Every now and then I spot something slightly different, something that I struggle to identify but which has the potential to be something nice, maybe even special. Usually I might be the only one to spot it which normally gives me the luxury of a little time to do some research. On this occasion though, several others had also spotted the same frame, so with a growing queue of people forming and all asking me questions about it, I had to commit on a hunch and buy it.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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…
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!
I now have a Facebook page! It’s just here… My TI-Raleigh SBDU I’m actually calling myself a blogger.
I think about and see lots of stuff I’d like to blog about but sometimes just don’t have the time to write anything; so I thought why not create a Facebook page?