1974 Raleigh SBDU frames, there aren’t too many, believed to be no more than 50. My thoughts on the use of the word ‘Rare’ are documented in my blog, I think it is used too much to incorrectly describe common SBDU frames. But just like my 753 Dynaflite, I think SB9 rightly deserves it. This is one of the most rare SBDU frames, a single digit SB frame number.
Another Email Dropped into my Inbox
First contact Friday 8 May 2020
I’ve had some amazing contact over the years with offers of bikes and frames. However, sometimes these emails aren’t offering anything, they contain stories about bikes that capture their history perfectly. Bill wasn’t offering me his bike directly, he wanted to pass it to another caretaker but wasn’t sure of how to do that. Bill’s email was 308 words long and the first 229 were a recap of how he came to own it via his old college room mate and that mate’s brother’s bike shop. I love to hear the history and to know as much as I can about these bikes.
Then almost at the end of the email, Bill dropped in the frame number of his bike…
My bike is a Raleigh Team Professional SB9
Yep, that had me hooked. SB9 isn’t a ‘find’, it has been known in the SB world for some time, but neither the bike or it’s owner have been very public, so I’ve only ever seen images. I am always honest with people that get in touch with me and even though Bill’s email came in just before midnight, I replied straight away.
I have to be honest with you Bill, I would really like to take care of SB9 if you were serious about passing it on to it’s next steward.
Second Email – Bill’s reply Saturday 9 May 2020
He agreed and he offered a price but asked if I would take care of packaging and shipping. He also included an image of the bike.
I could see the changes Bill had described, the saddle, rims and tyres. However, the bike looked in remarkable condition in that image, looking at the chrome, the paint quality and the unbroken transfers.
Then he followed up with another email containing an old thread of correspondence with his old college room mate. I loved it, loads of interesting information, lots of talk about bikes, the bike shop and racing teams.
By the 12th May it was at a local bike shop to Bill in Michigan, ready to be packed. It would be ready by the end of the week.
Sunday 17 May 2020 – Bike was boxed and ready
I picked up the packed bike today. The young man who packed it said he got an education about the bike as he was about to pack it. The shop owner saw it and said to him ‘Do you know what that is?’ and proceeded to tell him the story about Raleigh Team Pro’s. I guess the owner was pretty excited to have one in his shop and enjoyed greatly looking it over. The young man was fascinated by the history and shared with me that he could feel the precision and quality in the fasteners as he disassembled for packaging.
I used his box dimensions and box weight to book a shipping company – they would pick it up from him the following day. Bill got paid for the bike and the work done to package the bike. I emailed him the shipping documents to attach to the box and then sat back to nervously wait for SB9.
Bill and I definately enjoyed this little exchange of emails and also the exchange of ownership. It really is a case of passing from one caretaker to the next.
He emailed the following day to let me know the bike had been collected!
SB9 was back in the UK
Wednesday 20th May 2020
I received a phone call from the courier while I was at work, just after 10AM. It was the delivery driver saying that he had dropped of my package. It was here!
From early Monday, to Early Wednesday, SB9 had travelled from the US to the UK. It went through 2 sets of customs and was delivered and waiting for me to finish work. I finished early!
Opening the box
Looking back, I got a couple of facts wrong in the video, but the excitement was too much.
Although the light was fading by the time I had created and uploaded my video to my YouTube channel, I couldn’t resist taking some images.
1974 Raleigh SBDU SB9 – A Closer Look
Some Unique Detail
As you can imagine, access to single digit SB frames is limited. So SB9 provides an opportunity to observe and document if and how they might differ to other later SB numbered bikes. There is no definitive pattern on early frames – there simply aren’t enough. We already know that frame number stampings are in different orientations on early frames, and as far as we know, each frame could be different in other ways.
We already know that the transfers and scheme differ between single digit frames and those frames in the ‘teens’. The next original SB frames are SB15 and SB19, and they have a different style of transfer and different wording. SB10 and SB14 are known but are repaints. The transfer style on SB9 has no black outline and has a wider centre line.
The transfer wording is ‘TEAM’. This changed at some point between SB9 and SB15, when the style and wording was changed. The black outline appeared and the wording changed to ‘TEAM RALEIGH’. Here is SB1861 as an example.
Two other small features that differ between SB9 and SB14 are the finish to the bottom of the seat tube/seat pin slot, and the bottle boss.
SB14 has the typical reinforcement washer at the bottom of the slot. These reinforcements do occasionally break away. However, as you can see on SB9, there is no evidence that this frame was reinforced, the paint is intact and no damage is visible; this feature is original.
The bottle boss is also different to SB14. SB9 has a simple circular boss. SB14 has what some describe as a gear lever boss, a circular fitting with a square base similar in style to what you would see with a gear lever fitting.
So within these 5 frames, the design changed. The SBDU were already evolving frames, I’d love to know the reasoning for these subtle changes so early on.
Super Record Components and Dating
There is nothing conclusively known about how or why, or in what state of build these early frames were supplied. Or why they appear so frequently in the US. Everything discussed is an assumption. Why have all the known 1974 frames appeared in the US (SB50 is in South Africa)? Were these supplied as complete bikes? Were they supplied as frames? What components, if any were supplied with them? These questions cannot be answered factually, they can be discussed, and people can have an opinion, but there can never be a conclusive argument that solves the mystery of these early bikes. Individual bikes could have a known history but that cannot be applied to each frame number.
SB9, has as far as I believe, the original intact Campagnolo Super Record components. It was raced by a team called the South Chicago Wheelmen. Then sold to Bill through DIno’s Raleigh shop in Chicago Heights Illinois. During Bill’s ownership, he has not removed or changed any of the Campagnolo components. So there is only that short period before his ownership that remains unknown.
Some Campagnolo components are date stamped. The rear derailleur, crank arms and hub lock nuts are coded.
The rear derailleur is marked ‘PATENT-73′, the lock nut is stamped ’74’ and the crank arm has a 4 inside a diamond which is ‘1974’.
Early Campagnolo Features
Other components can be identified as ‘early’ by markings or design features.
Fittings and Transfers
The early frames didn’t have the additional strengthening and threading in the seat lug. SB9 uses a Campagnolo seat bolt. This frame also has no brazed on guides for the gear cables at the bottom bracket or top tube brake cable guides/stops.
Early TI Scheme Transfers
The transfers on SB9 are in amazing condition and highlight everything I documented in my blog post about the 1974 – 1983 TI-Raleigh Paint and Transfer Scheme. The frame correctly displays the ‘Campagnolo’ oval transfer on the down tube and the ‘Race Proved’ transfer at the base of the seat tube.
The SBDU had no regular pattern with the use of the Reynolds 531 transfer on early frames. They occasionally used this transfer with or without the name box at the bottom of the transfer. SB9 has the name box version correctly showing ‘Reynolds Tube’ rather than ‘TI-Reynolds’. SB9 also has the early style circular TI transfer on the fork blade.
Seat Tube Bands and SBDU Oval
There are no SBDU ovals on the chain stays – this is correct.
SB9 also correctly has no black and white bands separating the black centre section and the upper/lower yellow sections.
Paint and Chrome
There is often some debate about a possible earlier type/shade of Red on the Ti scheme. Some believe that the early frames had a slightly lighter, more orange hue to the colour. SB9 has been stored indoors for a considerable amount of years, and under the dust is a very red frame with no signs of fade or orange hue.
I’ll be able to demonstrate this colour better once I have the frame stripped and paintwork cleaned. The fork is also correct with a full chrome finish.
Finally there is that beautiful yellow head tube…
SB9 has no size stamping but measures 52cm (centre of BB to top tip of seat lug). The head lugs are almost touching at the back of the head tube. Note that there is no black line outlining the yellow head tube. SB6, SB9, SB19 and SB28 all show this solid yellow tube flowing into the red of the frame with no black lug line. SB15 is ‘partly’ original. It had a black head tube which later revealed yellow paint underneath. SB15 has a black lug line.
I have no difficulty in saying that SB9 is the most complete and original SB. It is original in terms of paint, transfers, chrome and components. It is also the best surviving earliest example with very little deterioration to the paint, transfers and chrome.
The saddle, rims, tyres and bar tape have been changed.
My plan is to clean SB9 but preserve all of the original components and features that still exist on this bike. Sadly I cannot do anything to save the brake lever hoods.
I plan to return SB9 to sprint rims and tubs. I’ll also track down a used Cinelli saddle (that is the saddle Bill said he removed). I will also fit some period black cotton bar tape. But I hope to retain all other fittings including all the original cables, clips and fastenings.
And of course, I will document every step of the process with full imagery and descriptions of everything I discover!
Here is another look at this superb surviving SB bike…