Emails dropping into my Inbox on a lazy Saturday afternoon are quickly becoming the best kind of email! The one I received last Saturday offered a mint condition frame together with it’s original Raleigh box and some documentation! Now that is an offer that needs serious consideration. The images came through a couple of days later and they displayed a frame that was every bit as described… built up but probably never ridden, maybe the closest I’ll ever get to a New SBDU frame.
I want my collection to be more than just a random accumulation of frames with an ‘SB’ stamp, my aim is to have a collection of beautiful and diverse bikes that encompasses everything the SBDU and the most skilled Raleigh builders could offer. Originality, paint schemes, frame features and bike design are all aspects that I look out for.
I made a promise to myself this year that I would try and stick to my aim and only add to the collection if I could add something that I didn’t already have, or that was different to the norm, interesting or original. I’ll always consider an original paint frame no matter what it is because the details and accuracy that come with that originality are disappearing fast as more and more are renovated, and often renovated with no regard to how they should be. If I can save and preserve any original bikes and maintain a record of them then I’ll try my best to do that.
So with 6 months of 2018 gone, and being much more focused, I’m adding only the 4th frame of the year to my collection.
Back at the end of January I added SB9000, an original paint 753R Raleigh Banana pursuit frame that had only done a few circuits of the track. This frame qualified on several points; the main one being that it was the original SBDU Banana paint, how many of these SB frames do you see in this scheme and with original paint? The answer is not many! I have another original SB Banana, SB8868, and there aren’t many more. It is also a special build lo-pro track pursuit frame, and when it was briefly ridden, it was ridden by Dave Mann ex Raleigh Banana team rider.
SB6827 came along at the beginning of May, an unridden 1984 531c complete bike equipped with late period Super Record components. I don’t have words that can properly describe this bike, if you see it you will understand why, it is just beautiful and it was one of the easiest decisions I could have made to buy it.
Last month I added SB7393. I bought this because of the 531 Professional tubing, original paintwork in a stunning red and grey anthracite colour scheme and the good amount of Mavic components it was equipped with. All 3 aspects of the tubing, paint and components made it different to the norm and worthy of a place. And even better, it is in my size so I can also ride this one!
I think I’ve done well at sticking to my aim, each frame this year has added to the depth and quality of the collection. Each frame this year has also been original paint. And now SB8790 is here, another original paint frame (even with its original box); it also shows no signs of ever being ridden.
SB8790 is a great addition; it is in original paint, it is the Road version of SB9000 which is something I didn’t already have in a steel lugged frame, and it is very different to the norm.
It does actually look “like new”. Apart from some marks on the rear fork ends from the wheel QRs, and a mark on the fork crown from the brake caliper serrated washer, I can’t see any sign of use on this frame. The seat tube and inside the BB shell/chain stays are spotless. Even the front derailleur braze on doesn’t appear to have ever had anything fastened to it.
The frame number is SB8790. This is stamped on the BB shell and fork column, along with the frame size of 55. This is a 1987 frame and I’ll have more on that date and the document that came with this frame as it is excellent dating evidence – but that will be a new blog post. I’ve got a good timeline on SBDU Ilkeston frames but the SBDU Nottingham era has always been a bit of a mystery because there are only a few frames available and even fewer documents to enable me to accurately date them.
You can see from the images above just how clean this frame is, there isn’t a single spot of dirt anywhere. All the bolts for the seat pin and bottle bosses are matching and immaculately clean and free from corrosion. Have you ever seen a BB shell, plastic cable guide and fixing rivet on a frame as clean as this…
As you would expect, the frame transfers are in excellent condition. The one thing this frame does not have is an SBDU Specialist Bicycle Developments oval transfer; this scheme would normally have one in the blue section at the top of the seat tube. I’ve no idea why it doesn’t have one but that is how it is, the SB number is everything this frame needs.
The frame is built from Reynolds 531c tubing and the front fork is for a 24″ wheel, similar to SB9000. Although it is 531c tubing, the overall frame weight is very light, coming in at just over 1700 grams.
The fork is built with a Cinelli SCA crown (the aero version of the SC internal fork crown), and just like the frame, the fork is spotless, the inside of the fork column is in remarkably clean condition.
I need to sort some wheels and a headset and get SB8790 stood up properly so that I can look into its geometry. I also want to use the document that came with this frame to start looking at a more accurate SBDU Nottingham timeline.
It doesn’t have the look or feeling of a 2nd hand used frame at all. Opening this box today really did feel like I was opening up a brand new frame from 1987!