The Raleigh UK TI-Raleigh 40th anniversary frameset has arrived! A few days after placing my order, the courier knocked on the front door and left a large cardboard box. In just a few minutes I had the camera set to record and I started talking.
Before the Raleigh UK Launch Event
Before moving on to the unboxing and review, here is a recap of the last few weeks.
Raleigh UK had made a few announcements, something new and special was coming! And then at midday on the 20th July, they announced the 40th anniversary Reynolds 753 TI Raleigh bike to commemorate Joop’s success in the 1980 Tour de France. I sent Raleigh a Facebook message within minutes of watching the short promotional video. Although I cheekily asked for a frame to review, I did also give them a short bio and some links to some TI-Raleigh specific blog posts I’d written that I thought they would find interesting.
There was no reply from Raleigh…
So I did what many others did and signed up for more info and then also the launch event.
I received a Facebook message for Guy Kesteven who told me he was doing an unboxing video of the anniversary bike on behalf of Raleigh. Guy wanted to know if he could use some of my blog info with a credit on his video. I said ok and we exchanged a few messages and information.
After checking my messages again, I still hadn’t heard from Raleigh…
I sent them a further message on 17th August.
Eventually on the 18th someone replied to my message. An apology was given, and they also provided the email address for Raleigh’s Marketing department. So I emailed them. I got a reply. It included this sentence in response to my concerns over details and my question about what they were wanting to create, especially as they were using the word ‘iconic’.
The project was indeed to create a like for like replica of the original TI that Joop used back in 1980 when he won the tour, and you’re absolutely right – detail is key.Raleigh UK
A bit of an impersonal email, simply signed off as ‘Raleigh’. But it was very clear – this was a project to create something like for like, and more importantly, “detail was key”. And that was the end of that.
The delivery day came. I heard a knock on the door and it was here. Within the external postage box was the ‘TI-Raleigh’ 1980 frameset box together with my certificate of authenticity and frame number, TI40-192.
I wanted to produce an unboxing video, and I wanted my reaction to be genuine. I didn’t want to do the video after I’d opened the box as I wouldn’t have had that ‘gut reaction’ that is so important. Here is the video…
About My Review
Before I move on, my review is only a look at the detail of the frameset. I’m not reviewing where it was made, or the suitability of those that constructed this frame. I’m not covering the many questions and comments about a UK builder, or even the question over its intended use, indicated by the small top tube transfer “Not For Competition Use“.
My speciality is the detail, that is the area I’ll cover.
Let’s Start with the Fork
This crown was clear to see in the marketing images so I knew what to expect.
One thing I’ll say about this frame is that Raleigh have mixed up lots of details between different design periods and they’ve also mixed up differences between SB numbered and actual Team frames; there isn’t a consistency. The TI replica fork crown is a cross breed of a Cinelli CC, Vagner and Zeus.
The SBDU built with extra detail that often wasn’t seen on Team frames, it simply wasn’t needed. The drilled tang on the inside of the crown against the fork blade was a separate piece. It was or wasn’t used depending on the model of frame. This was an extra addition that the team rarely, if ever, used.
The main thing that you notice about the crown on TI40-192 is that it is flat, and that is something you see in several features of this frame. I would describe the features on this frame as blocky or square. You can see the slight slope on Cees Priem’s fork crown above. That small slope takes away that squareness.
The fork end follows on with the ‘blocky’ design. You can also see a small bit of lumpy unevenness just under the paint near the end of the blade. That isn’t connected to the blocky fork end, it is poor finishing.
I’ve built a frame before, however, I would never call myself a frame builder. But I’m sure the squareness of the fork end where it meets the blade could have been removed so that the blade flows into the end?
This is my own fork prior to brazing and you can clearly see how the fork end enters the blade in a similar style to the new TI-Raleigh.
The square edge where the fork end enters the blade can be altered with a file so they flow into the blade. The bottom left image shows how my fork ends finally turned out with finishing and paint.
Circular TI Fork Blade Transfer
My TI-Raleigh paint scheme blog post has been around since January 2018. Raleigh got their placement wrong, even though they say this is all about the detail. Their placement is far too low.
I know this is being ‘picky’, but this was such an easy thing to get right, but it is sadly wrong on this replica. SBDU fork blade transfers were much higher. Raleigh’s placement is amateurish.
Moving onto the Frame
This is the figure head, the brand emblem, the feature known across the world as defining a Raleigh bike.
So why doesn’t it fit?
Neither side of the badge touches the head tube. The badge doesn’t have the same curve as the tube. Was this badge designed for a larger tube, something oversize? Have Raleigh tried to retro-fit a badge to this replica?
The image I posted on Facebook of the frame ends of TI40-192 has the most comments; those comments aren’t complimentary.
I don’t know what is going on here. The only resemblance to the frame ends on a Team frame is that they are not drilled. No definition, blocky, lumpy, poor finishing – a complete mess. I can’t say anything more. I don’t want to say anything more. This is a terrible way to finish this detail. What must the craftsmen who built the original be thinking.
Spot the odd one out above… from left to right, (top SB1995, SB3505, SB3800), (bottom Cees Priem CP.1.79, TI40-192).
It is just a frame end. It just holds the wheel in the frame, but the Campagnolo 1010/B frame end and how the stays are cleanly and simply cut are one of the signature features on an SBDU and a TI-Raleigh. Raleigh have got this so wrong on the replica.
Seat Stay Caps
Just like the Campagnolo 1010/B ends, the oversize seat stay cap is such an identifier of the SBDU/Team TI-Raleigh. It can often be the first frame feature that will help to identify one of these frames. Raleigh UK use the word “Iconic” in their marketing material, and the original caps are Iconic.
The original SBDU/Team seat stay caps are clean and crisp and sharp, well defined, flat, plain but such an outstanding feature. Even when seat stay design changed and Reynolds switched from the larger single taper to the smaller double taper stay, the SBDU still managed to retain all the simple elegance of the seat stay cap in a slightly smaller design.
The TI replica caps barely seem to exist. There is no clear definition. They are rounded, indistinct and blunt, they have lost that “Iconic” status.
The selection, design and placement of frame transfers are not restricted by modern standards. They are not restricted by modern materials of parts selection. Doing some research and placing these correctly would have made up for some of the other disappointing features of this replica.
Top Tube, Down Tube and Chain Stay
Wrong size, wrong locations. The letters are too small and the placement of the down tube and chain stay transfers are too low on the tube.
When you stand at the side of a bike you look down onto the bike, you look down onto the tops of the tubes – you don’t look directly at the side of a bike. Therefore, when your eye looks down, you should see the transfers. This example demonstrates my point. This is a comparison of SB3505 against SB4059. When you look down on the tube you see the transfers.
This is TI40-192
When you look down onto the down tube you see paint, you barely see the ‘TI-Raleigh’ name.
Here is a comparison of the chain stay transfers between TI40-192 and SB6827 (an original paint SB frame).
It’s a relatively small detail but the wrong placement stands out. Just moving the transfer up round the stay slightly makes a massive difference but Raleigh UK didn’t do this.
Wrong size letters, no painted panels, wrong Reynolds 753 transfer placement.
The red circles around the bottle bosses are a sign of a seat tube transfer. Rather than add an additional step, a more simple solution was used on the replica. That was to leave the seat tube ‘red’ and fit a transfer that wraps around the tube, forming the lettering and coloured panels. But could it have been an option to mask and paint the seat tube to create the panels? After all, the frame was masked to create the black head tube. What amount of extra work would it be to create the seat tube panels in the same way. If you look at any cheap repaint, you will see the same red areas around the bottle bosses and the same wrap around transfer.
The RALEIGH block lettering is also several millimetres smaller per letter. This gives the overall impression that the coloured panels are out of proportion with the length of the seat tube.
The Reynolds 753 frame transfer occupies the centre of the space between the lower point of the seat lug and top yellow seat tube band. It is out of place and needs to be much higher. This montage of SBDU painted frames demonstrates THE correct position.
Again, it’s a small detail, but the wrong placement of the replica transfer is obvious. Surely it could have been placed further up towards the seat lug?
TI40-192 is a frame with Imperial diameter Reynolds 753 tubes. That means it has a 28.6mm seat tube diameter with a 27.2mm seat post. This is equivalent to 1982 – 1989 Reynolds 753R and 1989+ 753 tubing. Here is a selection of weight data from my SBDU frame collection…
An average weight for this size 753R frame would be approx 1750 grams. TI40-192 tips the scales at 2027 grams. This is with all the included fittings removed. That weight puts it close to the bottom of the table, and into the range of an older 531 butted frame of a similar size.
Where is this additional weight hiding? It is between 250-300 grams heavier than expected.
It can only be in the frame fittings. The frame ends, bottom bracket shell and unrefined, thick frame lugs will almost certainly be responsible.
This is a brand new Reynolds 753 frame – that’s great, and I’m looking forward to building it. And that is where the goodness and similarity ends.
I asked Raleigh UK the direct question…
I’m not sure if the project was to create a close replica or just something that looks red, yellow and black. As the word ‘iconic’ is used then I assume you wanted something that recreates the original – that is a ‘Raleigh 753 Ti-Raleigh’.My Question
I’ve already quoted the reply, but here it is again…
The project was indeed to create a like for like replica of the original TI that Joop used back in 1980 when he won the tour, and you’re absolutely right – detail is key.Raleigh UK’s Response
Based on their response, I compared the replica to the original, I think that was a fair comparison. From the reaction my images and video have already had, I can see that the TI-Raleigh fans also expected a like for like frame.
Did I find that the replica was a like for like comparison? Did I find the detail that Raleigh UK said was ‘key’? Sadly I didn’t.
With terrible frame ends, seat caps that don’t do it, a fork crown that doesn’t fit in, poor frame transfers and a frame weight that falls outside of any other 753 frame in my collection, TI40-192 is nothing more than a collection of red, black and yellow heat treated steel tubes.
My feelings are echoed by the comments I am receiving on my YouTube unboxing video.
Raleigh UK could have and should have done better. This isn’t a tribute to the bike or frame that Joop and the team rode to victory in 1980.