About Me


My name is Neil and I am a self confessed collector of TI-Raleigh bikes built at the Specialist Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) at Ilkeston, England.

I spent years as a bicycle mechanic in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England. The shop I worked in was called Denton Cycles and it had existed on Westgate Hill in several different locations. Originally called George Barrass Cycles until 1953 before becoming Dentons in 1954. I joined in 1989. Because of its long history, the shop and especially, the back shop and workshop were a treasure trove of vintage components, rims, frames and tools. You couldn’t open a cupboard or drawer without finding an old simplex mech, TA chain ring or wooden sprint rims.

TI Raleigh Ilkeston SBDU
TI Raleigh Ilkeston SBDU

I recall building orders such as 531 & 753 frame sets from the local suppliers such as Dave Yates and Joe Waugh, to vintage Mercians, Flying Scots and Hetchins and the finest steel, aluminium and carbon frames from builders such as Colnago, ALAN, Vitus & TVT. Road, Time Trial, Track, Cyclo Cross and even Tandems! Mountain Bikes were even in there too with 3 of the bikes I built being ridden by the national champion in 3 world downhill championships.

I learnt the skills of wheel building from Colin Davison and “Ron the Wheel” aka Ronnie Robson who sat behind his wheel jig day after day, occasionally coming out for a puff of his pipe.

I’ve recently spent a week with Dave Yates in August 2015, learning the process of frame building, and just completed my first ever frame and fork build.

I started this blog in 2012 to share the work I was doing to rebuild a TI Raleigh Team Pro, my first SBDU bike! Since then I seem to have fallen in love with all things SBDU and now appear to be working through a list of must have Ilkeston bikes, documenting what I find and do in this blog. My knowledge on these bikes from this small unit has grown and hopefully you might find what I write to be of some use to you.

Thank you



    1. Hi Dave, I saw Ron running to the metro at South Gosforth a few weeks ago. He ran past me down the ramp in a blur, obviously keeping fit. He used to make me laugh, every Saturday just before the shop closed he would bring his little black Denton into the workshop and liberally spray everything with GT85, before dropping a Steradent tablet into his cup to steep over the weekend, making it sparkly clean for Monday morning. I could sit and watch Ron lace wheels for hours, he also had the most worn but comfortable stool in the shop!!

  1. Hi
    I read your blog with interest as I am in the process of restoring my 1976 SB833 frame and bike.

    I am sad to see though that you have no contact details on your website.

    I would love a chat about the process you went through to find out how you sourced correct parts and how to work out which bits are contemparaneous with the era of the bike.

    You’re clearly very knowledgable about this and I am piecing together information step by step.

    Like you, I’ve not got a bottomless pit of money to throw at the resto. Details on who refinished your frame and exact spec of paint and decals would be great to learn.


    1. Hi Roger

      Thanks for your comments. I’ve just published another post as I’m almost 90% complete with the build. I actually bought my frame in that condition, although I wish I hadn’t as there are some decals that aren’t correct. It has the wrong top tube decal – it should just say “TEAM” instead of “TEAM RALEIGH”. It has the wrong Reynolds 753 decal. A much later one from approx 1983 has been used from when 753 went to the Imperial size with 753R and 753T. It also doesn’t have the Ilkeston decals on the chainstays. They are real irritations for me but I’m happy to live with them for a few years until I strip it and put it through another respray.

      The best source of info for me when I started this build was the Yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TI_RALEIGH_TEAM_PROS/ not so much by asking questions but by browsing the ‘files’ section as there are a few letters and spec/build sheets in there. There will probably be a lot on there about the best place to get decals and who does the best respray; although there is also a lot of personal opinion on there so don’t take what is said as gospel, do your own checking. Now I do most of the research on the internet but also have the Raleigh 125 years book http://raleighuk.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/raleigh-anniversary-books-now-available/ although it is titled 125 years of Raleigh, it is actually all about the TI-Raleigh team from 1974 through to 1983. There are so many images, you can actually see the kit being used and match it up to what you are seeking. I also used to be a workshop mechanic in the mid to late 80’s so know these frames and components well and am still equipped with a good workshop and tools to be able to do everything I need to do.

      Your SB833 will be very similar to mine in terms of spec – a mixture of Super Record and Nouvo Record with Cinelli bars/stem and Mavic rims – is yours 531 or 753? What size is it? 753 metric tubing had a couple of different tube sizes depending on the frame size.

      Anyway, I’ve rambled on too long, I could talk forever about them. My email address is nmcgowran@googlemail.com


  2. Hello

    I was wondering if you could be of any help, a friend of mine has just purchased an 80’s Ti Raleigh frame, he loves the look of the frame but prefers modent kit to go on it, (i know this combination may not be to everyones taste) and he was wondering if a modern bottom bracket would fit the frame, he is looking at fitting Shimano 105 groupset, do you know if this is possible?

    Thanks for any help



    1. Hi Lee

      Thanks for the comment. If the Raleigh frame your friend owns has a British threaded BB shell then a modern threaded 105 BB should fit. Most Raleighs are 68mm across the width of the shell and have a thread of 1.370 x 24 tpi – some older, lower end Raleigh frames may be different.

      The problem you will probably have if they want to fit modern components to an old frame is the size of the rear dropouts. Older frames have a more narrow space between the dropouts that newer hubs won’t squeeze into.


  3. It’s possible to spread a 120mm spaced rear triangle to 126mm, which allows for an 8 speed cassette. Spreading from 120mm to 130mm to accommodate new 10 speed hubs will probably break or bend the frame. If the frame is spaced for 7-8 speed and is 126mm, it can usually be safely spread to 130mm for modern 10 speed hubs. Frames from the mid 80’s onward should be 126mm.


  4. Hi Dave, very interested to see your articles regarding the Team Raleigh bike(s). I have what I am led to believe is a team replica bike, which was possibly ridden in the Tour of Britain in the early eighties. I have no facts to substantiate this last comment. According to the serial number, my machine was built in 1983 at the Carlton in Lindrick works. The overall specification/groupset etc is similar to your bike and the original in many respects. I still ride it (in good weather) and and it is a joy. Would you like to see photographs?
    Regards, John Williams – Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

    1. Hi John, thank you for the comment. It sounds like you have a nice bike. The Team replicas were excellent bikes; well made, using Reynolds 531, and generally with high spec Campagnolo. A popular choice of many for racing in the late 70s/early 80s. The Carlton Worksop facility closed in 1981, and the production of those frames moved to Nottingham. Raleigh continued the ‘W’ prefix on the serial number for several years. Likewise with the actual Team frames built at Ilkeston, that unit closed in 1987 and moved to Nottingham but continued with the SB prefix. I’d love to see some photographs – I always like to see them! My email is info@dentoncycles.co.uk
      Thanks again

  5. A joy to watch the photo’s – feels like I am 15 again. Only 1 remark – you simply call your straps, straps… but I remember from those years that Alfredo Binda straps were the ones to have. You could really pull these… And they stayed rigid even after a whole season of cycling… So – the “straps” that you have were the best you could get in those years…

    Epic effort and photography.

    Regards from the continent, NL to be precise…

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment and thanks for the appreciation of the photography. Although the bike is 1980, the spec I built to was 1982 and to keep it correct, I hunted high and low for the SA straps that are mentioned in the spec but I just couldn’t find them. So I went for the best I could get and those were Binda – they are excellent straps.


    1. Hi Steven, the first thing to do is check the frame number. This will be either underneath the bottom bracket or on the rear of the seat tube near the top. Once you have the frame number, the 3rd digit often signifies the year built, for example, 7=1977/87 8=1978/88 2=1982 etc. If you know that digit, you can look at Raleigh catalogues for that year to try and identify the model. Most catalogues list frame specifications including types of dropouts. So start with the frame number. I’ve just looked at the 82 catalogue and 3 models are listed with 531 frames and Vitus dropouts, the Gran Sport 12, Competition 12 and Rapide 12. You would need to match up other frame details like fork crowns and lugs to identify it further. Hope that helps.

  6. Neil,
    I am 80 now, and shopped at Denton Cycles On Westgate Hill, Newcastle, between 1952 and 58, Belonged to Newcastle Road Club, and bought my first lightweight there, it was a Denton, could not afford a Mercian at the time. rode many events on it in the NE, but mangled the back forks in a crash at Gateshead Stadium track, but the shop got it sorted for me, I also rode it in the Royal Engineers 25 mile championships somewhere down near Aldershot about 1958, Roger Wilkins was the winner. Your blog reminded me of the Happiest days of my life, many thanks, Colin

    1. Hi Colin, thank you so much for getting in touch. I love hearing stories like your’s and I’m so happy that my efforts to keep writing about old bikes, and especially Dentons, has given you some good memories to look back on.

      Thank you again,

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