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Tour Flash Back: Raleigh Carlton Team TI

Tour Flash Back: Raleigh Carlton Team TI

A little History: Raleigh Its Tour time and I thought we would take a trip down memory lane. That’s why we are going back to 1974! Setting history in 1974 was Raleigh-TI with the formation of the Raleigh-TI professional cycling team. The team would go on and dominate european cycling for many years. So let’s start with a little history lesson, Raleigh was started in 1885 by Richard Morris Woodhead and Paul Angois in Nottingham England. The two set up a small bike shop on Raleigh Street, and just like that Raleigh Bicycles was born. A few years later in 1886, a recent cycling convert Frank Bowden would become a major investor and partner in the company. Because of his involvement and investment in the company Raleigh grew. A milestone occurred in 1902 when Raleigh bought Stumey-Archer and with this new acquisition Raleigh now owned the world's first practical 3 speed hub. One question I had was when did Raleigh start using the Heron logo and why the Heron? I had been scouring the internet trying to find something and finally I had to put in a email to Raleigh UK to ask them about the Iconic Heron logo. It turns out that the earliest reports of the Heron being used with the Raleigh brand is 1910 and was believed to be part inspired by Frank Bowden and his family crest. Raleigh grew so much so that in 1913 Raleigh Bicycles was the biggest bicycle company in the world occupying over 7.5 acres of factories. At that time Raleigh employed 850 workers and was producing over 30,000 bikes a year. In 1925 the factory production was increased to 20 acres making Raleigh even larger. Another interesting fact is that after WWII 95% of all bicycles brought into the US were Raleigh. Fast forward a few decades to 1960 When Raleigh merges with Tube Investment Groups, also know as TI. This merger meant that Raleigh was now the largest producer of 2 wheel bicycles because it gave them control over 4 other major cycling brands. Jumping ahead to the 70’s it was decided to get into racing on the European big stage. Raleigh decided that they needed to take on the big european races and a sizeable budget was allocated to start a professional racing team. The team would have a full season from spring classics to the grand tours. 1974 was the start of the Raleigh TI professional cycling team.

The Team: The team was started in 1974, interesting enough is that the professional road team was not British, but Dutch! The director was Peter Post and the Raleigh-TI team was a very dominant force for almost 10 years. Peter was a professional rider himself and was the first Dutch rider to win Paris Roubaix in 1964. Peter retired in 1972 from professional racing and got back into cycling in 1974 with the formation of the Raleigh-TI team. The team stayed together until 1983. Right from the get go the Raleigh-TI team had a full season that included Road and track. The Road season included all of the spring and summer races. The team worked with a division of Raleigh called SBDU. The Special Bicycle Development Unit was formed out from the acquisition of Carlton cycling in 1960. Originally the SBDU was based in Ilkeston and then later moved to Nottingham. The Ilkeston plant produced about 8,400 frame sets and about 1,000 frame sets at the Nottingham location. This division of Raleigh was charged with making hand built high end frame sets. To give you some scale on how successful Raleigh was, at the time of the purchase Carlton was making 2,500 frames a year and by 1974 Calton was making 2,500 a week. Because of this huge increase in production a small handful of frame builders were picked for their skill and quality for the formation of the SBDU. The rest is history that led to the iconic red black and yellow road frames made out of 531 and later 753 tubing.

The Original So the Raleigh bikes that were being built for the team were coming out of the SBDU. SBDU is raleigh’s Special Bicycle Development Unit and was under the guidance of Gerald V O'Donovan. You would think that they would take the measurements of the riders and make them their team bikes. But no, Raleigh SBDU did not make special made to measure frames for the team. They were all stock. In 1974 the bikes were built out of Reynolds 531 tubing all throughout the bike. The group on the bike was all campy super record. The bike was painted in the Iconic raleigh Red Black and Yellow paint scheme. There is a whole retro culture on Raleigh bikes and SBDU Raleighs. So when you are trying to figure out if you have a SBDU bike you need to look at these things. Paint, decals, serial number, bottom bracket and lugs...There is a entire Yahoo Group devoted to the Raleighs of old and more information is here.

The Reproduction The 2017 Raleigh Carlton Team is not a new bike this year as it was produced when Raleigh turned 125! However, over the last couple of years the bike has been dressed out a little differently. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. The frame set is of course 531 keeping with the history of the frame sets produced by the SBDU. The frame is painted in the Iconic Red, Black and Yellow paint that we come to expect from a Raleigh racing bike. However, closer inspection and you would discover that the 74’ version had some chromed fork and rear stay tips plus the head tube was yellow. This reproduction resembles the Team Professional version from 1976. The bike still had the yellow head tube in 75 and with the fork fully chromed. In 2017 the bike is dressed out with Campy’s newest line called Potenza. Campy has made no secret that the sole purpose of the Potenza group is to compete with Shimano Ultegra. The MSRP of the group is $1,027.50 without wheels. We looked on line and you can get this group from $576 and up depending on how much of the group you want. So from the onset the reproduction looks like a real bargain at $1,999.00 for a off the shelf retro ride that you can race just about anywhere.

The tubing Reynolds 531 was developed by Reynolds Technology Ltd. of Birmingham England in 1935. At the time this was the cutting edge in lightweight steel tubing technology. Reynolds 531 is a medium carbon steel with a Manganese-Molybdenum makeup. The tubing became the standard that frame builders used in their frame constructions because of the wide range of sizes, butting and thickness that the tubing were available in. In addition Reynolds was also more than willing to make special runs for manufacturers for different applications. This is when you see 531st, 531c, 531ATB lines of tubing available to manufacturers. 531 tubing was so significant that it really didn't go out of style into the 90’s until the invention of 753 and other air hardened steels came into being.

The Sucess: To give you an idea on how dominant the Raleigh-TI professional cycling team was I have taken the liberty to list out their accomplishments for their duration. Major wins 1974 Grand Prix des Nations , Roy Schuiten World Champion, Individual Pursuit, Roy Schuiten European championship Madison, René Pijnen Six Days of Dortmund, René Pijnen Six Days of Rotterdam, René Pijnen Six Days of Berlin, René Pijnen with Roy Schuiten 1975 Rund um den Henninger-Turm , Roy Schuiten World Champion, Individual Pursuit, Roy Schuiten Grand Prix des Nations, Roy Schuiten Six Days of Bremen, René Pijnen Six Days of Frankfurt am Main, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of London, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of Munich, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of Münster, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of Zurich, Günther Haritz 1976 Tour de Suisse, Hennie Kuiper Tour de France: 4 stages (Hennie Kuiper, Gerben Karstens (2), Team time trial) European championship Madison, Réne Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of Bremen, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of Münster, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of Grenoble, Günther Haritz 1977 Four Days of Dunkirk, Gerrie Knetemann Rund um den Henninger-Turm, Gerrie Knetemann Tour de France: 8 stages (Dietrich Thurau (5), Gerrie Knetemann (2), Hennie Kuiper); 1st young rider classification (Dietrich Thurau), 1st team classification Six Days of Herning, René Pijnen Six Days of Cologne, René Pijnen with Günther Haritz Six Days of London, René Pijnen Six Days of Rotterdam, René Pijnen Six Days of Grenoble, René Pijnen 1978 Amstel Gold Race, Jan Raas Paris–Nice, Gerrie Knetemann Paris–Brussels, Jan Raas Paris–Tours, Jan Raas Tour de Romandie, Johan van der Velde Tour de Suisse, Paul Wellens World Champion, Elite road, Gerrie Knetemann Tour de France: 10 stages (Jan Raas (3), Gerrie Knetemann (2), Paul Wellens, Klaus-Peter Thaler, Hennie Kuiper, Henk Lubberding, team time trial); 7 yellow jerseys (Jan Raas (3), Gerrie Knetemann (2), Klaus-Peter Thaler (2)); 1st (Henk Lubberding) young rider classification 1979 Amstel Gold Race, Jan Raas Tour of Flanders , Jan Raas Tour de Suisse, Wilfried Wesemael World Champion, Elite Road, Jan Raas World Champion, Elite individual pursuit, Bert Oosterbosch Tour de France: 6 stages (Gerrie Knetemann (2), team time trial (2), Jan Raas, Leo van Vliet); 1 yellow jersey (Gerrie Knetemann) 1980 Tour de France, Joop Zoetemelk Amstel Gold Race, Jan Raas Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré , Johan van der Velde Tour de Luxembourg, Bert Oosterbosch Gent–Wevelgem, Henk Lubberding Tour of Belgium, Gerrie Knetemann Tour de France: 11 stages (Jan Raas (3), Joop Zoetemelk (2), 2 x team time trial, Gerrie Knetemann, Bert Oosterbosch, Henk Lubberding, Cees Priem); 11 yellow jerseys (Joop Zoetemelk (10), Gerrie Knetemann); General classification: 1st (Joop Zoetemelk); 1st (Johan van der Velde) young rider classification 1981 Omloop Het Volk , Jan Raas Gent–Wevelgem, Jan Raas Paris–Tours, Jan Raas Tour of Belgium, Ad Wijnands Tour de France: 7 stages (team time trial (2), Ad Wijnands (2), Johan van der Velde (2), Urs Freuler); 4 yellow jerseys (Gerrie Knetemann) 1982 Amstel Gold Race, Jan Raas Paris–Roubaix, Jan Raas Gent–Wevelgem, Frank Hoste Four Days of Dunkirk, Frank Hoste Paris–Brussels, Jacques Hanegraaf Rund um den Henninger-Turm, Ludo Peeters Tour de France: 6 stages (Gerrie Knetemann (2), Jan Raas, Frank Hoste, Ludo Peeters, team time trial); 1 yellow jersey (Ludo Peeters) World Track Championships, Leicester England, Gordon Singleton Gold in Keirin, Silver in Sprint 1983 Tour of Flanders , Jan Raas Gent–Wevelgem, Leo van Vliet Four Days of Dunkirk, Leo van Vliet Rund um den Henninger-Turm, Ludo Peeters Paris–Tours, Ludo Peeters Championship of Zurich, Johan van der Velde Tour de France: 4 stages (Bert Oosterbosch (2), Peter Winnen, Henk Lubberding); 1st team classification