MK5 Professional? What’s that all about? Yes, this is an unexpected step back into the area of Worksop frame production. This time though, it’s not pre SBDU, it is early 1981, before things with Raleigh and Carlton production were set to change.
It’s unexpected because I wasn’t looking for this frame, the frame found me. I arrived at work one Monday morning and it was sat on my workbench – a recent donation.
My New Job
For the past few months, I’ve been using my bike mechanic experience with a North East charity called Recyke y’bike.
You can read a little more about what Recyke y’Bike do here. I’m going to break from my ‘strictly personal’ blog rule soon and write a post to highlight the great work this charity does.
I think most people that work at Recyke y’Bike now understand my passion for Raleigh. I probably never stop talking about the subject. The job is great and the range of bikes is staggering, a real test for any mechanic. One day I’ll be fitting cotter pins or sorting a 20″ wheel kids bike, the next I’ll be replacing brake hoses, fluid and discs or fighting with internal cabling and press fit bearings on top end road bikes, mountain bikes and hand built frames.
I made a donation to the charity and this tired old and rusty bike frame was mine.
Why Did I Buy This MK5 Professional
Expanding My Raleigh Collection
If you are up to date with my blog posts, you will know I’ve planned to expand my SBDU collection into the period before Ilkeston. My eventual plan is to also add some of Raleigh’s (non SBDU) lightweight frames. A MK5 Professional, built at Worksop during the SBDU period was on that list.
The Frame Number WB1002137
This is an early 1981 frame, indicated by the WB1 portion of the number. That translates to Worksop built, in February 1981. Here is a post I wrote on Raleigh frame numbers. That frame number is significant as Worksop closed in May 1981, production ceased. Raleigh’s new Lightweight Unit opened in October that same year.
The Worksop Guardian published the following on Friday 29th May 1981…
“No more will the famous Carlton be made in Worksop.
Carlton Cycles, one of Worksop’s oldest factories, finally ground to a halt on Friday… TI Raleigh, the parent company, in Nottingham, decided some weeks ago to close the plant and give notice to the 202 employees.
On Friday the last batch of them – 50 from the production department – finally left… The Carlton name will not disappear. Machines bearing the famous name will be produced in a scaled down operation in Nottingham…”
To Enable Me To Answer So Many Questions
One of the most popular questions I receive is to give an opinion between Worksop/Lightweight Unit frames and the SBDU. I can give a brief overview but that is all I can give. I like to base what I say on fact, so having a Worksop built frame built in a comparable style to the SBDU and at the same time as the SBDU gives me the opportunity to make comparisons based on first hand observations.
All the work and posts I’ve written on this blog have been based on my own frames, so it is only right that any observations and blog posts about Worksop built frames are based on my own mini collection of Worksop frames.
What exactly is a MK5 Professional
The ‘Professional’ was Raleigh/Carlton’s top frame, built over a period of 11-12 years from approx 1969/70 to 1981. The MK5 was the last in the line and took its styling from the frames being produced at the SBDU Ilkeston.
These frames were built at Worksop, and the same frame was badged as either a ‘Raleigh’ or a ‘Carlton’ – there was no difference in frame and fork other than paint scheme, transfers and a head badge.
This snippet is from the Sprint 1981 catalogue…
My frame has several areas showing the old original red paint. It also has three holes in the head tube, filled in and painted over. So this is definately the Raleigh Team Professional version.
My MK5 Professional WB1002137
It isn’t the best looking example. It has lots of surface rust, reflective tape and what appears to be patches of Hammerite. But it is solid with no dents or damage other than rust.
And the frame number…
At first glance, and actually too many people, even after a good inspection, these MK5 Professional frames appear identical to an equivalent SBDU 531 frame. But there are differences. The MK5 Professional and an SBDU 531 Team Professional are both built from Reynolds 531 Double Butted tubing, they share the same Campagnolo frame ends, fork crown and styling… but they do differ.
I’ll expand on the differences in future posts.
I’ve mentioned this a few times, and you will no doubt have spotted it in a few images. This frame is suffering from some corrosion. I’ve never been put off with corrosion, I’ve bought some very rusty frames.
So I decided to do a very quick five minute test with a wire brush, emery cloth and a file. Here is the before…
And here is the same fork blade after five minutes attention…
That gives me a lot of hope that this frame will turn out really well after a renovation and repaint back into TI-Raleigh team colours.
So this frame will no doubt feature in several blog posts. Not just for a clean up and renovation, but also to give me a comparison to the SBDU and to answer the many questions I receive on the subject.