A Bob Jackson 753 from 1975? Yes, that is how it appears. It’s only the presence of an SB frame number that confirms this as a Raleigh SBDU. For many years, the story of this frame was unknown. It is only recently that a clue has been found. However, even with that clue, the story is still only 95% complete. One question still remains unanswered.
I’ve been aware of this frame for almost 10 years. For 9 of those years, SB498 was the earliest known SB numbered Reynolds 753 frame. All 753 frames before this were built for the TI-Raleigh team. But in the last year, 2 earlier frames very close to this frame number have now surfaced.
The previous owner had emailed on a few occasions since 2016, after I gave SB498 it’s own section in my SBDU Frame Detail timeline. And then 11 days ago, he emailed me again, with an offer I couldn’t refuse. After agreeing to buy SB498, I arranged the courier to collect it from the US on the Monday, and by the Thursday, it was with me.
This is the history of SB498 as told by Richard, the previous owner…
“Here is the history of this frame as best I recall (you are welcome to use any of this information on your site). I started working for Campus Bike Shop in Columbus Ohio in September 1977. The owner of the shop, Wilbur Scott (now deceased), had himself raced bicycles in the 50’s and his shop was the hub for the racing community. Wilbur liked to have specialty frames and bikes hanging on the walls, from antiques to the latest technology available.
One of these frames was SB498 finished as Bob Jackson livery. The story as I recalled was that Wilbur picked this up at the 1975 New York International Cycle show and it was the first 753 frame in the US. From everything I can determine, 1975 is not an accurate year for this and in fact 1977 may be the most likely, with a possibility of it being 1976. What I know for sure is it was on the wall by fall of 1977.
Occasionally when work was slow I would get out a step ladder and take this frame down. I knew this frame inside and out from the lug work to the dropouts to the pinning of the stays to the BB shell. I owned a number of other high-end bikes at the time, really wanted this frame. At some point, around 1979 or 1980, I don’t really recall, Wilbur had been on a longer ride to southern Ohio and found he wasn’t going to make it back before dark. He called into the shop, and I drove down about 30 miles and picked him up. It was on the drive back as we were talking that he mentioned he knew I really liked that frame, and if I wanted it he would let me have it for a good price.
I built this frame with full Campagnolo Super Record first generation components, but I think the titanium bottom bracket axles were already off the market and I used a Teledyne axle. Aside from a set of typical sew-ups I also had an ultra-light set of time trial wheels built. I was just a club racer at best, and only used this bike for a number of 25-mile time trials and an occasional Sunday ride in good weather. In the late 80’s being short of cash I pulled and sold most of the components. In 1995 I built it back up, got a USCF license again, and raced in a small number of time trials with less than impressive results. Sometime after that I dismantled it again, and it has not been built up since. I am pretty confident this frame has at most 500 miles of use.”Richard – previous owner of SB498
The Puzzle and the Clue
The puzzle is how such a low SB numbered 753 frame can have original paint but be in the livery of Bob Jackson?
I mentioned earlier about a clue to the history of this frame, which gave an answer to the unusual livery. Just before Richard emailed earlier this month, he found a link to a Flickr album with a picture of SB498!
The Flickr album is titled “1978-1982 NY Int Bike Shows #1“
The album belongs to Dale Brown who runs the Classic Rendezvous site and the associated discussion group. Dale has allowed me to use his images in this post.
The picture above does indeed show SB498, displayed at a cycle show.
The New York Cycle Show 1976
Although the Flickr album is titled 1978 – 82, the images in it, from the Bob Jackson stand, are from 1976. The show, which was held in mid February ’76, was reported in Bicycling magazine in 2 parts, the first in April ’76. This page from that article, from the Velo Pages site, shows a picture of a loaded Bob Jackson tourer…
Here is the same Bob Jackson tourer in Dale’s Flickr album…
These confirm the date that SB498 was displayed as 1976, and more importantly, it narrows the date to mid February 1976.
SBDU Frame Number Timeline
Why is mid February 1976 important in this story?
Firstly, it supports Richard’s story that SB498 was on the wall of Campus bike shop in the fall of 1977. But it is also important because it helps to confirm my own SBDU Frame Number Date Timeline. The section relating to 1975 is quoted here…
Started at SB51.
The end of 1975 and start of 1976 is a period that can be date referenced. Reynolds 753 was introduced at the Paris Cycle Show in October 1975. Until that point, 753 had been used exclusively by the TI-Raleigh team as part of the research and development between the SBDU and the Reynolds Tube Company. SB498 is the first SB numbered (non team) 753 frame known to exist so I’ve dated this frame to the same year as the introduction of the tubing, 1975. The first frame with proof of build and delivery dates is SB576, another 753 frame – this has a documented build/delivery date of Feb/Mar 1976. This first hand documentary evidence ties in with me placing SB498 at the end of 1975. Therefore, a good clean point to place the end of 1975 based on known documentary evidence is SB500.”Written before the discovery of two earlier SB numbered 753 frames.
If SB498 was built, painted, shipped and then displayed in mid February 1976, it is great evidence to strengthen my timeline and adds credence to my research.
SB498 Frame Details
It’s believed that SB498 was supplied as a bare frame and was then painted in the Bob Jackson livery. This could well explain the red lug lining. This type of lug detail wasn’t the norm on SBDU frames. However, the infills carried out on the lugs, fork blades and bottom bracket shell were all typical on 753 frames before also becoming the norm on 531 frames, up until a certain period.
For a recap on SBDU frame and fork ends please have a read of my timeline, written specifically about this little SBDU detail. The ends on SB498 are the very first short Campagnolo 1010/B type with the first type of SBDU drilling. These holes are drilled all the way through. On later ends, only some holes were completely drilled while others were partially drilled.
The red detailing also extends to the drilled holes.
They are the same style as the ends on SB664 which dates to Easter time 1976.
Seat Stay Caps
Reynolds 753 forced a different approach to selecting frame components. Heat input had to be kept low. So the usual frame components on SBDU 531 frames such as lugs and seat stay caps were not used on their 753 frames. SB 531 frames used a plug type seat stay cap, but the early 753 frames used a predecessor of the oversize cap. The seat stay was fitted with a flush cap. You can see this flush cap under the paint on SB632.
Information about SBDU seat stay caps can be found in this timeline.
So here’s a thing, all three of the lowest SB numbered 753 frames are different. The earliest (which I don’t have much detail on, and which appears to be a repaint), has a fillet brazed head tube/down tube/top tube – so has no head lugs. SB497 (original paint in TI colours) has Carlton Capella head lugs. SB498 appears to have Bocama Super-Professional R3 type lugs seen below. All 3 are different to how SBDU 753 frames continued.
The fork crown is the semi sloping type, typical of the SBDU period, with stiffeners on the inside of each blade. The crown follows on in the rest of the style of SB498 with red lining and infills.
SB498 is a Metric Reynolds 753 frame. I’ll provide more measurements and details when I measure and document the geometry. Frame weight (with all fittings removed) is 1565 grams. Fork weight is 654 grams.
The frame weight is lower than average for a 57cm SBDU based on similar frames in my collection.
The Remaining Question
This is the last part of the story – and it’s still unknown.
At last, after puzzling for several years, Richard and I now know why this SBDU frame is painted as a Bob Jackson. It was used by them as a show display frame!
Why was a Raleigh SBDU frame, with an SB number, built from the brand new Reynolds 753 tubing, painted as ‘Bob Jackson’ and then displayed along side all the other Bob Jackson frames and bikes at the New York 1976 Cycle Show? What was the reason for this?
Richard has already asked the question of the remaining Bob Jackson staff. At first they said they had no information on SB498, but after Richard sent an image, they are now going to try and dig a bit deeper and see if they can pick some older brains for some answers. While Richard is pursuing that avenue of investigation, I’m going to try and do my own. First stop will be Dale’s own Classic Rendezvous discussion group which is full of experience and knowledge, and where I know at least one ex Bob Jackson frame builder can be found.
I know the following…
- SB498 dates to the end of 1975
- It’s only the third SB numbered 753 frame
- It follows all the design patterns of the SBDU 753 frames apart from the lugs (which are all different on the three earliest frames)
- The paint is original
- It was displayed with other Bob Jackson frames and bikes at the New York Cycle Show in mid February 1976
- As Richard believes, it may be the earliest 753 frame to appear in the US
- The first two SB numbered 753 frames are Imperial tubing – SB498 is Metric
What I don’t yet know…
Were Bob Jackson hoping to take orders for 753 frames, but had nothing to exhibit, so the SBDU built some frames for them?
Hopefully the answer will come soon so I can 100% know the full story of SB498.