97 Raleigh RSP Ti build thread


Dyna-Tech Fan
A bit of long-winded preamble first:

I'm troubled by the use of the word 'build' when it comes to bicycles. I find it pretentious and it overstates what is being achieved, certainly by me anyway. Wheels are built because it's a skill. Chas Roberts, Dave Yates and Charlie Cunningham build / built bicycles because they possess skill. Me wielding tools is not the same thing. I prefer to use the word 'assemble', like Saracen did.

I'd wanted a welded ti frame, particularly a Raleigh, for a long time, well before joining rb, but I hadn't tried very hard to get hold of one and I'd, kind of, talked myself into believing it was unachievable.

During Lockdown 1 I, like many, found myself with time on my hands, spending far too much of it searching for bicycles. After a while it became evident that finding any titanium frames in my size was going to be a challenge.

I compromised with my first purchase, buying a slightly larger than my usual size Raleigh MT4 frame from @johndeverill . He was kind enough to drop it off at my Mum's shop in Sheffield, where it remained a secret from my partner, 170 miles from home, and unseen by me for over 6 months. I was thrilled that I'd got a titanium frame, but it was a bonded frame, not as I saw it a 'real' ti frame. It was around this time that I passed, briefly regretting it, on a tatty Torus XT rolling chassis that was suffering from Covid tax.

Then I came across a Raleigh M-Trax 500 frame. OK, it was only part ti but it was really cheap, so I bought it. The M-Trax was Fisher Price My First Bike Build. I'd tinkered and swapped components before, but not started with a bare frame. I surprised myself, and yet didn't. I knew I could put a bike together i just hadn't tried before. It was a nice runabout, if about an inch too big. A photo of this bike taken along the River Stort Navigation at Roydon is the lock screen on my phone.

By June (2020) I'd stopped being sensible, secretive, and cheap, buying a low mileage 2000 model Raleigh RSP 550 - essentially the final iteration of the Torus frame and the last proper bike made by Raleigh. I suspected that it was too big for me when I Cummings'd my way to get it, but I couldn't help myself and bought it anyway. I owned it for a week, rode it for about 50 miles, which was enough to know I really liked it, and then hurriedly sold it and got my money back. So, I could have a titanium mountain bike, and I was going to get another one, and I was going to put it together myself, and it was going to be a Raleigh, and I didn't care what other people thought of them.

Fast forward approximately 8 months. I'd ended the relationship, moved out, across country, and was starting again. My hobby didn't have to be secretive anymore.

I'd tracked this 97 RSP frame through rb because it was a 16" frame. I had to have a 16 and they don't often come up for sale because parents rarely buy their kids expensive bikes.

This particular frame spent some time with @8lezard and he'd run it as a single speed before selling the frame to another rb member in 2012. I messaged that member in February 21 on the off chance that he might still have it and, if so, to see if he could be persuaded to part with it. He did still have it but didn't want to sell. Remarkably the frame was still just a frame. He'd never used it in 9 years of ownership.

After refusing my, as I believed, generous offer - bigger more desirable frames were selling for less - he said he might consider selling if I offered more, and he could find something else that he could replace it with. The conversation ended. I was disappointed and resumed my search, thinking I'd have to make do with the MT4. Not to worry I could make a nice bike out of it.

At the end of April (21) I received an unexpected email: Was I still interested? He'd found something else and was willing to sell. Great. Off to Matlock on a miserable May Day to collect it. Happy days.


About a six weeks later a really nice original 16" Torus STX popped up in a FB group. Oh no! I had to have it. I made a (very) cheeky offer, while the other group members complained about how over priced they thought it was, and the seller accepted. I now had two.

At the end of July I got a message from @ibbz - top bloke - 'would I be interested in an RSP 550 f&f package?'... Absolutely I would. Then there were 3. (https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/2000-raleigh-rsp-550.432926/)

So out of the three I bought the 97 first and it has been assembled last. I've taken a bit more time and effort with this one, rather than rushing to accumulate parts as quickly as possible and then bolting it together in an afternoon as I've done before...

More later
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Old School Grand Master
I like pre and post amble. There is definitely a *uck it point concerning Ti. I don't think you will regret it.


Gold Trader
rBotM Winner
Karma King
Dyna-Tech Fan
Well, I'm looking forward to this one!
I agree with you about the 'build' word when applied to "builds", people tend to ask me "did you build that?" I reply by saying, "well, I bought the frame and then sourced some nice parts and put it together, so no, I didn't actually build it". But I obnviously use the build term here


Dyna-Tech Fan
I didn't really set out with a particular plan for the frame. Parts just sort of turned up. I had a few things already, like a pair of RC36's, and a lovely pair of wheels that I'd got from Marcin - dresdliadory, but other than that it was a waiting game for stuff I liked the look of, and that didn't stray too far from the confines of a Yorkshireman's wallet.

In the meantime I was also househunting. My vague plans stalled after I found somewhere and had an offer accepted. The house was caught up in probate and it dragged on for months. All my stuff was packed and inaccessible for several months while I waited. Then, just as it looked like things were moving forward, I caught Covid and got really sick. It would be several months before I'd be able to do anything bike related again.

After, moving in I decided to turn the spare bedroom into a makeshift workshop. I set up the workstand and started offering up parts to the frame. It then became evident that I was going to take my time with this. Partly because I had to, and partly because I wanted to.

The decals were tatty and if I wanted it to look any way decent they had to be replaced. So I made contact with Gil@retrodecals. He had them on file.

The decals were the first thing I bought and I've had a love/hate thing going on with them ever since. The last time I put decals on anything it was made by Airfix and I was about 12. That was a very long time ago. And these were expensive. I was anxious about getting it wrong and having to buy a second set. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
(I forgot to take a photo of them until after applying the top tube decal).
The frame would need to be cleaned first, and I'd heard that most of the Raleigh frames were painted. Oh this could go so wrong.

I had no reason to be concerned. This was a raw brushed frame. I just needed to man-up and get stuck in.

Heat gun and acetone later and they were all gone, with the exception of one: the IMI decal on the seat tube. The font used on the new decal is slightly different to the original, and my OCD doesn't like it as much, so it stays.







I avoided this necessary task to such an extent that I'd offered up most of the parts I'd gathered together before making any attempt to tidy it up.
After I began I found it therapeutic. It was surprising just how dirty the frame was.

Once the decals were off I decided to order some Scotchbrite pads and work some of the blemishes out before I went any further. The frame is in lovely condition, with very few marks, all of which are superficial. I got lucky with this frame, and owed it to myself to do it justice.

Once it was clean I left it for a couple of days before plucking up the courage to attempt the first decal application.

Start small. Top tube - TITANIUM. Nds first. Took my time marking in pencil and comparing with photos before placing it. Carefully followed the instructions and really pleased with how it turned out. Although the 'TIT' in titanium is missing the clear shadows that are around the other letters. They remained attached when I peeled the tape off. Never mind, you can only tell if you look closely. More importantly I got the placing right.

The other side of the top tube when on really well too. Only I did it when I was fatigued - a Covid problem, and a side effect is dysfunctional cognition. I now tire very easily and can find it very difficult to concentrate. In addition I'm now prone making elementary mistakes that I don't seem to be able to notice unless I'm distracted from and then return to the task. My perception of a task may, at the time, seem to be performed correctly and accurately, only for me to return to it to find a completely different scenario. This will then be followed by confusion and distress. From the side it also looked great. Not from above though. The two decals didn't line up correctly and were at different heights on the tube - even though I'd taken great care and effort to make sure they were.

To remedy the situation I had to pick each letter off individually and re-place them with the correct spacing without having an emotional breakdown - another side-effect.

It took just over an hour, and great care, with a pair of tweezers to rearrange those eight letters. Then I walked away for a few days...
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