh SB5794 1982 Geometry
SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh SB5794 1982 Geometry

After starting the year with a ‘want list’ including an elusive Time Trial Special, I now had 3 of these, in a variety of Reynolds tubing.

August was actually a month I had been looking forward too for almost 2 years. August was the month that I would attend a frame building course, held by the highly acclaimed builder, Dave Yates. This was going to be 5 days spent in Lincolnshire learning from one of the best frame builders in Britain.

Dave Yates Frame Building Course Seat Lug and Seat Stay Caps
Dave Yates Frame Building Course Seat Lug and Seat Stay Caps

After building my own made to measure frame, I built it into a bike using Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed components.

Dave Yates Frame Building Course Complete Bike Montage
Dave Yates Frame Building Course Complete Bike Montage

The best way to see this story is to view the image gallery. View it by clicking here.

Towards the end of the year, I wanted to do something with the Reynolds 753 Randonneur that I owned. It was built by the SBDU in 1985 as an order for a customer of Denton Cycles in Newcastle. The Dentons link to the SBDU made this an interesting frame for me. I used the components from SB7660 to build this bike. I bought this as a grubby and tired frame with a snapped and stuck seat pin – again, not the best way to buy an old frame with very thin tubing. I’m pleased that this is now back on the road. Read more about this bike by clicking here.

TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur Reynolds 753
TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur Reynolds 753
TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur Reynolds 753 Details
TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Randonneur Reynolds 753 Details

Even going on holiday didn’t stop the search for new things to tick off the ‘want’ list. The internet connects you no matter where you are. Sitting in a cottage in a small coastal village in Scotland, I saw a Panasonic Raleigh frame, at a very reasonable price. This was a Services des Courses model in the colours of the 1984 Panasonic Raleigh professional team – that actually ticked 2 things off my ‘want’ list. These are the images used to advertise the frame.

SBDU Ilkeston Services des Courses SB6560 1984 Raleigh Panasonic
SBDU Ilkeston Services des Courses SB6560 1984 Raleigh Panasonic

The frame number of SB6560 dates this frame to 1984, the first year of the Panasonic Raleigh Team, following the end of the successful Ti-Raleigh team in 1983. I haven’t done much with this frame to-date, but hoping to get to grips with it in 2016. It isn’t original paint, the decals and their placement and wrong and the gear lever bosses have been cut off with a hacksaw. This will be my first foray into frame repair to remove and fit new bosses.

SBDU Ilkeston Panasonic Raleigh Services des Courses Reynolds 531 1984 SB6560
SBDU Ilkeston Panasonic Raleigh Services des Courses Reynolds 531 1984 SB6560

So 5 new frames bought, 2 bikes back on the road, 3 items ticked off the ‘want’ list, 30 blog posts published and 18,000 views from 99 countries. Hopefully I can post more in 2016 and get more readership and views – the aim is to not spend so much doing it!!

Thank you to everyone that took an interest and read my ramblings.

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About the Author Neil McGowran

Blogger of all things to do with the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) and TI-Raleigh Ilkeston.

3 comments

  1. I have just come across your site, and read your SBDU Shimano article. I have a SBDU Time trial bike. I got it as unused. It is fitted with Shimano Dura Ace 7400. The previous owner was a personal friend of G. V.O’ D. Tubes are 531 Comp. with red lettering on the badges. The top tube (crossbar) has the words “time trial” only not Special? The word RALEIGH on the down tube, is skeleton block lettering, not sloping! Colour is dark silver grey at the front changing to light silver at the rear. The clearances are tighter than my older track frames. drop outs rear vertical. (otherwise you would not get the wheel out) To back up the theory that the Dura Ace is original equipment, is the fact that there are no scratches or paint touchups on the frame. I prefer Campag equipment, but will keep and ride this bike as is. Can supply more info.

    1. Hi Bert

      That sounds like an interesting bike. If it has red lettering for the ‘531’ then it sounds like 531 Professional which fits in with the era of Duraace 7400. It was 531 Special Lightweight before this. Both lighter than 531c and sometimes used on the SBDU time trial frames. I have a time trial special with 531 Special Lightweight and it is a lovely frame. SBDU often used slight variations of decals so it doesn’t surprise me that ‘Special’ isn’t there. The vertical dropouts were a must as the chain stays were so short, there was simply no clearance to get the rear wheel out unless it was vertical. The Duraace 7400 was an excellent group and works really well and lasts too. I would love to see some pictures of it if you didn’t mind. My email is nmcgowran@googlemail.com

      Thank you
      Neil

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