I’m stepping out of my comfort zone with this one. Although this is an SBDU frame, it was built after the Ilkeston era when the SBDU relocated to Nottingham. I’ve always concentrated my blog and research on frames built at Ilkeston, but his frame was just too tempting. I think I took about 3 seconds to decide to buy it and a further 3 seconds to decide how to build it. It also gets me off the ’13’ frames mark and up to 14 (I’m not superstitious, I just really wanted another frame).

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R

The sharp eyed and keen blog followers will see that this is my second ‘Barron’ liveried SBDU frame, my other ‘Barron’ is a 1982 Metric 753 SB5377. This is a beautiful quality steel frame built with Reynolds 753R tubing and using Cinelli head and seat lugs, Cinelli SCA aero fork crown and a Cinelli Super Corsa bottom bracket shell. Everything about this frame is superb quality, definitely a Services des Courses (SDC) model, the top of the range model from the SBDU. I already own an SDC 531c frame in Panasonic Raleigh colours from 1984, SB6560 so in a way, this is a tick of the wanted list, a 753R SDC.

An SDC model means it is built with Cinelli lugs (head lugs, seat lug and BB shell). The Cinelli seat lug means that it has to have side fastening seat stays. SDC frames were never built with the fast back style of stays due to the built in seat bolt fastening and shape of the lug.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Cinelli Seat Lug and Oversize Seat Stay Caps
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Cinelli Seat Lug and Oversize Seat Stay Caps

SDCs were built in either 531c or 753R. The Cinelli BB shell typically used was the standard SCM but this frame has the ‘aero’ style Super Corsa BB. As with all other SBDU frames, the SB number and frame size are stamped on the BB.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Cinelli Super Corsa Bottom Bracket
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Cinelli Super Corsa Bottom Bracket

This frame also features a lovely Cinelli SCA ‘Aero’ fork crown – similar to the SC crown for its sloping style but much thinner and rounded.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Cinelli SCA Fork Crown
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Cinelli SCA Fork Crown

SB8945 is well after the move of the SBDU from Ilkeston to Nottingham in 1987. My recent post about dating SBDU frames puts the end of Ilkeston production between SB8367 and SB8621. So what year was this frame built?

To answer that I have to look at the small amount of frame data I have on Nottingham frames. After relocating, the SBDU really cut back on the amount of frames being built. Frame SB8636 was used in the Vienna UCI Track World Championships in August 1987. SB8857 was probably a squad frame for the Seoul Olympics in September 1988. The best dating evidence I have is linked to frame SB9057. This is also stamped DR.1.89, dating it accurately to 1989. Based on the dates of SB8636, SB8857 & SB9057, I’m going to date my frame to late 1988.

So far, I know I have an SBDU Nottingham SDC frame built in 1988. But how do I know it is Reynolds 753 tubing?

The answer to that is found in the frame weight. As I said earlier, SBDU built SDC models in 753R or 531c – there is a definite weight difference between these 2 tube sets. A 58cm 531c frame will weigh approx 1950-2000 grams; a 753 frame will be in the region of 1650-1800 grams.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R 58cm Frame Weight
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R 58cm Frame Weight

SB8945 weighs in at 1673 grams, this is an excellent weight and puts it well within the 753 region. The tubes are Imperial, that means the top tube has a diameter of 25.4mm and the seat tube has a dimension of 28.6mm. The seat pin size required is 27.4mm.

The ‘Barron’ repaint had removed the original Heron head badge and the holes in the head tube had been filled. I’ve re-drilled those holes ready for re-fitting the Raleigh badge.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R Head Badge
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R Head Badge

Now the big question… What is the plan for this frame?

The answer is Raleigh-Banana colours and 11 speed DURA-ACE!

Raleigh-Banana – this was the Raleigh team in 1988/1989. It was also the bike I rode for thousands of miles in my teens, every day of every week, I was never off it. Mine wasn’t the lovely SBDU 753 version, it was the mass produced 18-23 tubed version with Sachs Huret gears produced in the late 80s. I loved it and have always wanted another! Now I have the opportunity to have the real thing. SB8945 dates from the correct period so the Raleigh-Banana scheme would suit perfectly and be period correct. It would also complement my other team frame colours of TI-Raleigh and Panasonic Raleigh.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R Raleigh Banana 1988 1989 Teams
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R Raleigh Banana 1988 1989 Teams

The 1988 Raleigh-Banana team rode Shimano DURA-ACE before switching to Campagnolo. I love vintage kit and I’m planning DURA-ACE 7400 for my 1984 SB6560, but I also love technology and how new kit feels and works. My own Denton Randonneur is equipped with 11 speed Ultegra 6800. This frame is spaced at 130mm on the rear dropouts which will fit a new 11 speed DURA-ACE hub.

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Shimano Vertical Rear Dropouts
SB8945 SBDU Nottingham Shimano Vertical Rear Dropouts

That means I can have the best of both worlds, a lovely Reynolds 753R and Cinelli steel frame equipped with Shimano 11 Speed 9000 DURA-ACE.

I’d better get saving, this will be expensive..!

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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.

5 comments

  1. Hey Neil,

    Apart from the Cinelli lugs, what is the difference between an SDC frame and others? Was there a quality difference or were they meant for specific races or riders?

    Malik

    1. Hi Malik

      The SBDU defined the SDC as road racing framesets for international road racing, out and out ‘Team’ issue – they had the design and current thinking of the team bikes, designed for one thing, racing.

      The rest of the 753 range, normally called the ‘Road Champion’ had a wider range of options and could be for racing/time trialing or more general purpose usage if that was needed, more options and choices on frame lugs, seat stay attachments, tyre clearances etc. So the SDC was designed with the single intention in mind, top level racing, everything else (while still being top quality), was able to be built to suit more of a range of uses.

      That’s how I read the documentation anyway 🙂

      Cheers
      Neil

      1. Neil,

        What then are the design features specific for racing – I suppose geometry would be one, also materials? I believe the vertical rear derailleur drop out marks the TT frame – I wonder why? Then there’s the randonneur – pardon my ignorance please. Hope you can shed some light. Thanks.

        Malik

      2. Hi Malik

        Geometry is the major thing for different disciplines.

        SBDU TT bikes used vertical dropouts to achieve shorter chainstays. You can have short chainstays with horizontal dropouts but you will have problems changing the rear wheel as it will hit the back of the seat tube, sometimes needing to deflate the tyre to get the wheel out. My SB8945 is a road frame with vertical dropouts – the late 80s and early 90s was a period when road bikes started appearing with vertical dropouts. Shorter chainstays gives a smaller rear triangle and a smaller rear triangle is stiffer.

        Touring/Randonneur bikes will have a longer chainstay – this adds to the overall wheelbase and makes a more stable bike while being more comfortable and not so stiff.

        Fork rake – touring will have more rake 45mm+ (more stability and compliance to road shock), road is typically 42mm, TT is normally 38mm while track is probably 25mm.

        Bottom bracket height – most SBDU road frames will be 268mm, TT maybe 270, Track maybe 275/280. Higher BB height gives more clearance on cornering or banking, it also makes seat tube shorter for a given stand over height, a shorter seat tube is therefore stiffer. But a higher BB raises centre of gravity. Touring bikes will have a lower BB height to lower the centre of gravity and provide more stability.

        TT bikes are typically shorter with steeper angles and more ‘twithcy’ – more control needed to keep straight. Not best suited for a 200km race. So a good road bike design that needs to be ridden for 5+ hours a day during a tour stage will need to be comfortable while still being stiff and responsive with good clearance for cornering.

        Most frame builders like the SBDU will start with a standard road geometry that they know works well for road racing. This will be a known seat and head angle/fork rake, BB height, top tube/seat tube ratio. Then they will change it for rider style and body fit. Changing the seat angle puts you in a different position above the BB which affects top tube length and head angle. Any change to head angle affects fork rake and so on.

        The SBDU with Gerald O’Donovan had a long history of building race winning frames (Nationals, Worlds, Classics and Tours) so they knew what geometry worked well. So an SDC road frame is the culmination of decades of knowledge and race wins combined with the best materials.

        Cheers
        Neil

  2. Thanks Neil for your generosity with your clearly comprehensive knowledge on the various bicycle types. I’m going to resist aggravating my SBitis by trying to get a TT and a randonneur to the brood!

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