Last year took a very different direction to 2017; that year was all about snapping up everything I could find, and 14 frames was clear evidence of that eagerness. All I remember from 2017 was the expense and the amount of blogging required. But from the outset of 2018, it was all about focus, focus focus focus! It’s hard turning down frames, frames that I would normally take without a second thought, but my collection is wide ranging, and I wanted to concentrate on frames that had either some special interest or features, originality or frames that filled an existing gap.
I think I did ok.
I started the year by tackling a huge bug bear of mine, and that is the ever increasing amount of poorly researched renovations of the TI-Raleigh colour scheme. I see lots that are just wrong. Not just wrong transfers but also wrong transfer locations – I’m not fussed what shade of red is used, but wrong transfers or transfers fitted in the wrong place really stand out a mile.
So I studied over 100 original paint TI frames, ranging from the very first SB frames up to the very last, and I produced an ‘Encyclopedia’ post of what is correct based on the year a frame was built. It isn’t just my opinion of what is correct – the entire post is based on real original paint frames.
If you want to delve into the details then this guide also explains the Red/Yellow/Black paint layering process.
The first new frame arrived at the end of January and was blogged at the start of February. SB9000 was my second low profile, but my first brazed steel low profile. My low profile collection started a little earlier with SB9529 which was a low profile Dyna-Tech arriving in late 2017.
SB9000 is a beautiful original paint frame that has only been ridden a few KM on the track.
2018 was the year that I wanted to pull together a series of posts about specific SBDU frame details, and I started in March by looking at the types of fork ends used by the SBDU. Individual frame details can all be used to help date and identify frames if you know what you are looking at. Fork ends can correspond with certain frame types and dates; and like many SBDU frame features, some fork end features either evolved or disappeared over time.
Then in April, I got myself into a job I couldn’t back out of, I stripped SB4059 and cut the transfers out from underneath the thick clear coat – there was no going back!
I have so many projects! I’ve even got them categorised – those that need no paint and just building, those that need some cosmetic attention before building and those that need everything. SB6560 has been on my to do list for a good while now, and throughout the year I was busy collecting a nice selection of Dura-Ace 7400 6 speed parts; it’s a slow process but I have plenty of time.
At the end of April I published my second post about SBDU frame features – this time it was all about seat stays and the use of different seat stay caps and the attachment to the seat lug.
It was a big sign that my collecting had slowed down because it took until May to bag my second new arrival. SB6827 is a late 1984 531c road bike with Campagnolo Super Record – the thing about this bike is it’s condition, I can only describe it using the words “As New” – this bike is stunning and completely original with zero miles on the clock.
Who would have thought you could write a blog post about gear lever positioning? Well you can and I did. It was a little known fact that gear lever bosses had at least three different positions throughout the life of the SBDU. Just by looking at a frame you can tell the general age and instantly place a frame into three distinct periods…”1980 to 1983″, “1984”, or “1985 onward”.
I do write a lot of stuff and I do try and make it as accurate as possible. The arrival of SB6827 which is as original as you can get, gave me the chance to test my blog post about transfer positioning. Although I wrote the original post about the TI-Raleigh scheme, so many SB bikes share the same transfers, but would they follow the same guidelines? The answer is yes, they do.
Moving into June and it was another new arrival. I wanted new additions in 2018 to be special or original or different or something that filled a gap. SB7393 qualified because it is original and different. The grey and red colour scheme looks great and it gives me an opportunity of building my first Mavic equipped bike. It is built with Reynolds 531 Professional tubing and came with a story of being built for time trials.
It was June and Karen had twisted my arm to take a couple of bikes to Eroica Britannia later in the month, but I had just pulled my best bike apart and hacked some of the transfers from it. If I wanted to take SB4059 with me I had to pull my finger out and sort it quickly. I wrote a post covering the prep, paint and transfer fitting – I think this was only one week before the show.
With only hours to spare before leaving for the drive down to the event, I managed to put SB4059 back together. It was the first time since the frame arrived in 2011 that this bike has had the correct transfers. I’m immensely proud of SB4059, it is the figure head of my collection, the bike that the blog was created for and it is impeccable in every detail.
… and onto the show. I’d never been to this event before, and had heard lots of different opinions, so I just wanted to go and see for myself. Karen and I thoroughly enjoyed it and we met so many people and put lots of faces to names. It is also thanks to Karen that I came away with a camera full of images to look back on. SB4059 even made it into the finals.
I took SB7393 apart at the end of June. It is a nice bike but needs work; parts are tired and worn and the paint needs a good refresh and scrub up. It came apart ok, but the bottom bracket and one end adjuster gave me a bit of additional work, but everything comes off eventually – unfortunately sometimes there is no alternative and as a last resort, you need to destroy things in order to remove them…
Into July, now half way through the year. I certainly hadn’t blogged as much up to this point in the year – my day job can get very busy and preparing blog posts takes time… a lot of time. However, there was a job I’d wanted to do to SB4059 that had been waiting for a while – that was fixing the thread on the seat lug. Since getting this frame, I’ve had to use a 2 piece Campagnolo bolt instead of the standard 8mm single bolt – this was due to damaged threads. My plan was to fit a helicoil.
SB7393 came with a story about time trials, but what will the frame tell me… I have a process with my frames, it doesn’t always follow the same path, but I do try and cover the following headings of ‘New Arrival’, ‘Stripdown’, ‘Clean Up’ and ‘Documented’, and it was the turn of SB7393 to be measured and documented. Was there any truth in the story of time trials because at first sight, this is looking very much like a road frame.
Measuring the frame showed that it had lots of matches to the SBDU’s stock time trial geometry, so I’ve categorised this frame on my blog as a TT frame.
And then I receive an email offering me SB8790.
Amazing, outstanding, beautiful… all words that don’t come anywhere near to describing this frame. If I thought SB6827 was as close to ‘as new’ as I could get, this frame takes that to another level. This frame has had wheels in it but has never seen the road surface; it even came with its original Raleigh box. This frame has traveled to Australia and back and now takes pride of place as one of the stars of my collection.
This frame is spotless, immaculate, as new! If you went into a shop today then you could not buy a frame as clean as this. The only mark on this frame is a wheel QR mark on the rear end. THIS is what my collection is all about… quality examples of the workmanship of the SBDU – you will not see a finer example in this type of condition and it takes my collection up to a different level.
Whatever I’m doing, I’m probably always connected to the Internet. My busiest work month is August… I have no free time, and that meant zero blogging, until the very end, I managed to squeeze one post in.
I see people mis-quoting the Raleigh serial number system – even though there are a few existing online resources for dating these frames, the content of the info people give and the advise provided is often lacking. So I thought I would provide my own frame number resource; something that covers, Worksop, Raleigh’s Lightweight Unit, the SBDU at Ilkeston and Nottingham and Raleigh’s Special Products Division.
I didn’t blog again until the end of September. Searching for outstanding pieces of Dura-Ace 7400 kit is difficult, even more so if you are looking for original 6 speed kit, even more so if you are looking for exceptional, mint of even new 6 speed 7400 rear derailleurs. But I managed to find a mint example 7400 derailleur which I’m very very happy with – the price was ok too!
I quickly followed this up with another post about SB6560, the frame that all this Dura-Ace 7400 is destined for. I wanted to plan out where I was going to place the new transfers; that would help me determine where I needed to add paint – the obvious problem was the top tube join between the white and blue.
Frame weight – if I could highlight the most popular question I’m asked, it is frame weight. So I decided to list all my SBDU frames and their weight, plotting them on a chart. Sometimes frame weight can be predicted… but often, frame weight is completely random, and differentiating between 753, 531SL, 531P, 753R and 531c can be impossible.
My workshop is my happy place – a place I go just to sit and look at frames, read a book or pick up a spanner and do a few jobs…
October came around and I decided to do a short post about the place that makes me happy. My workspace is often commented on… I sometimes think that my red toolbox is probably one of the most photographed toolboxes on the internet as it appears in so many images. This post was just a quick tour of what lies within that room, tools, tool boxes, frames, books and resources…
And then it was November… where did that come from!
I see frames being bought and sold all the time, frames are sometimes mis-sold. That may be an honest mistake, it may not be a honest mistake. Descriptions are wrong or misleading or just plain inaccurate or sometimes tubing transfers have had an ‘upgrade’… I have a huge knowledge of these frames and always offer any advice I can… but only if I’m asked – so ASK before you buy something that isn’t quite what you think it is…
My SBDU wanted list is a recurring post – I’ll often update the list at different points of the year. And to be honest, the list is doing well, it is full of frames with only a few remaining small gaps. That is one of the reasons I decided to be quite picky in 2018. I didn’t want to collect duplicates, or frames that would simply add to my list of projects, I wanted to fill the gaps and focus on quality rather than quantity. So this post brought my collection up to date.
A gap that I identified in that previous post was a 1986 SBDU frame – I’ve got most years covered, but 1986 was a year that had so far eluded me. So it was a stroke of good luck that almost immediately after writing that post, a frame appeared on eBay, SB8200… that would fill the gap. I still didn’t want to buy the frame for just that reason though, so it helped my decision that it was also a Randonneur frame, and also a MAFAC equipped frame. So my desire to only add different frames or frames that filled a gap was fulfilled.
The frame is quite rough but has shown lots of potential so far.
I’ve done a little bit of painting but I’m not properly set up for it. I get by with what I have. Preparation is key, and that can be done anywhere. I was pleased with the small piece of paintwork I did on the top tube of SB4059 so I set about tackling the fork on SB6560 – and the results were amazing – at least I think so anyway!
I like to categorise all my frames and correctly identify them against the SBDU model names or numbers. It can sometimes be difficult differentiating between a road or time trial frame, but the obvious style of SB8790 meant I wasn’t going to have too many problems. All I had to do was find the relevant entry in the SBDU literature.
December was here…
I help a lot of people buy SBDU frames – they ask for advise and opinions and I happily provide it. Sometimes though people stumble onto a frame I’m already looking at. The Stayer frame was one such example, but it was so difficult trying to figure out what it was based on the images. But as more and more people were asking questions, I had to take the plunge and just get it and do the figuring out bit later.
It was a long drawn out episode waiting for the courier to deliver this frame and at several points I thought it was lost. But it eventually turned up.
And then there was just enough time to squeeze in one more blog post. This one had taken several weeks to write, I was even writing the post before the Stayer had arrived. It had been advertised as a 1984 frame but the features were telling a different story – the lack of any frame number was also interesting. The features were telling me this was a Jan le Grand build. The features were also telling me that this was a mid 1970s frame – could this be a Motor Paced Stayer built by Jan for a TI-Raleigh team rider?
My theory is 99% complete, just falling short of absolute confirmation – but who knows what will come in the future…
It has also been another good year for blog visitors and post views. 2017 was a great year with over 50,000 views and I didn’t think I would be able to top that or even match it. But 2018 had another 50,000+ views!
Over 110,000 views in the last two years for my little niche blog about Raleigh bikes!
I’m always totally amazed that so many people take time to read my words and I’m always eternally grateful for that.
2019… I haven’t got a clue how I’m going to approach this year. The collecting slowed down in 2018 because I was focused. That may stay the same this year… at this point, I just don’t know.