I’m frequently asked about the specification of TI-Raleigh’s team bikes. The most popular search terms I see on my blog stats and the most viewed blog posts relate to ‘specifications’. However, the question about specification isn’t an easy question to answer by any means! Professional teams, not just TI-Raleigh, had a range of kit they would use. Each race was different and each stage of each race was different. Different gear ratios were used, different derailleurs, different rims, different tubs, depending on the road surface, conditions and stage type. Each rider was also different. So how do you answer that question when there are so many variables?
The period that seems to spark most questions is the 1980 era, it was after all, the pinnacle of TI-Raleigh’s achievements with Joop Zoetemelk’s win in the Tour de France. There isn’t much information available to confirm what was used. It’s rare that any substantiated evidence turns up, most internet chatter is hearsay and vague recollections of people who may have known someone who knew a person that may have known something – so not the best basis for confirming detail!
There was a generic team spec for the TI-Raleigh team, I think they probably changed team cars more than kit.
These 2 pictures are from 1980/81 – the Creda sponsorship together with World Championship shirts and sleeve bands and the Dutch National Road Race shirts pin point the years. Each picture has a top level description of kit.
TI-Raleigh Reynolds 753 Frame Sets Brooks Saddles Campagnolo Ensemble Cars by Citroen / Mercedes Benz
And that is the problem, that is a high level description of team kit – essentially, it is listing sponsors; there is a ‘big’ lack of ‘small’ detail. What was the frame spec? What was the Campagnolo spec? What Brooks saddles? What finishing kit such as bars, stems, rims, tyres, block & chain, the questions go on…
I have 2 sources of information, both from Gerald O’Donovan himself; there can be no better and more reliable source of information than this man. It is 100% first hand unquestionable information, the kind you rarely find. The first source is from 1982 and details the current team spec, I’ve quoted this source many times. The other source is a full description of Joop’s 1980 tour bikes, and I quote from Gerald, “…being what we call Team 80 specification…“. This description goes into great detail, even specific frame geometry, crank lengths and gear ratios used by Joop.
I never intended my 1980 Team Pro 753 SB4059 to be a Joop replica, I’m not into building replica bikes. I just wanted SB4059 to have the correct period parts, as if it had been built in the early 80s. However, as my bike is from 1980, the same year as Joop’s victory, there is no escaping that my bike will match his. So let’s get some pictures into this post. I’m going to compare the 2 sources and see how much my bike matches the descriptions.
1980 TI-Raleigh Team Bike Specification
Gerald O’Donovan and team mechanic Jan le Grand needed a bike that was serviceable and reliable, this gives the rider complete confidence and allows him to concentrate on the race without worry of mechanical problems. Reliability means that not every part is the most exotic of its day, some are relatively standard such as freewheels and chains because they are strong, and some like the Super Record headset weren’t cheap but were very durable. So it is a balance of kit. The bike must be easy to strip and service, parts must be easy to replace. Even the TI-Raleigh time trial bikes had bottle cage mounts so that they could be used as reserves for road races. Everything had to be considered within a limited budget.
Between them, the sources list the following Campagnolo parts (I’ll cover hubs under the wheels section further on)
Headset Campagnolo Super Record Brakes Campagnolo Super Record* Seat Pillar Campagnolo Super Record Derailleurs Campagnolo Super Record** Chainset Campagnolo Super Record Rings and Cranks 170/172.5 Bottom Bracket Campagnolo Nuovo Record (Steel Axle)
(*) Various pictures show Joop riding both Record and Super Record brake levers – neither source is specific on this component. Riders may have had a bike built to a spec but each rider was different, and the contact points on bikes were often personal choice rather than team spec determined. Contact points are areas such as Saddle, Handlebars and Brake Levers.
(**) Super Record was the main rear derailleur, however, Record was also used depending on gear ratio.
One of the sources mentions Joop’s crank length as 172.5mm. My SB4059 matches all these details and even has the 1980 date code on the chainset and rear derailleur.
This is what both sources say about pedals for the 1980 bikes
Pedals "Campagnolo Black with Steel Axle" Toe Clips Sturmey Archer Toe Straps Sturmey Archer
I translate Campagnolo Black with Steel Axle to mean Campagnolo SL pedals which had a black cage and steel axle – not the Super Record Titanium pedal. Various pictures show the black steel and chrome steel SA toe clips. I’m lucky enough to have both options and use the black version on SB4059 together with the correct Steel Axle pedals.
Freewheel Maillard Compact 7* Chain Sedis (Black)
(*) Standard ratios are given as 13-19 and 42/53 with “wider ratios used for big climbs”.
It is also mentioned that, on occasion for time trials, Joop sometimes preferred a 12-17 6 speed with a single 53T ring.
Bars and Stem
Stem Cinelli 1A* Handlebars Cinelli with 63, 65 or 66 bend**
One item I like is the Cinelli 1A stem – these are strong stems. Not just strong but reliable too. Other bars in the Cinelli range may not have had the reliability according to some stories. The last thing you want to happen is for bars to slip in the stem. The 1A was the perfect choice.
(*) (**) It is listed the Joop used an 11cm stem and 66 bend handlebars.
Both sources give detailed descriptions of wheels and tyres
Hubs Campagnolo Record Small Flange 28/32/36 Spokes Berg Union 14/16 Gauge Rims Mavic Service des Courses (SSC) Rims* Mavic Monthlery Legere Tubs** Clement - various
Wheels are a critical part of the bike so only the very best rims were used yet often, a standard Clement Criterium, was specified as the mainstay tub because of it’s reliability. To quote Gerald O’Donovan “…tyre troubles are the last thing we want – they lose races…”.
(*) One source lists 28H and 32H hubs and the other source also lists 36H. It also says that with the exception of a time trial when a lighter rim can be used, the normal rim was Mavic Services des Courses 32/36H. The Legere was listed for time trials on 28H hubs.
(**) Tyres are listed as Clement Criterium often 12bis cotton, sometimes No.6 & Paris Roubaix. I have a choice of Paris Roubaix and Criterium for SB4059.
I’ve had a few on SB4059, starting with a Brooks and now with a Tornado by Iscaselle. Saddles are a contact point and you are sat in it for hours so it is a very personal choice. My specification source from 1982 mentions 2 saddle options, either the ISCA Tornado or Cinelli with a notation that ISCA was preferred.
So what about Joop? What did he ride?
According to Gerald O’Donovan, Joop’s 1980 bike was fitted with, and I quote “…he sits on a prototype Brooks saddle, plastic based, padded and leather covered…”
So what about Joop’s frame? Here is the frame specification…
Road Frame TI-Raleigh Reynolds 753 Size 57cm Top Tube 55.6cm BB Height 28.6cm Fork Rake 45mm ("55mm for the cobbles") Seat Lug Centre 15.7cm behind BB centre Seat Angle 73.3 degree Down Tube Angle 59.5 degree Head Angle 72.75 degree Stem 11cm Bars 66
TI-Reynolds and TI-Raleigh developed several gauges of 753 – and it is listed that his time trial bike is built with a lighter gauge of tube than normally used for road stages.
To sum up Team spec…
“…The specification is first tailored to fit the man and then to the conditions he must ride under. The dearest is not always the most effective item, this is the business of racing, budgets are not unlimited. The central theme in building a race-winning bicycle, particularly when it comes to the Tour de France, is to ensure that it can be kept serviceable. It is a team which has to be equipped and serviced – not an individual. The race is won in the mind and legs of the rider, but it can be lost in the workshop…”
My SB4059 is probably as close to Team spec as possible, coincidentally, it is even a 57cm – same as Joop. I’ve even finished the bike with a TA steel cage and the rarer than rare Contrex feed station bottle, which all tour teams had to use. These bottles are so hard to find, especially in excellent condition but it was a worthwhile wait as is does complete the bike.
And that is all I have. As ever, if I ever unearth anything else I’ll share it on my blog.