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.
Frame weight… it’s often talked about, requested and used as a measure to try and determine tubing type. From my own experience I can see several factors that affect final weight and I frequently see through my own documentation process that frame weight can be very random and time and again I see that it can be impossible to correlate frame weight to frame size to frame tubing.
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.
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’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.
I’ve been searching and looking to expand my collection into new areas for as long as I’ve been collecting these frames. Up until now I’ve accumulated a good selection of the types of frame that the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) produced. I’ve got beautiful examples of Road, Track, Time Trial and Randonneur. I even have one of the most rare frames produced by the SBDU, one of their ‘Specials’, a 753 Dynaflite. But some types have been elusive! An SBDU Cyclo Cross frame is one type that just doesn’t seem to exist… but I’ve finally managed to find one.
Sometimes my plans for builds go smoothly and sometimes those plans stall and start to back up. I started the rebuild of SB1861 a little while ago when I brought some gleaming shine back to the original paint. But since then, I’ve had a few new frames join the collection, and they jumped straight to the front of the queue. SB518, SB8851 and SB664 have all arrived, they’ve been photographed, documented and blogged about, so now it is time to clamp SB1861 back into the work stand and get this original 1977 SBDU bike back on the road.
After selling one of my frames a few years ago (SB447), I promised myself that I wouldn’t sell another. These frames are sought after and I get lots of requests to part with them, but I decline them all. My frames form a very important collection – they document the materials, styles and features that Raleigh’s Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) used throughout the lifetime of the unit and I’m close to having an example of most of these styles. However, I had a frame that was a duplicate of another and so I took the opportunity when it came to swap it, with the intention of enhancing my collection.
I’ve been itching to take this bike to pieces and to get my first good look at the detail of this frame and today was the day. I purposely haven’t taken many photos of the stripdown process as my hands are usually too oily and dirty to handle the camera, Karen would not be happy if I got oil and grease on the camera kit! But don’t worry, there are still lots of images and there will be lots more when I come to put this little bike back together.
Bikes do not get more original than this! Original owner, original paint and original components. After a 500 mile round trip, SB1861 is on the workbench.
SB1861 dates to late 1977/early 1978 (there will be more on the date in the next post); it is built from Reynolds 531 Double Butted tubing with all the features you would expect for this era 531 SBDU Ilkeston frame. Original frames like this are so important for confirming paint and features on my SBDU timeline.
I thought I had moved away from using tubs, but I had second thoughts about them after I decided to rebuild the wheels on SB5794 with some MAVIC GP4 rims. So using GP4 rims and having no choice, I’ve been dragged back into the process of prepping rims and tubs, and the smell of rim cement is floating around the workshop while I’m picking dried cement from my finger tips! The memories are flooding back…
It’s been a little while, but SB5794 is finally getting the wheels that it deserves! When I initially built this bike I just used the set of wheels that came with the 6207/6208 600EX group when I bought it; those wheels had Shimano 6400 7 speed hubs (I fitted a 6 speed cassette to be compatible with the gear levers). The wheels also had later period MAVIC MA40 clincher rims, and I always intended to bring the wheels back to period spec by using some old MAVIC GP4 rims I had from a previous bike, with some correct spec 6207/6208 hubs I had picked up. Fitting these hubs will complete the group set, and it will be nice to experience tubular tyres again… Won’t it?
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 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).
The search terms used by people who reach my blog are often connected to searching for information about the weight of a frame, specifically Reynolds 753 and Reynolds 531. So I thought I would write a little post to show the weight information I’ve collected on my own frames. I have frame weight data on several SBDU frames across a range of Reynolds tube sets. What I’ve found is that it isn’t simply a case of saying that every 57cm Reynolds 531 frame will weigh the same. Lots of factors influence frame weight.
Of all the frames in my SBDU collection, this Track frame is by far the most fascinating and prized. An actual frame once ridden by Jan Raas. Raas was one of, if not the most famous rider to be part of TI-Raleigh. There is too much about him and his successes to list in this post, just have a look at his Wikipedia page to see what I mean.
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!
It’s been a few weeks since this little frame arrived, so after the small change of subject and posts about Dave Yates and his brilliant frame building course, it is back to the SBDU and Ilkeston built bikes.