Back at the beginning of May, I had a weekend of frame repairs! SB4409 had new transfers and a bit of clear coat, while SB6560 had new gear lever bosses brazed into place. Before I tidied up and put the files away, I thought I’d squeeze in one more project; SB632. This is a special little frame that has had a modification at some point in its life to add a gear hanger and increase the thickness of the rear track ends to accommodate road wheels and gearing. This is the first step to restoring SB632 back to how it was originally.
When did the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) at Ilkeston close and relocate to Nottingham? What frame number were they up to at that time? Those are just two of the many questions that surround this seemingly mysterious unit. I’ve been searching for the answer to these questions for as long as I’ve been researching the unit. Late last night, a friend sent me a link to an SBDU bike that may finally answer at least one or maybe both of those two questions.
Now that is a massively bold statement to make… here it is again just to make sure that I did actually say it… “The most comprehensive resource available for frames built at the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU)…”
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.
There has always been lots said on the subject of Reynolds 753, and that doesn’t surprise me. This tubing had such an impact on the sport of cycling; the frames and their riders were breaking records before anyone even knew 753 existed! 753 frames are still sought after 40+ years following their introduction. You can’t go a day without the subject of 753 cropping up on the internet and the online debates and discussions mean that there are always stories and different opinions. But are these stories real and are the opinions accurate? What is truth and what is myth? What are these stories? Have I done enough research and accumulated enough data to either prove or debunk them?
The last time you saw this frame, it was dirty, greasy, dusty and covered in spider’s webs. The parts were rusty and some were even beyond help. But after a few days and some hard work and elbow grease, the frame for SB1861 is looking so much better; although it did give me a bit of a issue.
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.
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.
The Easter weekend has given me some free time so I decided to work on a couple of projects. SB4409 was the first frame to get some attention. It’s been sitting in the workshop for a few weeks while I continue to look at the amazing profile of these unique 753 oval tubes. The colour has grown on me too and it is now time to return the transfer scheme back to original.