SB1995 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Frame Tubing

Metric Diameter Tubing? Reynolds 753 Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston 1978 Road Frame SB1995

“Never assume with the SBDU”. That is a phrase I say a lot. It is a mantra I repeat when I’m assessing SBDU frames and bikes. Winding the clock back to 1978 you would think it was safe to assume that the Reynolds 753 tubing type on your frame would be Metric diameter. But remember the mantra, “Never assume with the SBDU”, “Never assume with the SBDU”, “Never assume with the SBDU”.

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SB1995 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Road Frame and Fork

Reynolds 753 Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston 1978 Road Frame SB1995 – Renovation Date

Recollections are a funny thing. Could you remember details or be precise about a specific date from maybe only a month ago? Could you remember a detail from ten years ago? How about four decades ago? Memories become fuzzy with the passage of time. The brain forgets, and confusion prevails. So what can I figure out about this SBDU Reynolds 753 frame based on the slightly fuzzy information I have?

SB1995 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Road Frame Fork Transfer

SB1995 Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 1978 Road Frame – New Arrival

It was a Thursday evening a couple of weeks ago, and as usual I was sitting in front of the laptop, half watching TV half browsing the internet, when a flashing notification from a new email caught my eye. A quick scan of the first line and reading the words ‘Raleigh 753’ grabbed my full attention.

“I have a c 1977 Raleigh 753 frame made for me when I was researching The Penguin Book of the Bicycle (1978)”

Martin Gray
SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Frame and Fork Super Record Chainset

For the Love of the SBDU. Building a Collection and Writing a Blog

I guess it’s a passion… it didn’t start out like this and I never intended it to be like this, the blog just grew quietly, and then it gathered pace, and then it snowballed and before I knew it I was helping people around the globe. I was learning stuff and then sharing everything I knew about TI-Raleigh’s Specialist Bicycle Development Unit and the frames they made. It’s taken over any spare time I have but it comes with it’s own problems.

Roy Schuiten 1975 GP Lugano and Grand Prix des Nations Bike Restored

Roy Schuiten GP Lugano and Grand Prix des Nations 1975 TI-Raleigh Bike

Back in March 2018, a short but interesting email dropped into my Inbox…

I am the son off Roy Schuiten.
I recently found a time trial bike off my fathers. I want to share some pictures and thoughts with you.

Rob Schuiten 24th March 2018

That was it, short and sweet, but I was intrigued and answered…

Motor Paced Stayer Frame and Fork

Motor Paced Stayer – Could it be a Jan le Grand Build for TI-Raleigh Rider René Pijnen

I’m going to make a bold statement right at the beginning of this blog post… my theory is that this Stayer frame could be a frame built by Jan le Grand for TI-Raleigh team rider René Pijnen – now all I have to do is use the rest of this post to try and convince myself of that!

Motor Paced Stayer Frame

A Mysterious Motor Paced Stayer Frame – New Arrival

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.

SB8790 1987 SBDU Nottingham 531c Lo Pro Road Frameset

SB8790 1987 Raleigh SBDU Nottingham Reynolds 531c – Model Classification

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 SBDU Ilkeston 531c Services des Courses Fork Repaint Finished

SB6560 531c Services des Courses 1984 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh – Fork Restore

While I’m patiently waiting for the final few Dura-Ace 7400 series 6 speed components to arrive, I’m going to begin the paintwork restore on SB6560, starting with the fork. The fork on SB6560 isn’t too bad at all but it has a few marks and scratches that would look better with a little bit of TLC.

SB8200 1986 SBDU Ilkeston 531c Randonneur

SB8200 1986 Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 531c Randonneur – New Arrival

I haven’t written many ‘New Arrival’ posts this year after slowing down my collecting habit and being a bit more picky, so it really is nice to get a new frame on the workbench. An astute eBay bid, a couple of messages followed by a few hours drive and SB8200 was in my hands. This new frame is from 1986, making it a late Ilkeston built frame that appears to follow the spec of the SBDU Randonneur.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Ilkeston Yearly Frame Collection

My Specialist Bicycle Development Unit Wanted List – An Update

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.

SB4059 1980 TI-Raleigh Team Pro Reynolds 753 Frame and Fork

Buying a Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Bike with Confidence

I always find this topic a sad one to write about. I get sad when I know that someone is spending money on a bike that may not be what they think it is and I could have helped to provide some info if only I was asked. That sad feeling prompts me to write blog posts like this; seeing SBDU bikes mis-represented by sellers; unintentionally or not, isn’t good. Do the sellers really not know what they are selling, or do buyers really just not know what they are buying? I can’t stop some sellers writing what they write in their ads but I certainly can help buyers with some helpful advice, and help them to read the signs and to spot a potential dud. I never call out a seller directly, their business is their business, but I’m always available to help any potential buyer.

Frame Weights of Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) Reynolds 753 and 531 Frames

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.

SB6560 SBDU Ilkeston 531c Services des Courses Raleigh Team Colours Transfer Mockup

SB6560 531c Services des Courses 1984 SBDU Ilkeston Raleigh – Planning the Team Colours Transfer Layout

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!

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.

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.

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.

Eroica Britannia 2018 My TI-Raleigh SBDU (2)

Eroica Britannia 2018 – My TI-Raleigh SBDU

I’ve planned before and never got there, I’ve bought a ticket before and never got there, but this year I actually did get there. Karen and I booked up, bought tickets, sorted parking, arranged an Airbnb nearby in Buxton, packed the van and headed out on the three hour trip from Newcastle to Eroica Britannia.

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 Ilkeston SB6827 1984 Frame Transfer Locations

SB6827 SBDU Ilkeston Frame Transfers – Testing My Own Data

I’ve recorded and blogged what seems like an amazing amount of detail relating to SBDU frames over the years and I’ve always strived to make everything I publish as accurate as I can. It has been a goal of mine to keep assumptions, unchecked facts and internet myths off the blog. What I’ve found is that my findings and posts are challenged on an almost daily basis when I’m contacted regarding frames, and so far, everything I’ve published has remained rock solid.

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.