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.
This post isn’t necessarily about the SBDU, but I thought I’d write it as I get asked regularly to confirm seat pin sizes, or to try and decipher what an SBDU frame might be made from based on the seat pin and tube size. After collecting several SB frames over the years, I’ve seen lots of different seat pin sizes used in Reynolds frames. I have seat pins ranging from 26.6 to 27.4 – and 753 frames with 4 different size pins. That demonstrates just how varied their tube gauges were. So here is a little post that lists some of the most common seat pin sizes and the associated Reynolds tube gauge (wall thickness).
** 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?
Is SB4059 ever going to be finished? The answer is probably no, but today I took another step closer when another piece of the puzzle slotted into place. I’ve had various sets of toe clips over the last 5 years but they have never been the period correct item. Period correct is what I am striving for with this build.
This is the post I’ve been most looking forward to writing and also fearing with equal measure… Reynolds 753 was a tube set that took the bicycle world by storm. It had unrivaled strength while being ultra light and thin for a steel tube. It is probably the most mis-understood tube set and the one that has the most stories connected to it.
I’m frequently asked about the specification of TI-Raleigh’s team bikes. The most popular search terms I see on my blog stats and the most viewed blog posts relate to ‘specifications’. However, the question about specification isn’t an easy question to answer by any means! Professional teams, not just TI-Raleigh, had a range of kit they would use. Each race was different and each stage of each race was different. Different gear ratios were used, different derailleurs, different rims, different tubs, depending on the road surface, conditions and stage type. Each rider was also different. So how do you answer that question when there are so many variables?
I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, and I’ve tried to start and structure it a few times, but it has been difficult getting to grips with the scale of the subject. There was often either too much conflicting information or sometimes a complete lack of information about Reynolds tubes. Hopefully I’ve got a good grasp now, although it has still taken longer than expected to get all of this out of my head and crammed into a short, informative and hopefully coherent blog post.
Frame details…, it is all about those little frame details… Frame details are hard to change. They are individual elements, fitted to tubes and formed into a frame when the torch melts the filler. Paint and decals are not the same, they can change over time, fooling you and misleading you with a different story… the frame detail should always tell the real story.
The SBDU at Ilkeston used a range of different frame and fork details over the life of the unit. The amount of different details they used means that this post may turn into an epic. I did consider splitting it into 2 smaller posts, pre and post 1980, but as this is ultimately a timeline post, I wanted it to be unbroken, and to start and complete in one go. Hopefully, it will be helpful for anyone doing research into their own SBDU frame. I’ll also try my best to fit dates and years in as I go. If you are a fan of the SBDU or simply need to know these details, then please stick with me. I learnt so much while researching and writing this post, hopefully I can pass this information on to whoever wants to read further!