SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Raleigh Pursuit Frame SH377T – New Arrival

SH377T SBDU Reynolds 753 Pursuit Track Frame Paintwork

eBay… it is a place I try to avoid. I like to find bikes and frames that haven’t had much exposure to the internet. eBay links containing interesting vintage bikes are shared across social media, and before you know it, the item has been seen by thousands and hyped up to a point that the auction escalates and bidders get into a frenzy pushing the prices up beyond anything sensible. I enjoy the hunt, searching and discovering SBDU bikes that have been hidden away. But I do keep an avid eye on eBay and every now and again a little gem crops up to pique my curiosity. SH377T was listed with no reserve and a low starting bid so I saved it into my ‘Watch List’ thinking it would go the way of so many others and spiral out of control… but it didn’t!

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SB4933 1981 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531SL Road Frame – New Arrival

SB4933 1981 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531SL TI-Raleigh Chromed

I’ve started a few blog posts recently with the words “I received an email…”; and this story is the same. Late on a Sunday evening I received a couple of emails with several images attached and then an email summarising very clearly what the frame was and what seemed like a comprehensive  history. “Would you be interested in buying the frame?” My response was “Yes”, and after arranging to meet up, SB4933 came home with me.

SBDU Rarity – Can Adding Some Context Correct Common Perceptions

My TI-Raleigh Specialist Bicycle Development Unit SBDU Ilkeston Frame Details

What would you consider rare about the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU)? I’ve heard people say that SBDU Reynolds 753 frames are rare… are they, or is that just perception? Defining something as rare really has to be done carefully, and in relation to the context of the subject. The way things are perceived is not always the way things actually are. 

SB3505 1980 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 TI-Raleigh Team Pro – Photographed

SB3505 1980 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Studio Frame and Fork

If I ever get the time and opportunity, I’ll take bikes into my wife’s photography studio and pick up the camera to capture the details of these frames. It’s good to get them into an environment where there are no background distractions, the focus is purely on the frame. Because SB3505 is in it’s original livery and in excellent condition, it had to have a turn. After a final polish it was placed on the background, in front of the studio lighting, waiting for its turn in the limelight.

SB3505 1980 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 TI-Raleigh Team Pro – Geometry and Design

SB3505 1980 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Geometry Check

The SBDU seemed to stop using their H reference towards the end of 1979, meaning the frames coming out of Ilkeston at the beginning of the 80s would only have the SB frame number stamp and nothing to identify a frame as somehow different. I guess from this point on, the only reference to a specific build or geometry would be shown on the paperwork and build sheets that followed the frame and fork through its production, eventually ending up in Ilkeston’s records. If your frame does have an H reference then you still really have no idea what the ‘H’ was all about unless you have original documentation;  that is why I try and measure, document and figure out all my frames.

SB3505 1980 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 TI-Raleigh Team Pro – Clean Up

SB3505 1980 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Frame

I’ve been itching to bring the original paint on this frame back to life ever since it arrived last week. And even though SB3505 is already in great condition, it never fails to amaze me how well these frames respond when I give them a wipe with paint renovator and some polish. After successes with other frames in the last couple of months, I had a feeling this one wasn’t going to disappoint…

SB1500 1977 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Time Trial Special – New Arrival

SB1500 1977 SBDU Ilkeston 753 Time Trial Special Original Paint

I have several frames and bikes in my SBDU collection that constantly vie for top spot. Should top spot go to JR178T, my Jan Raas frame? Should it be SB632, the earliest known Reynolds 753 SB numbered Track frame; the Beryl Burton connection on that frame alone should surely make that a contender? What about the bike that started all this blogging, SB4059, my immaculate 1980 Team Pro 753, or how about SB6398, a time capsule of an original bike with a 753R SBDU frame and a complete Campagnolo Super Record 50th Anniversary Group. Then there is the rare SBDU 753 Dynaflite with Ovoid tubing, SB4409. But what about SB664, an early Carlton Capella lugged Imperial tubed 753 frame, that is also a possibility.

It is a constant battle! And now another frame is fighting for top spot… SB1500, my newest arrival, this has so many possibilities that give it the right to be up there with all the others too.

The Mysterious Carlton Capella Lugged Early Ilkeston SBDU Imperial Tube Reynolds 753 Frames

SB664 1976 TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Carlton Capella Head Lugs Blog Header

In the beginning there was Metric Reynolds 753 tubing, and then later in 1982, a new Imperial Reynolds 753 tube was introduced. The new tube, called 753R, had different diameters, different gauges and was slightly heavier than the original Metric tube. And that’s how it was always known… Metric 753 before 1982 and Imperial 753 available after 1982. That seems quite straightforward doesn’t it?

SB632 1976 SBDU Ilkeston Beryl Burton Team 753 Track Pursuit Frame – Track End Repair

SB632 1976 SBDU 753 Track Frame Trying to Keep Good Clean Flat Edges

Back at the beginning of May, I had a weekend of frame repairs! SB4409 had new transfers and a bit of clear coat, while SB6560 had new gear lever bosses brazed into place. Before I tidied up and put the files away, I thought I’d squeeze in one more project; SB632. This is a special little frame that has had a modification at some point in its life to add a gear hanger and increase the thickness of the rear track ends to accommodate road wheels and gearing. This is the first step to restoring SB632 back to how it was originally.

My TI Raleigh SBDU Blog The Most Comprehensive Resource Available for Frames Built at the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Head Badge

Now that is a massively bold statement to make… here it is again just to make sure that I did actually say it… “The most comprehensive resource available for frames built at the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU)…”