I’ve clearly taken the rebuild of my SB9 very slowly. Having well over a year away from my bikes hasn’t helped! At one point, parts from SB9, essentially the 1st generation Super Record Pat73 and 74 date coded groupset, were strewn all over the workshop floor. It wasn’t pretty! I was a bit concerned that my abandonment of bikes had resulted in me losing some of these important parts, but thankfully not, I’ve pulled all the parts back together and I’ll see if I can get this amazing bike restore back on track.
To help me get back into it, and to push my motivation along, here is some background on this very special little bike. It’s amazing that SB9 is approaching it’s 50th birthday. So that is an excellent goal for me to focus my thoughts on over the next few months.
Where I Left SB9
This is how SB9 looked in August 2020, the last time I worked on it (that seems so long ago, it’s now March 2023, almost 3 years later!)
The paint and chrome, which is all original and in superb condition, was clean, and the chrome fittings were looking good. The original Campagnolo Super Record headset from 1974 was refitted.
Why Is SB9 So Important
There are lots of reasons that can answer this question. Above all, and top of the list, this frame is from the first year and probably within the first production of the SBDU back in 1974. Who knows (and this is total speculation), sub-assemblies for SB9 may have been worked on in the first few days. If you could picture the SBDU at the time, it was new and that must have been exciting for everyone involved. These guys were building and testing successful bikes with Reynolds 753 for the TI-Raleigh team. And of course, the reason behind the SBDU was the push to give Raleigh the successful racing team that was so wanted. SB9 was there, in and around all of that happening, at the birth of this famous unit.
SB9 also tells a story of how quick the evolution of these frames was happening. Some of it’s features only appeared on the first 9 SBDU frames. Some where only maybe on the first 14. Other features had evolved again by approx frame 50. These early frames are so rare (and I never use that word lightly), there are only a handful of known 1974 examples, and even fewer in original condition, and even fewer in this exception original condition
These 1974 low number bikes also tend to come with excellent early examples of the new Campagnolo Super Record groupset. Most known examples tend to have been complete bikes with 1974 date coded Super Record parts and a PATENT 73 rear derailleur. SB9 retains every original part of this groupset.
Essentially a bike like SB9 is important because it marks the birth of the unit that gave Raleigh so much race success and took the brand across the globe, and which undoubtedly contributed to many commercial sales for Raleigh.
Is My SB9 Actually SB8 in Disguise
Not long after receiving SB9, another SB9 owner got in touch with me. They also had SB9. This came to light after talking to each other about images of SB9. I was amazed when the other images came through, and obviously blogged about it here [SBDU SB9 – Sharing Frame Numbers Across the Pond].
It was intriguing. In that post, I asked the question ‘Is my SB9 actually SB8’. SB6 & 7 are known, 2 x SB9s are known and SB10 is known – but SB8 has never come to light. We will clearly never know what has happened here, but from the features of both bikes, my SB9 has the earlier features. So is it the long lost SB8???
Two different number styles. My SB9 on the left with the earlier pattern, and the other SB9 on the right with a style matching SB10 onward.
The other feature is the finish of the seat lug slot. Again, my SB9 on the left with the same style as earlier frames, and the other SB9 on the right in the later style.
If SB8 ever shows up then we’ll know for certain that these are duplicated numbers.
But until then…
What’s Happening Now
Not long before starting to shutdown, I stripped all the Super Record parts and started to clean them. Everything comes apart into their individual small parts. Yes, there is an argument that attacking parts with something like a toothbrush could have good results, but my method ensures that everything is cleaned inside and out. It’s also much easier to clean chrome parts without damaging alloy if everything is separated.
Before Cleaning the 1st Generation Super Record
This brake caliper is an example of how dirty SB9 was. The bike hasn’t had much use, but it certainly accumulated a good covering of muck.
Thankfully, everything is looking so much better. These are almost 50 year old parts, and used, but I’m really happy with how they look. I just have a bit more assembly to do.
So many parts – a 3D Super Record jigsaw puzzle…
Starting to Reassemble
Over the last few days I’ve begun to piece the puzzle together. Everything, including all the small chrome parts, are looking exceptional. I haven’t set out to hide or remove all the marks and scrapes and rubs put there from use – I’m not into high polish finishes on parts that were never meant to be highly polished; clean is all I want. And that is what I’ve achieved.
That need I mentioned earlier to not hide the marks of use with polishing is evident on the seat pin. This one has clearly been twisted into SB9 right up to the top. It’s clean now, and that’s all I want it to be. But I will check and ream the seat tube before refitting this part.
What’s Still to Clean
I haven’t done anything yet with the chain, gear levers or pedals – they are next. Then it will be hubs, freewheel and bars/stem.
Decisions Still To Make
This is a straight forward restore, so there aren’t many decisions to make – I want to try and keep as much originality as I can. But there are a couple of areas that I need to make a decision about at some point in order to complete this bike.
Part of the story of SB9 is that when it was discovered for sale in a bike shop in the 70s, the old tubs and rims were perished. The saddle was then changed for comfort. After about 10 rides, SB9 was parked until the owner, Bill, decided to pass it on. Here is Bill’s original message.
“When I was in college my roommate was a biking fanatic from the Chicago area. He organized races on campus as well as 100 mile rides through the forests of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Since I had an old station wagon I always served at the sag wagon picking up riders who needed help. Doug’s brother owned a bike shop in Chicago and Doug became aware of a used bike that came into the shop from a local racing team. Somehow he convinced me I needed to purchase it. I have ridden it no more than 10 times since. The sew ups rotted and the Cinelli rims were cracking at the spoke connections so I had new rims installed that didn’t use sew ups and also replaced the Cinelli seat that was on it with one more comfortable for me. Other than that it is now as it was when I purchased it. I have always enjoyed its aesthetics in my home but my circumstances have changed and I need to pass it along to another caretaker. My problem is that I am totally out of touch with the world of cycling and have no idea how much to ask for it and how to market it so that it will end up owned by someone who will truly appreciate it. I am hoping you can give me some advice. My bike is a Raleigh Team Professional SB9. It is a small frame (I don’t even know how frame size is measured) so would only be suitable for a smallish rider. I am 5′-6″ and it seems to fit me fine. It is not in pristine condition as was used but it is not bad considering how old it is. The gum brake handle covers are toast and need to be replaced. .”
— Bill , May 2020
As the message said, the sew-ups and the Cinelli rims? were no good so were replaced, and the Cinelli saddle was swapped. So do I keep these rims as they are? They are part of the story of SB9. Or do I seek a period set of sprint rims and tubs? Also, what do I do for a saddle? Find and fit another Cinelli or go with the more typically used Brooks Professional?
They are questions for a later date though. If I can make some progress over the next few weeks with parts and rebuilding then I’ll be happy.