Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Corvallis, Oregon
More known for their cranksets and stems, SR (short for Sakae Ringyo) did make a small number of somewhat obscure Japanese bikes. Born of the bike boom, the SR Gran Course is a great example of an affordable workhorse with sensibility and class.
The SR sports an incredibly ornate and sought after Shimano 600 EX Arabesque group set. This set was second from the top of the Shimano component food chain. The parts may look delicate but in reality, they are quite durable and made to last. At the time, both Shimano and Suntour were putting out exceptionally well made components which have stood the test of time and abuse. However, the Shimano 600 EX Arabesque group set was the more ornate competitor and thus seems to get more attention and command higher prices when sought out.
The SR rejuvenation came back together remarkably well as all aspects of the bike were made for practicality and an introduction to recreational cycling.
Stately elegance, practical character and sophisticated components should keep her alive and roaming for years to come.
Color: Sand metallic with brown and red pinstripes
Frame Size: 53cm (C-T) seat post & 57cm (C-C) top tube
Frame/Drop-outs: Hi-Tensile Steel
Fork: Hi-Tensile Steel
Handlebars: SR Sakae; Newbaums cloth bar wrap with hemp twine (shellac finish) and cork ends
Saddle: Nashbar Prospect
Seat Post: SR
Crankset: SR Sakae/Silster; 52/42 170mm
Freewheel: 6-Speed Shimano 600 EX
Hubs: Shimano 600 EX (36 hole; Shimano skewers)
Front Derailleur: Shimano 600 EX
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 600 EX
Shifting Levers: Shimano 600 EX
Brakes: Shimano 600 EX levers & calipers; Shimano pads
Rims: Araya 27″
Tires: Panaracer Pasela; 27″x1-1/4″
Pedals: SR SP-150
Special Features: Graceful lug work with pin striping
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Wow! What a looooong top tube! I am very fond of the 600 Arabesque group – the decorative nature really hails back to a bygone era.
I know, I know. I had to measure 3 times to make sure it was accurate although the top tube does fall more on the 54cm size (actual measurements 53.65cm).
The Arabesque group was what sold me on the bike in the first place and I feel that it keeps the frame classy and functional at the same time. Thanks for the post, Mark!
I had that gruppo! On a Takara back when I was in college. It worked great even tho everyone was Suntou-centric then. Sadly, I tossed all of those parts, heavily scratched from crash damage, I was crazy back then and wish I could have them back.
I have an SR Pro Am I want to restore with many original parts, but need an Aerox crank! Also Cyclone II F and R derailleurs.
SR did make some fine, machines. This was certainly one of them as it was of lower price but was a real value considering the performance capabilities. As for the Aerox crank and/or Cyclone derailleurs, those can be tricky to find. Sometimes, I’ll buy a whole bike just because I want to harvest a part or two from the groupset. You many need to consider thinking along these same lines in order to finish off your Pro AM.
Hi Josh, yes, you’re right, I am considering a whole bike. Cyclone derailleurs can be had on eBay, but they are pricey. The Aerox crank is a rarity, but I am sending the frame out for paint so there’s time. I learned patience on a Raleigh Super Course MKII I am finishing after 9 months! That one I went for the vintage look but upgraded to a 9-speed and SIS down tube shifters. Still have the Huret FD though! Took a long time to accumulate the parts I wanted. Your Gran Course is beautiful.
I agree, in this game, patience is a mighty important virtue. Good luck on the parts acquisition and please share some photos of your gem once it’s complete! Thanks again for the kind comments and correspondence.
Gianni here! Just traded a cannondale 3.0 for a mint condition in storage SR Gran Course with Shimano 600 ex. The machine is unused. The frame is a little big but I’ll ride it anyway, like having a girl friend that’s a little too tall!
Great trade! I do have a soft spot for those fat tubed vintage Cannondale’s but the SR gets my vote for comfort. Aluminum can be such a harsh ride depending on your terrain. So, congrats! Nice score.
The cannondale was my third over the years. Very light and not much road noise get taken up by the frame. Stiff as can be, the SR is just like the one above only much larger. The components are all 600 ex, it’s sitting in my living room, greeting my guests!!
I recently purchase one bike just like this and I would love to get it looking as beautiful as yours. What’s your trick for getting the paint to look as nice as yours does? And how did you shine up those components? Degreaser?
I go through quite a few steps to cleaning up the bicycles I acquire.
I usually start by cleaning them with mild soap and water after they are totally broken down as frames. I use small amounts of Simple Green to remove grease. For surface rust removal I like soaking cotton rags in Evaporust and wrapping those only where needed on the frame. Components can be submerged. For polishing, I use Mothers for aluminum and chrome. For paint I like Meguiers car polish. For bare metal, I just cover with the car wax, no clear coat as it will yellow over time. Of course, from there, I won’t ride that particular bicycle in the rain because the wax won’t keep the rust inhibited if it is washed off.
There are other steps here and there but that is roughly my process. I hope you find it useful in your own restoration endeavors!
Thanks so much. That’s super helpful!
Contrary to popular belief, the SR bike label is *not* Sakae Ringyo, the parts maker.
Way I heard it working at bike shops in the 80’s, “SR” were the initials of a dude who ran an importing company. He was rumored to be a brother or cousin of the guy behind the original Windsor bike brand, made in Mexico.
As evidence of the distinction, note the lack of any branding conformity between SR on the frame/fork and SR on the parts.
Interesting! Thank you for the information. It seems I have some digging to do in order to consider my post accurate.
I had this same bike as my first “new” purchase, bought it from Strawberry bike shop in Hemet, Ca. in about 1981 for close to $300. Was a 56cm, liked it so much my dad and a friend also bought one, a Campus Sport, and I think my dads was a Gran in a huge 62 or 64cm.
Sounds like some good memories, Neal. I’m curious what the Campus Sport looked liked compared to the Grand Course.
Looks as if no one has left a post on this site in a while. Is this site alive? I was hoping to find some answers about upgrading this type of SR. This bike has become a flat bat bike now. Gears are same (hopefully I can upgrade), brakes as well as brake handles have been upgraded. Does anyone know where I can find detailed specs for this bike, other than this website.
Oh by the way…I love this bike!
A good place to find out more about SR bikes and upright style conversions would be the Classic and Vintage forum. The member base on the site is quite robust and although I have a bit of info here, there are many others who have great advice through decades of experience.
WOW! Very cool, and thank you for emailing me so quickly. I did not think I would hear from anyone one any time soon but THANK YOU!
Do you still own a SR? The pictures you have posted on this site are crazy cool and that bike is/was premium stuff. Thank you for sharing!
No problem, Paul! I am happy to help.
Sadly, I do not still own the SR. It was sold after the restoration. If the owner is following this thread, please do post updates! It’s always great to hear how old friends are doing.
I had a old SR miss that bike. Does anyone know where I might be able to buy one?
Finding a vintage SR won’t be as easy as going down to your local bike shop to nab one but they aren’t impossible to find either. A lot depends on your location though. Craigslist would be a strong first step on your search list but again, depending on your location, you may not find it as useful as someone in a bicycle-rich city might (Seattle, Portland, SF, Philadelphia, etc.). eBay will be another strong starting spot (although you’ll have to add on the cost for shipping) as would your local co-op bicycle shop. Making friends with a group like that might have you on the short list in case an SR makes its way in the shop.
Good luck! They are out there but patience will be your key to success.
I just found this after finding an SR on Craiglist! Less than 7 miles from my house, and picked up for a song. It’s a little sad and a lot dirty, but looks like everything is original, except for the seat. I’m using Josh’s beautiful restoration as my inspiration. Looking to ride it in the October 2017 Chianti L’Eroica.
You know, Lynn, a little sad and a lot dirty is the story of my vintage bicycle life. It is absolutely astounding how much you can do with some rags, a bottle of Simple Green and a whole lot of time and patience. My guess is you have a diamond in the rough on your hands. Clean it thoroughly, oil it, replace the consumables (brake pads, tires, bar tape, etc.).
It is my pleasure to have you using the site as your road map. Having your 2017 L’Eroica deadline is strong inspiration. I am certain you’ll be ready for the event in October. Hell, I bet you even get a few great shakedown rides in well before the race!
Feel free to email with any questions you may have. Or to send before and after shots!
Looks like my follow-up post got eaten. Mind, my SR “refurb” was actually more of a deep clean until I figure out how I want to go forward.
My poor old guy’s paint is FAR from pristine, a testament to a bit of negligence, a pretty good crash, maybe a couple of close calls/scrapes and lackadaisical storage.
Despite the gouges, scratches, dings and patches of bare metal, trying to touch up the paint just didn’t feel right. I hate to anthropomorphize, but the bike seemed more than a little displeased that I would even think of doing such a thing. Ultimately, I covered up one really, really bad patch with a mix of two shades of ivory and a coat of clear pearl, and then enough was enough. Trying to fix the paint just felt forced and not right. In the end, the bike simply was torn down, everything got an extensive cleaning, with hubs and bottom bracket cleaned and repacked, and a thick coat of turtlewax. Thanks for cluing me in about Evaporust – it was a miracle.
Even though the paint is in bad shape, it still is a handsome bike. I’ve fallen in love with the pearlescent ivory with red and black accents. The thorough cleaning will get us through L’Eroica, and then I can consider fully stripping the frame, and having it professionally painted, with reproduction decals, but while I want to do the bike justice, I also don’t want to remove the stories it wears. Very much like me, this bike has seen some s*** but has managed to keep on rolling. What more can anyone ask for?
My 100 dollar craigslist find had all the original parts, particularly the lovely 600 Arabesque set. Only the chain and some terrible handlebar tape were not original. I removed the reflectors, “dork disc, the original saddle which was an absolute disaster with badly cracked leather and the stuffing coming out, and ditched the filthy handlebar tape. Red Brooks saddle and handlebar tape was just thing. I installed vintage toe cages, and dyed the leather straps to match the bars and saddle.
My shakedown ride was a 60 miler this past weekend, and the only thing that went wrong was a toe cage fell off and one of my vintage Detto bike shoes was a bit pinchy. I could in no way fault the SR for anything – the ride was beautiful and smooth, and my old fella seemed so happy to be cleaned up and out on the road again. This is a mellow bike that is going to take good care of me. I lost my “befores” but I have a couple of “afters” I’d be willing to share. Please keep in mind, it’s not a true refurb, but it did the job for now.
Most of the time, someone posts in the comments section and I don’t hear from them again. Four months ago you posted about your find. Fast forward to today and you’ve got a time honored rider with the right updates and oodles of character. I’d say your about ready for your goal, the October 2017 Chianti L’Eroica!
I’ll get in touch with you offline. I’d love to post your “after” photographs to these comments.
** Update **
Offline, Jodi provided some images of her SR. I felt it necessary to share her great work with everyone.
Her blog post dedicated to her restoration is found here: https://lotsofocelots.blogspot.com/2017/08/refurb.html
A few select images are pulled below. Wonderful job, Jodi!
I got my black-leather-with-red-stitching toolbag a few days ago! I’ve updated the pics on my blog. https://lotsofocelots.blogspot.com/2017/08/refurb.html
I’m the original owner of a SR Pro Am racing bike, purchased when I was 19, 1985 or 86 ,for about $400. It was a big upgrade from my original SR Alpine touring bike which I rode the heck out of for three years. Sadly, I became very ill with a chronic condition 2 years later, so I had to stop riding – very heartbreaking. Still I could never get rid of the Pro-Am bike and I dragged it along on numerous moves – from San Diego, finally now in Berkeley CA – major bike city. My experience with cycling these past 10 years has been mostly with fixing and upgrading my kids used bikes. But I’ve never been able to actually bike with them. Now, I believe I am up for some cycling I’ve cleaned and tuned up an old Trek Multitrack Hybrid I purchased 27 yrs ago as an easier ride, but never got much use out of. Feeling inspired I took the SR out of the shed and in the middle of cleaning it up. I am impressed by what good shape, despite some old scratches and a completely rusted chain, it is still in. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to actually ride it, but I’m feeling that old excitement coming back – riding that bike was just beautiful, up and down hwy 1, along the coast – some of the best experiences of my life.
There isn’t much about this paragraph I don’t love, Dorian.
First, you are clearly loyal to the SR brand having both a touring and racing machine. That you’ve kept your Pro Am for this long also speaks volumes. Especially as your condition was questionable. But, as they same, time heals and now you are ready to get back in the saddle. I am certain with some basic maintenance (new chain, for starters, maybe tires and brake pads), your Pro Am will be ready for miles and miles of trouble free riding. Hearing your desire to update makes me hopeful for you both.
Really, it’s posts like yours that other people read, years later, as they find my site in search of info for their own SR’s, that help encourage them to do the same. Dragging it out of its current tomb, dusting it off, updating the consumables and incredibly enough, a perfectly fine bicycle is now ready to roll.
Thank you for your post, Dorian.
Enjoy the ride.
thanks John – unfortunately I’m not healed, though greatly improved. I do believe that continuing to be as active as possible thru the past 30 years – walking dogs, chasing my kids around, playing frisbee, catch, etc with them and well as lots of gardening, fixing, building stuff, etc has been helpful. Nevertheless, at 52, I now also have terrible degenerative arthritis in my hands – so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to manage the handlebars and shifting of the SR. I might have to change those out for easier reach and motion. I’ve tried out a few newer, differently configured bikes, but the geometry of these city/fitness bike frames don’t feel right. Because of the damage to my hands I’m more careful with building and fixing stuff, but cycling I am optimistic about because of reliance on so much more of the rest of my joints and muscles – not at all affected, except by energy limits. But I never stopped loving this bike, the ride was a sleek, blue, rhythmic meditation. I’m way out of practice but I’m inspired by my dad, now 80, he finally had to give up running, but he is still cycling – on some of the same old roads I did in my youth.
And here’s an initial photo of my SR pro-am racing, circa 1985, just cleaned it up and took rusty chain off. The original tires and tubes are in surprisingly good shape – they look good and no leaks, but will replace. More work, but less than anticipated, to come.
WOW , I have being looking for info for this bike, I have one like yours , it was giving to me in poor shape ,got new tires/tubs cleaned up ,got reed of the white wall worn old tires . I think they were originals , i just started riding ..I am 68 yrs old and i ride every day for the past month . Its a SR 600 Shimano serial # MOH#####
Just found a cool Gran Course SR at a garage sale today. A little rough but I knew it had good heritage. I fix up kids bikes to give away and when I saw it, knew I had to get it. Only had to air up the tires a little – not sure of year. Being only 5’7″, much too short to enjoy it though.
Agreed! A strong cult following and just a well-built, good looking bicycle.
Enjoy rising the phoenix from the rebuild!
Well, It has been 4 years since the last post. I purchased an SR new some 40 years ago to get me back and forth to collage and work. It was a fantastic bike. It came with the Shimano 500 gear set. I was so excited to find a bike that fit me (I was 6′ 6″ tall). It is a 27″ frame on it and stands 38″ at the Standover. After using it many years my job ended and I had to travel farther than what I could ride the bike so it got put in the garage. Now that I am approaching 80 my wife says I can not ride it anymore. I have brought it out of the garage and I am in the process of cleaning/fixing/preping it for helping it find a new home.
We all have to say goodbye at some point, Mark. 40 years is a good, long run.
All the best in finding the best home possible for your old friend. There are still people out there who appreciate and have the know-how to take care of a vintage machine like yours. Contact me offline if you’d like some leads.
Have this one. Has a sticker from nomad cyclery in SF. Got it used about 10 years ago from a yard sale in Portland after my old super le tour got slashed up at work. It’s still in great shape. I’m taking it down to Eureka to replace my stolen vintage beach cruiser at our retirement victorian. I’ll likely end up selling it once I give up riding all together in the next decade or so. In the meantime, I will take pride in it and share what I have learned from you. Thanks
Thank you for sharing your story.
Enjoy the ride!
Beautiful work on this bike. Just acquired a similar bike in terrible condition. Am in process to clean, polish, and paint it. The brakes, appear to have been replaced with dual lever center pulls. The shift levers are suntours, and the cables are different. Also the frame and forks were painted over poorly, so will need stripping. Looking to paint with marine epoxy, cream yellow. Won’t compare to the fine art of yours, but will i hope be competent.
A few additional notes. This bike was 14 bucks at a thrift. So, a score regardless. The brake handles are diacompe. The calipers are marked with symbols not words. The front derailer is shimano FE, the rear is a shimano tourney. The rear gears are shimano mf-z012. The frame and fork are not marked except sn but not date codes. The tires were crumbling, the seat a wreck. And the frame does not have the shift cable guides yours had. The handle bars and head are sr. So this looks like a fun rebuild, but otherwise unknown provenance. I will let you know how it rides and looks when i get it done. This by the way is a good thread, enjoyed reading it.
Thanks for posting. It sounds like you have a little bit of mystery on your hands and a whole lot of work. But, for $14, you essentially got the bike free so putting in some time, and new parts, help truly make the SR yours. Times might be frustrating while you negotiate the particulars of the restoration process but try and enjoy the ride through it. Once it’s finished, you’ll have a wonderful bike that you’ll be confident when riding because you know exactly what it has and you know how to fix it should anything go wrong.
Thanks for telling your story and please do keep us/me posted on the progress!
Good to hear back. I am having fun with this bike. Not my first, did a Hiawatha a few years ago, have it set up on a trainer. Your thread inspired me to research this next bike, and it seems to be sort of a composite bike. Shimano, SR, Sakae, and mystery frame. Heading off to the bike shop soon for parts and tools. Thanks for this web page, its great.