Raleigh Randonneur 708 1997

doctor-bond

Feature Bike
Been meaning to post some details of my recent Raleigh Randonneur build.




The idea was to build something to use for audax rides and commuting. I’d had a Randonneur frame a few years ago, but it was a bit long in the TT [long legs short body syndrome].

The old one:




What that build did show me was how good the frames are. The 708 tubes are heat-treated mang mol like 753, but with a larger diameter top tube and ‘special section’ internal bracing to increase strength [8 internal flat sections according to wikipedia].





Here’s a bit of background:

Raleigh’s Randonneur production was born out of the demise of the SBDU works and subsequent birth of the Special Products Division around 1987. According to cycling historian Tony Hadland:

The demise of the European team in the early 1980s led to the closure of Ilkeston but resulted in Gerald O’Donovan and Melvyn Cresswell teaming up on product development at what became known as Special Products Division. Shortly before this, and supported by his ‘indulgent boss’ Yvonne Rix, Cresswell had designed and launched the Randonneur tourer. It was based on personal experience and inspired by his first ‘serious’ bicycle, which Gerald O’Donovan had built for him many years previously. Although Raleigh’s most expensive complete bicycle, it was an instant success. The Randonneur proved that Raleigh could still sell high-end product if it was thoughtfully designed and manufactured.

Hadland Link

There isn’t much certainty about the various incarnations of Randonneur from the late 80’s to the close of RSP in 2000. As far as I can make out earlier ones are made of 531 ST, later ones of 708. Hilary Stone employed a useful breakdown in recent advert for one of his:

… the second series Raleigh Randonneur frames [were] built from Reynolds 531ST tubing. The first series did not have cantilever brakes and the third series were built from from Reynolds 708 tubing with a 1 1/8in diameter top tube.

708 was available in Classic or Touristique flavours. I’ve no evidence what the difference was: logic suggests that like 531ST, Touristique was somehow a stouter more touring version; anyone know more?

It’s worth noting that 708 frames were available as full bikes badged Randonneurs, and also frame-only with custom options, badged as Gran Tour.



Towards the end of production, Randonneurs were spiffed up with top level components including hydraulic rim brakes (thanks to one-eyed_jim for the link posted on one of the other threads).




link to full size pic

For me, it it’s the 708 versions that epitomise the marque: innovative materials worked into a great design with brilliant signature touches that add a bit of iconic cool: oversize seat stay caps, spoke holders on the left stay (531 frames were on the right, 708, left); no chainstay brace, but instead a cool "pip" for mudguards; 135mm rear end.



Mine is an H serial number which likely equates to 1997. serial no. linky But I’m not wedded to catalogue correctness and it’s been built with a, er, retro flavour: Specialized BB1 flared drops held high on a nitto stem; non aero brake levers, Swift Ti saddle and 9sp Dura ace shifters on the down low; MKS flats with clips and straps. Wheels are stock, and while the black parallax hubs don’t really fit, they can stay until they wear out or I splash on a dynamo hub.






oops, pic limit reached ....
 

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doctor-bond

Feature Bike
Re:

cont....

A few parts I’m really digging:

Microshift rear mech was peanuts and is light, discrete and well built -- it’s big brother Sun XCD was planned, but as the peerless Disraeligears put it - “[the xcd] has little to distinguish it from its, less-storied, microSHIFT bretheren except its sheer silveriness.” disraeli


Jack Brown tyres: these are a Grant Pederson [Rivbike] design knocked out by Panaracer and available here through Planet X. At 33.33333mm they are cushy even on wide mavic t-261 rims, and although I was sceptical about puncture resistance, they’ve somehow survived the dreaded hedge trimming [by which I mean industrial decimation with those massive flails that spew thorns far and wide] season. They also performed brilliantly in a massive downpour that I got caught in on my first audax.





“Mashup” brake levers. I’ve had a few builds with drop levers and cantis, and while there are some good performing levers, they are usually too modern or aero. So initially I opted for dia compe Gran Compe 202s which look great, are non-aero and have groovy adjusters. But once fitted they were just a bit too flimsy and squishy - not as positive as some old Shimno 105s I’d used on an MTB drop bar build a few years ago (SLR cable pull and sprung levers). So I dug out the 105s cleaned off the logos, transferred the hoods and adjusters from the Gran Compes and voila: well sprung, nicely modulated and powerful when hooked up to proper wide-profile Tektro cr720s.





Ride.

The more I ride this the better I like it. Its the balance between practicality and agility that stands out. The frame is comfy and responsive. It’s stiff enough not to feel noodly under power, and light enough to build into a quick bike that doesn’t hate hills. The steering is quick too. This is accentuated by the short stem and relatively narrow flared bar set up I have, and I considered using a wider Nitto Randonneur bar. But I love the BB1s and will just man up. It’s rock solid down hill too. Apart from an eventual upgrade to a dynamo hub wheelset, the only changes I’m considering are moving the shifters from the down tube to the stem steerer. This grieves me somewhat, but I have to acknowledger that on long rides I’m getting an old-man-ache-on-one-side from reaching down. Perhaps Yoga is the answer ….







It would be great to build some more detail on these bikes, and in researching this I came across a snippett again from a Hilary Stone advert that mentions the build process:


[the 708 frames] were very carefully designed and very well built in Raleigh’s Special Products Division. We followed the building of one of these frames in Cycling Plus Issue 40 and there was a test of the complete bike C+36. I was very impressed – because the photography meant that the brazing torches were on for longer, they cut the frame up at the end as they thought the tubing might have been overheated… That was the sort of level of care Raleigh SPD took with their frames…

Let me know if you have a copy of Cycling Plus issues 36 and/or 40 [I think from 1995] I’ll pay good gold.
 

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legrandefromage

Bin Monkey
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Nice!

Is there any discernible difference with the Royal? Mine has SPD on the steerer and Special Products decal on the seat tube.

I cant find anything obvious except the colour.

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file.php
 

doctor-bond

Feature Bike
Re:

Same frame as far as I can tell: maybe the Royal had different component/ Touristique tube options?

We need a catalogue.
 

peetee

Senior Retro Guru
Re:

Damn fine bikes. I like what you have done with yours.
I have the 708 tubed cyclo-cross model which is essentially the same geometry with less braze-ons. I love it. As you say, it's no slouch on the hills and worlds away from a 531 when you give it some out the saddle. Mine is the only cyclo-cross model I have ever seen. Bought off eBay it had Dyna-Tech decals and was a team bike. Which team I don't know but somewhere in the S. York's/Derbyshire area and maybe sponsored by Raleigh?
 

Lackluster

rBotM Winner
A well deserved winner of the October RBotM and so glad I asked for more information about the bike. This is a super thread and so informative. A lovely bike. Thanks.
 

doctor-bond

Feature Bike
Re: Re:

peetee":1i62jdup said:
Damn fine bikes. I like what you have done with yours.
I have the 708 tubed cyclo-cross model which is essentially the same geometry with less braze-ons. I love it. As you say, it's no slouch on the hills and worlds away from a 531 when you give it some out the saddle. Mine is the only cyclo-cross model I have ever seen. Bought off eBay it had Dyna-Tech decals and was a team bike. Which team I don't know but somewhere in the S. York's/Derbyshire area and maybe sponsored by Raleigh?


:cool: Very cool: you don't see many of those. Got any pics?
 
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