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Archive for the ‘malvern star la84’ Category

all-terrain

‘all-terrain’

I like collecting Brooks saddles – I don’t know why, but I think it has to do with their tradition, comfort, beauty and utility – and I love to swap them from bike to bike until I find the right balance of style and comfort.

L.A.84 Malvern Star

the L.A.84 Malvern Star ‘singlespeed’

This re-introduced Brooks ‘Conquest’ saddle is basically a sportier version of the B17 Flyer, with a ‘Team Pro’ leather top instead of the wider touring B17 top. The Team Pro is becoming one of my favourite Brooks models, now that I’ve become used to its initial stiffness. These saddles allow free pedalling and retain their shape really well over time.

it's spring time !

it’s spring time !

The Conquest has the skived lower leather edges and hand-hammered copper rivets of the better Team Pro models. Interestingly, the rivets are different to my other copper riveted Team Pro saddle, being smaller and slightly less flush with the saddle top. I thought that this was a ‘new’ thing, but a look at the Velobase site shows that the same rivets are on the original 1990s models.

the 'team pro' top

the ‘team pro’ top ( & drillium )

I’ve fitted the Conquest saddle to my Malvern Star L.A.84 single speed and it does a great job of damping the rough road shocks that were occasionally quite jarring. The down-sides include about 300g of extra weight and a bouncing or twisting tendency when spinning the pedals fast. This motion will vary according to how heavy the rider is as well as with the particular cadence and gearing employed.

At medium cadences it feels almost like an unsprung Brooks, but the improved comfort on sharp bumps is always noticeable.

I think the benefits are worth any of these trade offs, and in this case, it’s a lot less bouncy than my Flyer models, though it will also squeak a little bit when pedalling hard. I’m trying to locate the exact source of noise so I can neutralise it. The Conquest also seems to only be available in black, which may not suit all bikes.

It’s very appropriate for long distances and rough roads, as the ‘all terrain’ stamp suggests, and works best on a bike with a semi leaned forward riding position – for more upright roadster style bikes I would stick with the B17 Flyer or the B66 / B67 family of sprung saddles. For those with really sporty steel bikes I would look toward the unsprung models – Team Pro, Swift, Swallow etc.

L.A.84

L.A.84

Although by this bike’s era (1984, of course ) Malvern Stars no longer had Australian made frames, the L.A.84 ( an ex-12 speed } is still one of my favourite bikes. Although it’s not the lightest thing around, it fits me really well and feels solid, with the handling being steady and stable and it passes the ‘no hands’ test with flying colours. It’s a great town bike for when the hills are modest and the streets are rough, and I couldn’t now imagine it as anything other than a singlespeed.

Since I last posted about it I’ve also changed the gearing to 45 x 18T ( from 48 x 18T ) which is now pretty spot-on for my needs with the 27″ wheels. Those Speedplay Drillium pedals are the best flat pedals I’ve ever used – thanks to the slightly concave spiked ‘flats’ that grip the soles so well – and also because they have no fatiguing bulges around the axles like some other flat pedals.

It’s approaching some tiny kind of perfection, yet I never rule out further improvements to this, or any bike…

Happy Re-cycling !

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the L.A. 84

the L.A. 84 originally

as converted - version 1

as partly converted – version 1 – three speed

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.

the new version

the new version

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.

a grey ghost

the grey ghost

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.

sturmey-archer single speed

sturmey-archer single speed

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.

restored '75 normandy hi-flange

restored ’75 normandy hi-flange and classic 50s wing nuts

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 !

giro, fizik, SCR-5

giro, fizik, SCR-5

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.

b-17 imperial narrow, SR laprade post

b-17 imperial narrow, SR laprade post

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.

luxury for your chain - a hot bath !

luxury for your chain – a hot bath !

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…

3/4 rear view

3/4 rear view

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.

noice...

noice…

Happy Re-cycling !

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