I’ve started a few blog posts recently with the words “I received an email…”; and this story is the same. Late on a Sunday evening I received a couple of emails with several images attached and then an email summarising very clearly what the frame was and what seemed like a comprehensive history. “Would you be interested in buying the frame?” My response was “Yes”, and after arranging to meet up, SB4933 came home with me.
Every single SB frame I see starts a process in my head and I think about it’s features and how it fits in with everything I write, specifically how does it match up with anything written by the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) and how I think it sits in my timeline. The frames that are of the most interest to the timeline are those that fall within a hundred frame numbers either side of my specified year ends, and SB4933 falls close to where I’ve determined the end of 1981. I’ll investigate that in another blog post, but you can see from the blog post title that I’ve labelled this as a 1981 frame for now.
Have I said how stunning this frame looks? It is so much better in the flesh than in the pictures I was sent. I’ve bought this from Paul after he bought it himself a few years ago from the original owner at a Manchester Velodrome jumble. It was bought with the intention to build it but since then it has been kept in a box on top of the wardrobe. The original owner had said that when the frame was built, it was finished in red and cream but then in the mid 1980s it was chromed and painted by the SBDU. It was finally refinished in the beautiful blue a few years ago by Chris Marshall from Keighley. The finish he has achieved on the paint is one of the finest I’ve seen and complements the excellent chrome work of the SBDU.
The chrome covers the fork crown and 3/4 fork blades with chrome on the seat and chain stays from each bridge and a chromed front derailleur hanger. The final touch is the chrome on the over size seat stay caps.
SB4933 came with a BB and Headset. The Campagnolo Super Record headset is in lovely condition with good exterior surfaces and smooth bearing races. The BB was an unusual mix of TDC BB cups with a Zeus axle. The original SBDU seat binder bolt was also fitted.
This is a metric tubed frame built with Reynolds 531 SL (Special Lightweight), the seat pin size required for this frame is 26.8 mm. It is stamped 53.5 on the BB together with the SB frame number and the corresponding number on the fork column. A little quirk is that the SB number is stamped on the non-drive side whereas most are stamped on the fixed cup side of the frame. The BB is typical of this era and has 2 slots milled into the surface to accommodate gear cables.
My only criticism of this frame, and it is only me being OCD about detail, is the choice and placement of the Reynolds transfers that have been used.
The age of this frame means that it should have the “4 star” variety of frame transfers. Reynolds ran the 4 star version and the diagonal version side by side, and the SBDU used the diagonal version from 1974 up to 1978, but from 1978, the 4 star version was used until the Reynolds range changed in 1982. This frame transfer also uses the 1975-1977 version with “Reynolds Tube Co Ltd”, the correct version would be the 1977-1982 example with “TI-Reynolds”. The frame transfer should also be positioned closer to the tip of the seat lug. The fork blades shouldn’t have the Reynolds transfers, they should just have the circular ‘TI’ transfers and they should be positioned closer to the fork crown. The SBDU didn’t use tubing specific fork transfers until part way through 1982.
This is the type of detail that renovators can get wrong. No matter how beautiful the paint finish, the transfers are part of the finish too and in my mind need to be correct. However, because the finish on this frame is perfect, I’m not planning on attempting to change them. But I must get my blog post written about correct frame and fork transfers.
Because this is Metric tubed 531SL tubing, the frame and fork are light, just as I would expect. This frame has similar tube gauges to the slightly heavier Metric Reynolds 753. As you may know, I’m not massively bothered about fork weight as most fork blades are the same gauge regardless of tubing type. The frame of SB4933 is in the range of Metric 531SL or a heavier gauge Metric 753.
The Reynolds “531 16/13 Butted” stamps can be seen on the fork steerer – this is a single butted tube.
The frame has had several changes made to it over the years. The front derailleur hanger would not be original for this age of frame. The fork and brake bridge have been drilled. Both of these could have been done at the mid 1980s SBDU renovation, but the final change is the rear OLN, which has been updated to 130 mm from 126 mm – I would think that this must have been done by Chris at the last repaint as 130 mm would have been too early for the mid 80s.
It is a fantastic frame in fantastic condition with fantastic paint and chrome.
I’ll write another post soon about how it fits into the SBDU date timeline but at the moment I have no plans for it other than to look at it and marvel at how good it looks!