Every now and then I spot something slightly different, something that I struggle to identify but which has the potential to be something nice, maybe even special. Usually I might be the only one to spot it which normally gives me the luxury of a little time to do some research. On this occasion though, several others had also spotted the same frame, so with a growing queue of people forming and all asking me questions about it, I had to commit on a hunch and buy it.
If my hunch pays off then it will be a great addition to my collection; if my hunch is wrong then it is still an amazingly rare frame, so I see this opportunity very much as a win-win situation!
I’m not going to go into any detail of what I think this frame is yet, I’ll keep that for another post when I hopefully have more information; I’m busy building a case for my theory. All I want to do today is show some of the details of this amazing Stayer frame.
Here are the original advert images…
There isn’t much detail available in those images, if you zoom in you can see some older style SBDU seat stay caps, the frame ends and treatment to the ends of the stays look right and it appears to be in 1984 Raleigh team colours but with Colnago transfers wrapped over them. There is almost no detail of the fork crown or fork blades or the head lugs. So based on those images it had potential to be a Raleigh SBDU track frame but could easily be something else.
You can see that the seller has positioned the fork in the conventional way, facing forward, this places the fork blade transfers on the rear of the blades. The head tube is quite long but this is a track frame so I expect that, there is also a possibility that camera lens and shooting angle distortion can alter the proportions of a frame.
A couple of days later more images appeared…
These extra images provided some clearer detail, the seat stay caps, seat lug and frame ends are definitely a match for Raleigh SBDU, circa 1975/76.
The BB shell had no markings and that lack of detail was puzzling everyone that viewed this frame and was probably the main question I was asked… but I’m going to keep what I know for the next post. The seller also added some better images of the fork crown but they still had the fork positioned in the conventional way. It was the fork crown images and the frame size that finally made the penny drop.
I couldn’t understand why a track frame needed that fitting on the crown, and why was it on the back of the crown. And then I zoomed in on the frame size which looked to be approx 53.5 cm (21″) – that is quite small but the head tube was too long for a 21″ frame, even a 21″ track frame.
However, if you turn the fork 180 degrees then the strange little fitting becomes a support for a handle bar brace/strut and the extra long head tube is designed like that because the front wheel is 24″ – this was a Stayer frame, a Motor Paced Stayer.
If you aren’t aware of what a Stayer is and can’t picture what I mean, then just go and have a quick google (other internet search engines are available!). You will probably see images like these…
For a little bit of extra reading related to Stayer racing have a look at the following links…
The bike is set up so that the rider is as close as possible to the ‘Pacer’. The Pacer will often stand upright to create as much of a shield as possible, if the Stayer can stay as close as possible then they will receive the maximum affect of the slipstream being created by the standing Pacer.
In order to get as close as possible and enable the Stayer to sit right behind the Pacer, the front wheel is smaller, the fork is reversed and the saddle and handlebars are positioned as far forward as possible – because the saddle and bars are so far forward, they require support, the saddle is supported by a strut fastened to the top tube and the handlebar is supported by a strut fastened to the front of the fork crown; and that is exactly why my frame has that fork crown boss.
(I found these images via online forums – if they belong to you then please get in touch)
So although I was quite sure that this advert was displaying a Stayer frame, I still had no clue about the history of it – the seller stated it was built in 1984 (which does match the colour scheme) but the frame looks to date from the 1970s, there was definitely more to this frame.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of time to sit on this while I did some more checks, I was receiving more and more messages, the interest across the internet was growing. I sent the seller a message, the deal was done, the advert disappeared and the frame was in a box and ready for the courier to pick up later that day. I’ve bought frames on a hunch before, but this one was a risk.
After a nervous 16 days, the frame eventually arrived – there are some courier companies that really need to just give up, that is all I’ll say!
Now that I have it, the pressure is off and I can take some time to go through my theory and see if this frame is what I think it is. The first thing I can do is compare it to a known mid 1970s Raleigh track frame. GH6175 is a perfect frame to use for those comparisons.
The seat stay bridge is a match for the same part on my Günter Haritz GH6175 track frame. GH6175 is shown on the left below, it’s bridge is the upper right image and the Stayer bridge is the lower right image – they are identical in size and style. The treatment to the seat lug/tube slot is also identical and correct for Raleigh SBDU during the 1974 – 1978 period, before they introduced Prugnat 62D lugs.
It isn’t just the bridge and seat lug slot that are the same, the bridge is also at the same height. You will also notice that the red/yellow transfer has the same gap and that the blue/white paint join is in the same location.
The story with GH6175 is that it was a TI-Raleigh team frame (that is beyond any doubt), but the story goes on to say that it was kept by the team and repainted by the SBDU when the team sponsor changed to Panasonic. Was that also true of the Stayer frame? So I checked the top tube red/yellow transfer on each frame and was surprised to see that each transfer is 7.75 cm from the back of the head lug. The blue and white paint are very similar, if not identical shades.
The Stayer is shown in the top image with GH6175 below…
The Stayer has a Prugnat S series seat lug which was normal on mid 70s SBDU and team frames. GH6175 was one of a few built with Carlton Capella lugs, but the seat stay scalloped plug inserts used to finish the seat stay and which are attached to the side of the seat lug are identical. Both seat stays are the older single taper style (double taper seat stays were introduced in 1982).
The top head lug on the Stayer is also the standard Prugnat S series from the same SBDU build period. The 1053 Campagnolo track ends and the way the stays have been finished also match SBDU/Team frames…
… and that is were the obvious similarities end. The rest of the story and working out what this frame might be is down to my own research and knowledge.
Starting with the fork crown, it has a distinctive style with flat front and rear faces and quite a wide flat underside (not arched). The crown has 3 drillings on each side and uses the same style of SBDU fork blade stiffener.
The chainstays are significantly different to GH6175. Stayers like this can develop high speeds following in the slipstream of the Pacer, they are also subjected to a lot of forces. A large gear is used to enable the Stayer to keep up with the pace. That large chain ring needs to have space, so the chainstay on this frame has a big indent. The chainstays are also wide – approx 26mm wide compared to the standard 22mm stay. This is the Stayer compared to GH6175…
The lower head lug is very different to the upper Prugnat S, it is substantial. The image below shows the comparison between upper and lower. The upper has a normal 7-8mm edge compared to 18-19mm on the lower.
That image not only shows the three drillings on the side of the fork crown but also a large drilling on the side of the lug.
The proportions of this frame are deceptive. The seemingly high stand over height and very long head tube give the impression of a much larger frame when in fact, it is only 21″ (just under 53.5cm) centre to centre. The BB height is 285mm – this compares to 268mm on a stock SBDU road frame and 270mm on a stock SBDU time trial frame. That higher BB pushes the top tube up, increasing the stand over height; and the shorter fork means that the head tube needs to be longer to retain the horizontal top tube and also meet the fork crown.
I’ll write a separate geometry post about the frame later including seat and head angles – this style of frame and reversed fork will always raise interesting questions about stability and trail. Dave Moulton’s Bike Blog gives a good description of the Stayer fork geometry.
It is the bottom bracket shell that differs the most but which also gives some of the biggest clues to what this frame might be and who built it. The most significant feature are the chainstays (which I already know are massive) and how they are attached to the BB shell. The seat and down tube are a normal socket fitting, but the chainstays are attached directly. I have to assume that it is the diameter of the chainstays that required this modification – these 26mm stays would never fit a std 22.2mm chainstay socket.
The only standard feature shown here is the chainstay bridge – it is the normal 16mm diameter plain round tube. This is the style of bridge used from 1974 to mid/late 1982. Some of the shapes of the sockets are also date-able to the mid 1970s.
But it is the drillings that tell a story. These drillings combined with the lower head lug and fork crown drillings form a huge part of my working theory. That frame size is also a clue.
To recap the dating evidence of this frame…
- The seat stay caps are 1975 – 1976/77
- The single taper seat stays are 1974 – 1982
- The Prugnat S series lugs are 1974 – 1977
- The 16mm chainstay bridge is 1974 – 1982
The only thing that seems to match the story of 1984 is the colour scheme. So what about that colour scheme? I’ve already noted that it is very similar to GH6175 which is a known repaint carried out at the end of 83/start of 84, and a close inspection of the Stayer shows a sign of a previous colour… RED!
Just inside the head tube, sitting slightly above where the lower headset cup sits, is a clear, but old patch of red paint. If this frame was originally built in 1984 and those blue/white team colours were original then why is there a trace of red paint?
What about GH6175, the frame I’ve been using throughout this post for comparisons? Well that also shows the same clear but old patch of red paint inside the head tube.
Both frames have similar repaints, both in the same 1984 Panasonic Raleigh scheme, both have almost identical transfer placements and both have a small amount of red paint found inside the head tube. One frame is an ex TI-Raleigh team frame, one is still a mystery…
I still have some checking and research to do. One major problem I have is that there aren’t many people I can actually ask. My theory is a good one and I’m hoping to prove it soon.