You may remember a while back, dear reader, that I converted a Malvern Star L.A.84 into a three-speed. Well, there were a couple of issues that have caused me to re-think it.
Firstly I might say that the L.A.84 has a rather good frame in springy Chro-Moly steel that is a pleasure to use because of its reasonable lightness and good ride quality. It’s much better if one gets rid of the heavy Takagi crank-set ( see top pic. ) and replaces it with an all alloy model. The Dia Compe model 500 brakes are decent, as are the wheels with their Shimano hubs and anodised Araya rims.The original levers are only so-so, as were derailleurs.
What caused me to change it again was the Revo-shifter for the 3-speed Nexus, not because it didn’t work but that it restricted the type of handlebars I could use as it won’t go around bar bends and also reduces the right-hand-grip space which can be annoying over a long period. They really are designed for flat or ‘north-road’ style bars that sit high, and I lament the disappearance of the old trigger shifters. While the Revo-shifter worked with the Tange moustache bars i decided i wanted to refit drop bars again.
Plus, the coaster version of the Nexus was not ideal for a ‘sports bike’ being a bit hard to deal with in combination with a front hand brake. A non-coaster version would have been better for this bike and i could have done that, but instead of fitting a standard freewheeling 3-speed, I decided to convert it to single speed using a Sturmey Archer flip-flop hub with only an 18T freewheel fitted. This hub was new and reasonably priced and I matched it up with a 95mm Normandy high flange front hub ( 1975 vintage ) salvaged from the Oxford in the previous post. i love the look of hi-flange hubs and like to combine old and new components too. This French made Normandy now has new cones and bearings and polished up well.
The rims I used were unloved orphans – the front is a Ukai and the rear an Araya, both 27″ alloy with very similar profiles. i can now keep the other wheels with their original rims for a different project. The new wheels are 3-cross with new 296mm spokes, good practice for my truing jig. The Bontrager Select K tyres were re-fitted. I am sorry I didn’t get more of these at the time as I can’t find any now, they are a nice light and fast rolling 27 x 1 & 1/4″. These rims are also both Schrader Valve holed so i re-fitted the Electra rocket ship valve caps. Ka-bling !
The brake levers are Cane Creek SCR-5, these are comfortable and have quick releases ( which the callipers do not ). I don’t mind that they are modern pre-brifter style as they work so well. Cables are Jagwire teflon coated and the bar tape is fizik super light in blue, as it was the best colour i could find to suit. Bars are Cinelli Giro d’Italia 42cm with blue Cinelli end caps. i lengthened the stem to 100mm by fitting a Genetic from my collection. Though this bike has a 59cm seat tube, the top tube is only 56cm, so 80mm was a little too short.
The rest of the bike remains as it was. Gearing is 48x18T which is higher than I would normally use but suits the relative lightness of the L.A.84. The gearing is good between about 20-35 km/h which is where I spend most of my time on the flat. Building up speed is gradual at first so as not to stress the knees, and then it comes into its own at sensible middle speeds. The frame probably wouldn’t suit serious fixed gear use because of the front facing pressed rear drop-outs.
The chain was shortened from the 3-speed version as it had a 22T rear cog, and I treated it in a hot bath of ‘Linklyfe’ after cleaning it. It is now thanking me as i ride ! I may change the pedals to classic cages with straps, but I do like the Speedplay Drilliums…
i am pleased with both the appearance and the ride, and when i think of some of those multi-coloured urban fixed gear conversions i feel that this is a better way to use an older classic frame without destroying all its history in the process.
Happy Re-cycling !