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Reynolds 555 Tubing

Old 12-19-19, 01:23 AM
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Reynolds 555 Tubing

Anyone have experience with this type of tubing? The frame I am seeing it on appears to be from the mid 80s? Is it heavier/lighter than Reynolds 531?, compare to 531 in ride quality? and is it know as a tubing used on higher quality frames from this era?
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Old 12-19-19, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Belg-Ital Steel View Post
Anyone have experience with this type of tubing? The frame I am seeing it on appears to be from the mid 80s? Is it heavier/lighter than Reynolds 531?, compare to 531 in ride quality? and is it know as a tubing used on higher quality frames from this era?
You know whats missing here, right?
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Old 12-19-19, 02:38 AM
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It's not Reynolds tubing if it's 555T or 555SL. It's just the name Raleigh USA(Huffy) gave to their generic butted crmo tubing. I can't say as to quality, but it was almost certainly a cost cutting measure. It could have been a deceptive ploy to make quality but cheaper tubes like Tange etc look like Reynolds, or it could have been a deceptive ploy to make cheaper and lesser tubes look like Reynolds. It might be Reynolds 531 if it's 555RSL.

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Old 12-19-19, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
It's not Reynolds tubing if it's 555T or 555SL. It's just the name Raleigh USA(Huffy) gave to their generic butted crmo tubing. I can't say as to quality, but it was almost certainly a cost cutting measure. It could have been a deceptive ploy to make quality but cheaper tubes like Tange etc look like Reynolds, or it could have been a deceptive ploy to make cheaper and lesser tubes look like Reynolds. It might be Reynolds 531 if it's 555RSL.
As Kuromori says, this was Raleigh USA's marketing tactic to make Japanese and Taiwanese frames (good ones) carry a label that looked like Reynolds despite not having Reynolds tubing - so the snob appeal would still be there.

This lasted from 1983 through 1985 on the better road bikes (Grand Prix / Super Course / Competition / Prestige), but Reynolds 531 popped up again in 1986 on these four models only. The touring models and mid-range ("Sport Touring") models (Olympian, Marathon, Pursuit) still carried Raleigh 555 or 502 tubing stickers into '86. I don't have a 1987 catalog from when the Techniums took over, but the Raleigh tubing stickers probably continued on whatever mid/low-range lugged steel bikes remained in the lineup.

I don't know if more information has come out in the years that I have been absent from the hobby, but the last I knew, the jury was still out on who supplied the tubing. It's not unreasonable to guess that this it could have been Tange or Ishiwata - or both. Each company was supplying tons of quality tubing back then. The general cheat sheet is that 555RSL is Reynolds 531, 555T is triple butted cro-mo and thus may be Ishiwata EX, 555SL is double-butted cro-mo and a rough equivalent to Tange 2 or Ishiwata 022, and 555 on its own is straight-gauge.

The only thing we do know is that the fork steerer tubes on some 555SL frames are marked Tange, but only the Competition and the Prestige carried fork blade tubing stickers (also 555). I don't remember if I ever dropped a Competition fork before to check the steerer; I'm pretty sure the Tange steerers I've seen have all been off '84 and '85 Super Course models. I've never owned a Prestige, so I can't comment on that either. Also, Tange steerers could have been bought in bulk, so a Tange steerer proves nothing about the blades.

What difference does any of this make? Snob appeal. That's it. You could have a direct cheat sheet from Raleigh USA/Huffy showing which tubing was what, and you still won't have a conclusive answer about what you're riding on if you don't have the tubing thickness specs with it. The same goes for many Reynolds 531 frames too; we just don't question it ("It's Reynolds 531! OOH! AHH!"). Case in point from another thread, in regards to Schwinn Paramounts:
Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
I've also heard the story about Schwinn using heavier gauge 531 in the Paramounts, but the only place I've seen that in writing is in the 1979 book The Custom Bicycle by Kolin and de la Rosa where the authors quote Schwinn's Frank Brilando as saying Schwinn used Reynolds 531DB on all its Paramount frames (track, road racer, road tourist) except frames over 26" which used a straight gauge chromoly down tube and tandems, but the tube gauges were heavier than the standard-packaged Reynolds 531DB sets because of Schwinn's belief that the slightly heavier tubing provided a stiffer frame. In the late fifties/early sixties, though, I believe they were using standard 531 gauges. My 1940 23" Paramount track bike double-butted chromoly frame (27.0 seatpost) weighs 5 pounds and the fork is 1.8 pounds. The complete bike weighs 20 pounds.
Good info, but not really conclusive, is it? What about those heavier tube gauges? Was this all years, specific frames, what? We may never know, just like the Raleigh USA machines.

Fact is, you'll get a much better idea of how "good" the tubing is by riding the frame and weighing it: If you like how it rides and it meets your desire for being lightweight, use it. 555SL may be mystery tubing, but the Raleigh USA frames have a fairly good reputation from those who've owned and ridden them.

I'll even venture to say that Raleigh's rebranding allowed them to use whatever equivalent tubing a given manufacturer had on hand. While production was primarily Japanese, I did have a 1985 Super Course that came from Taiwan. What's to say that each subcontractor had the exact same tubing? They could have pulled a "Don Mainland Schwinn Superior" on us and built them with whatever equivalent tubing was in the spares bin at the time.

Full disclaimer: I've also owned six '84-86 Raleigh USAs from the Competition-Grand Prix lineup (not including a few of the 502 models that I've flipped), so I'm biased favorably towards those three models, plus the Prestige. I'm also one of the few who has had a negative experience with a 555T Raleigh Alyeska, which had a fork that had been jigged up so cockeyed that it might as well have been a homage to Nottingham production of the 1970's. It had more death wobble than a Ford Pinto trying to ride a unicycle at a pyrotechnics' convention.

-Kurt
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Old 12-19-19, 05:04 AM
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For '85 555T seem to be double butted, but found on their touring frames, and 555SL on their racier bikes. '86 shows both double and triple butted variants of 555T, but it could just be someone forgot to change the description. There was also a plain 555 that was double butted. Given that it's house branding, it's hard to say if there's any consistency from year to year, and it may very well vary based on who they subcontracted and availability of tubing. For 1985 at least, 502 was "single tube chrome moly" and '86 was "main tubes." The build quality may be there with the mentality that if it seems good enough they'll never know better, but "single tube chrome moly" of 502 screams corner cutting and cynical marketing. Part of the mystery isn't just that Raleigh USA was opaque, but the specs seemed to change from year to year on the very short production runs.

It's probably best to just ignore the number code designation, which is pure marketing, and just read the description underneath. If you'd be happy with a Japanese or Taiwanese made bike that said "double butted chromoly" or whatever the particular sticker says, then that's probably more or less how you should treat it. The exception being 555RSL models, which to the best of my knowledge were actual Reynolds 531 made in England by UK Raleigh, but with a layer of deliberately opaque and cynical marketing added on top.
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Old 12-19-19, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
The same goes for many Reynolds 531 frames too; we just don't question it ("It's Reynolds 531! OOH! AHH!"). Case in point from another thread, in regards to Schwinn Paramounts:Good info, but not really conclusive, is it? What about those heavier tube gauges? Was this all years, specific frames, what? We may never know, just like the Raleigh USA machines.
The Custom Bicycle (p.156-158) actually gave many of those specs. It should be noted that Brilando placed great importance on rigidity (he's been seen posed next to a 23" Varsity, he could have been more in the ~60cm frame range, where frame rigidity is a problem) and and strength but little emphasis in lightness (Paramounts were Schwinns after all), and the book mentions that these are not standard gauges and they are based on Brilando's beliefs (the exception, not the rule). I****awa was used for special order light weight frames. Otherwise, for the time period, Paramount's 531 was a 1/7/1 DT, 1.2/8/1.2 TT (according to the book that's how it was, perhaps because the TT is the most flexible tube with standard lugs, or because top tubes tend to get dented), 1.2/9 chainstays and 1.4/9 (Reynolds track gauge) fork blades. Bilando states this to be the standard 531 Paramount used at the time, used for all the standard track and road frames.
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Old 12-19-19, 06:10 AM
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So, it's not Italian?
This calls for an arrow paragraph.
Digging the details about this tubing.
I'm trying to figure out where I can use this information.
BF C&V, where details can make a commoner's eyes glaze over.
All I know, which is enough for me. And, I'd have a beer and talk about it.
My 1985 Raleigh Racing USA Competition has a Reynolds 555SL tubing decal.
The fork has the same 555SL decals on the blades. The steerer says Tange on it.
With a DA/Ultegra 9 speed triple group, and tubular DA/FIR's, it looks just smashing.
The pearlescent white is pretty. I get tons of comments on it.
I'd buy it and build it again in a heartbeat.
All the analysis is great geek stuff.
It rides and climbs nicely.
All I know.
Bliss.
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Old 12-19-19, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
The Custom Bicycle (p.156-158) actually gave many of those specs. It should be noted that Brilando placed great importance on rigidity (he's been seen posed next to a 23" Varsity, he could have been more in the ~60cm frame range, where frame rigidity is a problem) and and strength but little emphasis in lightness (Paramounts were Schwinns after all), and the book mentions that these are not standard gauges and they are based on Brilando's beliefs (the exception, not the rule). I****awa was used for special order light weight frames. Otherwise, for the time period, Paramount's 531 was a 1/7/1 DT, 1.2/8/1.2 TT (according to the book that's how it was, perhaps because the TT is the most flexible tube with standard lugs, or because top tubes tend to get dented), 1.2/9 chainstays and 1.4/9 (Reynolds track gauge) fork blades. Bilando states this to be the standard 531 Paramount used at the time, used for all the standard track and road frames.
Part of me wants to get a copy of the book, so I can see exactly what specs were given - I only have anecdotes of said book. The other part of me feels this information may be incomplete unless Brilando gave historical info. Second-generation Paramounts went through a few different metamorphosis along their production, and if Brilando's comments reflected the Paramount available during the era the book was published, then I'd only be willing to accept these specifications for the final years of production, when Schwinn (and Brilando) were finally tried to modernize the aging second-gen Paramount. (In fact, one of the anecdotes I have from The Custom Bicycle specifically references that the rake was reduced on all Paramounts in 1978 (from 2" to 1-3/4" on the P10/P15 and 1.5" on the P13).

Let's not forget that between 1958 and 1979, Paramount seatstay diameter increased, tire clearance was increased, a new P13 was designed in 1971 because the original P13 had gone the way of a touring bike (becoming the P10/P15), and according to BobHufford and Scooper here on the forum, the P10 and P15's wheelbase and fork rake increased in 1973 (though there is no clarification whether the increase was also in chainstay length). Supposedly, this is listed in the 1973 catalog, but I haven't found the specs in said catalog yet (the original Geocities link is dead).

Did the tubing stay the same through all these years? Somehow, I doubt it. Brilando's answers only open up more questions.

-Kurt
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Old 12-19-19, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
The fork has the same 555SL decals on the blades. The steerer says Tange on it.
Thanks for that, Robbie.

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Old 12-19-19, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Part of me wants to get a copy of the book, so I can see exactly what specs were given - I only have anecdotes of said book. The other part of me feels this information may be incomplete unless Brilando gave historical info. Second-generation Paramounts went through a few different metamorphosis along their production, and if Brilando's comments reflected the Paramount available during the era the book was published, then I'd only be willing to accept these specifications for the final years of production, when Schwinn (and Brilando) were finally tried to modernize the aging second-gen Paramount. (In fact, one of the anecdotes I have from The Custom Bicycle specifically references that the rake was reduced on all Paramounts in 1978 (from 2" to 1-3/4" on the P10/P15 and 1.5" on the P13).

Let's not forget that between 1958 and 1979, Paramount seatstay diameter increased, tire clearance was increased, a new P13 was designed in 1971 because the original P13 had gone the way of a touring bike (becoming the P10/P15), and according to BobHufford and Scooper here on the forum, the P10 and P15's wheelbase and fork rake increased in 1973 (though there is no clarification whether the increase was also in chainstay length). Supposedly, this is listed in the 1973 catalog, but I haven't found the specs in said catalog yet (the original Geocities link is dead).

Did the tubing stay the same through all these years? Somehow, I doubt it. Brilando's answers only open up more questions.

-Kurt
I agree, and I guess I didn't state it clearly enough, I would only assume it applies for the era, and may or may not apply for earlier Paramounts. The book is targeted to people considering purchasing a custom frame rather than a history of custom frame building, so most of the information is contemporaneous. I certainly wouldn't use it to guess gauges on bikes from the 50s-60s, especially since Brilando only signed on with Schwinn in 1951 as a draftsman, and was an engineer for Schwinn, not just Paramount, although the philosophy might have predated him. I've seen it said that Richard Schwinn said Paramounts were made using the heavier standardish 1/7/1 531 tubes as well. The book does not give specific dates for the tubing, but it does specify it wasn't just for some models. There's also the issue of people making mistakes (and sometimes even experts and insiders don't actually know what they're talking about), which is problematic when there is only a single source for a questionable claim. The extremely thick, thicker than the down tube, top tube made me do a second take, but there are plausible explanations for it given the stated design philosophy. Or it could just be a mistake because it's given in SWG and not wall thickness. Classic Rendezvous a copy of the book in pdf form.
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Old 12-19-19, 07:33 AM
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Double check those tubing decals. The ones I have seen did not say Reynolds 555, they said Raleigh 555. By using the Raleigh name it allowed them to use whatever they wanted and to change it up whenever they wanted. Of course, they made their decals look like Reynolds decals. Marketing at its "finest".

I kind of wondered why they didn't get sued for trademark infringement. Its a pretty obvious a knockoff made to trick/confuse buyers.

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Old 12-19-19, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Double check those tubing decals. The ones I have seen did not say Reynolds 555, they said Raleigh 555. By using the Raleigh name it allowed them to use whatever they wanted and to change it up whenever they wanted. Of course, they made their decals look like Reynolds decals. Marketing at its "finest".
It's Raleigh 555. I can guarantee that Robbie and the OP typed Reynolds as a force of habit. That's how good this marketing ploy was from Raleigh USA.

Huffy / Raleigh USA probably (undoubtedly?) had licensing of the Reynolds name as part of the deal with Tube Investments (for the Raleigh name) to pull this off. TI Inc. still owned Reynolds at the time, and I'm sure anyone else would have been hit with a big lawsuit had they copied the Reynolds tubing decal right down to the fonts.





Pics: https://www.velocals.com/raleigh-555...-tubing-decal/ and https://velocals.com/reynolds-531-wi...c-decal-green/

P.S.: 1984 Raleigh USA Super Course w/Tange fork steerer (marked TANGE4.A):




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Old 12-19-19, 08:46 AM
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The font is just ever so slightly different. Note the opening on the loop of the 5 is parallel in one but not on the other. Huffy probably got enough leeway to use a similar looking sticker, but not enough to use the Reynolds name, as it would have undermined other frames using Reynolds. There's also been a few fakeish looking not-531 stickers before, I don't know if they fell out of use because of lawsuits, or because most of the time they just come off as looking like cheap knock-offs and Raleigh might have been one of the few properties that had enough name recognition and was British enough and started with an R to pull it off. It's interesting to note that Huffy branded what appear to have been genuine 531 frames with 555RSL decals, probably because they sold many more 555T/SL bikes, and felt that naming consistency was more important to pulling off the ruse at the time. I can only imagine if TI licensed the Reynolds name, Huffy would have just made up a bunch of Reynolds tubesets. I think Huffy threw enough money at TI to let them get away with similar looking decals and TI didn't mind because they left the US complete bicycle market except for select models imported by Huffy. They had not left the US tubing market though, since companies like Trek still used them. This is of course all speculation.
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Old 12-19-19, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
It's not Reynolds tubing if it's 555T or 555SL. It's just the name Raleigh USA(Huffy) gave to their generic butted crmo tubing. I can't say as to quality, but it was almost certainly a cost cutting measure. It could have been a deceptive ploy to make quality but cheaper tubes like Tange etc look like Reynolds, or it could have been a deceptive ploy to make cheaper and lesser tubes look like Reynolds. It might be Reynolds 531 if it's 555RSL.
I had always thought it was a ploy to both make it seem quality and, at the same time, allow them to change tubing from year to year (or even within a year) to respond to changing in pricing - they used whatever they got the best deal on for that order and you couldn't complain for false advertising. Same with Columbus Tenax and Specialized's self labeled tubing from similar and slightly later periods.
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Old 12-19-19, 09:16 AM
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On closer review, it does say Raleigh 555 SL on an approximate 1985 Raleigh USA Comp. Now I will need to go back to the above info to absorb above before I decide to go down the rabbit hole. thx to all for your expert clarification.
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Old 12-19-19, 10:48 AM
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The real test is the ride. These bikes didn't have the years of tradition or the cachet, but most agree that they ride quite well. They also hold up. So enjoy it.
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Old 12-19-19, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Belg-Ital Steel View Post
On closer review, it does say Raleigh 555 SL on an approximate 1985 Raleigh USA Comp. Now I will need to go back to the above info to absorb above before I decide to go down the rabbit hole. thx to all for your expert clarification.
If it's in good shape, it's worth $100. The Competition doesn't have the Shimano-specific downtube mounts like the Super Course, and it's the next best thing to the Prestige. The ride is as good as any other mid-1980's Japanese road bike with Tange 2 or thereabouts, and they're constructed a million times better than the Nottingham junk that everyone waxes nostalgia about. Had Raleigh USA come up with a better font choice (or stuck with the familiar, Raleigh italicized block letter font), these might have achieved the same star power as their predecessors in the C&V world.

Plus, Kevin Bacon rode a fixified one in Quicksilver (sponsored by Raleigh USA), so you've got an instant movie bike too.




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Old 12-19-19, 05:01 PM
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Look at the construction, not just the tubing. Some of those old Raleighs w/555 are just glorious, some of them generic.
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Old 12-19-19, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Double check those tubing decals. The ones I have seen did not say Reynolds 555, they said Raleigh 555. By using the Raleigh name it allowed them to use whatever they wanted and to change it up whenever they wanted. Of course, they made their decals look like Reynolds decals. Marketing at its "finest".

I kind of wondered why they didn't get sued for trademark infringement. Its a pretty obvious a knockoff made to trick/confuse buyers.
Yep, Raleigh 555SL on the frame Raleigh 555SL on the fork.




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Old 12-20-19, 06:34 AM
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From a 1985 Raleigh 555, sold as a frame set. Red with black stays and head tube, Campy dropouts, no label on the fork. Serial number begins with WG400:



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Old 12-20-19, 10:10 AM
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555RSL = 531.

-Kurt
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Old 12-20-19, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
...I don't know if more information has come out in the years that I have been absent from the hobby, but the last I knew, the jury was still out on who supplied the tubing. It's not unreasonable to guess that this it could have been Tange or Ishiwata - or both. Each company was supplying tons of quality tubing back then. The general cheat sheet is that 555RSL is Reynolds 531, 555T is triple butted cro-mo and thus may be Ishiwata EX, 555SL is double-butted cro-mo and a rough equivalent to Tange 2 or Ishiwata 022, and 555 on its own is straight-gauge.....
I suspect that there were multiple sources, as I thought that there had been a few owners who had reported 26.6-26.8mm seat posts on their butted 555SL frames. During this era (mid-1980s) most tubing manufacturers used single butted tubes, with the notable exception of Tange, who used a double butted seat tube. Good quality, single butted seat tubes typically use 27.0-27.2mm seat posts. Due to their additional top butt, Tange seat tubes require smaller posts, typically 26.6-26.8mm. The presence of posts in the latter size range would be evidence supporting Tange manufacture.

As for 555T, I've always been of the understanding that it was a heavier gauge set, suitable for touring. My 1984 and 1985 literature mentions and shows double butted CrMo tubing, while triple butted isn't mentioned until 1986. This could represent a switch from Tange to Ishiwata. Seat post sizing for the double and triple butted versions of 555T may provide further evidence.

I concur that 555RSL is Reynolds 531, as both Reynolds and a manganese-molybdenum alloy are mentioned in the literature and decals.
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Old 12-20-19, 07:31 PM
  #23  
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My 1984 Alyeska takes a 26.4mm seat post and is labeled 555T, double butted main tubes.

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Old 12-20-19, 09:13 PM
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Here's the decal on the Team USA I had.


Can't see it all but if memory is correct this was 555sl


I want another one of these bikes just for the patriotic paint job.


Nothing special but loved the look.
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Old 12-20-19, 09:24 PM
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It's a testament to Raleigh's marketing job that this thread has been so popular over the past few days - not to mention that this topic hasbeen a popular one here at C&V for the last decade.

-Kurt
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