I often ask myself if this bike will ever be finished. Is it good that I think there is always more to do? Will fitting a new Iscaselle Tornado eventually complete this bike?
SB4059 was my first SBDU frame and it is maybe the only bike I’ve built to follow a ‘specification’. I don’t build tribute bikes, I build bikes that I like. And the idea of building a Team Pro came from memories I had when I saw one propped up against the shop counter decades ago. At the time, I had no plans of creating a collection, my aim was to put all my efforts (and what turned out to be a lot of money) into building the best SBDU Team Pro 753.
Over the years, to make SB4059 better and better, I’ve been upgrading various bits and pieces. I’ve updated cables, spokes, tyres, freewheel and chain, bolts, toe clips and straps and even frame transfers. Everything has been done to fit the build into two known TI-Raleigh Team specifications.
One of the first items I updated was the saddle. I initially fitted a Brooks Professional to SB4059. This was done before I discovered the detailed team specs. Various people were fitting Brooks to their Team Pros, but to me, it is very much a saddle of the 70s (in respect to the TI-Raleigh team).
This is how SB4059 looked in December 2013 after I claimed “It’s Finished“.
I soon discovered that it wasn’t actually finished, it was just ‘built’. This version of SB4059 had a Brooks saddle, Regina 6 speed freewheel and chain, Campagnolo toe clips, Binda straps, and a few wrong cables and transfers.
Eighteen months later SB4059 was different, things had moved on, a lot! The Brooks had gone, the Campagnolo toe clips had been replaced, and I’d sourced a 7 speed compact Maillard freewheel and Sedis chain. It was looking much more like the bike I had in my mind.
Looking good but still lots to do. I was working towards two different specifications, both written by Gerald O’Donovan. The first was an article detailing Joop’s “Team 80” bike specification. The second was a letter he wrote to a customer. Both specs were almost identical and went into detail about the correct components.
The difficulty in bringing SB4059 up to spec was my need to only use either New Old Stock (NOS) components, or parts that were in perfect unmarked condition. That isn’t easy or cheap. Thankfully most of the big and expensive items were done.
One item I did have on this 2015 build was an Iscaselle saddle. It had the right look, the ISCA was mentioned in the team specs, but it still wasn’t right, especially as it was suede covered, it wasn’t the Iscaselle Tornado that I wanted. So that meant that there was still room for improvement.
It was a busy month. First up was replacing the stainless spokes I originally used to build the wheels. I tracked down some Berg Union chrome spokes, as per the team spec. This was one of those changes that didn’t affect how the bike looked, but it settled a niggle. In fact most items still to sort were all based in niggles. Taking apart perfectly good wheels only to build them up again sounds crazy but was so satisfying.
This next item wasn’t an upgrade, it was an addition, it wasn’t even part of the team spec. I tracked down a TDF Contrex water bottle and fitted it with the correct steel TA cage.
A beautiful bike but still with niggles which means that there was more to do.
Toe clips and straps were a part of this build that I changed several times. But finally in August 2016 I picked up a set of Sturmey Archer clips and straps that fitted the spec perfectly. I started with Campagnolo and Binda, then added some older SA clips, then some chrome SA clips and finally settled on some NOS black SA clips and NOS white SA straps.
Then I left things for a while. There were still some niggles, but SB4059 was better than ever.
A year went by before I managed to find a reasonably priced set of original period Campagnolo brake cables (inners/outers). The grey cables were original Campagnolo and original to the NOS brake set I fitted. They were perfect cables but always destined to be changed as they were the wrong colour.
The small <c> logo would never be seen, but I would know it was there…
Then one day, I must have been bored. I was tired of one of the final little niggles that hit me in the face every time I looked at SB4059. No matter how many of the small hidden details I’d change, the fact that the frame had the wrong transfers had to be tackled… the problem was that they were sealed under thick clear coat!
This was insane, I had attacked the paint of SB4059 with a blade, only two months before Karen had talked me into displaying some of my bikes at Eroica Britannia. It is the type of job that once started YOU NEED to complete.
Everything came off SB4059 – the first stripdown since starting to slowly build this bike back in December 2011.
Absolute madness! I didn’t even have any paint to put back on. The TEAM RALEIGH was coming off and TEAM was going on. And the Reynolds frame transfers was also changing.
I love to photograph my bikes and I love to talk and blog about them but I really don’t like show and shine competitions – that’s not why I do what I do, but Karen
nagged talked me into it.
Another niggle, another job.
SB4059 came with the wrong seat pin fastening bolt. Although it was a nice Campagnolo bolt, it wasn’t the correct SBDU fitting. This wasn’t a straight forward case of replacing the bolt because the thread in the lug was damaged. It needed a repair. The only way to correct this was to fit a thread insert.
And that is how SB4059 has remained since then.
From SB4059 arriving as a frame and fork in late 2011, I’ve kept a watchful eye for parts on so many different sites and forums. And during that time my blogging has continued and the emails I answer has spiraled.
One of the very last pieces of the puzzle was a better saddle. SB4059 has a NOS Iscaselle, but with a suede covering. Finding a leather Iscaselle Tornado in NOS condition has been a bit of a mission. But one day, a suitable saddle turned up on eBay.
It’s always worthwhile checking the seller’s other items, and when I did this, I recognised the seller. I emailed him and asked about the saddle.
Neil, Thanks for your email. I’ve taken the saddle off sale and it’s your FOC simply because of all the help I’ve received from you.
This was so generous, Iscaselle Tornado saddles in this condition can easily sell for over £100. The saddle arrived and it was in perfect condition!
I need to fit this Iscaselle Tornado and get SB4059 back to the studio for an updated set of images.
Is there anything more to do to SB4059..? Yes there is, maybe a couple of bits and pieces. But the main thing I need to do with SB4059 is correct something that I had no control over.
SB4059 needs a repaint!
SB4059 had been recently painted when I bought it. Although I’ve corrected a few transfers, it still has an issue with the down tube and seat tube transfers. The paint is thick, you can see this on the frame ends – thick paint and think clear coat, the worst type of renovation. Even if I picked the transfers off and replaced them, the overall quality of the finish needs sorting.
In the future this bike will be painted and complete.