Bob Jackson 731os

Chat Noir

Devout Dirtbag
Finally back from Bob Jackson in Leeds where it’s had some fairly major refurbishment – a respray, some chrome and a repair, replacing the head tube. The bike is numbered 22171 and dates from 1995. Has ‘Bob Jackson’ drop-outs which Donald at BJ says have not been used for over 20 years.

This tubeset was introduced by Reynolds in 1992 and only produced for a handful of years. Lightweight, with some 753 tubes, the main tubes have 8 flats to provide stiffness in the traditionally butted areas. 58 cm frame, weighs 1809 g and forks weigh 706 g. This compares to a 58 cm Peugeot 753 weighing 1747 and 669 g respectively. Gazelle used 731os for a time, including their Exception frames, with stainless steel forks and stays. I have one of these, 58 cm, frame weighs 1982 g, forks weigh 669 g. I like riding 731os and find it more forgiving than 753 but equally fast and responsive.

The bike had a hard summer and good use over a number of years. I’d decided to have it resprayed after completing the last of the planned big summer rides. It was while I was disassembling it to take over to Leeds that I discovered a cracked lug. I’d prepped and waxed the bike before the last trip so knew it wasn’t damaged then. How the bike performed after the damage is an indicator of how resilient steel frames really are, although I wouldn’t recommend anyone else tests in this fashion. I had used it on an organised Pyrenean Raid earlier in the summer, the only steel bike in the group, several pounds heavier but several thousand pounds cheaper than some of the carbon bikes. I’d made a pair of wheels for the ride, silver H Plus Son Archetype rims on Novatec hubs, and these performed brilliantly, never more so than when I passed some of the carbon-wheeled bikes waiting for a lift downhill because their brakes didn’t work in the extreme wet on some of the long and steep descents. I may not be the quickest, but the bike went up and down everything flawlessly.

The final big ride before the planned respray was the North Coast 500, not totally different to the Pyrenean ride in terms of distance and ascent, but with a target of 60 hours and self-supported. As I approached the top of the Bealach na Baa I was knocked off the bike by a large motorhome, forcing me off the road where the tarmac is several layers thick at the edge and with a fierce drop off (on the final gentle left bend, after the hairpins and just before the summit for anyone who knows it), leaving me in the road, twisted handlebars, with bit of blood and bruises. The driver didn’t stop but some kindly Dutch e-bikers just behind helped me back up. I straightened the handlebars and carried on, never too quickly on this descent because of the gravel on the corners, but still up to speeds just short of 40 mph. That day’s ride was to Ullapool, 200 miles from Inverness, so no time to hang around. At some point I noticed a creaking sound, especially when I was pulling on the bars, like it was coming from the ring bolts, but I carried on. The next morning checked the bolts, all bomb proof, dripped lube down the side of the stem, eased the sound and carried on, 165 miles on day 2 to John O’Groats, bit under 130 on the third day, just under 500 in the end, with top speed of 43.5 mph on the descent into Helmsdale. Quick photo at Inverness Castle, completed in about 59 hours, and journey home to York. It was there that I found the lug at the bottom of the head tube was cracked and parted from the tube, and the forks out of true. The accident occurred round about 76 miles, meaning I cycled nearly 420 more miles with the damage, carrying a bar and saddle bag on the harsh road surfaces of northern Scotland and their fast descents. I think it’s astonishing, completing those miles with a cracked lug and no more than some creaking. Mind you, if I’d known I’d damaged the bike I’d have stopped straightaway for fear of a serious accident.

It’s rides like this that make us attached to bikes and why we’re prepared to go to such lengths to keep them going and looking good. Donald at BJ smiled when I traipsed in saying the bike now needed some repairs as well as paint and chrome and he did observe that carbon would probably not have stood up as well as steel.

We’ll gloss over exactly how much this all cost – to me, this is worth it. Anyway, here is the freshly painted and repaired frame. I had a Tom Board frame repainted some years ago for a friend at BJs and the result was nothing special. This time, though, the work really is outstanding. Had a long chat with Wayne who painted it and he explained they’re using a new clearcoat which certainly looks much brighter. The line of beautiful frames waiting to be collected was a sight to behold – I should have photographed it, they certainly should put it on their web site.

It was set up with an Ultegra groupset with a triple before but I might put on a virtually unused Dura Ace 7400 groupset now. The only real problem is that this looks so good it might need to hang above the fireplace for a while.


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Dirt Disciple
lovely paint job, I'd be tempted to hang it on the wall for a bit to admire....if you're not going to ride it before the good weather arrives again. I've just had a quote from Atlantic Boulevard in Bury for a respray and re-chrome of my Colnago Master and that was fairly eye-watering, I can only imagine what your's ran to. However, it's like you's unlikely we get this longevity out of carbon frames so it's worth the expense in my mind.

Looking forward to seeing it finished.


Senior Retro Guru

Excellent finish without doubt, with good detailing and chrome. I've spoken with the guys at BJ with regard to restoring my early Roberts - any doubts I may have had have now gone having seen this.



Gold Trader
MacRetro Rider
That is a lovely finish and looking brand new once again :)
That's a superb effort on the North Coast 500 as well. Living up in the north of Scotland and riding those roads regularly, especially the Bealach, that is one hell of an effort for sure, well done. The only down side to the NC500 is that before there used to be next to no traffic outside of mid summer, now it is full on all the time and there is a fair few accidents on the single lane stretchs. lots of cars and motorhomes trying to go way to fast when most don't know how to drive on the single track sections. Some sections are just too dangerous now. glad to hear you are alright though.
Look forward to seeing this built up.
I also use an Ultegra/105 9 speed triple on my Merckx, perfect for these roads :)