Last June I wrote about my most recent Tin Donkey, a c. 1983/84 Raleigh Team Professional frame. It was constructed in Raleigh’s Special Bicycle Development Unit (SBDU) in Ilkeston, outside of the main Raleigh works in Nottingham. The frame was finished in the colours of the Levi’s-Raleigh Racing Team and included a braze-on tab for a racing number. Although the previous owner had been told it had been a team bike, I cannot confirm this. The frame is similar to those shown in the Raleigh USA catalogue of the period as available for custom order and was sold as a frameset only.
VeloCals provided most of the Raleigh Racing USA decals, including some of the really tricky ones such as a head tube decal (my bike never had a badge, as was common with Raleighs, as there is no sign of mounting holes), and the “Made in England for sale only in the USA” one. From H. Lloyd Cycles in the UK, I obtained some beautiful decals including the special SBDU ones for the chainstays, a GoD decal for the seat tube (Gerald O’Donovan being the head of SBDU), and some TI (for Tube Industries) decals for the fork. Tube Industries owned Raleigh, along with Reynolds, and the decal was used on earlier bicycles than mine. Since my fork would not be Reynolds 753 but rather Columbus SLX, I decided not to use 753 decals on the fork, as would have been original. From CycloMondo in Australia I received a nice set of Reynolds 753R decals. The “R” in this case means “restored”!
Just Riding Along in Maryland built me a set of wheels using Mavic Open Pro rims and a nice set of 36-hole Campagnolo Super Record hubs I bought on E-Bay. I had a nice pair of Hutchinson tires with red pinstriping on them, which match beautifully. Since I want to ride this bicycle at l’Eroica in Tuscany, I thought it would be good to get the biggest freewheel I could that would fit a Super Record rear derailleur and bought a new Interloc Racing Design (IRD) 13-28.
On a grey day in early November, I took my big pile of photographs and decals, the frame and my bottom bracket and headset to Cycles Marinoni in Montreal. Mrs. Marinoni and I had a long discussion about the work to be done. She is the person responsible for the paintwork, and her husband, who had just come back from Italy, was going to make me a new fork with a proper Cinelli sloped crown. She recognized the paint scheme (Marinoni had actually built a number of bikes for the Levi’s-Raleigh team back in the day). We were a bit concerned that the spray-painted area might have been covering some damage, particularly since my 26.8 mm seatpost did not want to go in very easily.
I put the parts on that I had polished up and took the bike over to the guys at Full Cycle to work their magic and do the final setting-up of the Raleigh. It turned out that the IRD freewheel was no problem to use, so I have a much bigger range of gears than any racing cyclist in 1983 would have had available.
The final parts (toe straps, derailleur adjusting screws) have now come in and I photographed the bicycle today. The photography session is worth a page or two in itself. Amazingly, although I was using no less than 2000W of halogen light, I managed not to burn the house down. I also learned that a big roll of seamless paper has a mind of its own as it immediately insisted on unrolling all 37 feet of itself when I only needed about 12.