Now that is a massively bold statement to make… here it is again just to make sure that I did actually say it… “The most comprehensive resource available for frames built at the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU)…”
When I started searching for my first SBDU bike and then began the subsequent build of my first TI-Raleigh in 2011 (SB4059 TI-Raleigh Team Pro 753), there wasn’t much available about these bikes. There were the usual online sites covering the TI-Raleigh team, but finding out about the SBDU and the detail of their frames was difficult. I struggled to find anything that clearly showed SBDU frame features, I struggled to verify that SB4059 was the real deal. Eventually, I took a risk, a leap of faith, and paid the seller’s asking price.
When SB4059 arrived it still took a lot of searching and information gathering just to guarantee that my first investment was a good one. The main resource available at that time was the Yahoo group TI RALEIGH SBDU RACING BIKES but over the last 5 or 6 years the input and discussion on the Yahoo group has definately slumped. There is still a huge amount of information tucked away in the files section and more importantly, in the heads of some of the members, but sparking a discussion and exploring that knowledge with members just isn’t there at the moment; hopefully it will return. It was when I was building SB4059 that I decided to start my blog; I wanted to document the build and share what I was discovering about these bikes.
Before long one frame turned into two, then two frames turned into three and before I knew it I had amassed a collection. The more frames I added, the more blogging I did and the bigger the blog became. I was writing more and more posts and sharing more and more information. The time and effort has paid off as I’m now regularly receiving between 4000 and 5000 views per month and I’m also chatting to people all over the world who are researching and building their own SBDU projects and helping them with the details . The growth of the blog has been amazing and it is gaining in popularity every year…
- 2015 – 17633 views
- 2016 – 32687 views
- 2017 – 60000 views (projected: currently at 25000 at beginning of June 2017)
At the start of 2016 I started a companion Facebook page to the blog called My TI-Raleigh SBDU, which I use to post day to day things about my bikes, my work and my research. I can do all of that through the Facebook page without the need to dedicate time to writing a full blog post – believe me, researching and writing a blog post can take weeks of planning, photography and work; but the Facebook page is ideal for quickly sharing what I’m up to.
Without realising, I may have created the biggest single resource of information about SBDU frames. Not only is the blog a knowledge base of SBDU frame details and timelines, it is also packed with information about Reynolds 531 & 753 tubing, the steel used by the SBDU to build their frames. I recently listed all the SBDU frame features that my collection and blog is able to demonstrate, it was quite comprehensive. There are still gaps but I’m working on filling them.
Here is a very brief summary of the breadth of the collection. Everything on this list can be found within the posts on this blog and in the details of the frames within the collection.
- Examples of almost every type of Reynolds tube used by the SBDU including, Metric 753 (2 gauges), Metric 531SL, Metric 531c, 531 Double Butted, 753R, 753T, 531c, 531 Professional, 753 Ovoid
- Road frames in 531DB, 531c, 531SL, 531P, 753, 753R & 753T
- Frame lugs including Cinelli, Prugnat and even Carlton Capella
- Bottom Brackets Shells including RGF, Haden, Cinelli CCM, Cinelli SCM and Cinelli Spoiler (Supercorsa)
- Bottom Bracket designs including plain, 2 slot, 4 slot, top routed, bottom routed and with plastic guides
- Examples of Road, Time Trial, Track, Randonneur and even a Dynaflite
- Seat stay cap/seat stay design including Scalloped, Plain, Oversized & Fastback with examples of oversized in Single Taper and Double Taper
- Every type of fork end including, 1010, 1010/A, 1010/B, 1010/B Portacatena, 1010/B Drilled & Portacatena, 1053 Track, 1060 (Vertical Time Trial), Shimano Vertical, Shimano Vertical Drilled, even custom made drilled 1053 copies (a thinner copy of the 1053 end)
- Fork crowns including Semi Sloping Vagner style, Cinelli CC, SC, SCA & Fischer Track
- Narrow oval fork blades, Wide oval and Round track blades
- Seat Pin sizes in 26.6, 26.8, 27.0, 27.2 and 27.4
- Frames with examples of the earliest known SBDU features
- Frames with examples of the last known use of SBDU features
- Frames from both SBDU locations, Ilkeston and Nottingham
- Frames covering SBDU production in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988
- The earliest known, publicly owned, SB numbered 753 Track Frame; a 753 Team Track Pursuit frame. All 753 track frames previous to this were TI-Raleigh Team frames
From that very first frame in 2011 my aim was to start sharing the information that I was accumulating. That initial aim has grown, just like the blog, and one day I would like to turn this blog and my collection, into a physical thing that can be displayed and seen and talked about with fellow enthusiasts in person, rather than in online images and discussions.
Until that happens, I’ll continue to try and add interesting and significant models, frames and bikes to the collection. And of course, the blogging will continue!