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.

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SB7393 1985 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531 Professional Geometry and Design

SB7393 Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531 Professional 1985 – Geometry and Design

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.

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Seat Lug Thread Repair

SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 – Seat Lug Thread Repair

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.

SB7393 1985 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531 Professional Paint Renovation

SB7393 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh Reynolds 531 Professional 1985 – Paintwork – Part One

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…

SB7393 1985 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531 Professional

SB7393 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh Reynolds 531 Professional 1985 – Stripdown

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.

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 New Transfers Fitted Blog Header

SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 – A New (and Correct) Look

It has been a long couple of days but I’ve finally completed this small and difficult project to bring SB4059 up to spec in terms of a 1980 period SBDU TI-Raleigh transfer scheme. Deciding to go for it and wreck the paint on a perfectly good frame meant that there was no going back. Thankfully my patience and care have paid off and SB4059 is done!

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Frame Transfer Removal Masked Frame Painted Header

SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 – Removing Transfers From Underneath Clearcoat – Part Two

I think I must have been slightly bonkers to start this project but the desire to get SB4059 looking correct was too much! That morning when I took a knife to the clear coated transfers left me with a lot of work and once started, I had no option but to continue. And it is all because the person that renovated my frame all those years ago didn’t do their research. The moral of the story… if you are going to do something do it right and do it once.

SB7393 1985 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531 Professional Blog Header

SB7393 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh Reynolds 531 Professional 1985 – New Arrival

Another email, another road trip, another bike.

I was sitting with my feet up on holiday at the end of May, just relaxing and watching the boats go by on the Norfolk Broads, when I received an email asking for a valuation on a bike. After a few more emails and some shared pictures, I ended up agreeing to buy it. SB7393 is an original paint SBDU bike built with Reynolds 531 Professional tubing and spec’d with a great selection of parts… and best of all, it is my size, 57cm.

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!

SBDU Ilkeston SB6827 1984 Reynolds 531c Transfers

SB6827 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh Reynolds 531c 1984 Road Bike Unridden Condition – New Arrival

Sometimes when I see a bike that someone else owns I feel a little pang of jealousy, I can’t help it. And that is exactly how I felt nearly two years ago when I was first sent images of SB6827. The images were of a beautiful SB bike, it was original, the red paint was gleaming and all the Super Record parts were in perfect condition – I was then told that it had never been ridden and my jealousy feelings went off the scale.

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.

SBDU Ilkeston Panasonic Raleigh Services des Courses Reynolds 531c 1984 SB6560 7400 Brake Levers

SB6560 531c Services des Courses 1984 SBDU Ilkeston Panasonic Raleigh – Planning a Build

I currently have six or seven or maybe even eight or more projects and builds happening at the moment. But lots of projects means lots of money, and that is something that is thin on the ground at the moment. Shhh… I’ve been saving for something rather nice so my funds have been temporarily diverted! As well as a lack of available funds, there has also been a lack of nice warm weather – it seems like it has been such a long winter. It’s been so cold and snowy which has meant the garage where I normally apply a little bit of paint has been out of bounds until now. But spring seems to have sprung, the weather has turned and as there appears to be a touch of heat in the air, it is time to divert some of my attention back to my SB6560 project.

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Transfer Removal

SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 – Removing Transfers From Underneath Clearcoat – Part One

I wasn’t planning to do this job today, it just happened. I’d been thinking for the past week about how to tackle the task of removing the transfers from SB4059… the problem is that they are sealed under a good layer of thick glossy clearcoat. While I was standing in the workshop, contemplating what to do, I decided to pick up a sharp blade and couldn’t resist having a sneaky pick at the corner of a transfer, just to see if I could break the seal of the clearcoat and get the blade under the vinyl… and that was it, once I had started I just couldn’t stop. And now there is no going back!

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Chainset Pedals and Bottle

SB4059 SBDU Ilkeston 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Stripdown

It’s just over six years since I fastened the first component to this frame and four or five years since I completed the first build on a long road to making this the best example of a restored TI-Raleigh Team Pro 753 that I could make, and now the time has come to take SB4059 apart. Yes, I am taking it apart to make it even better. Each step in building SB4059 has added a bit more accuracy and detail. Then a little while ago I blogged about fitting some NOS black Campagnolo brake cables, which meant that there were only two more items stopping this bike from being perfect, they were the top tube and Reynolds frame transfer, transfers that have really bugged me since day one of the journey.

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. 

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.

SB3327 1979 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh Reynolds 753 Time Trial Special

SB3327 1979 Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Time Trial Special – New Arrival

It was just another night in front of the television when an email dropped into my Inbox regarding an SBDU frame, this is a situation I’ve been in a few times now. Another frame with a case of mistaken identity came up on my screen, actually, this time it was more a case of confused identity. A frame that looked like a Panasonic/Weinmann but with the name of Wes Mason emblazoned on the tubes. After a couple of emails a deal was done and the frame was with me two days later.

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 TEAM RALEIGH Transfer Replacement

SB4059 1980 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Replacement Frame Transfers

Following the change of cables on SB4059 there is now only one thing that I need to do, one more thing to sort out, one more thing that has bugged me the most about this build over the last couple of years. The one thing I’m talking about just happens to be SB4059 itself! Yes, the frame that all the bits hang from.

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Reynolds 753 Team Pro Campagnolo Super Record Brakeset

SB4059 1980 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Replacement Brake Cables

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about this bike. SB4059 is my original bike, number #1 in the collection, the bike that started the blog and the search for SBDU knowledge! One day I hope to say SB4059 is finally finished and today, it takes one step closer.

SH377T SBDU Reynolds 753 Pursuit Track Frame Head Tube Detail

SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Raleigh Pursuit Frame SH377T – Cleaned and Documented

Every new addition gets a good clean and although it was already looking quite good, SH377T still needed a bit of work. Wet oil and grease on the surface of a tube will attract dirt and dust, and that is all that was covering this frame. When a frame is clean I can measure and document it. SH377T is a curious frame and I’ve looked forward to getting to this stage in my process.

Gunter Haritz GH6175 1975 531 TI-Raleigh Team Track Frame

Günter Haritz TI-Raleigh Professional Team Track Frame Reynolds 531 1975 GH6175

It’s been a busy week! First came SB4933, an SBDU 531SL frame with beautiful chrome and exquisite new paint. Following on quickly came SH377T, Steve Heffernan’s Reynolds 753 pursuit frame. And finally, to end the week, GH6175 has just arrived on the workbench, the second Raleigh frame of the week without an SB number. GH6175 is now my second TI-Raleigh Team track frame and joins the 1978 frame of Jan Raas, JR178T.

SH377T SBDU Reynolds 753 Pursuit Track Frame Paintwork

SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Raleigh Pursuit Frame SH377T – New Arrival

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!

SB4933 1981 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531SL TI-Raleigh Chromed

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

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.

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. 

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

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

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 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Geometry Check

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

The SBDU seemed to stop stamping their H reference on frames 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 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Frame

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

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…

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

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

The process of purchasing SB3505 was super smooth… a late Friday evening email, additional images on the Saturday, deal done on the Sunday morning, packaged on Sunday evening, dispatched and collected on Monday and delivered by lunch time on the Tuesday… A lovely bike at a good price! Packaged together with the Reynolds 753 frame and fork was a Campagnolo Super Record headset, BB and Pista cranks. SB3505 has taken its place in the collection.

SB5084 1982 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531SL Team Cyclo Cross Cleaned

SB5084 1982 SBDU Ilkeston TI-Raleigh Team Cyclo Cross Reynolds 531SL – Clean Up

It’s been a busy week. Two SBDU frames have been received, unpacked, documented and blogged. SB1500 was intriguing, it didn’t need any clean up at all, I’ve left it exactly how it arrived; the story with that frame was amazing. While I was blogging about that frame, SB5084 was sitting in the corner crying out for some TLC, so with a couple of days over the weekend, I got the polishing cloths and rust treatment out in a bid to try and banish a decade or more of neglect and decay.

SB1500 1977 SBDU Ilkeston 753 Time Trial Special Original Paint

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

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.