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1981? Raleigh Superbe

Old 05-15-19, 07:06 PM
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ramones71
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1981? Raleigh Superbe

I have had this bike for a couple of years now but I wanted to throw it on here. Thanks to research on this forum and on The Headbadge, I believe it to be a 1981 Superbe. I was running past a yard sale one day and saw the frame lying in the grass. I noticed that it was close to my size, gold, and had 531 stickers, and I thought it would make a heck of a beater fixie, due to the rough condition of the gold and a dent in the top tube. I then started talking to the guy selling it and he told me how it was his dad's bike and that his dad raced it and did club rides on it. He then said "it comes with all these parts", and showed me a box with the entire Superbe group in it, sans seatpost (anyone?) and the original tubular wheelset. I had him hold it for me and raced home to get the 60 bucks he wanted for it. When I got it home and read about the bike, I realized that it needed to be put together as close to original condition as possible. A weird part of me also wanted to do it for this guy's dad. A week later, a Centurion LeMans RS with gold Araya rims showed up on CL for a low price. I bought it, put another wheelset on it, and sold it. The Superbe was ready to roll! It was fun to put back together and it is a sweet ride. I know the catalogs say these bikes have Tange tubing, and the serial number doesn't jive with any of the conventions on Kurt's site, but I assume it was built in Japan. One of these days I will talk my girlfriend into letting it hang on the wall in the house!








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Old 05-15-19, 07:12 PM
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A fine bike that I assume is too big for you? Or maybe not since you say it's a fine ride. What are the odds?

Good instincts, these were not common.
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Old 05-15-19, 07:52 PM
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That is a beautiful bike !
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Old 05-15-19, 08:10 PM
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Great Job OP kudos for building this to spec and not making a fixie, how does it ride?
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Old 05-15-19, 08:27 PM
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I don't know what it is but it definitely isn't a superbe. this is a superbe:



nice enough though for one of those a lance armstrong types
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Old 05-15-19, 09:04 PM
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The OPsí bike is a Superbe and definitely from 1981. Itís listed in the 1981 catalog right below the Professional Mark V and above the Competition GS. Not sure how to post a photo from the catalog. Perhaps someone can help us out with that? Cute Boy Horse yours is a Superbe too, but from an earlier era but not at all related, as your clearly aware.

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Old 05-15-19, 09:13 PM
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Supercool bike!

(You're gonna get your head caught under those brake cables sooner or later. They can go much shorter... and should. )

But man, what a sweet find.
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Old 05-16-19, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Pcampeau View Post
The OPs’ bike is a Superbe and definitely from 1981. It’s listed in the 1981 catalog right below the Professional Mark V and above the Competition GS. Not sure how to post a photo from the catalog. Perhaps someone can help us out with that? Cute Boy Horse yours is a Superbe too, but from an earlier era but not at all related, as your clearly aware.
Here is a Raleigh Superbe in the 1981 Catalogue:



All Raleigh Superbes are as pictured, with the exception of exports to the USA (no chaincase) and mainland Europe (tyre dynamo and drum brake option). It was produced continuously from after WWII to the mid 80s without any significant changes.

Whatever this is, it's merely a racing bike with a Suntour Superbe derailleur. Perhaps it was never given a name. A Raleigh Superbe it is not.

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Old 05-16-19, 04:47 AM
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@ramones71 bike is 100% a Raleigh Superbe @Cute Boy Horse. It is unfortunate that Raleigh named this gold beauty the same as your amazing example which wore the same model name first and was produced for many decades. The Gold Superbe was only made for 2 or 3 years and there are very few examples available for comparison.

I own what is believed to be an 1982 model. Mine was just a frameset and I found it for a great price over ten years ago. Mine is built with a mix of parts that were available at the time. It actually is kept by my nephew in GA for me and other taller folk to ride when we visit. Mine has Tange tubing, so the OP's is an outlier with the Reynolds 531 tubing. The fact that his still wears all the Suntour Superbe components makes his really special.


Please excuse the lack of a good focus.



There is a difference in the caps/finish between the OP's and my seat stays.
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Old 05-16-19, 04:50 AM
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Definitely not a 3-speed Surperbe. You're not wrong though, there was a road bike Surperbe, the catalogs don't say it was made with 531SL, and those stickers aren't just 531, they're 531SL, something rather special. You can see my notes on 531SL here https://kuromori.home.blog/reynolds-531/ it was hardly just run of the mill double butted 531 and not something they'd just substitute for Tange. Although 531SL might arguably be closer to Champion #1 than 531c. It might be a slightly different year based on the fork crown, but even the Rampar Superbe lists Tange. A close up of the badge would help since there were a few versions based on location of manufacture. Given that it's plated, you might be able to see if there's "REYNOLDS 531" stampings visible near the fork crown or the ends of the main tubes near the lugs.

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Old 05-16-19, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Cute Boy Horse View Post
Here is a Raleigh Superbe in the 1981 Catalogue:
We've been through this before. Yes 99.9 % of all Superbes were roadsters but this anomaly is a real model and correctly named.
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Old 05-16-19, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
We've been through this before. Yes 99.9 % of all Superbes were roadsters but this anomaly is a real model and correctly named.
My reaction when I first learned of this model about a dozen years ago was similar to CuteBoyHorse. In this instance, the bike name matched the level of the components that it was fitted with.

My limited observation is that every one of these I've seen pictures of is in a size fit for an NBA player. If I did come across one in my size, I would certainly covet it.
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Old 05-16-19, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
My reaction when I first learned of this model about a dozen years ago was similar to CuteBoyHorse. In this instance, the bike name matched the level of the components that it was fitted with.

My limited observation is that every one of these I've seen pictures of is in a size fit for an NBA player. If I did come across one in my size, I would certainly covet it.
I'd make a terrible basketball player--- even among the least talented of elementary school players!

I agree, I don't ever recall seeing a gold Superbe frame under 60cm.
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Old 05-16-19, 07:33 AM
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Per the serial number, the OP's frame was manufactured in very early 1981 by a Japanese company believed to be Tano.
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Old 05-16-19, 09:03 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the comments and input. Thanks t-mar for serial info. Glad to have documented another one of these on the forum
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Old 05-16-19, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Fahrenheit531 View Post
Supercool bike!

(You're gonna get your head caught under those brake cables sooner or later. They can go much shorter... and should. )

But man, what a sweet find.
Haha, yeah tried to gauge how long from catalogs and got a little carried away...
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Old 05-16-19, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
@ramones71 bike is 100% a Raleigh Superbe @Cute Boy Horse. It is unfortunate that Raleigh named this gold beauty the same as your amazing example which wore the same model name first and was produced for many decades. The Gold Superbe was only made for 2 or 3 years and there are very few examples available for comparison.

I own what is believed to be an 1982 model. Mine was just a frameset and I found it for a great price over ten years ago. Mine is built with a mix of parts that were available at the time. It actually is kept by my nephew in GA for me and other taller folk to ride when we visit. Mine has Tange tubing, so the OP's is an outlier with the Reynolds 531 tubing. The fact that his still wears all the Suntour Superbe components makes his really special.


Please excuse the lake of good focus.



There is a difference in the caps/finish between the OP's and my seat stays.
Thatís a gorgeous, modern ride!
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Old 05-16-19, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
Definitely not a 3-speed Surperbe. You're not wrong though, there was a road bike Surperbe, the catalogs don't say it was made with 531SL, and those stickers aren't just 531, they're 531SL, something rather special. You can see my notes on 531SL here https://kuromori.home.blog/reynolds-531/ it was hardly just run of the mill double butted 531 and not something they'd just substitute for Tange. Although 531SL might arguably be closer to Champion #1 than 531c. It might be a slightly different year based on the fork crown, but even the Rampar Superbe lists Tange. A close up of the badge would help since there were a few versions based on location of manufacture. Given that it's plated, you might be able to see if there's "REYNOLDS 531" stampings visible near the fork crown or the ends of the main tubes near the lugs.
Yeah, 531 is stamped into the tubes, otherwise, I probably wouldnít have believed the stickers myself.
Headbadge is same as pastorbobís bike, with the hash marks at the bottom
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Old 05-16-19, 12:29 PM
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That's interesting, it could have been a very odd availability substitution considering the pro was just plain 531 but whoever specified the substitution felt 531SL was a closer match to Tange #1 . I'm curious about the stampings since normally they're hidden by paint. Do they say 22/24 and 21/24 that would be expected of 531SL? Anything on the fork blades other than REYNOLDS 531? Also which side of the tubes are the stampings on if visible, head tube or BB/seat cluster?
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Old 05-16-19, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
That's interesting.... I'm curious about the stampings since normally they're hidden by paint. Do they say 22/24 and 21/24 that would be expected of 531SL? Anything on the fork blades other than REYNOLDS 531? Also which side of the tubes are the stampings on if visible, head tube or BB/seat cluster?
In the case of the Superbe, there really is no paint. It's a chrome plated frame that has been clear coated with gold tinting added. There's a term for the process but I'm forgetting it at the moment.

Thank you @ramones71. I wish I had it here in NH to ride more often and possibly add better components to. One day.
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Old 05-16-19, 04:45 PM
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Candy chrome? Anyways, yeah, that's why I'm curious about the stampings. Clear on chrome doesn't seem to hinder legibility. Certainly is a looker.
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Old 05-16-19, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
That's interesting, it could have been a very odd availability substitution considering the pro was just plain 531 but whoever specified the substitution felt 531SL was a closer match to Tange #1 . I'm curious about the stampings since normally they're hidden by paint. Do they say 22/24 and 21/24 that would be expected of 531SL? Anything on the fork blades other than REYNOLDS 531? Also which side of the tubes are the stampings on if visible, head tube or BB/seat cluster?
Well upon further inspection, I lied a bit. It doesn't say 531; it simply says "Reynolds Butted", on top tube behind head tube, downtube just above shifter bosses, and seat tube near bottom bracket. The only pics where it showed up ok were on the top tube. The stamp is also wrapped around the tops of the fork blades, but partially covered by the stickers. I guess I saw those stamps when the frame was naked, and it was enough validation of the stickers for me. I did not find any stamps on the seat stays or chain stays, but I was in a bit of a hurry. My curiosity is now piqued, so I will find a moment to put the bike in the work stand in the sun and take the rear wheel off and look for them. Great article on Reynolds, btw!
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Old 05-16-19, 06:15 PM
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The stays normally aren't stamped, just the main tubes and fork blades. Interesting it doesn't say 531 or give gauges, although I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry as the butted hi-ten or anything since those tubes were discontinued and I think 501 CrMo was only introduced starting in 1981, although I'm entirely sure how those are stamped.

After checking my tubes again, my continental fork blades just say REYNOLDS BUTTED instead of REYNOLDS 531 BUTTED ##/## like my other tubes and Imperial blades, so stamping practices probably just vary by decade. I'm pretty sure my fork blades are actually 531 and not 501 since they seem to match up well with my calculated estimated weights and I don't think 501 had butted blades.

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Old 05-16-19, 08:14 PM
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The little things... like a Suntour Superbe headset.
I'm drooling all over this bike and ruining the finish from here, even knowing it's about 10cm too tall for me.
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