When you think about the TI-Raleigh team and the riders that rode for it, most people probably come out with a few names. Joop Zoetemelk is one, for his 1980 Tour win; the next name could well be Jan Raas. Not many riders have a palmares that reads like Jan’s. 10 Tour stage wins and wins at 3 Dutch National Championships, Paris-Roubaix, Milan San Remo, Amstel Gold Race (5 wins out of 6 starts), World Championship Road Race 1979, Tour of Flanders…
So if a frame came onto the market, that had a possibility of being one of Jan’s frames, it sparks interest and is definitely worth investigating. Actual TI-Raleigh professional team rider frames rarely surface, and when they do, they are highly sought after. Recently, a frame with a very alternative paint scheme and an interesting frame number popped up on a couple of Internet forums with a frame number of JR178T.
So is it possible to definitely say if it is genuine..?
You can probably never say 100% for sure, but sometimes you have to take a risk. I think this is 99% Jan’s track frame from 1978. That is close enough for me. The only way to 100% confirm it is to have bought it from Jan directly, with his assurance that it was his. Without that assurance or provenance, you need to seek out as much evidence as possible and do lots of digging around and base your findings on the available facts.
Lets start with some classic signature SBDU frame details. Frames built at Ilkeston display very distinct features and this ‘Chesini’ painted frame displays them.
- It has a Bottom Bracket shell with 4 milled slots – this is the typical SBDU BB of that era.
- It has Over Sized Seat Stay Caps, again, this is classic SBDU from the 70s through to the 80s
- The ends of the stays are cut and finished in the SBDU style
- 3 small drilled holes are present where the original Raleigh head badge was fitted
- Campagnolo Track dropouts
A significant feature on this frame is the use of Carlton Capella Lugs. These lugs are significant because they were rarely used on SBDU frames, so when you see them, they jump out at you. Carlton Cycles is nestled into the history of Raleigh and the SBDU at Ilkeston. Carlton started in 1898 and in the late 1930s, was taken over by the O’Donovan family. Gerald O’Donovan joined Carlton in the late 1950s, and went on to start and lead the SBDU in 1974. These Capella lugs have been modified and cut down into a simpler shape. Capella head lugs normally have a long point on the front with 3 drilled holes. I’ll come back to the Capella lugs later…
These frame features so far are unmistakably from the SBDU – they aren’t cosmetic, they are part of the frame construction and won’t have changed since the frame was built. The blue and yellow paint is cosmetic, and small signs of a past colour can be seen on the inside of the frame tubes.
The red paint that can be seen is correct for TI-Raleigh and the drilled holes in the head tube match a Raleigh head badge but both of these could have been a later addition, so although not 100% reliable, they do point towards a Raleigh history at some point.
The frame number looks like the format of a TI-Raleigh team rider. Standard SBDU frames built for customers would have an ‘SB’ prefix and then a sequential number. For example, my 1980 Team Pro 753 has the serial number SB4059 – it was the 4059’th frame built for a customer of the SBDU. Dating SB frames isn’t accurate as you need to either have good dating evidence such as a receipt of build sheet, or make an assumption on how many frames were built per year.
Team rider frames were very specific, there was no guessing or assumptions needed, you had the rider initials, typically first name/last name, followed by a number followed by 2 digits representing the year.
The frame number reads as JR 1 78 T
Jan Raas 1st frame of 1978 (T probably meaning Track)
The ‘T’ on a track frame could sometimes be replaced by a ‘P’ for Pista – Pista translates to ‘Trail or Track’. Team road frames don’t seem to have this supplementary letter but for some reason I’ve seen a couple of team track frames with the extra ‘P’ or ‘T’ marking.
The stamping on this frame is in the centre of the BB shell. They are typically on the side of the shell, but there are several known examples with different configurations. One last point to note is that there is often a stamped full stop ‘.’ between the letters and numbers, for example, “HL.3.83” – but again, as with lots of things to do with the SBDU, no process was followed 100% all the time so there are examples of team frames with frame number stamping in differing formats and differing locations and orientations and with/without the full stops.
At this point, I’m 80% certain that this frame is genuine. It has all the hallmarks of an SBDU frame from 1978 and has a frame number stamped into the frame in a format that has been seen before on other team frames. Something that would add that extra 20% proof would be an image of Jan Raas himself riding a track bike with the same features as this frame, in 1978. After a little bit more research, I came across the Skol 6 Day Races that took place in London in 1978.
6 Day cycle racing dates back to the 19th Century, but the year I’m interested in is 1978. In that year, 2 TI-Raleigh team riders took part; Gerrie Knetemann and Jan Raas.
Both riders were wearing the World Championship jerseys – Knetemann was the current 1978 World Champion (Raas won the World Championship the following year). I normally stick to using my own images on this blog, but on this occasion, I want to share some images taken by John Pierce – full credit for these images are his. Here is one of John’s images of Jan riding in the event.
That image is great, it shows Jan in 1978 riding a TI-Raleigh track frame in classic TI livery, but it doesn’t show much frame detail. However, if you dig a bit more, another picture by John Pierce exists of a change between Raas and Knetemann, and this time, you can see frame detail, in particular, lug details.
In this image, you can clearly see the unusual cut down and rarely used Capella head lugs with yellow paint used as an in-fill colour in the drilled lug detail. Knetemann had a similar frame with Capella lugs but appears to have had black detail on the lugs instead of yellow.
Frame size is one thing that is uncertain. You can’t reliably tell the size from these images – the bike is photographed from an angle and the top of the bike is closer to the photographer than the bottom, effectively shortening the look of the frame. The frame I have has a 58cm seat tube. The bike in the images is not small (50 to 54 cm) and is not large (60 to 62 cm). However, I have found other Jan Raas bikes on the internet, on other collections, and they have been measured at 58 cm.
All of this information makes a positive ID. I’m happy to conclude that the ‘Chesini’ painted frame I have is actually a frame made for Jan Raas of the TI-Raleigh team in 1978 and is almost certainly the same frame in the images of the SKOL 6 Day Race in London in 1978.
The frame measures up as…
- Reynolds 531 Tubing
- 58 cm Seat Tube Centre to Top
- 57 cm Top Tube Centre to Centre
- 73 Degree Seat Tube
- 75 Degree Head Tube
- 28 mm Fork Rake (Offset)
The forks are beautiful and have managed to survive 38 years without having the crown drilled to accept a brake caliper.
The forks have the smallest amount of rake I’ve ever seen in a fork – they have very little offset. I have SBDU Randonneur forks with a 45 mm rake, SBDU Road forks with 42 mm rake and SBDU Time Trial forks with 37 mm rake. I haven’t taken an accurate measurement yet but a quick measure puts the rake/offset of these forks at 28 mm.
It is such a shame that it is not in its original paint. The blue and yellow Chesini paint has to go. It clearly has to be put back to the Ti-Raleigh Team livery with the same yellow lug detail used by Jan in 1978. So that will be the first thing to do – off to the renovators for a very sympathetic renovation keeping as close to the SBDU methods and original paint as I can get it.
I’m also happy that 2 items have been ticked off my ‘wanted list’. In one frame, I have ticked off a Track frame and Team Riders frame. I now have Road, Time Trial, Track and Randonneur SBDU models!
It is exactly 4 years since I started my first SBDU build and I’m now looking forward to doing the same with this frame. That means lots of blog posts right up until the bike is complete!