This SBDU Time Trial Special will definately move straight into my featured frames section. My collection is full of significant and special examples of SBDU bikes and frames and SB2476 deserves it’s place in this category because it goes right back to my initial search for SBDU information way back in 2011.
If you Google the term ‘SBDU’ right now, you will probably see loads of hits for my website (sorry about that). If you did this same search in 2011, before I had my blog, you would maybe get a couple of hits. One of those hits would have been the old Yahoo TI-Raleigh Team Pros group (now a Google group). The other would have been ‘Classic Lightweights’. Under the builders section on that site, there is a listing for Raleigh SBDU – Specialist Bicycle Development Unit.
My First SBDU Frame
It was October or November 2011 when I first saw SB4059 advertised on eBay. I was thinking about buying it as a project to build a Team Pro. At the time, I didn’t have any other SB frames and certainly had no plans to start a collection; this was going to be a one off thing. These are the eBay images of SB4059…
As you can see, these are three small low resolution images that barely show any detail. It looked like a glossy red frame with a few transfers and no real frame details on show. I joined the Yahoo group and searched the Albums and Conversations section. Still massively unsure, I bought it on a hunch.
I put pen to paper electronically for the first time in January 2012 with my first blog post introducing SB4059. It was an extremely short post by my current standards, but you will see that I included that same Classic Lightweights link.
Classic Lightweights Article
Part way down the page in that article there is the heading, “A prime example of a classic Raleigh SBDU time-trial machine 1979“.
I have to admit that the link and information didn’t help too much. The SBDU Time Trial Special bike featured didn’t have the same details, paint scheme or transfers as SB4059. However, the article at least gave me some background knowledge, and that bike stuck in my mind!
Written in 2010, it states that the bike was stored for 30 years. That means the bike was put into storage in 1980, a little over a year after it was built. As you will see later in the images, the bike condition certainly backs up that story.
Many years after my first SBDU frame, and armed with much more knowledge, I researched and wrote my own SBDU build timeline that shifted the featured SBDU bike into late 1978 rather than the date given in the article of 1979.
Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Frame Numbers & Dates (Ilkeston Period)
|Year||Start Number||End Number||Location|
|1987||SB8431||SB8432 - SB8438||Ilkeston|
|1987||SB8432 - SB8438||-||Nottingham|
The size of ’59 square’ is slightly wrong too. SB2476 is a 61cm SB frame, this makes it 59.5cm centre to centre. That’s only a small difference but still 5mm (5mm is a whole frame size for SBDU 753 frames).
You wouldn’t believe how many people quote the wrong frame number in their messages when they contact me. This article is no different and also has the wrong frame number. It lists the bike as SB2471 when it is actually SB2476.
The first contact was January 2020.
Emails dropping into my Inbox offering SBDU bikes are great. Any email contact from my blog is interesting, but when the very first line of the email is “Would you be interested in buying…” they certainly get my attention. The email got even more attention when the bike offered was the Classic Lightweights SBDU Time Trial Special.
The issue with SB2476 was it’s location, Australia!
I’ve bought from Australia before, but it was only a frame and fork, and that was packaged into a parcel that could be shipped relatively quickly and cheaply by Australia Post. But this was a complete bike.
I have to thank the seller, Ian, for his efforts in sourcing shipping quotes and prices. He sourced a few options and prices during February and then COVID lockdown happened and it was mid May before we picked things up again. However, by the end of May, SB2476 was paid for and in early June it began its voyage on a container ship – due in the UK in 3 months.
After a long day at work, with grubby hands still covered in oil, and feeling a bit hot and fatigued from several hours of delivering training and wearing a face covering, I set up the camera once again. The shipping box was huge and there was loads of wrapping (although that’s a good thing), so I decided to unbox and show the bike rather than struggle with sticky strong Duct tape on camera.
I like to capture and then document the condition of every new arrival. Sometimes I’ll do extra work to clean and preserve them so it’s important to have a record of how they were. I’m already sure that SB2476 will get a clean, but will then remain in this wonderful original condition.
Frame Number and Size
SB2476 dates to late 1978 and has an H reference of ‘523’. This reference was used on frames from late 1975/early 1976 until sometime in the SB3000s. I believe it continued on build sheets but not stamped on frames.
This is a 61cm frame. The SBDU sizing method was centre of bottom bracket to top tip of seat lug.
According to the Classic Lightweights article, the wheels were built by Ken Bird.
Wheels: Mavic gold ORO10 sprint rims on Omas small flange hubs and alloy skewers. These wheels were built by Tour de France mechanic Ken Bird. Front, radially spoked. Rear, crossed, tied and soldered drive side.Classic Lightweights
The tyres, which are Clement Criterium, are ‘not for riding’, but they are original so will stay on these rims. If this bike was ever to be ridden, it would need a different set of wheels fitted.
A close ratio 5 speed freewheel is listed in the spec but a 6 speed Aluminium? ZEUS is fitted. The original did however come packaged with the bike.
Brakes and Bars
Like a lot of other SBDU and Team bikes, SB2476 connects the EDCO Competition headset to it’s bars with a Cinelli 1A stem. The Criterium bars aren’t my favourite because of the top curve, but in this Time Trial application, the tops are not used. As you can see by the cotton tape, only the drops are in use. The MAFAC brake levers are also in a lower position. The popular Weinmann 500 calipers are also used.
Chainset and Rear Derailleur
A single TA chainring and Suntour Cyclone rear derailleur are connected with a Regina chain.
Transfers and General Condition
This is a 42 year old bike and the original condition is exceptional. Yes, it has some deterioration, but overall, it is surviving really well. The Reynolds 753 frame transfer and EG Bates shop sticker are disappearing and the Clement tubs are no good for any more rides, but the rest is so well preserved.
Some History of SB2476
The Classic Lightweights article was written in 2010 and it claims that the bike had been in storage for 30 years. So SB2476 must have been stored maybe a year after it was built. It was then bought in 2010 by a guy called Roger and taken over to Australia. There is a nice link with this bike and my C4619, Roger has owned both at some point, and both have been featured in online Raleigh articles.
While it was owned by Roger, SB2476 was entered in a competition in 2017 and it won it’s category.
Ian included this award when he packaged the bike and sent it back over to the UK.
One thing I like about the bikes in my collection is knowing as much history of the bikes and frames as possible, and I feel I have at least a bit of knowledge about this one!
For a short while, before bringing design closer together, Raleigh SBDU had several differences in frame features between 753 Road and 753 Time Trial Specials. I think these little known differences deserve their own blog post.