It’s a new year and my first day off so I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than building a bike and writing my first blog post of 2016.
I was lucky enough last year to get my hands on 3 Ilkeston SBDU Time Trial Special frames. Not only that, they were all in my frame size range – all 3 are 56 cm (22 inch in old money!) and all with the original factory paintwork. Originality is so important as it confirms things such as original paint schemes, manufacturer and tubing decals and decal placement.
3 Time Trial Special frames, all original and all in the same size but all very different in other ways. There are 3 different paint schemes, different lug sets, different seat cluster arrangements, different fork crowns and 3 different tubing types.
I’ve got plans for all 3 but those plans sadly involve lots of time and even more money. SB2692, the silver Reynolds 753 Time Trial Special from 1978 is pending a full restoration; it will be hard to bring myself to remove the original paint, but I think it is just too far gone. SB5464, from 1982 and built from Reynolds 531 Special Lightweight, is currently being built as a period Time Trial bike. That leaves SB5794, the 531c model.
Since buying this frame, I’ve continued trying to find out what year it was built. As I’ve said in other posts, no documentation has survived from the SBDU to help date these bikes. Based on its frame number, and other frames with numbers in the same region, I had originally thought it was late 1982. However, I’ve since found an original owner of a frame from 1983 with a frame number approx 100 before mine – this dates mine accurately, and places it firmly in 1983.
This is a Time Trial Special frame but it has forks built to a road bike rake. Fork rake (or offset) is the distance the fork places the front hub in front of the steering axis of the frame. These forks have a rake of 42 mm instead of the SBDU Time Trial rake of 37 mm. Because of the rake and shorter top tube, I decided to build this as a road bike. I typically need a shorter top tube to get a good bike fit so the shorter top tube on this frame should make this a good fit for me. These are the frame measurements and the differences between SBDU Road and Time Trial geometry.
Like all my other SBDU frames, it is beautifully made. This frame is also very light. I’ve gone for a group set that will match it in terms of spec and placement in a range, Shimano 600EX (Shimano 6207/6208). I’ve built with Shimano 600EX before on my 531 Pro Super, SB7219, it is an excellent group, introduced in 1984, so contemporary with the frame and was Shimano’s first SIS group (SIS – Shimano Index System).
The gear shift of the 6 speed SIS group is still as precise as it was when it was first introduced. I also particularly like the headset design – you do need special Shimano headset spanners to adjust it, but the look of it and the feel of the smooth sealed bearings are great. I really wish manufacturers still included a headset in groupsets!
I’ve always ridden with Cinelli bars and stems. There are alternatives that match the period of the bike but I just never liked the look of counterparts such as 3TTT or ITM. Because Cinelli and 3TTT used different ferrule diameters (26.4 for Cinelli and 26.0 for 3TTT), you could not mix and match the brands; so having a Cinelli stem meant having a Cinelli handlebar and vice versa. I’ve fitted a ‘1A’ model stem to this with the ‘Criterium’ bar which was the ’65’ model, having a more curved top section.
White bar tape and red finishing strips match the white decals and paint together with a black Turbo saddle to match the black cables. I’m not a massive fan of anything other than black or grey cables so it is always an easy colour decision! The Look clipless pedals aren’t contemporary but do match the scheme, and are sufficiently retro to work with the build!
The vertical dropouts fitted to this frame mean that there is no need for end adjusters. Vertical dropouts were a feature of Ilkeston SBDU Time Trial frames. They allowed these frames to be built with shorter chain stays. Using shorter chain stays gives you a shorter and stiffer frame.
Of all the parts on this frame, it was the humble seat pin that took the time to find. This frame is built from Reynolds 531c (531 Competition) tubing. It is the bit of this frame that really took me by surprise and teaches you not to assume anything. Anyone who may know about 531c tubing will shout out 27.2 mm if you ask them the seat pin size. I guess that may be correct for 99.99% of 531c frames – but not this one. This one is built from a particular gauge of 531c Metric tubing.
Most standard size steel tubing is Imperial. Imperial has tube diameters of 25.4 mm (1″) top tube, and 28.6 mm (1 1/8″) seat tube and down tube. My frame is Metric and has a 26.0 mm top tube and a 28.0 mm seat tube. The seat pin size required for this frame is 26.6 mm. There is a multitude of 28.6, 27.0 and 27.2 seat pins available but not many 26.6 – I managed to track down a used Dura-Ace pin that was still in lovely original condition and hadn’t been overly polished which sadly seems to be the trend on classic aluminium bike parts.
The wheels are currently the only thing I need to change. To get the bike built, I’ve fitted some Mavic MA40 clinchers on Shimano 600 6400 ‘Ultegra’ hubs. They are a good match for the period but I have some Mavic GP4 sprints and some correct Shimano 600EX 6208 hubs that will build into a more contemporary set of wheels.
I’m really pleased with how easily the bike has built and how good it looks. I just need to get some spokes to build the GP4 wheels and wait for the weather to change and I’ll give it a spin!