I’m going to make a bold statement right at the beginning of this blog post… my theory is that this Stayer frame could be a frame built by Jan le Grand for TI-Raleigh team rider René Pijnen – now all I have to do is use the rest of this post to try and convince myself of that!
I sometimes see frames declared as a team rider’s frame, but those declarations are often based on little or no evidence, history or provenance – sometimes these declarations are based on a second hand and unsubstantiated story. I can’t do that here, I’ve built this entire blog on a solid foundation of facts, I won’t publish anything that I’ve only assumed, and I won’t publish any information that I haven’t thoroughly researched to the max of my ability. So if I want to say that this is a frame built by Jan le Grand for René Pijnen I need to be as sure of my facts as possible and have details that support my theory.
So here goes… in order to work through my theory I’ll look at the likely age of the frame, the frame features, frame size and a little bit about René, in an attempt to find that supporting evidence. I do tend to ramble when I’m thinking ideas through in my head like this so it is going to be easier to follow if I break the post down into those relative chunks.
I might also have to give away a few trade secrets as I describe certain features.
I’ll probably jump around and mix up references to Raleigh’s SBDU and Jan le Grand throughout this post. SBDU frames and Jan’s TI-Raleigh frames shared many similarities and they probably influenced each other in design, but I’ll try to be as clear as I can. The post will also make reference to Presto – this is the shop that Jan le Grand built for and many people make a connection to Jan’s TI-Raleigh frames and Presto frames because of the subtle details they often share.
In my opinion there are three types of TI-Raleigh frame…
- The first is the normal SBDU frame, those that carry the ‘SB’ reference. I’ve seen and documented that the SBDU had a build process with standardised design features and model types that can be identified and traced as they evolved over time.
- Next are the actual TI-Raleigh Team frames, those with the rider initials, bike number and year; they were built through a collaboration between the SBDU Ilkeston and Jan le Grand. They were a little less structured when it comes to set frame features and didn’t 100% follow the known ‘SB’ features, they occasionally showed differences to ‘SB’ frames in terms of features and transfers.
- Finally there are Jan le Grand’s own frames, these are frames that I often call specials, or one-offs, built by Jan for specific Raleigh team riders for specific events and which had probably never seen the inside of the Ilkeston unit. These frames could often use a mix of Jan’s own/Presto details and SBDU details, some being quite clearly an SBDU/Team frame and some being quite clearly a Jan frame.
My Stayer frame has a mix of SBDU and Jan le Grand features; some that definately identify it’s Raleigh heritage and some that I can hopefully identify as Jan’s design and build. I have a few frames that show this mix of identity and influence, including SB1500 and JR178T.
A great example of a frame having a range of design influences is my own SH377T – this frame has features associated with standard SB numbered frames, Team Rider frames and Jan le Grand frames. It has drilled ends and a std 4 slot RGF bottom bracket shell which were standard SB 753 features, it has square section and drilled bridges with reinforcements which were a Jan le Grand feature and it has a non standard fork crown and rider initials which were often found on team rider frames… this particular frame was built by Mike Mullett who worked side by side with Jan le Grand on many occasions.
How Old Is This Frame – What Year Was It Built
This frame has features that are definately SBDU and because of that they can be easily dated. Items such as the type of seat stay can be dated to no later than mid 1982/1983. There is a faint stamp on the fork steerer that indicates this is a Reynolds double butted frame, and it is the Reynolds single taper seat stay design which was updated by TI-Reynolds in 1982 that helpfully dates this frame. The SBDU had started using the newer double taper seat stay by mid to late 1982.
Based on that single feature, the frame dates to no later than mid to late 1982. The 16mm chain stay bridge was also used in conjunction with the single taper stay in the same period.
The seat lug design is the Prugnat ‘S’ series – this type of lug and the treatment given to the seat lug/seat tube slot ran on SBDU 531 frames from 1974 up to approx 1977. The top head lug is also Prugnat S – these were later updated to Prugnat S4.
The obvious dating feature is the seat stay cap, in this case, they are plug inserts in what I call the scalloped design. This design was first seen on SBDU 531 frames from the start of 1975 and ended at approx 1977, when both 531 and 753 SBDU frames started to share the more well known simple over size cap.
The Stayer frame also compares favourably to SB518 (1976) and GH6175 (1974/75). It shares the same Prugnat lugs and scalloped seat stays as SB518 and shares the same seat stay bridge design and scalloped seat stays as GH6175.
Up to now, based on the standard SBDU features, this frame can be dated to between 1975 and 1977 simply because of the seat stay scalloped ends and the seat lug/top head lug.
The bottom bracket shell design can be used to narrow this date range down even further. Very early SBDU 531 frames had a well defined curved shape along the edges of the BB tube sockets (Reynolds 753 SB frames used a different BB from RGF). The following images are examples of what I mean… here is the BB side view of GH6175 – this frame was probably built late 1974 or early 1975.
Pay careful attention to the shape of the sockets where the seat tube and down tube enter the BB shell, they are curved. Now look at the corresponding BB side view of the Stayer frame and compare the two…
The use of this style of BB shaping seems to have disappeared from the 531 frames by approx SB400’ish (mid to late 1975); my old frame, SB447, did not have these features. You can compare the curved BB shape to SB518 which dates to very early 1976. It has quite a plain BB without the heavy shaping around the tube sockets.
So from an initial date range of 1975 to 1977, and by using the detail available in the BB shell, I’ve now narrowed the build date to no later than 1975.
Jan le Grand Frame Features
If the stays and some of the lugs are SBDU, what about the rest of the frame?
There is too much to write about Jan le Grand and I’m not the person to do him justice so I’ll not even try. But from my basic knowledge of him, he was a rider in his own right, who would build his own frames and went on to build frames for Presto in Amsterdam before being approached by Peter Post to be head mechanic for the TI-Raleigh team.
The fork crown, the lower head lug and the bottom bracket shell are all features I’m attributing to Jan le Grand. The fork crown has a flat underside that compares to other known Presto built frames. It also has flat front and rear faces with a semi sloping top which makes it a distinctive design.
Those flat areas and the drillings on each side of the crown can helpfully be used to try and match this to other Jan le Grand builds. Here is a Presto track frame being ridden by Roy Schuiten – the crown is an excellent match for the flat front face, the flat underside, the semi sloping style, the shape of the crown where it meets the fork blades and the details on the side of the crown. It isn’t just a little bit similar, it is almost identical.
Many of Jan le Grand’s specials have drillings around and/or under the BB. He also cut/milled sections of the BB shell to help reduce weight – in the case of this Stayer, weight wasn’t a major concern… but there are still BB drillings that help to tell a tale and identify his hand in building this frame.
There are two sets of drillings on this BB, and I’ll come to the second and most significant of them soon, but first I’ll start with the four holes directly under the BB.
If I look at the frame Jan le Grand built for the Hour Record attempts there are similar large circular holes – in the case of the Hour Record frame, there are also the drillings/millings I mentioned, but those three holes are similar to the four that are present on the Stayer frame.
However, the most significant drillings are the two on the BB sockets, one at the base of the seat tube towards the rear, and one under the down tube socket. This is one of my secrets, but in the absence of any frame stampings, I’ve had to give it up to help prove this as a Jan le Grand frame.
This feature can be seen on many Jan le Grand and TI-Raleigh team frames between 1976 and 1980** – it disappeared when the Cinelli BB shell was introduced. It may also have been seen earlier than 1976 but so far I haven’t documented one.
The Stayer frame shown below has a hole drilled at the base of the seat tube and underneath the down tube…
You will see the exact same drilling in the same locations on my own Jan Raas TI-Raleigh team frame, JR178T…
You will also see the same drilling on the Hour Record frame and one of Roy Schuiten’s recently discovered time trial frames…
If you know your team frames then you will also see this feature on AH.1.76, PW.1.78, BP.1.76, CP.1.78T, HK 77.1, HL.3.79 and KN.1.78.
If the fork crown detail wasn’t enough to prove this is a Jan le Grand build then the BB shell detail is surely enough – this frame is 100% built by him.
One final detail that isn’t a conclusive feature on its own but which is still worth mentioning, is the large circular cutout on the side of the lower head lug. This isn’t conclusive because lugs are one of the areas that many frame builders would modify. However, the same large circular cutout can be seen on other Jan le Grand/Presto frames. This is Roy Schuiten on what appears to be another Presto track frame…
The image above shows the large circular cutout in the Stayer’s lower head lug and the large circular cutout on Roy’s frame infilled with white paint. You might also just be able to make out some white infill on the top of that lower head lug which matches the location of a cutout on the Stayer.
**NOTE – please don’t use these features as definite indicators of a Jan le Grand frame or a TI-Raleigh team frame. I’m using them here because I’ve noticed these features on similar frames which are all confirmed Jan le Grand. Don’t use features like this independently as an identifier, remember that identifiers like this are generally date specific and always use them in conjunction with other known Jan le Grand features.
Frame Stamping (The Lack of any Stamping)
Am I bothered by the lack of frame stamping? No, I’m not.
There are the three types of Raleigh frame I mentioned earlier… the SB numbered frame, the team rider stamped frames and Jan’s one offs.
It is easy to see why the SBDU used the SB number reference – every frame builder has a method of stamping frames, some include a sequence and a year indicator where the sequence would revert back to ‘1’ each year while some just use an incremental number. The SBDU opted for an ‘SB’ prefix followed by a sequential number, the number sequence continued throughout the SBDU at Ilkeston, Nottingham and Raleigh’s Special Products… starting from SB1 and reaching the very high SB9000s.
TI-Raleigh and Panasonic Raleigh adopted a format of stamping the frame with the rider initials, the bike number and the year. This was sometimes stamped in slightly different patterns, locations and formats but the meaning was always the same. When you think about it, this frame stamping on the team bikes was a necessary thing. Although there was no real reason for a normal frame number such as the ‘SB’ on these team bikes, the bikes still had to be identified. If you have a team of 16+ riders, and some with 3-4 or maybe even 5 road bikes, you need to be able to tell them apart, after all, a 56.5 cm frame with a 72.5 degree seat tube in TI-Raleigh livery and fitted with Campagnolo Super Record looks very similar to a 57cm frame with a 73 degree seat tube in TI livery and Super Record components. The rider initials would be crucial.
But if you were building a one off special for a specific rider, would there really be any need to identify the frame? A frame stamp wasn’t needed. I’ve talked a lot recently with Rob Schuiten, Roy Schuiten’s son, about his time trial frame (which I’ll be blogging about soon). This was a Jan le Grand frame, built specifically for Roy and used in the GP Lugano and the Grand Prix des Nations in 1975. This is a confirmed Jan le Grand frame, built for a specific person for specific races and as Rob has confirmed, it has no frame stampings.
So am I bothered that my Stayer has no frame stampings – definately not! The fact that it doesn’t have a stamping is stronger evidence!
What can I say about frame size? Did every rider have the same size bike with the same geometry for each discipline they took part in? The answer is mixed, yes and no. I’ve seen lots of geometry info for TI-Raleigh riders and some riders had different geometry depending on the type of racing. That could mean a different length for seat or top tubes, different angles, BB heights and fork rakes.
The position a rider takes on a Stayer frame is different to other forms of cycling, even other track events. A Stayer rider, from what I’ve discovered so far, will be positioned much further forward and will also sit more upright. I don’t know if they used a standard Pista crank length of they adopted a different crank because of the gearing they were using? Was the BB height the same as a track frame? The BB height on this frame is very high at 285 mm which seems much higher than other Raleigh team rider track frames which ranged between 275 & 280. There is so much I’m not sure of regarding Stayer geometry and indeed, if Stayer geometry would ever match a riders known road or track geometry; it could be that the Stayer geometry was the same/similar but also, as far as I know, it could be different.
Am I expecting this frame to match exactly to what I know about René Pijnen? The answer is no, I’m not – and that is because this frame is built for a different style of racing so there has to be a certain expectation that it could differ.
I could easily just pick up a metal rule, give the frame a quick measure in the usual way and declare the frame size. But I don’t want to do that, I need to be accurate if I’m going to attempt to prove the provenance of this frame! I don’t have any frame fixtures that can hold a frame and allow me to accurately measure to the millimetre between two points of reference. In the absence of any frame fixture, and in order to accurately measure the seat tube of a frame I have to measure from an unknown mid point of a circle (the BB shell) to the mid point of a circular tube (the top tube) – that isn’t easy to do in a straight line and end up with an accurate, and more importantly, trustworthy result.
What I try and do is get as close as I possibly can using what I have – my method is often good enough to give me a reliable measurement but on this occasion I want to be as close as I possibly can be. The process I often adopt is to measure from the outside edge of the bottom bracket shell up to my determined top tube centre marker, and then add on the radius of the shell; so for example, if a shell has a diameter of 40 mm, I’ll add 20 mm to my measurement.
The BB shell on this frame seems to be very irregular (not perfectly circular) – the diameter as best as I can measure it is 39.9 mm giving a radius 19.95 mm. The measurement of the seat tube from the top of the BB shell to what I have marked as the centre of the top tube is 514 mm. This means that the measurement I have noted is [514 + 19.95] = 533.95 mm.
The one instance I have seen which documents René’s known track frame size gave the dimension of 532 mm centre to centre.
Am I too concerned that my measurement is 2 mm different? No, I’m not. I’m giving myself a small tolerance for error because I’m using metal rules and old eyesight, and as I’ve already said, I’ve seen the same riders with geometries differing by more than 2 mm depending on the type of discipline, so a 2 mm difference isn’t a massive issue.
Summary: René Pijnen, TI-Raleigh, Jan le Grand, Presto and 1976 Stayer Racing
This is the section of my post where I pull all the strands of this mystery together and hopefully form a convincing conclusion.
Admittedly, I didn’t know too much about René Pijnen before starting work on this post, I guess most will think of names like Jan Raas, Gerrie Knetemann , Hennie Kuiper etc whenever the TI-Raleigh team is discussed, but when it comes to the Track it was René Pijnen, Günter Haritz and Roy Schuiten that stand out the most for me.
René had a four year spell with TI-Raleigh, spanning 1974 through to 1977 and he excelled on the track and six day racing. He has one of the most impressive Track racing records and comes close to the top of the table for all time six day victories, just ahead of his TI-Raleigh team manager, Peter Post.
He also has a documented history of riding Presto frames, with most of the write ups found on the internet related to Presto giving him a notable mention.
“Champions like Leo Duyndam, René Pijnen, Danny Clark, Cees Stam, Ferdinand Bracke, Roy Schuiten and many others rode on bikes of this brand and soon the success story was born.”https://prestofietsen.nl/historie/
“Just as with De Reus in Halfweg, for example, they started with frame construction from hobby, but production took off when riders like Leo Duyndam, René Pijnen, Danny Clark, Cees Stam, Ferdinand Bracke and Roy Schuiten were successful at Presto. Presto also delivered bicycles to Klaas Balk, Jan Jansen (the track cyclist), Gerard Koel and Eddy Merckx.”http://www.klassiekeracefiets.info/fietsmerken/presto/
The left hand image below of René, which I believe is from 1973, shows him riding a very similar (but smaller) frame to Roy Schuiten on the right (note the fork crowns!). Roy is in his Lejeune-BP kit (1976/77). In 1973 René was riding for Bic and that team rode Motobécane bikes and Lejeune-BP rode Lejeune, but both riders are riding Presto bikes in these images showing their connection to Presto and Jan le Grand.
If the image of René is from 1973, then that was a good year for him, these are some of his results…
1st in European Championship, Track, Madison, EliteData from cyclingarchives.com
1st in National Championship, Track, Pursuit, Elite, The Netherlands
1st in National Championship, Track, Scratch, The Netherlands
1st in Rotterdam, Six Days, Rotterdam (Zuid-Holland), The Netherlands
1st in Antwerpen, Six Days, Antwerpen (Antwerpen), Belgium
1st in Munich, (München, Six Days), München (Bayern), Germany
2nd in World Championship, Track, Pursuit, Elite, Spain
If I fast forward to 1976 then I get hits on his Stayer results…
In 1976 he rode to 2nd place in the National Championships Track Stayers Elite and also 3rd in the European Championships Track Stayers Elite. As far as I know, the European event was held at the beginning of March 1976 so he could well have been riding these events on a Stayer frame built in 1975.
I’ve trawled through the TI-Raleigh records to see who else was riding Stayer events in this period and the only other name that appeared was in 1975 and was Fred Rompelberg – at that point in 1975 I’m not sure if he was riding as part of TI-Raleigh or Bonfrère – Rompelberg. I also wasn’t sure of Fred’s frame size so I asked him and he confirmed a frame size of 58cm for his 1.85m height.
To email@example.com[Confirmation of frame size from Fred Rompelberg]
Hello Neil McGowran. Thanks for your mail and information.
I am 185 cm high/length.
My frame was always 58 cm from center bracket to horizontal tube crossing with the vertical tube. I hope I gave you the information you asked for.
I wish you good luck and good health.
Greetings Nadir and Fred 268 km.
Thanks to Fred’s response I can rule him out, as 58cm is far bigger than this Stayer frame. Here is a link to Fred’s World Record for the highest speed on a bicycle of 268.831 km/h (166.944 mph).
I can confidently say that this Stayer frame was built by Jan le Grand. Several people have also noticed the similarities and the features I’ve demonstrated certainly match his frames.
I can confidently say that it was built at some point in 1975.
I can confidently say that the lack of any frame stamping isn’t unusual for a Jan le Grand frame.
I can confidently say that René Pijnen rode Stayer events in 1976, as early as the beginning of March of that year.
I can confidently say that there is a definite link between René and Presto and therefore René and Jan le Grand.
Can I 100% confidently say it is René Pijnen’s frame..? Not yet, I would say I was 90% confident – I’m 2 mm away from being 100% confident!
As I do with all of my frames, I keep the details and stories stored away in the back of my mind and constantly cross reference them with what I come across during the hours I spend searching for information. If I find anything else you will be the first to know.