I’ve been collecting for years. I can go for what seems like a lifetime without a new addition while at other times I seem to have new frames coming through the door every week! But while I’ve been busily collecting, I’ve never actually done much with these beautiful bikes and frames to show them off.
When I add a traditional horizontal top tube SBDU bike to my collection it can sometimes take a few careful measurements and a little bit of knowledge of the bike’s history to figure out something as subtle as whether it was built for road racing or time trials. The obvious style of SB8790 leaves me with no doubt about it’s intended purpose – I’m still going to measure and document it because that’s my process, but the 24″ front wheel and the top tube that slopes dramatically to meet the fork tells me all I need to know!
SB6560 arrived in terrible condition with missing gear lever bosses and poorly applied transfers. It is a frame that has always been overlooked and put on the back burner while other projects came in and took over. Underneath the skin however, it is a lovely 531c SBDU Services des Courses frame that now deserves to hit the top of the project pile!
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.
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!
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.
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.
It is Easter and I am loving the amount of time I’ve had in the workshop this weekend. I’m getting stuck into a couple of projects. Today is the turn of SB6560, a 531c 1984 Services des Courses frame that needs a small frame repair. I prepped the frame for this repair a few weeks ago and now have some time to finish the job.
Over the last couple of years the amount of people seeking anything painted black red and yellow has spiralled. So many Raleigh frames are getting a fresh coat of paint and transformed into the colours of the TI-Raleigh team. Some are done well while some are… well, some are just really lacking. Looking to copy the TI-Raleigh scheme is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, the TI-Raleigh team are legendary in cycling and the colours are famed. But for me, I’ve always celebrated the history of the SB bike and the craftsmanship of the unit more than the team and the colours. After all, the TI-Raleigh scheme was just one of the many options produced by the SBDU. So should you preserve, restore or renovate your frame?
I’ve been working through my collection of frames, and next on the list is SB6560, a 531c Services des Courses 1984 frame in the ’84 team Panasonic Raleigh colours. I’ve moved this up the list as I really want to get a Panasonic schemed bike built to fit in with the Raleigh Banana (SB8868) and TI-Raleigh (SB3800) that I have built in the last few months.
** 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?