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.
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 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!
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.
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).
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!
The “Services des Courses” frameset is described by the SBDU at Ilkeston as “…out and out ‘Team Issue’ framesets embodying our current thinking on design and construction…”
It’s been a busy start to the year. January always seems to be busy with our photography businesses. New leases to organise, tax returns, accountants and a flurry of new clients to meet, not to mention trying to start my own bike business.
All I can say is… “That was a very busy year..!”
Well actually, I can normally say a lot more than that. 2015 was an awesome year for many reasons.