My TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Yearly Frame Collection

My Specialist Bicycle Development Unit Wanted List – An Update

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.

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SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Frame and Fork

Buying a Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Bike with Confidence

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 Weights of Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Reynolds 753 and 531 Frames

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.

Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7400 6 Speed Blog Header

Shimano Dura-Ace 7400 6 Speed Rear Derailleur My Favourite Piece of Kit

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.

Raleigh Frame Numbers 1973 Onward Blog Header

Raleigh Frame Numbers 1973 Onward. Worksop Carlton and Nottingham Lightweight Unit Frames, Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) and Raleigh Special Products Division

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.

Eroica Britannia 2018 My TI-Raleigh SBDU (2)

Eroica Britannia 2018 – My TI-Raleigh SBDU

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.

SBDU Ilkeston SB6827 1984 Frame Transfer Locations

SB6827 SBDU Ilkeston Frame Transfers – Testing My Own Data

I’ve recorded and blogged what seems like an amazing amount of detail relating to SBDU frames over the years and I’ve always strived to make everything I publish as accurate as I can. It has been a goal of mine to keep assumptions, unchecked facts and internet myths off the blog. What I’ve found is that my findings and posts are challenged on an almost daily basis when I’m contacted regarding frames, and so far, everything I’ve published has remained rock solid.

SBDU Gear Lever Position Comparison

Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU Ilkeston and Nottingham) Gear Lever Positioning

Following on from my previous blog posts about SBDU fork ends and seat stay caps, here is another short post in a series I’m writing about individual areas of SBDU frame design. This time I’ve chosen to write about gear levers, or more precisely, where they are positioned on the downtube. I’m quite sure that many people have never even considered this, after all, they are just levers mounted on a tube. And let’s face it, who actually does think about the small stuff like this… apart from me!

Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Frame Design Seat Stay and Seat Lug Attachment

Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU Ilkeston) Seat Stay Design and Seat Lug Attachment

You probably think seat stays are quite boring, why on earth would I devote a blog post to the two narrow tapering tubes on the back of a frame? Well as you hopefully all know by now, I do like my details, especially the small details! The various designs and subtle differences in seat stays can tell me a lot about an SBDU frame, even the frame age and tubing type.

Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Frame Ends

The Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Details of Fork Ends and Dropouts

Having a large collection of SBDU frames means that I’ve accumulated most of the various features that they built with. Fork ends are one such area of the frame design where I have an almost complete set, ranging from the earliest 531 frames produced at Ilkeston using Campagnolo 1010/A, through to frames produced at Raleigh’s Special Products Division using their own ‘RALEIGH’ stamped ends. 

My TI-Raleigh SBDU New Arrivals SB4933 SH377T GH6175

A Review of My SBDU and TI-Raleigh 2017 Ramblings.

What an amazing year!

MORE frames, MORE posts, MORE visitors, MORE views, MORE comments, MORE questions and MORE people helped!

In a year where the size of my collection doubled, I was able to use all the frames at my disposal to add so much more information to the content of the blog. My initial aim 7 years ago was to share everything I found and that is still very much my main focus; when others appear to want to hold onto information, I’ve shared and shared and shared some more! It’s clear from reviewing the more popular posts that anything about timelines and specifications are top of the list, so hopefully I can get more written in 2018! But for now, here is a summary of the 5 posts that received the most views in 2017 (together with total views since the post was published)…

SB3800 Mid 1980s TI-Raleigh Re-Paint Transfer Details

SBDU Ilkeston SB Frame Transfer Layout and Lug Detailing for TI-Raleigh Restorations (1974 – 1983)

SBDU frames and the TI colours have become hugely popular. More people are seeking to buy an SBDU frame and recreate the red black and yellow TI-Raleigh scheme. With this recent resurgence, sellers are looking to sell and buyers are readily buying. The demand for these frames is producing a seemingly never ending supply of TI painted frames. With so many looking to buy and then repaint, and so many looking to repaint and then sell, the amount of freshly painted frames I’ve seen recently by both buyers and sellers has spiralled. My concern based on what I’ve seen is that the detail of the SBDU TI scheme is in danger of being lost forever.

SB8868 SBDU Nottingham Reynolds 753R Raleigh Banana 7402 Rear Derailleur

Shimano Dura-Ace 7400 7401 7402 7403 7410 Series Road Component System 1984 – 1996

The year was 1984. I was only 14 and riding a beat up Raleigh Grifter around the estate. My parent’s shed was my workshop and I was kept busy fixing the bikes for all the local kids. My own bikes were fitted with names such as Sturmey Archer, Simplex, Huret and Weinmann. At the same time, unknown to me, two giants of the cycling world were about to go head to head for market supremacy. In the red corner, fighting out of Italy were Campagnolo, the makers of beautiful looking and precisely engineered components that graced the bikes of the professional peleton; they were up against Shimano in the blue corner, the Japanese corporation often only known for freewheels, hub gears and fishing reels.

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

SBDU Rarity – Can Adding Some Context Correct Common Perceptions

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. 

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

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

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?

SBDU Ilkeston Nottingham SB8438 Chain Stay Oval Transfer

One Step Closer to Finding That Elusive SBDU Ilkeston End Date

When did the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) at Ilkeston close and relocate to Nottingham? What frame number were they up to at that time? Those are just two of the many questions that surround this seemingly mysterious unit. I’ve been searching for the answer to these questions for as long as I’ve been researching the unit. Late last night, a friend sent me a link to an SBDU bike that may finally answer at least one or maybe both of those two questions.

The SBDU and Their Use of Reynolds 753 Reynolds 753R and Reynolds 753T

There has always been lots said on the subject of Reynolds 753, and that doesn’t surprise me. This tubing had such an impact on the sport of cycling; the frames and their riders were breaking records before anyone even knew 753 existed! 753 frames are still sought after 40+ years following their introduction. You can’t go a day without the subject of 753 cropping up on the internet and the online debates and discussions mean that there are always stories and different opinions. But are these stories real and are the opinions accurate? What is truth and what is myth? What are these stories? Have I done enough research and accumulated enough data to either prove or debunk them?

SBDU Ilkeston Nottingham SB8438 Chain Stay Oval Transfer

Searching for an End Date of TI-Raleigh Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) at Ilkeston

** This post was updated in June 2017 and can be found at this link **

My attempt to define a date timeline for SBDU frame numbers was published in July 2016 and has so far stood up to the test. That blog post hopefully provides some substance and reasoning behind my opinions and shows why I think SB numbers fall into specific years. I wanted to add reasons and facts to back up my theory, I didn’t want to add another random list of numbers to the numerous internet lists that already exist. I found two important periods difficult to define, one of them was the end of the SBDU at Ilkeston. So have things changed since that post was published?

SB3800 SBDU Ilkeston 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro 753 Frame Details

A 2016 Review of My SBDU and TI-Raleigh Ramblings. Thanks for an Amazing Year!

Where do I even start to describe how much of a great year 2016 was? And how on earth am I going to try and beat it in 2017? I remember I had exactly the same feelings at the end of 2015 – that year had seen me double my readership over the previous year. But 2016 has seen so much more! I’ve had record breaking days, record breaking weeks and record breaking months – so how am I ever going to live up to that! That is the dilemma facing me as I start the new year.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Studio Bike Photography Lightroom Editing Software

Showcasing My TI-Raleigh SBDU Bikes Through Images and Bike Photography

I don’t think my blog would be read by as many people if it wasn’t for the images that accompany each post. I might be in the studio with a full frame DSLR, back drops and lights, or in the workshop with just an iPhone and window light, but wherever I am, I try to cover everything I do with at least one image.

Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Time Trial Special Dimension Measurements H Reference

An Update on The TI-Raleigh Ilkeston SBDU H Reference Number

It’s been a couple of years since I first wrote a little about the ‘H’ reference number. This is the reference you sometimes see under the bottom bracket of an SBDU frame. Well since then, I’ve dug into the SBDU data, written a couple of timelines and become a bit more clued up on that ‘H’ letter.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Collection December 2016

A Collection of Collections My Raleigh SBDU Collection Obsession

The time is 9PM on Thursday 15th December 2016 and my SBDU obsession has recently added the latest frame to my collection. The collection currently totals 17 SBDU frames and bikes. When I look at these frame and bikes it amazes me how many times I can break them down into different sub-categories, or smaller, more specific collections. So out of these 17 frames and bikes, what smaller collections do I have…

SB8945 SBDU Nottingham 753R 58cm Frame Weight

TI-Reynolds Frame Weight – It’s Not an Exact Science

The search terms used by people who reach my blog are often connected to searching for information about the weight of a frame, specifically Reynolds 753 and Reynolds 531. So I thought I would write a little post to show the weight information I’ve collected on my own frames. I have frame weight data on several SBDU frames across a range of Reynolds tube sets. What I’ve found is that it isn’t simply a case of saying that every 57cm Reynolds 531 frame will weigh the same. Lots of factors influence frame weight.