Raleigh Serial Numbers & Charts: Dating your Raleigh

What this chart is intended to be:
This chart has been developed as an additional reference guide (more so then simply dating off Sturmey-Archer hubs) for the positive identification of Raleigh frames and entire bicycles. As proper factory documentation is very limited, the following charts are a constant work in progress; they have been compiled by examining numerous Raleigh frames from each period, component date codes, decal schemes, color availabilities per year; and - occasionally - official papers.

That said, these charts are representative of U.S. production only, unless noted. U.K. and export production serials may vary - conversely, they may not. There isn't enough data to claim either option as absolute.

Keep in mind that these charts are incomplete, and there is a reasonably wide margin of error between serial cutoff dates. Given the number of bicycles produced at Raleigh during any given year versus the relatively small sample size of bikes available to me (200+ individual examples at last count), I cannot guarentee absolute accuracy. Nevertheless, please put your mind at ease - these serial charts have been checked, re-checked, and are as accurate as I can provide at their time of publication. If new information is found, these charts will be duly updated to reflect such.

IMPORTANT NOTE to beginners:
Some serial systems from one era may resemble that of an earlier or later era. Please make a concerted effort to see that your serial(s) is/are an exact match - that is, the serial number system, serial placement, and font type are identical to that of your frame. Otherwise, you might accidentally misidentify your Raleigh bicycle. Dor your sake and that of fellow collectors, please make 100% sure that your conclusions from this chart are correct. If your Raleigh is equipped with a Sturmey-Archer rear hub that you suspect has not been been changed, check the date code on the hub's shell as well for additional verification.
REPRODUCTION POLICY:
Please do not repost the serial charts below elsewhere. I have put considerable effort into keeping these charts accurate, and - as stated before - not all of them are finalized. Therefore, I would prefer that the charts remain completely accessible for editing when necessary. However, feel free to link to this page if you wish to make reference to the chart.

Click below to skip to a section:

Year range: Serial:
1947-1955, Nottingham
1955-1964(?), "RA..., RB...." No photo
Early 1960's 5-digit
1963-1969, bottom bracket
1970-1972/3, seat lug + dropout on SC/GP
Year range: Serial:
1973 - Grand Prix, Super Course, Grand Sports only
1973-1982+ Standardized
1983-1986+ Raleigh USA (Japan/Taiwan)
SBDU Team Professional (Ilkeston)


 

1947-1955, Nottingham:

Convention #1

Convention #2

Convention #2

Serial location:
Serials stamped on side of seat lug (men's), front of seat lug (ladies', not shown), or bottom bracket (men's and ladies,' not shown), positioning of serial has no relation to serial system - there does not appear to be rhyme or reason relating to positioning. Samples shown above.


Serial convention:
Three serial conventions are used during this period:

Convention #1 (1947-1955):
6 digits followed by the letter "P" or "T." "P" serials used until and during 1950. "T" serials replaced "P" serials sometime mid-year 1950. Digits or letters in serial do NOT relate to month/year/day codes; only the serial in whole determines the year.

NOTE: This numbering system apparently ran until 1955, possibly longer, and concurrently with the newer serial system that debuted in 1948 (shown below). Raleighs of any model may be seen with either serial number type during this era.

Convention #2 (1948-195?):
4-5 digits followed by two letters (or, for the 28"-wheel models, two letters followed by 4-5 digits). e.g.: "12345AB," or "AB12345." Serial "rolls over" when numerals are used up - without rhyme or reason relating to month or year - in the same fashion as an odometer. This convention might have been used in 1947 as well, however, we have not found any Raleigh examples from 1947 so far that exhibit this serial system.

Convention #3 (1954-?):
This convention remains still largely unidentified, though it appears to follow an identical format to convention #2; e.g., "12345RA." However, the first letter in the serial, "R," appears to remain for the entire run of this system. The exact specifics of this system remain a mystery.

NOTE:
Some of the following information regarding Serial Convention #1 is derived from the Nottinghamshire Archive papers, and may therefore be approximated.

The entirety of the second serial chart is of our own research and are estimates - as accurate we can practically make them - of the serial numbers from the year and serial in question.

Convention #1 (1947-1955):

1947 437689P to 556893P (unconfirmed)
1948 556894P to 695050P (unconfirmed)
1949 Serials 695051P and approximately up to and past 730807P (a serial known to exist on a '49 Clubman)
1950 "P" serials past (and perhaps somewhat earlier then) "800000P" AND "T" serials "000001T" (?) to "151178T." Last year for "P" serials.
1951 151179T to 367368T (unconfirmed)
1952 367369T - termination unknown
1953 No data
1954 No data
1955 Serials in the "591---T" range and up to an unknown terminus.

Convention #2 (1948-1955):

1948 .....AJ through .....AP (?)
1949 .....AP through .....A?
1950 .....A? through .....AX

Serials "...AV," "...AW," and "...AX" may stand for both a late 1950 model, or early '51s built with frames built the previous year

1951 .....AV through .....BG
1952 .....BG through .....BI
1953 .....BI through .....B?
1954 No data
1955 No data


 

1955-1964(?) Serial System:

In addition to the two serial types above, a third system appears to have been established in 1955, or at the earliest, 1954; terminating in the early-mid '60s - the most recent example I have on hand is from 1962, though I suspect the official cutoff may date to 1963 or '64.

This system follows a similar pattern to Convention #2 above, and uses a prefix or suffic of "RA" or "RB," followed by 4 or 5 digits, but never exceeding 5. Location is on the side of the seat lug, as with the earlier serials above.

By 1961/62, an additional-single letter suffix was added, presumably as an identifier of the factory the frame was produced, for every single example I've seen is represented by the letter "N," which is not unreasonable to assume stands for Nottingham. Neither it is not out of the question that other letters may exist, representing Raleigh's other factories.

One may assume that "RA" serial numbers began with "RA00001" (or RA1000), and continue until "RA 99999 N," at which point the system was reset to "RB 00001 N" (or RB 10000 N). This seems to have happened around 1962, and it is reasonable to assume that all "RB" symbols represent bikes produced post-1961.


 

Early 1960's 5-digit serial system:

Still a mystery at present.


 

1963-1969 Bottom Bracket Serial System (excluding Carlton/Worksop):


1963-1969 BB serial

Serial convention:

This serial system replaced the "RA" series that preceeded it and was the first major system to use numerals exclusively.

The system consists of a seven-digit serial - beginning with #1000000 in 1963 - running up to the #4600000-#4800000 range by 1969, at which point, it was discontinued.

EXCEPTION: This system is NOT to be confused with the seat-tube system which replaced it in 1970; which ran until 1973. Numbers will be duplicated between each system.


Serial location:

These serials will be located on the bottom bracket on both ladies' and men's Superbes, Sprites, and Sports. The extent of this system's use on other models is unknown.


BB photo courtesy "w1gfh" - Bikeforums.net

1963-1969 BB serial:

1967 ?
1968 4?00000-4200000
1968 4200000-4400000
1969 4400000-4600000+


 

1970-1972/3 Seat Lug and Dropout Serial Systems (excluding Carlton/Worksop):


Seat lug serial number, mens'

Seat lug serial number, ladies'

Dropout serial number, Super Course and Grand Prix

(Alternate serial system shown)

Serial convention:

At present, I have insufficent information about the serial numbers from this era to construct a definite chart of every example used during this time period. At least 4 or 5 different systems were used. I have uncovered two of them to a reasonable extent; both of which ran concurrently to each other during this time period:

"System 1970:"
The first system consists of 7 digits, beginning with 1000000. This system showed its face in 1970 (I have named it accordingly), and was phased out in mid-1973.

EXCEPTIONS: Evidence indicates that a handful of '70-'71 frames - or their lugs, depending on when the stamping was done - may not have been released from the factory until 1973, and were consequently decaled as 1973 models. This is the only explanation I can suggest regarding this issue.

"System 1972:"
A second 5-6 digit serial system was introduced in 1972, overlapped onto some early 1973 models with NO rhyme or reason, and died a quick death before 1973 was out. This system never exeeded 6 digits, and the reason for its introduction remains a mystery. Regardless, it is here, and it will stay.

This system INCLUDES the Grand Prix and Super Course, despite the seven-digit serials (as mentioned in the next system, below) running concurrently on these models.


Serial location:

The serials from this era, specifically for general production machines (Sports, Superbe, Sprite), will be located on the seat lug. Twenty/Folders will have the serial marked on the outside of the left dropout, and some Grand Prix models have it in this location as well. Unknown where they are located on DL-1s.

Keep in mind that the serials used for Raleigh Choppers - while apparently a nearly identical 7-digit system - do not corrispond well with those of the larger bicycles. For now, it should be assumed that the Choppers' serial system is separate (until proven otherwise).

Men's models will have the stamping on the top of the lug, ladies' frames will have the serial stamped to the front of the lug.


Addendums and warnings:

Both of these systems are often covered deep in paint - do not be surprised if you only find 5 or 6 digits!

Given the obvious duplication of serials with bikes produced prior to 1970, we suggest that you use the frame's decals as a supplimentary era guide - please visit our Raleigh Sports Visual ID page for this purpose.

Please understand that this particular chart is a rough draft. Use in conjunction with Sturmey-Archer rear hubs and frameset decals as additional guides.

All of the serial cutoffs are approximated. Please allow for overlap.

System "1970":

1970 1000000-1999999
1971 2000000-2700000
1972 2800001-3800000
Early 1973 3800001-?

System "1972":

1972 and early 1973-decal frames: 67***(?)-900000


 

1973 Serial System - Grand Prix, Super Course, and Grand Sports:


Left rear dropout serial, Grand Prix

Left rear dropout serial, Grand Sports

Serial convention:

An additional 7-digit serial system was used in 1973, appearing only on the Grand Prix (including Gazelle production), Super Course, and Grand Sports.

These serials are instantly recognizable, as the first digit is always zero, and low-number serials (i.e., "9181") will have a prefix of as many zeros required to make the serial seven digits - in other words, "0009181" - such as the example Grand Sports shown above.

Keep in mind that this serial system - though used on these three models in 1973 - are not unique to them during this year. Some examples may use one of the two systems listed above, or the later 1973+ variant.

Serial location:

Outside of left dropout.


Grand Prix dropout photo courtesy "ianbrettcooper" - Bikeforums.net
Grand Sports dropout photo courtesy "thumpic" - Bikeforums.net

Serial system:

1973 0000001 through 0999999 (?)
(End cutoff not known)


 

1973-1982+ "Standardized" Serial System

Seat-tube serial

BB-shell serial

Serial location:
Serials stamped on rear of seatpost (both men's and ladies' models) near top on most models; sample shown at left. Some examples may be stamped on the bottom bracket as on the right.

Serial convention:

Two letters, followed by a series of six digits:

First letter - production factory:
N=Nottingham
W=Worksop (1967-1980), Nottingham after 1981, following closure of Worksop factory. Discontinued in 1990.
E=Enid (USA)
G=Gazelle
M=Malaysia
R=Canada
D=Ireland
H=Handsworth (U.K.)
S=Unknown, but in existence
B=Unknown, but reported
Second letter - approximate month of frame manufacture:
Jan=A
Feb=B/C
Mar=D
Apr=E/F
May=G
Jun=H/I/J
Jul=K
Aug=L
Sep=M
Oct=N/O
Nov=P/Q/R
Dec=S
First numeral (third digit in sequence):
Year of manufacture;
"3" = 1973, "4" = 1974, "5" = 1975, "6" = 1976, etc.

All following digits:
Unit # in production run

Example:

A cycle manufactured in Nottingham, in the month of March of the year 1975, would feature the serial "ND5------."

For instance, the photo shown above, to the left, bears the serial "NL9------," indicating a machine made in August 1979, at the Nottingham factory. The example to the left is "WR0------," which would indicate Worksop manufacture in November of 1980 (and most likely a 1981 model due to the late month).


 

1983-1986+ Raleigh USA Serial System

Raleigh USA BB serial location

Used only on Japanese and Taiwanese frames, plus the Nottingham Team Pro "555".

Serial location:
Serial stamped on bottom bracket (both men's and ladies' models); sample shown above.

Serial convention:
First digit of serial = year (e.g.: "4"=1984)
Second digit (letter) of serial = ? (e.g.: "?"=?)
Third digit of serial = ? (e.g.: "?"=?)

Note:
Due to advance production for next-year models, some serials may indicate a production year backdated one year prior to the actual model year of the bike in question.

Detailed identification pages for steel Raleigh USA racing-series models are planned.


Ilkeston SBDU Team Professional serials


SBDU Ilkeston serial

SBDU serials are sequential, and do not indicate year or date of manufacture. Use the decals and components of the frame as your guide. All SBDU frames were built in Raleigh's Ilkeston factory.

Alternately, a photo registry of SBDU Team Professionals can be found at the TI Raleigh Team Professional Yahoo! Group, which may help to narrow down a given frame's era:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TI_RALEIGH_TEAM_PROS/

Serial Location:
Stamped on bottom bracket.


SBDU serial photo courtesy Hilary Stone

Serial convention:

"SB" followed by four numbers, sequential to production order.