Where do I even start to describe how much of a great year 2016 was? And how on earth am I going to try and beat it in 2017? I remember I had exactly the same feelings at the end of 2015 – that year had seen me double my readership over the previous year. But 2016 has seen so much more! I’ve had record breaking days, record breaking weeks and record breaking months – so how am I ever going to live up to that! That is the dilemma facing me as I start the new year.
But before moving on and thinking about what I’m going to do, I thought I would look back over the posts I wrote in the previous 12 months.
The 60,000 words I wrote last year started here. First up was getting SB5794 back on the road. This is one of 3 Time Trial Special frames I have; the other 2 frames are going to be great time trial bikes, so I decided to do something different with this and build it as a road bike with a lovely Shimano 600EX group.
I never stop looking for opportunities to add to my collection and did a quick update to my SBDU ‘Wanted List‘. Unfortunately, that post just showed me how many more frames I still need to add!
January was significant because I created a Facebook page to complement my blog. Blogging takes time and I wanted a quick outlet for pictures and updates without the pressure of writing a blog post, and the Facebook page is perfect for that. It only has a small following but ‘Likers’ and ‘Followers’ are growing steadily.
2016 was the year that I met so many like minded people – they may be virtual friends on social media, but I do consider them as friends. One of these friends dangled a really tantalising track frame under my nose. It had the initials of ‘JR’ under the bottom bracket, and I had to have it.
He shares a similar passion and specialises in Track frames as Pista Mercato! This is one frame I really want to get around to in 2017 and return it to how it looked below in 1978.
Another new frame for the collection arrived in February. Not every frame I find is recognisable as an SBDU frame. Some frames come hidden, but frame features never lie! SB5377 was one such frame. Under the white paint and ‘Barron’ transfers was a Metric tubed Reynolds 753 Team frame from 1982.
I didn’t publish many posts in March, in fact there was only 1! But it was the most in-depth and required the most research for any post I had written up to that point. This was my SBDU frame detail timeline. This post took so much research and I spent a long time collating data – that meant finding SBDU bikes and analysing and documenting all the significant details such as lugs and dropouts and placing these features into order.
It is currently the most viewed post on my blog and the image above is one of the most popular. I update this post as and when I get new data and so far, I’ve added 6 updates, with more to come this year.
SB7121 arrived in April and is the 3rd frame of the year to look nothing like an SBDU frame.
This is a 1985 frame and came without a Reynolds frame transfer so it was a guessing game to figure out what it was – even if it had a transfer I would still investigate the tubing to get it correct! I had settled on Reynolds 753R based on features and descriptions found in SBDU literature, but lately, I’ve been looking at this frame again as part of the research for a couple of 753 blog posts I’m working on at the moment. It answers a few questions about 753, so there is more to come on this frame.
Another month… another frame… another new arrival, a beautiful 1977 531 Team Pro in TI-Raleigh colours.
SB1688 is beautiful because it shows its age so well. Some people would want to restore this frame but there is no way this is getting a new coat of paint from me. The paint has faded and chipped and the transfers have been rubbed and scrubbed but that is its story. If I find the right group then this will be built in an instant.
I turned my attention back to the original SB4059 in June. It required a few updates. First of all, I found something I had been looking for. When I say looking for, I mean almost given up hope of finding – it seemed to be a bit of a holy grail, a Contrex water bottle or ‘bidon’ used in the late 70s/early 80s as drink bottles handed out to riders in the Tour de France. The one I found was in almost pristine condition. I fitted this to a chromed steel TA bottle cage.
Another piece of the puzzle for SB4059 came to me in June. Although, I didn’t realise it, I actually had these original parts lying around in the workshop for several months; original Team specification Berg Chrome double butted spokes. I originally built the wheels for SB4059 using DT stainless spokes and never thought I’d actually find the correct chrome spokes. Chrome was the spoke of choice once upon a time, but it was highly susceptible to corrosion – many people rebuilt chrome wheels with stainless steel spokes – they were not as bright and shiny but much more resilient. So I took apart my perfect wheels and built them again using the Berg spokes – now I feel I really can call them perfect.
I was so happy with the level of spec I had with SB4059, that I wrote another blog post about Joop’s bike spec, after finding an article with Gerald O’Donovan, where he described in detail the “Team 80 Specification“.
June was a busy month. After all the work on SB4059, I also managed to write a little bit about Reynolds, and specifically Reynolds 531 Double Butted tubing, and how the SBDU used this in 1974/75.
I’ve said this before, another month… another frame… another new arrival… a frame that completed a line up of road frames in all of the available Reynolds tubes. SB4944 dates from the very start of 1982, and although described as Reynolds 531 Professional, it is actually 531SL.
I have a very nice Shimano 600AX group for this frame and just need to do a few modifications to the braze-ons to get it to fit.
I also managed to write my 2nd biggest post of the year in July. After the success of my frame detail timeline, I had a go at trying to create a date timeline so that SB frame numbers could be sorted. There are a few SB frame number timelines on the internet, but none of them have any reasoning of substantiated information to back them up. I used my data from the frame detail timeline, and known information about original frames, and tried to spot trends that could pinpoint different years. So far, it has proved quite accurate, but still gets updates as I find new information.
This month was a bit of a blur, it starts with the same line… another month… another frame… another new arrival. I stepped out of my comfort zone which is “SBDU Ilkeston”, and bought a frame made after the relocation of the SBDU to Nottingham. SB8945 is a 753R Services des Courses frame; and yet another SBDU frame hiding under a different coat.
This frame has a 130 mm rear end – that is wide enough for modern hubs, so I have a modern/retro plan for this bike…
August was also the month when I found out a little bit of data that helped cement JR178T as a frame belonging to Jan Raas. I was always confident that this was his frame, but frame size was something I had seen chatted about on the internet. I’m not a person that takes too much notice of internet chatter as there are usually no facts behind it, but the size of frame Jan rode was different for each person that had an opinion on it. I finally found some data that confirmed his frame size… and it matched mine!
August kept on rolling. After several months of research, I published a blog post about the introduction of Reynolds 753 tubing… what it was, when it was introduced and a little bit of history and information behind it.
By far the biggest and most important bike added to my collection came to me in August. SB6398, a 753R frame from the SBDU. There is just too much to say about this bike in a summary like this, so just click that link above and read about it. An SBDU 753 frame, built for Denton Cycles and fitted with a complete Campagnolo Super Record 50th Anniversary group set, in almost unused condition.
I sometimes turn the search terms that people use to find my blog into blog posts. One of the most frequent search terms is Reynolds 753 frame weight – so I wrote a post about it! Frame weight depends on a lot of things.
It wouldn’t be another month without adding another frame… this time it was another complete bike, SB3800, a 1980 Metric Team Pro 753.
It was all there but just needed a little TLC
SB3800 actually helped me to dispel an SBDU myth, and was the reason behind my first October blog post. The Seat Pin size on early Metric 753 frames has always been a question open to debate and misunderstanding. This frame helped to prove a theory that seat pin size was not determined solely by frame size.
SB3800 was stripped and rebuilt in October. New H PLUS SON TB14 rims with Vittoria tyres helped to get this excellent bike rolling again… roll on Summer 2017!
I may have acquired SB6398 in August, but I had to wait till November to restore it. I couldn’t wait any longer. It was a mission to remove the rust and keep as much of the original parts as possible. November was therefore dominated with this bike.
Lots of elbow grease and metal polish paid off.
Yep, you guessed it, another month… another frame… another new arrival…
This frame was another step into SBDU Nottingham with a 1988 Raleigh 753R Services des Courses in Raleigh Banana colours. I’d spent many years looking for this frame in this tubing and in this colour – they are rare!
The plan is to make this the first rebuild of 2017, and it wouldn’t be a 1988 Raleigh Banana without a Dura-Ace 7400 group. One of my last posts in December was about the almost untouched 7402 8 speed group I got my hands on.
So expect to see more of this build soon.
Just as I was starting to wind down for Christmas, I wanted to write a little about how much my photography plays a part in my blogging. Every photo you have seen in this post has been taken by me! I think good pictures help to tell the story. So I wrote a little about showcasing my work through my photography.
I’ve also started to use apps such as Instagram and Pinterest which are a great way to get my images seen. It’s building slowly but hope to do more in 2017.
And that is it. I’ve written much more than I could squeeze into this review. The last 5 months of 2016 have seen my blog readership explode and each month has beaten all the records of the previous months, and December was the best month of the year!
I have set myself a massive challenge to keep this going but I’ll definately give it a go.
Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to view my blog, it is very much appreciated.