This one is a bit of a mystery… I bought it from a local corner antique shop and may have overpaid just a little, but there are some interesting parts on it.
I believe it was once a single speed road bike but the original wheels are long gone – it’s not a track frame, as there would be no need for the seat tube pump braze-ons on such machines.
There are no drillings for a front brake, however, and the tapered chainstays, the pencil thin seat stays and rear-facing dropouts suggest a single speed frame built for lightness and speed rather than for rough road “roadster” durability.
The now very bent handlebars look like old track bars with their big curves and a deep drop (I love the tattered cloth bar tape). The bars are possibly original but I can’t find a brand. The patent numbers indicate dates of approximately late ww2 to post-war period but that isn’t much of a clue.
The stem is “Hi-Speed” branded – made in Japan (steel) and also possibly a later addition.
There are two “S” badges integral to the head tube and if anyone out there knows what they mean, I’d love to hear.
I’m not at all convinced that it is a Malvern Star as the down tube decal says – the bike has been reworked into a ten speed around the late 60s or early 70s when MS decals were readily available and may have been added then. It may not even be Australian.
Also there is no pin lining anywhere on it and signs of at least partial re-painting. Top tube is 57cm, and seat tube 54cm – and it’s a shame the head tube doesn’t have five stars on it instead of the two esses !
The heavy steel Williams cottered double chainset is unusual – but with 50T & 48T rings I wonder why any one would bother with a double – a mere 2 teeth difference makes 52-42 seem dramatic !
The inner ring is fixed to the outer with six hex bolts while the outer ring has the traditional Williams 5-pin square bolts to fix it to the crank. The letter code “ZF” on the crank dates it to 1965 but it was possibly second-hand when fitted.
The bike might now have ten times the original speeds but it was made horrendously heavy by this conversion. I suppose that’s the worst aspect of the 70s 10-speed craze where steel components rather than alloy were used .
Although it’s not in “valuable” condition it would be nice to ride it with lightweight single speed components fitted, even if just temporarily, as the frame is remarkably light for the era, compared with the usual roadster frame, and obviously was not cheap when new. The seat tube top lug and tapered seat stay ends are very classy and modern looking for such an old bike. There is a serial number on the left rear dropout (possibly K22204), and the bottom bracket shell was cast with “BSA A88″ on it.
The later derailleurs are the mid-range but apparently reliable steel SunTour Honor rear and Spirit front, with a Suntour “Perfect” freewheel. Shifters are SunTour 888 clip-on downtube with cables roughly taped in place. The electrical tape can do a lot of damage on removal as it hardens and bonds to the paint and decals over many years.
The c.126mm rear hub had been brutally forced into the track dropouts which breathed a sigh of relief back to c.120mm track width when released ! The paintwork has been abused somewhat, and the frame marked and dimpled by the accessory fittings. There is also more bare metal and surface rust than actual paint on the frame !
Front hub is a “Velo” brand small flange 32H c. 93mm O.L.D., the rear has track threads on the current non-drive side and a threaded 5 speed gear freewheel on the other ??? A derailleur flip flop … who knows?
It’s Japanese and I can just make out the letters — L.W. – Rims are Araya 27 x 1 & 3/8″ . Interestingly, with the loose drive-side spacer removed, the wheel seems to fit the track dropouts centrally in spite of the dishing…but I could have been hallucinating !
There is a working Sanyo bottle dynamo and a pair of old National lights on it – ideal for a future classic bike project ! Even the red reflector can be recycled.
The seat post is 26.4mm and topped with a Dunlop CL7 Narrow saddle (steel frame & rubber top) in reasonably rideable condition, with the badge still intact. I read somewhere that these were made by Brooks, but can’t be sure. Could be another age clue if I can date this, but who would know if it was original ?
And finally to something a little prettier – my blue Speedwell has borrowed the Cinelli bars from Cecil W. , a temporary B18 saddle, and a Millbrook saddle bag – for now :