Is there a definitive truth about what each numbered bike was used for. Every now and then I dip into social media. I often jump straight back out after reading some comments. The problem can be that lots of statements are made, and worryingly, lots of those statements are believed. But what’s behind these statements, where did they come from, are there any proven facts, should they be believed without question. Hopefully in this post I can try and debunk a couple of different stories I’ve heard about TI-Raleigh team bike numbers.
I really don’t know where some of these stories originate. I’ve written about Chinese whispers before. Everyone knows what they are, stories that have had the original meaning changed each time they are retold. There are also those people who profess to know someone who knows someone who has a friend that knows someone’s brother who knew someone who knew someone connected to the team. Ultimately, I can never find any credence in many of the tales I read. They are simply words, a story, a well told tale!
What can I Do?
I’ve decided to try and use HK.2.76, my Hennie Kuiper bike, in an attempt to clarify, or at least cast some reasonable doubt on these stories. I regularly use the frames and bikes in my collection to check and verify SBDU information. I never profess to be knowledgeable about the TI-Raleigh team, but HK.2.76 might help on this occasion.
I pride myself on research, on not just blindly accepting what I’m told. I try and make everything I write on my blog as proven as possible. How can HK.2.76 help? Well, it was ridden by a reigning world champion wearing the rainbow jersey, so he is easy to spot in a photograph. The bike also had Carlton Capella lugs, so that bike is also relatively easy to spot.
Here are the two I hear most often.
- Bike number ‘1’ was for racing ‘2’ was for training…
- Bike number ‘1’ was for classics, bike number ‘2’ was for tours…
But whenever I hear these stories, there is never a back story or proof of their accuracy.
According to one of these stories, HK.2.76 should have been a training bike; while according to the other, it was a tour bike? According to story 1, I shouldn’t see it in any races; according to story 2, I shouldn’t see it in any classics? It’s already confusing.
Hennie Kuiper’s 1976 Bikes
I’m only aware of two 1976 Kuiper road bikes. Here is how to identify both of his bikes.
How Many Team Road Bikes per Rider
Note that I’m making the distinction of ‘Road’ bikes. At this point, others such as Track bikes were noted differently. My Jan Raas track bike is noted ‘JR178T’ – he would also have had a ‘JR178’ road bike. Up until 1979, I’ve only found examples of riders having 2 road bikes. 1979 is the first year I’ve seen a number ‘3’ bike. From then on, especially in the last couple of years of TI-Raleigh, some riders could have up to 4 or 5 bikes.
Reynolds 531 – Chrome fork – Plain Prugnat Lugs – Band on Gear Levers
This bike sold at auction in 2018. A Reynolds 531 frame with a chrome fork and band on gear levers. It has the appearance of a repaint. I’m saying that because it’s too clean, the paint and chrome are too fresh. This bike was 42 years old at the time of the sale and was an ex professional’s bike; these bikes don’t stay pristine!
The description that accompanied the sale was:
A Raleigh road racing bicycle. The Dutchman Hennie Kuiper’s official team frame for 1976, his year as world professional road racing champion and bearing the frame number HK1 76. Used by Kuiper in all that year’s one day classics and the Tour de France…HK176 Auction Information
That description forms a 3rd story of how these bikes were used! HK.1.76 was used in all the one day classics and the Tour de France! So is that story correct?
Reynolds 753 – Painted Red Fork – Carlton Capella Lugs – Braze on Gear Levers
If you read TI-Raleigh Tour de France Hennie Kuiper HK276 you should know how I proved HK.2.76 was used by Hennie to win TI-Raleigh’s first ever Tour de France stage (stage 4 1976). That proof is already going against the stories I’ve mentioned above? Bike number 2 used in a tour goes against story 1 and the auction story.
What DID HK.2.76 Prove in my Research?
I took to the internet, trying to find as many examples of Hennie riding in 1976. And then looking to see if I could identify the race and bike.
Amstel Gold (27 March 1976)
Hennie riding in the 1976 Amstel Gold. The bike has Capella lugs and a painted fork. Note the other TI-Raleigh in the image with part chromed fork.
Tour of Flanders (4 April 1976)
Hennie riding in the Tour of Flanders. The bike he is riding has Capella lugs and a painted fork.
Gent–Wevelgem (6 April 1976)
Hennie riding in the 1976 Gent – Wevelgem. Note the chromed fork and band on gear levers. This isn’t HK.2.76
Paris-Roubaix (11 April 1976)
Everyone knows this race, immortalised in the film, “A Sunday in Hell”. Kuiper finished 4th.
It’s proved difficult finding any good images of Hennie in this race, so I’ve gone over this video a few times trying to get some good quality screen captures. The screen grabs aren’t good enough quality to show lug detail, but what they can show is a clear red painted fork… HK.2.76
Hennie features significantly in this film as he was part of the 4 riders who had a break away at the end of the race.
Tour de Suisse (9 June – 18 June 1976)
There are a couple of clear images of Hennie riding in the Tour de Suisse (which he won). They both show a bike with a red fork and Carlton Capella lugs. You can also see that the lower cropped image shows braze on levers and, if you look carefully, a Reynolds 753 transfer. Hennie is riding HK.2.76 in this race.
Tour de France (24 June – 18 July)
Hennie’s use of HK.2.76 in the 1976 Tour de France is already proved.
Red painted fork, Capella lugs, braze on gear levers… Hennie rode HK.2.76 in the Tour de France.
The images above show that Hennie rode HK.2.76 in at least the following mix of 1976 races…
- Amstel Gold
- Tour of Flanders
- Tour de Suisse
- Tour de France
He crashed later in the Tour de France and that might have been the end of HK.2.76 (or maybe just the fork)!
It looks like Hennie rode HK.1.76 in Gent-Wevelgem
Don’t believe what you are told, don’t take someone’s comment verbatim, that’s my simple conclusion. You should check the source of the information you are given. If there is no source then you have only been told a tale.
I haven’t proved a definitive truth. But what I have done is prove by doing a simple search of the internet that the 2 stories I mentioned earlier, and the auction description of HK.1.76 aren’t correct. Hennie’s 2nd bike (HK.2.76) wasn’t just a training bike, it wasn’t just a ‘Tour’ bike. It’s clear that HK.1.76 wasn’t used in all that years classics. It doesn’t appear to have featured in the Tour de France as claimed.
There are no clear, rigid rules to define how each bike was used.
I don’t claim to ‘know’, but I do claim to try and make sure that I have a good basis and fundamental solid background to support what I say.