they’re getting closer to original.

This is my oldest-numbered currently useable Special Sports frame, V46066. I’ve chosen this frame to be the test-bed for an overhauled Sturmey-Archer SW 3-speed, and although the 1959 hub may be a year or two younger than the frame, it somehow felt right to use it.

a classic late 50s sports roadster..

My guess would be that the frame dates to around 1957-8, based on some other Speedwell numbers I have seen.

I’ve tried to keep this bike pretty much standard, except for the brakes and levers, which are aluminium Dia-Compes of a later period, as I don’t, at this point, have enough steel Monitor brakes for all of my frames. It has traditional 27” 40 and 32H steel rims, with an overhauled Eska 32H hub on the front.

head badge

I carefully used some very fine steel wool, with oil, on the frame and fork, which removed most of the yellowed varnish and, like a restored old painting, the areas of white became clear again. The process improved the colours, but I was extra careful around the decals on the forks and seat tube. Also, some paint schemes may look better with the varnish left as is. The main graphics are stencilled on with paint and are much more abrasion resistant than the decals.


old leather tool kit..re-furbished with a toe strap

A previous owner had stuck ‘BP’ ( i.e. British Petroleum ) stickers in a couple of places, but they are now mostly worn away, and form part of its history !

As far as the Sturmey-Archer SW3 goes, I was expecting all sorts of mis-haps and missed shifts, as I’ve read somewhere that it ‘shifts like a garbage truck’ !  The reality was much different, and since overhaul and re-building, it has not missed a shift and performs quite well, the shifts being slightly different to the AW, having a slower engagement and a slightly stronger spring tension. It coasts silently, lacking the typical clicking-while-riding/coasting sound of the sprung AW pawls. 

This was one of the last produced examples of the ill-fated SW ( c. 1955-59 ), which was an attempt to modernise the AW by making it lighter, less costly to make, and more compact, but the tiny and finicky springless pawls were its biggest downfall. At least by 1959, there had been many internal modifications made to try and improve its reliability, but by then it must have ‘done its dash’, reputation wise, as the AW was back in production and the SW was quickly dropped. 

The gear range is slightly wider than an AW, ( -27.7% vs -25% reduction in Low, +38.4% vs +33.3% increase in High ).  

Only time will tell whether it will remain faultless, but this is at least a good start …

Normal gearing is 46 x 20T, as opposed to the standard 46 x 18, and it’s fitted with a standard Williams B100 crank set and Phillips Apollo pedals. The saddle is a Bell model 12-40 with double rails. The handle bars are not from a Speedwell, but do resemble the original upright bars of some Special Sports.

On another topic, I’ve now said farewell to Mink Pixty ( a.k.a. Pink Mixte ) which has not been ridden for a while and is now rebuilt, and sold to a young lady of 21 years…

Happy Re-Cycling !       


ready to roll .. finally

A survivor of salty air, I had to give this one a good going over to control a lot of surface rust. It’s had a cosmetic overhaul and a bearing re-grease, and is about to join the ranks of the bikes that I’m selling as they don’t fit my collection or are simply the wrong size for me.

the big wheel

This is a Japanese made Malvern Star, dated 1982 from the Tange fork steerer code. Size is 52cm ST and 54cm TT ( centre-centre ). Would best suit a rider around 160-175cm ( 5’3″- 5’8″ ). 

pedal, steer, brake … and that’s all – simplicity.

Some bikes seem to cause a lot of assembly grief, and this one was one of them, because at first nothing seemed to fit together. Should have been simple, as it’s a coaster braked single speed, but that happens sometimes, in this case probably because of the chain guard and mud guards being fussy to re-fit. Also, the longer one leaves them dismantled, the harder it seems !

I had to make a rear bracket for the chain guard, and the coaster stay, and I used some of that ‘holey’ metal strip from Bunnings. It’s quite handy for such things, as it’s strong enough, but easy to work with. 

rear view.

The bike has been in pieces for a few years, but is now working well again. Not cosmetically perfect, but presentable, mechanically very good, and easy to ride. New chain fitted, and all bearings are in good shape and running well.

” the non-conformist !!”

Basic transport with a bit of patina and history,  now SOLD.

Happy Re-Cycling ! 

classique by name

This Speedwell doesn’t fall into the “Speedwell Diaries” category for me, because it’s too modern …. if the 1980s can now be called ‘modern’. 

By that decade, Speedwells were no longer manufactured in Australia, and as with many other mainstream brands, this 27″ model came from Taiwan. I have a soft spot for the older loop frame Speedwells in the old 28” ( 37-642 ) wheel size, and already have a couple of those.

it even has the original branded saddle ..

Unlike the majority of ‘ten speed sports bikes’ of the period, this came with a Shimano 3S three speed internal hub, which makes it a neat little town bike for the less hilly locations. There was also a related ‘Classique 10’, a typical 80s derailleur model that sold alongside the “3”. 

the Shimano 3S

The poor thing had been sitting in pieces in the shed for some years, so I’ve decided to find it a new home, but there was a fair bit of work involved to get it to ‘re-cyclist’ standard, mostly involving de-rusting and cleaning, overhauling bearings plus the 3S hub service, and the various adjustments.

sparkly !

There is a post back in time, on this blog, dealing with the 3S overhaul, but it was so long ago that I had to check. They are fairly straightforward to work on though, as long as one remembers that to move the gear train, the hub has a ‘push-rod’ operating the axle key, instead of the ‘pull-chain’ of Sturmey-Archers.

The gear adjustment here is by simply centring the circled “N” in the matching cut-out circle of the bell-crank while the shifter reads ‘gear 2’. The turnbuckle adjustment on the cable end makes the tuning easy. 

a simple trigger shifter

The 3S click-stop trigger shifter is also very easy to use, and I think it’s a shame that the later Nexus 3 models went to a twist-grip. Though I can perhaps understand it for the more complicated 7, 8 and 11 speed hubs, it would have been nice to have a trigger as an option.

After a 20km test ride and tighten-up of the cotter pins it’s ready to ride away, nice and shiny, with new tyres and brake pads, fitted with kickstand and rack, as per the photos. Size is medium, so would suit some-one roughly 5’5”- 5’8” ( 165 – 173cms ) give or take. 

a decent town bike for cruising, shopping, or shared paths.

Once again, if you are local to Newcastle / Lake Macquarie NSW area ( and interested ), it is for sale at ( NOW SOLD ).

Happy Re-Cycling !!  

it’s quite pleasant, really…

May I suggest, dear readers, that if you ever come across one of these bikes, first carefully check whether it has a stuck seat post and, if in the affirmative, my advice is — Leave It There !! 

aargh…nooo ! … take it away !!

For this ‘Atax’ device is no mere seat post, dear readers … rather, it’s an evil and sadistic instrument of mental torture, made of super-hard black plastic, reinforced with an even harder tubular steel insert. Why ? I assume to reduce cost, as it couldn’t be any lighter than aluminium alloy, and on a mid range bike such as this … I mean, who really cares that much about lightness anyway ?

the ‘pub’ bike ‘before’ shot !

For starters, acetone didn’t work, nor did gentle heat .. and eventually the tortured post top broke off, so I had to resort to drilling it out because, being solid, there is no room for a reciprocating saw blade, etc.  

Problem is, as the drill heats up, the plastic eventually begins to melt until it gums up the drill bit, then as it quickly solidifies, the drill becomes seized in the hard black plastic. 

It also takes forever to grind through the long central steel insert and even then, a thin film of plastic remains attached to the inner seat tube. 

This prevents any new post from being fitted … A wire brush insert on a drill extension then seized up while trying to get the remaining plastic out, then had to be tapped back out with a long threaded rod through the cable guide hole in the bottom bracket, having also been ruined by the melted plastic … Jeez ! 

oxide removed from hubs

This c.1985 Gitane has a Chromoly frame with chromed fork, and decent Maillard hubs with Mavic Module E 700C rims, though the Sachs-Huret shifters and derailleurs look a bit dated now.  

old style derailleur for 1985 … but it works.

Weinmann 500 brakes and a nice lightweight Solida crankset are originals.

chro-moly frame, sachs-huret friction shifters.

This bike will be sold, as it is a bit too small for me to comfortably ride .. Small/medium size is 52.5cm  ST.  and  54cm TT. – if you live locally to Newcastle NSW, and are of the right size ( around 5’6” or 168cm plus or minus ) and mind-set, it will be $160AUD.

(Now Sold).

It now has a 26.0 mm steel seat post by the way …

I was surprised how well it rides, after a 25km test, following the overhaul, and if it had been a 4-6 cm larger size I actually think I’d have kept it.

Garmin, mounts and light are NFS. New fizik tape.

on a test ride.

All bearings were in good condition, overhauled and adjusted, it’s ready to ride away, and the labour I have put into it is probably worth more than the asking price, as usual.

Happy Re-Cycling !



I’d worked on some hubs back when the summer weather had been so hot – it allowed me to get some fiddly jobs done, while keeping fairly cool in the shade. 

AW3 – the ubiquitous ( and simplest ) 3-speed.

Some of these hubs had been waiting a long time for overhaul, and it’s nice to have them cleaned and tidy, ready for use, instead of in messy boxes, full of uncertainties.

some of the S-A hubs – the more compact SW on the left, home made “oil-stopper” on the right.

I had inspected my small collection of 40 hole Sturmey Archer hubs, finding both good and bad things inside. The common AW 3-speed hubs are fairly easy to overhaul, if one is a bit methodical with the order of parts and with cleaning. Most of the time is taken up by removing the sludge and/or rust off the many internal surfaces. By keeping the sub-assemblies more or less together, confusion is mostly avoided, and, after doing a few AW overhauls, the process should become second nature. 

Barring abuse, AW hubs are long lasting, but long term lack of oil, and water entry, can make a rusty mess inside that is disheartening to behold, and time consuming to clean up. Also, because the hubs are sealed, the oil becomes more and more contaminated over time, as there is nowhere much else for the gunk to go, except by dismantling and cleaning the internals. Luckily, the hubs are fairly forgiving in spite of this, but they really do appreciate an eventual overhaul.

the early 1956 SW ( top ) had the 2-piece indicator rod, but the later 1959 version ( lower left ) did not.

early version SW3, e.g. 1956

The SW model hub is less common, but is simply a compact AW with slightly wider spaced gearing ratios, three planet gears instead of four, a three pronged clutch and driver, and those strange little free-floating, springless pawls. Of the two hubs I have, the older one (1956) will be used for spares as it has some worn and chipped parts, while the 1959 model, ( which is very close to the time the SW model was discontinued, for reliability reasons ) will be usable.

There is very good SW info, with links, on Sheldon Brown’s site, including some reliability mods, but most people in the know seem to not recommend ever using the SW on an actual bike ! 

I, however, am curious !

I believe the SW’s designer was sent to the Tower, as so much grief did it cause them … lol. The internal parts are not interchangeable at all with the AW.

just in case …

and back together again..SW3

There is plenty on youtube, Sheldon Brown, etc. to show you how to overhaul the AW, so I’ll just make a few small observations from my own experience.

Firstly, it can be difficult to remove the large right hand ball ring at times. I have found that a broadly flat ended punch used carefully with a small heavy hammer does the trick, but care needs to be taken while supporting a loose hub, to avoid damage to the shell. ( There is a spanner available, but it is expensive. ) Also, unless the hub is in a wheel, firstly remove the small screw-in oil port, which is easily damaged, and you’ll need to unscrew the left side cones first to allow the ball ring to be removed once it lets go.

Things that are easily lost are the clutch spring end cap, and also the tiny pawl springs on the AW. Take extra care if removing and re-fitting these. Sometimes the AW pawl locating pins can fall out, of their own accord, causing the pawl and spring to drop out without warning.

The 24 right hand ball ring bearings are loose and easily lost once the cover is removed, and the axle cone bearing cages are sometimes distorted, allowing the balls to drop out unexpectedly.

Check the clutch assembly, driver, axle cones, bearings, and races, for general wear or pitting, and the pawls and gear teeth for chipping. In my case, four out of the six hubs were OK. The 1964 AW and 1956 SW had some wear issues, so have been retired for parts.

Assuming all is OK, I re-assemble with only a little bit of grease on the ball bearings, and the rest assembled with a good quality light oil. I’ve started using 30W lawnmower engine oil as recommended by some, but there are a few different ideas around on lubrication. No-one seems to recommend 3-in-1 oil though, due to its varnish content.

I also prefer working on bare hubs like these, that are not attached to a rim. 

Keeping the order of the sprocket and its spacers is important if overhauling a complete wheel from a particular bike ( chain line ). Adjustment of bearings is from the left side cone only, after the right side cone has been screwed right in gently, then backed off half a turn.

Some of these hubs had damaged oil ports, but I have found that an M6 bolt, cut off with a Dremel wheel will fit, though it will need a sealing O-ring under it, to keep the oil in. Just make very, very sure that the threads sit well clear of the spinning assembly inside the hub !

One of these hubs was an AR 1930s ‘close ratio’ racing hub, a footpath find, that I got quite excited about, only to then find that the internals were out of an AW and some clutch parts were missing … bummer !  I overhauled it anyway, despite the rusty shell, and hopefully it will work as an AW. 

this is an AR 1930s shell with AW internals … will it work ??

I’d also love to find some of the more exotic S-A hubs than these to play around with … ah well, one day !

and some shifters, etc. to suit …

…and Happy Re-cycling !   


a little bit sad…

This one came along after the “Think Pink” Swift of a few posts back, and it’s a more interesting bike as it’s older, with much nicer lugs. Unfortunately, it has a non-original fork, and much of the paint sanded back, leaving only traces of the head tube decal to identify it at all. Luckily I already had the pink bike or I’d have had no idea what it was !

I’ve found it difficult to trace the history of Swift Cycles, apart from them being under the Guthrie Cycles ( Brisbane ) banner from perhaps ( ? ) the 70s. From what I can see, Guthries bought out ( or made ) a number of brands including Ashby, Local, Sprite and Swift, before eventually becoming Cycles Australia, which may have only had the brand ‘Madison’, but by that time, perhaps around 1977, it would seem that their frame manufacturing in Australia, along with many others, had mostly ceased anyway. 

a photo from the web, showing a badge design variation.


Local : a family resemblance there !   On the seat tube..


Local, the same bike, with Guthrie head ‘badge’ decal, must be from around the “think pink” 70s mass produced era ..

Nice lugs, shame about the fork !

My best guess : 1964 !       6th Feb., anyone ?

I am fairly certain this Swift is from 1964, because of the stamping on the bottom bracket, and though I know many similar stampings are of the bottom bracket manufacturers details, these look more like actual dates. While it’s likely that “Think Pink” was made overseas in the 70s, this bike would surely have been made here.

with lucky 1980 tange replacement fork .. ruff’n’ready.

The first problem to overcome in getting it running was finding a decent fork, and the best I could do was to use the Tange fork from a scrapped Apollo II. At least it’s the right colour, the lugs are a reasonable match, and its paint is similarly worn, if not more so.  A bit of matching lug lining, and … bingo !

well, it’s a definite improvement from this bent one, at least

There was only a rear derailleur, a Huret Svelto, which I’ve overhauled, but there were dual Huret shifters on the bike. 

Svelto r.d. and Shimano wing nuts ..

Cobwebs … sheesh !       Decent brakes though.

I’m considering this Cyclo bar end shifter, simple DNP freewheel & Svelto r.d..

I’d like to build up some nice recycled 27” alloy wheels for it, and use this recycled 3-speed DNP freewheel ( 16 / 19 / 24T ) with a single front ring for simplicity, somewhere around the 40-44T mark.

I took the liberty .. alternative lettering.

While I’d prefer the original decals, they were long gone, replaced by a half hearted attempt at grey primer, which had to be sanded back to the worn down orange.

A classic bike is naked without a brand name, so I took the liberty of hand painting “Swift” on the down tube to give it some I.D. and idea of history. The remaining traces of grey primer will also become part of its history.

I always have problems with the seat tube though, it needs something to balance out the other graphics so I am still thinking on this … technically it should be of the Swift “ knight’s head “ but that may be too difficult for me to reproduce by hand. We’ll see.

I only managed to save a bit of this decal, I did some retouching later, but it’s tricky.

This will be a ‘patina’ bike, a homage to Swifts, and obviously not a totally accurate restoration.


Post Script : 

I have managed to hear from a frame builder for Swift, Carl Wilson, who worked there in Marrickville, Sydney for about 3 years in a factory behind a bike shop owned by a Bill Connolly, Carl told me he started there building frames, from when he was 15, in 1959. 

He has informed me that the factory moved to Canterbury Rd., Dulwich Hill, after Swift was sold to Guthrie Cycles, but I’m not yet certain of that year. So it seems that Swifts were still made in Sydney for some time later.

Carl worked for many years in the bicycle trade, was a talented bike racer and is a first class frame builder.

His bike brand “Willo” is well respected by those in the know.

Any more accurate information on these brands is welcome.

See Ya !  

Heatwaves, bushfires, rain, now covid-19, these are some recent reasons to stay home … but what to do ?

The Re-Cyclist has been kept busy, because every piece of salvaged bike gear needs sorting, assessing, re-conditioning or discarding in order to avoid a buildup of junk that merely serves to slow things down further. 

When looking for that appropriate part to contribute to a build it’s annoying to have to clean it up and have one’s inspiration interrupted. Building up a knowledge of how things go together is a useful learning experience too, and one gets different ideas of how parts might be used, all the while making them function, and look, as they should.

Here are some of the recently refurbished ( or soon to be ) items :

Hubs :

I’ve converted or renovated many more hubs to cater for the 90-95mm wide front forks and the various 110, 120 and 126mm wide rear ends found on older bikes. 

Some Hubs : Haro BMX 110mm, Shimano nutted steel front 95mm, Sturmey-Archer ’71 SC coaster 110mm, Campagnolo Record ’76 -120mm 36H ( 5-speed ).

The Haro is 36H, and could easily be used on an older bike with a single speed freewheel, The Sturmey Archer is 40H.  The Campag. Records are beautifully made and spin like butter.

these will polish up nicely..

Brake Levers :

These 70s-80s road brake levers were the Dia-Compe / Weinmann ‘suicide’ style and thankfully, they can be fully dismantled. Firstly remove the ‘un-safety’ levers, then the lever pins can be cut short and filed, flush with the brake body, to convert them to the standard road brake style. When cleaned and polished up they can look great on older road bikes, and cost virtually nothing.

a little more shine needed for a rough ‘patina bike’

Derailleurs :

All rear derailleurs of reasonable quality can be dismantled to some degree, even if only to the jockey wheels. Derailleurs can get filthy and corroded quite easily, and the best time to clean them is when they are off the bike. 

Sachs-Huret New Success long cage ; Suntour Alpha 2000 indexed ; Huret Svelto ; Suntour Skitter .

I’ve had very little dealing with European derailleurs, and I must say the old Huret Svelto is one of elegant simplicity, with impressive ball bearing jockey wheels. It’s a shame the matching shifters are a bit ugly, and use an odd sized cable nipple, but being friction, any shifter should work with the Svelto.

The Suntour Skitter is a ‘low-normal’ derailleur which means that its default setting is to the large rear sprocket. Makes sense I guess, as one tends to start off in low gear… 

I used various items underneath these to try and remove the ‘banana’ effect with varied success. PVA mix under left hand Bell

Saddles :

I have a number of old leather Bell ( and other ) saddles that were banana’d and otherwise had distorted leather from wear, or from rain damage. I have spent some time trying to re-shape them by trial and error. By a combination of pressure from beneath and gentle tightening of the tension bolt I’ve managed to bring them back somewhat to the point where they are either lightly useable, or at least are of reasonable display quality for a well patina’d survivor bike. I would likely put some stiff foam plastic as support under them, for riding.

The Bell saddles are not quite Brooks standard, but the iconic Kangaroo is so classy !

The Bell with the blue badge must have been severely soaked at some point as some areas of leather had hardly any firm structure left. As a last resort only, I used a 50 / 50 mix of PVA glue and water, painted underneath the saddle, which has given it back some stiffness and shape.


some thick-ish plywood, a hole saw set, and a seat post QR..

Miscellaneous :  These are home made ‘dummy hubs’ or ‘chain keepers’, using the seat post quick releases from discarded MTB or Hybrid frames. By using a hole saw on some old pieces of thickish plywood, cut two larger and one smaller circles. These are useful if you have several bikes and need to remove some wheels for hanging storage. They keep the frame, chain, and self much cleaner and better organised.

make sure it’s not too big, or not much smaller than your smallest sprocket.


Happy Re-Cycling !

Not a pretty picture, but useful, at least.

This is the only Special Sports that I have ever found as hard rubbish, and it has been quite obviously repainted and re-decalled with non-period decals.  Still, there are some original components and, as always, a mix of goods and bad features.

shame .. these monitor ‘speedster’ callipers can look great when in good condition..

The chain set, head set, rear wheel, bars and stem, and the brake callipers all seem to be original, and I like the look of the Monitor ‘Speedster’ brakes. From long storage in a beach side suburb, the external corrosion is heavy in places, but at least the internal bearings seem well lubricated. 

It’s always interesting to see how the parts will clean up, with the brakes having lost most of their plating. They couldn’t look any worse than before, at least !

not quite mint …

Noting the condition of the frame and the non-original paint, the best use of this bike will be as a spare parts donor, as I have much nicer ‘original paint’ Special Sports frame sets to build up. It can be roughly dated at 1956 from the ‘AW’ code on the Williams cranks and chainring, and I believe them to be original. 

williams 48T

There’s often a problem removing these stuck Phillips ‘Apollo’ pedals as the spanner flats are pretty inaccessible, given their narrowness and the extended cage ends. I’ve often found it necessary to dismantle them down to the axle, just to get sufficient purchase to remove them from the crank.

I think I’ll have to pull these apart..

I don’t have a cotter press to remove the pins, so I use a 100mm bench vice, hand held, with a socket spanner fitting over to isolate the head of the cotter while pressing the nut side. This usually works well, but it’s heavy to hold the vice up for too long.

non-drive side tools

drive side tool – easy !

The bottom bracket was easy with the right tools .. plenty of grease in there ! The Bayliss Wiley spindle’s bearing surfaces are in reasonable condition – these are often heavily pitted in old bikes.

a lotta grease !

Removing stuck freewheels and track cogs can be a drama, in this case I used a CR-Mo pedal axle as a punch, with plenty of penetrant applied – success !

fixed + free hub

later Shimano 333 18T free & T.D.Cross 16T fixed. Pedal axle ‘punch’.

The freewheel almost looked new when fully cleaned, but the fixed side is cactus…

It’s a good idea to de-tension a wheel before cutting out spokes, and here I was hoping to at least save the hubs, as the rims are a bit far gone. The hubs had both been overhauled at some stage, and the 40 hole rear turned out to have worn out races, but the 32 hole front Atom was in excellent internal condition, under the grime.

The rear shell is a steel French 40H ‘Mega’, but with German Weco cones and axle replacing the originals at some point. The bike has been maintained and greased over time, to a point, at least.

the hubs

but as you can see, the bearing cup is shot … and so the cones and balls are discarded ( pitting ). Only the axle was saved.

in good nick..

The 32H French ‘Atom’ has a later Japanese axle and new cones . These old 5/16″ front axles are prone to bending if abused. This one looks in great shape.

All in all, a fair bit of work so far, and no pretty pictures, but some useful parts have been salvaged.

Stay safe, and at home, but keep cycling solo if you can…

Happy Re-Cycling !



a late 90s shogun hybrid

Another project, part of the ongoing quest to build the perfect ( re-cyclista’d ) commuter bike. I’ve been re-reading “Just Ride” by Grant Petersen ( Bridgestone, Rivendell ), and I think the influence here is apparent ! 

a milk-carton mud flap, a la “just ride” ..

As the name suggests, the original Metro was a flat bar 700C hybrid, and, as usual, had seen better days than when I found it, on a hard rubbish day, some time ago, again minus the wheels. A heavy suspension seat post and a very heavy adjustable alloy quill stem were fitted, neither of which I saw as being essential to comfort – if the bike is otherwise set up correctly, that is. 

This Shogun frame is late 1990s, Chinese made, in TIG welded chromoly with ‘Tangaloy’ forks. The frame has a sloping top tube, with the seat tube stickered as size 50cm ctc., which sounds small, but as the effective top tube length is 57cm I am thinking that it will fit me well.

I used an aftermarket top-cap Garmin mount on the rear rack, clearance issues mean the light has to be mounted inverted..

There are lots of scrapes and some surface rust and ‘snail trails’ under the paint, but the dark colour hides them pretty well. I don’t think bikes justify respraying in these cases, it’s better to keep the patina and its story with only an occasional clean and wax needed to keep the rust at bay, provided the bike is not stored out in the weather. 

Also, the factory dark metallic green colour is quite appealing in the sunlight as it fades between brownish and greenish with the angle of light. ( Not obvious in the photos ).

quill to a-head adapter

Like the Nishiki MTB, the Metro hybrid has a threaded 1 & 1/8” headset, ( which was worn out, but basic replacements are quite cheap ). A quill to a-head converter and separate stem again seemed the best way to go, for lightness and convenience, and allowed a modern ‘compact’ 31.8mm alloy handle bar. Classic quill stems are beautiful, but for a practical bike, I have to say that being able to easily remove the bars and change the stem without removing the tape and levers is a great advantage. Good modern compact bars are also very comfortable – these are ‘budget’ Deda RHM02s.

If you’re planning to do this type of conversion, I.e. from flat to drop bars, you’ll either need V-brake specific brake levers, ( or possibly convert to cantilever brakes with normal road levers ). Tektro make a decent drop-bar V-brake lever ( RL-520 ), and that’s what I’ve used here.  

Sugino micro chain set : 42/32/20T

The 94mm b.c.d. Sugino CSS II micro-compact crank set was salvaged from the Nishiki 26”, and wasn’t used on that bike at the time, because the rings were somewhat worn. They have now been replaced, except for the plain inner 58b.c.d. x 20 tooth, which I have reversed, to extend its life. I couldn’t find an inner for sale anyway. The triple will be 42/32/20T, which was its original configuration when on the Nishiki. I was surprised how much different spinning on 175mm feels, having been used to used to 170mm cranks for some time.

Such low gearing should be great for commuting and carrying, and with a 13-26T x 8speed rear, I am confident that it won’t spin out too much for me, even at a fairly low 42 x 13T. 

Although triples seem unfashionable now, they do allow a closer ratio cassette combined with a wider overall range. With a 20 x 26T low gear, this bike should be able to climb trees !! 

the Suntour VxGT – perhaps I overdid the cable a bit..

I’ve gone retro Suntour with the derailleurs, a Mountech on the front and the classic VxGT on the rear. The shifters are bar-end Dia-compe / Rivendell friction “Silver Shifters”. I don’t think the VxGT would work  accurately with any index system anyway..

The fewer cogs on the rear, the more important I think it is to have a triple for a good low range. The cassette on this bike has nearly all either 1 or 2 cog steps, whereas the Nishiki’s 2 x 8-speed 11-34 is quite gappy in places.

The linear pull ( V-brake ) callipers allowed the easy fitting of some re-cycled front and rear racks and mud guards, which I wanted for, but couldn’t manage to fit to, the Nishiki. The front rack is a lightweight Jim Blackburn, and the rear a classic Nagaoka.

The racks have fixed length stays, so I couldn’t get them exactly level, but I am pleased with the result anyway.

dual banana power … more about selle SMP in an upcoming  post.

As to the bar tape, saddle, and cable colours, maybe they are a bit too loud, I thought they would tie in with the edge trim colour on the graphics…well, they are growing on me.

on a 27km test ride..

Happy Re-Cycling !




typical roadster geometry – a well laid back seat tube,  it also has the roadster’s pressed rear fork ends.

Another kerbside find, one that I have had for a few years while occasionally, and quietly, contemplating its future. It came from the nearby suburb of Boolaroo, which was also the home of the notorious Pasminco Metals Sulphide works, until a few decades ago. The legacy of soil borne lead fallout still lingers in places there, and it also makes me imagine this bike being ridden from its home, to the works and back each day, as many of these bikes were used, with the traditional upturned drop handlebars .. and perhaps even a Gladstone work bag nestled in between the hand grips.

OK, back to reality then, and by now I am well aware that a basic 2-star utility roadster is not worth much in financial terms, especially one without its original paintwork, and with many parts either worn out or replaced. But a bike that has survived in decent shape for around 85 years is surely worthy of some small amount of respect.

this number relates to c. 1935 build date

I am fairly confident of the year from the serial number, by studying the Bicycle Network Australia forums, and from the BSA parts used, as I am by no means a Malvern Star guru. Also, Malvern Star did have a component supply arrangement with BSA from around 1933.

BSA piled rifles on spindle, both cups, and steering top nut

piled rifles on the fork steerer – BSA all the way !

I find there is some advantage in re-cycling this type of bike, in that there were plenty made, and it’s not financially valuable or highly collectable, nor is it practical or sensible to give it a full “as original” restoration job. I therefore won’t feel guilty about doing the few small mods. needed to get it going again…

worn out teeth – bit of a shame, but we’ll find something else appropriate.. 

One of the lower seat stay bolts was flogged out, and had to be re-tapped with a larger thread, but at least the frame is straight, without the oft dreaded tube – or fork – deformation from a hard frontal impact – yay !

plain lugs, but always with the elegant 6-point stars, even on the base models..

Somewhat comically, it was found fitted with BMX bars and stem, plus the usual non-original saddle and a hodgepodge of wheels. These roadsters generally came fitted with 700A or 28 x 1 & 3/8 inch wheels ( ETRTO 37C x 642 ) and a coaster brake rear, as did the Speedwell Popular roadsters. They don’t look right with smaller sizes either, but at least tyres are still available.

No front brake, indeed, there is not even a drilling for one in the fork crown, merely a drilling in the back of the crown for a mudguard bracket screw.

Bikes and traffic were more sedate back then..

As much as I dislike re-painting old bikes, ( and I never do this if any of their original liveries remain ), this one had nothing at all left, so it was bite the bullet time. Scraping old paint off is not my idea of fun, however…

the little dark patch under the axle is a BSA emblem !

I’ll use the Eadie coaster hub, as it is more or less period correct, and ( I only just realised ) has the BSA piled rifles stamped on the brake arm as well.

with these slots, the drive side spokes had to be held in place with a spoke nipple when building this wheel, to stop them falling back out !

To be continued…