“TI-Raleigh Tour de France!” It only really dawned on me the day after I bought it, but this bike could be something amazing, a special bike for TI-Raleigh and the Tour de France! The day after Nigel and Carol left HK276 with me, I sat at my computer and ‘BANG!’, the thought came into my head. Could this be the first ever TI-Raleigh bike to win a stage of the Tour de France?
Not only was my mind racing about the potential importance of this bike, it also hit me that if this was the first TI-Raleigh bike to win a stage, it could therefore also be the first ever Reynolds 753 bike to win a stage. It’s hard to believe it because it looks just like an old steel bike, but the frame number under the bottom bracket shell of ‘HK276’ does not belong to just some old steel bike!
So I set about searching the internet trying to piece together a story, matching HK276 to that 1976 Tour de France.
The single significant identifying feature of HK276 is the modified Carlton Capella lug set. The link between Carlton Cycles and the SBDU/Raleigh is through Gerald O’Donovan. A small amount of SBDU SB numbered frames, and Team frames were built with a modified version of the original Capella lug.
The long point on the front of the original Capella lug was trimmed, together with the side profiles and other front embellishments. Then different frames had different ‘other’ holes drilled. You can see the large diameter hole drilled into the side of the lug on HK276 which don’t appear in the almost original lug on SB664. SB664 has a 99% untouched Capella lug and you can see the significant changes that were made.
Thankfully it is this lug detail that helps to identify HK276 in images of Hennie Kuiper riding in that 1976 Tour de France.
Yes, what about HK176? Could that have been the bike Hennie rode to Stage 4 success in the 1976 Tour? I asked that question to myself and then set about finding out a little about HK176.
HK176 sold at auction in the UK in September 2018. Here is the catalogue listing…
HK176 is very different to HK276. It displays all the features of a TI-Raleigh Reynolds 531 team frame. Not only does that mean it has chrome fork blades, it also has standard head lugs. The type seen on so many SBDU 531 frames of the same period. This is SB518 displaying the same head lugs.
After a little image enhancement, and finding a couple of different images from the auction catalogue, HK176 which sold at auction, does just have plain head lugs, and not the Carlton Capella that feature on HK276.
For information, and a good price reference for anyone looking to sell a TI-Raleigh Team frame or any other SBDU frame/bike, HK176 sold at that auction for £1500.
Seat and Top Tube Length
HK276 matches perfectly to what is known about the dimensions of Hennie’s Raleigh frames.
- Seat Tube Centre to Centre – 545mm
- Top Tube Centre to Centre – 542mm
HK276 is one of a small set of Raleigh frames built using an Imperial diameter Reynolds 753 tube. This tube was something unique to the SBDU. The diameter and type of this 753 tube only became available to other builders outside of Raleigh under the name of Reynolds 753R, after TI-Reynolds updated their tubing range in late 1982.
An Imperial tubed Reynolds 753 frame is generally about 100-150 grams heavier than the thinner walled Metric equivalent frame, and about the same weight as the thicker walled Metric equivalent. Here is how HK276 compares to others in my collection. HK276 is approx 56cm centre to top.
SB2692 is a 56cm Metric 753 with thinner tube walls. It comes in at 1629 grams.
SB3800 is a 57cm Metric 753 with the thicker tube wall and comes in at 1739 grams. Almost the same as HK276 but a centimetre bigger!
And now for a Reynolds 531 frame of the same period. SB1861 is only a 54cm frame but comes in at 2022 grams, much heavier than HK276
The use of this type of tubing meant that at the very start of 1976, with HK276, Hennie had a much lighter and stronger frame than many of his counterparts.
HK276 has all the same frame details as many other Raleigh SBDU frames at this time. The RGF bottom bracket shell with 4 slots running around the shell, the large single taper seat stays and seat stay caps and short Campagnolo frame ends.
The Mark of Jan le Grand and TI-Raleigh
I’ve discussed this feature a few times now on frames such as CP.1.79 and JR 1 78 T. This period TI-Raleigh Team frame normally has a small hole drilled into the down tube socket of the bottom bracket shell (also on the back of the seat tube socket). HK276 also has the remains of the TI-Raleigh ‘red’ on the inside of the head tube.
Hennie, TI-Raleigh and the 1976 Tour de France
Although the TI-Raleigh team had been formed for a couple of years, 1976 was their first entry into the Tour de France.
1975 World Road Race Championships
Before TI-Raleigh competed as a team in their first Tour de France, in the previous year, on the 31st August, in Yvoir Belgium, Hennie Kuiper, while riding for Frisol G.B.C won the World Road Race Cycling Championships.
This means that after joining TI-Raleigh, Hennie spent his first year of 1976, riding for TI-Raleigh as the reigning World Champion, and wore the bands of the World Champion across his chest.
Race Number 1976 Tour de France
Hennie rode with the number ’51’ attached to his frame.
This image of Hennie wearing the World Champion jersey leading Raymond Poulidor (Gan-Mercier) in the 1976 Tour shows the number ’51’ .
The Stage 4 Victory
The 1976 Tour started with an opening Prologue, a short time trial won by Freddy Maertens, who also won stage 1 and 3, with Giovanni Battaglin winning stage 2. The 4th stage from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Bornem (160 miles), was won by Hennie Kuiper riding for TI-Raleigh.
Here is a short video available on Vimeo of that stage 4 victory – Eric Loder (Velda-Flandria) is the rider coming in 2nd.
Hennie’s Crash and Final Result
Hennie made it to the end of stage 13 but was a DNF along with two others on stage 14. So after finishing 7th on stage 13 and in 9th overall position, his tour came to an end.
Identifying Hennie’s Winning Stage 4 Frame
The Carlton Capella Lug
The distinctive lug makes this easy. The chrome fork blades of HK176 also help.
The front shape of the modified Capella lug with it’s sharp point and drilled central hole come through on so many images. This image is probably the best and most clear. You can see the Capella lug in this image from Stage 4 with the eventual 1st and 2nd place riders.
Enhancing the image above and also the image of Hennie raising his arms as he crosses the line show the Capella lug detail.
TI-Raleigh Tour de France 1976 Hennie Kuiper
The Original Story – The Winning Frame!
This was the story that Nigel, the previous owner of HK276, told me during some of our first emails.
The story behind the bike was that my stepfather who was a manager at Raleigh did some work for the race team and when the team came back from winning “The Tour” they gave him the winning bike. He said a race bike was no good to him so they took all the good bits of it and fitted standard stuff on it (shame). I don’t know if any of this is true. After my stepfather passed away the bike sat in mum’s garage for years until she decided to throw it away. I stopped mum from doing this and she said “well you take it then”.Email from Nigel 04 October 2019
I don’t think there is any doubt that HK276 is the frame Hennie Kuiper rode to TI-Raleigh’s first ever Tour de France stage win as reigning World Road Race Champion. As Nigel’s email said, the story was that this was the ‘winning’ frame!
The Replacement Fork
I cannot prove the next point, but maybe HK276 doesn’t have it’s original fork because of that crash during the 1976 Tour? It was a serious crash, was the original fork damaged?
TI-Raleigh had been using the ‘new’ Reynolds 753 tube successfully for a little while. Dave Lloyd smashed the RRA 50 mile record in late 1974. The Roy Schuiten bike I featured a short while ago is another example of this Imperial 753 tubeset. Roy rode this bike to victory in the 1975 GP Lugano and Grand Prix des Nations.
Note the use of modified Carlton Capella lugs on Schuiten’s bike, just like HK276.
TI-Raleigh Tour de France – HK276
I’m quite confident saying this…
HK276 is the first bike to win a stage of the Tour de France for TI-Raleigh, and this is also the first time a bike built from Reynolds 753 won a Tour de France stage.