My previous post turned up a couple of surprises about SB1995. The first, smaller surprise, was the owner’s initials on the fork. The bigger surprise was the Imperial diameter tubing. SB1995 reinforces my belief that SBDU frames can be read like a book, but like a good book, it can come back and bite you with unexpected twists.
“Never assume with the SBDU”. That is a phrase I say a lot. It is a mantra I repeat when I’m assessing SBDU frames and bikes. Winding the clock back to 1978 you would think it was safe to assume that the Reynolds 753 tubing type on your frame would be Metric diameter. But remember the mantra, “Never assume with the SBDU”, “Never assume with the SBDU”, “Never assume with the SBDU”.
Recollections are a funny thing. Could you remember details or be precise about a specific date from maybe only a month ago? Could you remember a detail from ten years ago? How about four decades ago? Memories become fuzzy with the passage of time. The brain forgets, and confusion prevails. So what can I figure out about this SBDU Reynolds 753 frame based on the slightly fuzzy information I have?
It was a Thursday evening a couple of weeks ago, and as usual I was sitting in front of the laptop, half watching TV half browsing the internet, when a flashing notification from a new email caught my eye. A quick scan of the first line and reading the words ‘Raleigh 753’ grabbed my full attention.
“I have a c 1977 Raleigh 753 frame made for me when I was researching The Penguin Book of the Bicycle (1978)”Martin Gray
I’ve been collecting for years. I can go for what seems like a lifetime without a new addition while at other times I seem to have new frames coming through the door every week! But while I’ve been busily collecting, I’ve never actually done much with these beautiful bikes and frames to show them off.
I guess it’s a passion… it didn’t start out like this and I never intended it to be like this, the blog just grew quietly, and then it gathered pace, and then it snowballed and before I knew it I was helping people around the globe. I was learning stuff and then sharing everything I knew about TI-Raleigh’s Specialist Bicycle Development Unit and the frames they made. It’s taken over any spare time I have but it comes with it’s own problems.
SB518 is the third frame I have lined up this year to be painted in the TI-Raleigh colours (it’s nice to start the year with a plan). This is a solid frame and has no issues or rust, it needs no frame work and is perfect for a renovation. By the time 2020 comes around I should have this paint scheme well and truly sorted!
I have a few 2019 projects to complete and this is the second such project that happens to be a track frame and the second that needs to be brought back to it’s original TI-Raleigh appearance. The first project I mentioned for 2019 was to repaint JR178T, my Jan Raas frame. SB632 also has a famous name linked to it. Not only is it linked to one of Britain’s most famous cyclists, it is also, so far as I am aware, the earliest known SB numbered Reynolds 753 track frame.
Back in March 2018, a short but interesting email dropped into my Inbox…
I am the son off Roy Schuiten.Rob Schuiten 24th March 2018
I recently found a time trial bike off my fathers. I want to share some pictures and thoughts with you.
That was it, short and sweet, but I was intrigued and answered…
Last year took a very different direction to 2017; that year was all about snapping up everything I could find, and 14 frames was clear evidence of that eagerness. All I remember from 2017 was the expense and the amount of blogging required. But from the outset of 2018, it was all about focus, focus focus focus! It’s hard turning down frames, frames that I would normally take without a second thought, but my collection is wide ranging, and I wanted to concentrate on frames that had either some special interest or features, originality or frames that filled an existing gap.
I think I did ok.
Every now and then I spot something slightly different, something that I struggle to identify but which has the potential to be something nice, maybe even special. Usually I might be the only one to spot it which normally gives me the luxury of a little time to do some research. On this occasion though, several others had also spotted the same frame, so with a growing queue of people forming and all asking me questions about it, I had to commit on a hunch and buy it.
When I add a traditional horizontal top tube SBDU bike to my collection it can sometimes take a few careful measurements and a little bit of knowledge of the bike’s history to figure out something as subtle as whether it was built for road racing or time trials. The obvious style of SB8790 leaves me with no doubt about it’s intended purpose – I’m still going to measure and document it because that’s my process, but the 24″ front wheel and the top tube that slopes dramatically to meet the fork tells me all I need to know!
I haven’t written many ‘New Arrival’ posts this year after slowing down my collecting habit and being a bit more picky, so it really is nice to get a new frame on the workbench. An astute eBay bid, a couple of messages followed by a few hours drive and SB8200 was in my hands. This new frame is from 1986, making it a late Ilkeston built frame that appears to follow the spec of the SBDU Randonneur.
Over the years since bike number one arrived (SB4059), I’ve continued to look at what I’m collecting and I’ve tried to add frames that plug any gaps that my collection has. It’s been nearly three years since I last wrote about my “wanted list”, so as 2018 is coming to a close, I thought I would spend a little time and look again at how my collection and the “wanted list” is doing.
I always find this topic a sad one to write about. I get sad when I know that someone is spending money on a bike that may not be what they think it is and I could have helped to provide some info if only I was asked. That sad feeling prompts me to write blog posts like this; seeing SBDU bikes mis-represented by sellers; unintentionally or not, isn’t good. Do the sellers really not know what they are selling, or do buyers really just not know what they are buying? I can’t stop some sellers writing what they write in their ads but I certainly can help buyers with some helpful advice, and help them to read the signs and to spot a potential dud. I never call out a seller directly, their business is their business, but I’m always available to help any potential buyer.
Frame weight… it’s often talked about, requested and used as a measure to try and determine tubing type. From my own experience I can see several factors that affect final weight and I frequently see through my own documentation process that frame weight can be very random and time and again I see that it can be impossible to correlate frame weight to frame size to frame tubing.
SB6560 arrived in terrible condition with missing gear lever bosses and poorly applied transfers. It is a frame that has always been overlooked and put on the back burner while other projects came in and took over. Underneath the skin however, it is a lovely 531c SBDU Services des Courses frame that now deserves to hit the top of the project pile!
What do you call it? Do you say Rear Derailleur, Rear Mech, Rear Mechanism, ‘Mech’ or just ‘Gears’… they are all names to describe the mechanism typically controlled by a spring and cable that derails the chain and moves that chain out of one gear and into the next. I’m sure everyone has their favourite model and I am no exception; I’ve never tried to hide my love of Shimano, so my all time favourite rear derailleur has to be the Shimano Dura-Ace 7400. Even though it has a simple job to fulfill, the introduction and continued innovation of the rear derailleur has always been at the forefront of bicycle technology and the RD-7400 was in my opinion the start of the modern technology revolution.
This isn’t intended to be an Internet resource of Raleigh frame numbers! If you are reading this for anything other than SB number sequences from the SBDU then please make sure you corroborate my information with other resources.
This blog post covers a basic background of things I’ve learnt about Raleigh frame numbering systems during my own research over the last few years, from the introduction of ‘W’ numbers at TI-Raleigh’s Worksop Carlton factory in late 1973, extending through to the late 1990s and Raleigh’s Special Products Division. The only numbers I’m confident about are the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) SB frame numbers at Ilkeston. Some of this blog post, especially the late 80s / early 90s is what I will call ‘work in progress – thinking out loud – still formulating things in my head‘ type of work, there just aren’t enough bikes available at the moment to provide more accurate detail.
Emails dropping into my Inbox on a lazy Saturday afternoon are quickly becoming the best kind of email! The one I received last Saturday offered a mint condition frame together with it’s original Raleigh box and some documentation! Now that is an offer that needs serious consideration. The images came through a couple of days later and they displayed a frame that was every bit as described… built up but probably never ridden, maybe the closest I’ll ever get to a New SBDU frame.
Time Trial frame? Road frame? Or a bit of both? What exactly is it?
SB7393 came with a story that it was built and used for time trials and ridden by a junior. I was also told by Rob, the previous owner, that it was a “lively” ride! It looks like a conventional SBDU road bike, but then again, SB time trial frames can look like conventional road bikes too; and with vertical and horizontal ends as options on both types, it is ultimately down to geometry to unravel the puzzle.
I’m gradually working my way through the snagging list on SB4059, all those little jobs that I know about and that require attention are slowly getting done. Not so long ago I swapped the original Campagnolo grey outer brake cables for original Campagnolo black alternatives, and I also updated some of the frame transfers so that SB4059 correctly reflected the 1980 TI-Raleigh scheme. This time I’m repairing the threaded seat lug so that I can fit a correct and original SBDU threaded bolt.
When you have a get a good look at the paint on SB7393 you can see that it isn’t the best. Although it is all there and from a distance it looks ok, there are one or two areas of rust, the paint is dirty, flat and covered in previous brushed on rust treatments with other paint drips and garage related debris including several cobwebs. I was sure when I bought this bike that I could breathe some new life into it. This is the first step…
Now that Eroica Britannia is out of the way and work on SB4059 is complete (for now), I can turn my attention to looking at SB7393. This is a complete Reynolds 531 Professional SBDU bike that I bought a couple of weeks ago. Each part of this bike could cause problems, and now was the time to open the toolbox and see what was in store for me.
I’ve planned before and never got there, I’ve bought a ticket before and never got there, but this year I actually did get there. Karen and I booked up, bought tickets, sorted parking, arranged an Airbnb nearby in Buxton, packed the van and headed out on the three hour trip from Newcastle to Eroica Britannia.