Help advice - 501 / 531 1980s road bikes !

chris217 Posts: 217
edited January 2011 in Road general
Hi bit of a new comer here but could do with some help.

been road riding for some years but new carbon / Alu bikes but now wanting to buy a reasonably price 2nd hand steel road bike.

looking at 501 / 531 tubes, i am unsure of the characteristics of this steel other than i had a 531 singlespeed some time ago which was quite light and springy, enjoyable to ride , never ridden 501 though.

what sort of bikes should i look for ?? i am currently looking at early Raleigh racers/ Dawes / Peugeot on ebay and similar sites

keen to get something reasonably light.

also size wise i am assuming if i currently ride a 60cm i will be looking at a 24inch frame ??

would appreciate some assistance / guidance.

many thanks


  • andy162
    andy162 Posts: 634
    501 is on the bottom rung of the 80's Reynolds ladder. Bikes built from this were just above "entry level". 531 is a lighter material but they're are countless varieties of the stuff. 531, 531ST, 531c, 531pro....

    If you can find a nice 531 machine it'd make a decent ride. Some 531 bikes are collectable & will command a hefty premium, some will be fit for the knackers yard.

    My mate is flogging a virtually unused 531c Raleigh Road Ace from 86/87. There is a bike that looked after won't/shouldn't lose a dime in value.
  • chris217
    chris217 Posts: 217
    thanks andy

    very interested in the bike you refer to

    i am Bristol based and 6'2" so looking at a 58cm - 60cm size wise.

    any chance of more info / pics ??

  • stickman
    stickman Posts: 791
    Glad you want to get a real bike :)
    The light versions are 531SL and 501SL, the ST versions are heavier. 501 is still reasonable, it's cro-mo.
    Bikes, saddles and stuff
    More stuff:

    Gears - Obscuring the goodness of singlespeed
  • crankycrank
    crankycrank Posts: 1,830
    I know you mentioned your looking for second hand and reasonably priced but there are still some builders in the UK using Reynolds steel for new builds. Bob Jackson do a few off the peg models that are very reasonably priced. Mercian, Roberts and a few others are worth a look and many mfrs are offering at least one good steel road bike in their lineups again. Here's a good general list of older bikes with some good info about quality and value. I would recommend riding any bike before buying though as ride quality can vary quite a bit for any type of steel depending on how it's built.
  • stickman
    stickman Posts: 791
    ..and the 531 Pashley Guv'nor.
    Bikes, saddles and stuff
    More stuff:

    Gears - Obscuring the goodness of singlespeed
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Whilst Reynolds stickers are a sign of a better quality frame, there's even a huge variation in the quality - there were a lot of gash 531 frames produced in the late 80s/ early 90s that contributed to the demise of the UK framebuilding. Things to look for are the quality of the drop-outs / fork ends and lugs - better quality frames will feature forged ends complete with makers names - crudely stamped parts from plate would indicate a lower-range model. Many 501 frames only feature Reynolds tubes for the main triangle, the remainder being straight-gauge tubing. The quality of frames from the likes Raleigh Peugeot etc vary considerably too - a big brand doesn't necessarily imply quality.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Thought you might be interested... I bought this on ebay its an emperor sport from around 1982 with shimano 600 chainset. I have put ' modern' ritchey pro wheels on and a SRAM 8 speed casette. I also run it as a single speed , very versatile and a good winter bike. Has a really nice feel

  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Monty Dog wrote:
    Many 501 frames only feature Reynolds tubes for the main triangle, the remainder being straight-gauge tubing.

    I believe this applies more accurately to 531. My understanding is that Reynolds only made 501 main tubes so all 501 bikes will have non Reynolds rear triangle. My own Dawes Horizon has 501 main tubes and 531 forks.

    With 531, you do get a variation. The stickers give it away as they'll say 531 Main tubes if only the main tubes are 531. I have a Raleigh Record Ace with a sticker proclaiming 531 Main tubes, stays and forks.

    I am also currently renovating a Carlton Corsair with 531 Main tubes only. That one has pressed dropouts and barely a braze on in site. I'd say my Horizon is the better frame despite only being 501!
    Faster than a tent.......