c. 1980 Roberts Handbuilt Frame

I need your help.

I have a c. 1980 Roberts handbuilt touring frame.  This may have been one of the last frames built by Charlie Roberts.  He passed away shortly afterward and his son Chas has continued the business.  The frame is made of Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing –  state-of-the-art at the time.  Light.  Strong.  Flexible.

This was my first expensive bike.  I had several bikes previously but this was the first time I attempted to build one myself.  I carefully selected the frame, all of the components and assembled the bike in an empty spare bedroom I had at the time.  This was before children when I had time and money to spare.  I have ridden this bike for 30 years.  It is a treat, particularly on long rides.  And, it is as enjoyable a ride today as it was 3 decades ago.

I have just stripped the bike down and want to rebuild it as a touring bike with more up-to-date and suitable components.  I will, no doubt, save the vintage Campagnolo, Cinelli, Weinmann, Phil Woods and TA parts.  They may very well become a piece of art hanging proudly in my den.

My objectives are to built this frame out so that I can enjoy several of the items on my cycling bucket list with it and, when I am gone, leave it as a reminder to the next generation that the old times were good times.  Everyone has an opinion on how to build out this bike.  And, this is my dilemma.  I am conflicted.  There are a lot of options.  26″ vs 700 cc wheels.  Drop or straight handlebars.  Clip in or flat pedals.  Compact or triple chainrings.  Sealed bearing bottom brackets and hubs or not.  Shimano.  Sram.  Sugino.  Phil Woods.  The list goes on …

I have listened to many – friends, mechanics, shop owners, cyclists – and have been researching online for months, perhaps longer.  I want to pick the most suitable components like I did 30 years ago but my objectives have changed and so has the technology.  And, I am considerably more experienced.  I have some ideas.  Preferences.  I do not have a budget in mind.  That is never a consideration when it comes to bikes for me.  I want a reliable, comfortable and, long lasting ride.

This is where you come in.

I am looking for input from other touring enthusiasts; people who have spent a week or more on a bike travelling mostly in North America and Europe; cyclists who have have learned the hard lessons on the road; and, cyclists that ride 100-200 km / day for days on end.  If this is you, I would like to hear from you.  Either post a comment on this blog or contact me directly.


8 thoughts on “c. 1980 Roberts Handbuilt Frame

  1. Google “Assenmacher bicycles” in Swartz Creek, Mi. Ask for Matt. He used to build them great steel bikes – his favorite bike is one of his converted to a fold down with modern Campy components. He is a wizard when it comes to building and converting bikes. Good luck.

    • Thank you. I will contact Matt for suggestions. The first decision is whether to use 26″ or 700 c wheelsets. There are pros and cons both ways. And secondly, whether to use a road or MTB group.

  2. Pingback: Cold setting the Roberts frame | PedalWORKS

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  5. I have a Roberts road frame with the same fork crown, lugs etc as yours. Mine has the frame number 1981 on the bb shell and fork column. I was just wondering what the frame number of your bike is as they look so similar?

    • This is an interesting question Jamie. When I last rebuilt the bike I was interested in knowing whether Charlie (the father) of Chas (the son) built the frame. I wrote to the company to see if they could help me out. They advised me to forward the serial # stamped on the BB and they would look up their records. Well, there is no # stamped on the BB or anywhere else on the frame. Nothing. So, I don’t know. I purchased the bike for a local bike shop in 1981. Who knows how long it hung from their ceiling.

      • Thanks for the reply. I have read that Roberts kept using the 4 figure numbering system for a short while after Charlie Roberts died in 1979. I understand this system was stopped at around the 2200 mark. As I said my frame is stamped 1981 on both the bb shell and the fork column so could well be one of Charlie’s.

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