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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SB8790 1987 SBDU Nottingham 531c Lo Pro Road Frame

SB8790 Raleigh SBDU Nottingham Reynolds 531c 1987 Lo Pro Road – New Arrival

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.

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. 

SB9000 SBDU Nottingham Reynolds 753R Raleigh Banana Low Profile Frame

SB9000 SBDU Nottingham Raleigh Banana Reynolds 753R Low Profile Track Pursuit Frame – New Arrival

eBay! Love it or loathe it, every now and then it does serve a purpose.

Personally I loathe it and while I’m definately not a fan, it has actually accounted for a small amount of my new arrivals. I do prefer to collect frames that fly under the radar but sometimes you see a frame that is too nice and too special to ignore. So I watch the bids and try to figure out where an item’s price is going and what, if anything, it could add to my SBDU collection. On balance, SB9000 had more positives than negatives. The benefits I’d gain for my collection outweighed the one big negative which was that it had been viewed by thousands online and I clearly wasn’t the only bidder who wanted it.

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. 

SB8851 SBDU Nottingham 1988 Reynolds 753R Services des Courses Bike

SB8851 1988 SBDU Nottingham Services des Courses Reynolds 753R – New Arrival

Finding bikes built by the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) that aren’t what they appear to be is part of the appeal of bike hunting and collecting for me. These are bikes and frames are hiding in plain sight, often with other builders frame transfers or paint schemes. They are flying under the radar, going unnoticed, and masking their real origins. SB8851 is a prime example. It is fitted with Dave Quinn transfers and came with a story that it was ordered from and built by Dave, but a closer look the at those frame features gave it away.

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.

SB8868 SBDU Nottingham 753R Raleigh Banana

SB8868 753R Services des Courses 1988 SBDU Nottingham Raleigh Banana Complete

I’ve not got much to write in this post as the pictures will hopefully say everything. This Raleigh Banana has been an awesome bike to build, a real blast from the past. I took it to the studio today to capture it looking its best…

SB8868 SBDU Nottingham Reynolds 753R Raleigh Banana Vittoria Corsa

SB8868 753R Services des Courses 1988 SBDU Nottingham Raleigh Banana Rebuild

To say that I’m happy with how 2017 has started is an understatement! My first SBDU bike for the year is built and it is stunning. My 753R Raleigh Banana is complete; and it has been such an enjoyable build to do. From getting the 753R SBDU frame looking its very best with new transfers, to working with probably the greatest group set ever made, Shimano Dura-Ace 7402, it has been a joy to work on this bike.

SB8868 SBDU Nottingham Reynolds 753R Raleigh Banana Frame

SB8868 753R Services des Courses 1988 SBDU Nottingham Raleigh Banana Ready to Build

I’ve been collecting a few items for this build since getting my hands on the frame in December last year. It’s been a bit of a stretch as Christmas has drained funds, but I now think I’ve got all the components needed to get this built. I’m not putting myself through the ordeal of going for a period correct team build. Instead, I’m going for all the things that I love in bikes and bike components. This means I will actually come close to team spec, but retain some freedom to tailor the build for the parts that I like and the overall look that I prefer.

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 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…

SB8868 SBDU Nottingham 753R Services des Courses Dura-Ace 7400 Front Derailleur

SB8868 753R Services des Courses 1988 SBDU Nottingham Raleigh Banana Dura-Ace 7402

This build is moving quickly! I found an amazing condition Dura-Ace 7400/7402 series group set from the late 1980s almost immediately after getting my hands on the frame. And when I say amazing condition, I mean absolutely astounding condition. This is an almost perfect Dura-Ace 7402 8 speed group with down tube levers and single pivot SLR brakes. I can’t wait to build this bike!

SB8868 SBDU Nottingham 753R Services des Courses Raleigh Banana 1988 Header

SB8868 753R Services des Courses 1988 SBDU Nottingham Raleigh Banana New Arrival

Sometimes I don’t need to go searching for frames, sometimes frames find me. A few nights ago, a frame popped up on my screen, just a few photographs and a small description. It was a Raleigh Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) frame, built in their Nottingham unit. It is a very similar frame to the SB8945 frame that I picked up a few months ago. Sometimes the decision to buy a new frame doesn’t take long to make, and even though I’d just seen a few non-detailed images, I contacted the owner and bought it. It was in my collection a couple of days later.

SB8945 CInelli Super Corsa Bottom Bracket

SB8945 753R Services des Courses 1988 SBDU Nottingham New Arrival

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone with this one. Although this is an SBDU frame, it was built after the Ilkeston era when the SBDU relocated to Nottingham. I’ve always concentrated my blog and research on frames built at Ilkeston, but his frame was just too tempting. I think I took about 3 seconds to decide to buy it and a further 3 seconds to decide how to build it. It also gets me off the ’13’ frames mark and up to 14 (I’m not superstitious, I just really wanted another frame).