Today I had time to take the restored Malvern Star 2-star for its first decent ride of around 15km on mostly flat terrain. It has been quite a while since I have ridden a single speed coaster braked bike on public roads, and today’s adventure was mostly about coming to grips again with this type of brake. Firstly its gradual nature, as the fifty year old Perry hub is not the last word in stopping power – the name of the game is anticipation, or the fine art of “what if ?”. This comes naturally to me from my motor cycling days, trying to first guess the traffic. Having said that, this isn’t the bike for cut and thrust city traffic and all of its surprises. The brake stops reasonably well when one has the pedals in the quarter to three o’clock position, ready to stand hard on the back pedal, but the time taken to get to that position adds extra stopping distance as well, if not anticipated – as sometimes happened.
This is a bike for flat back roads and cycle paths, where the hub is silent when coasting, like the Nexus 8 on my Gazelle, and the big wheels soak up any stray bumps – (it’s the only bike I’ve tried the Electra spinner bell on that doesn’t let it ring loudly over bumps) – it is also the lightest bike I own partly due to the minimal accessories. The gearing is about right for me at 48-20, and riding single speed is all about large variations in cadence and pedal pressure. I would rather push it up the steep hills than stress the poor cotter pins too much. The Brooks B18 is firm but comfortable so far, and looks a treat. The bike rolls freely and tackles smaller hills quite well. Getting used to having to position the pedals by hand sometimes before starting off took me back in time too, though I must say it is a pleasant change to be able to roll the bike backward without the pedals turning and catching the kick stand – there are swings and roundabouts here. I am also starting to appreciate the simplicity and clean, cable-free appearance as a real virtue.
Problems ? Well, the left hand pedal spat its ball bearings into the end cover, so it’s new pedals unless I can sort it. No luggage capacity. And some toe overlap on the front guard that I have to compensate for. Otherwise, a rewarding old-world ride, the first of many, I wish !
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The paintwork is now close to completion and re-assembly has begun. I have decided not to use the original drop handlebars as they are not going to be comfortable for me and I dislike the look of them turned upside-down as upright bars. So I will fit Velo Orange alloy “Tourist” bars instead with the “Cardiff” brand cork hand grips now stained fairly dark. Cork grips can be slightly slippery with shellac on them, but I love the warm feel that they have .
I am hoping that the coaster brake is sufficient, as the front forks aren’t drilled for rim brakes. I am also going to refit the mudguards (fenders) as I feel that a bike is not really complete without them – I am on the lookout for a suitable chain guard too. The large star motifs are quite imposing in red and white on black and were well worth the effort to paint them as accurately as I could.
Here are some details of the bottom bracket with new bearings, a N.O.S. (new – old stock ) locking ring and an exact replacement Partridge oil cap, courtesy of my (long) late grandfather’s box of bike bits. This magic box also contained some of the the tiny chain wheel bolts, an exact new Brampton top steering head race and a set of “new” original mudguard stay clamps..
I am pleased with the colour, though it’s not exactly how I imagined it would be. I have also added some gold lining (in my shaky hand) and hope it’s not too much. I imagined this bike as quite traditional looking, something that would not be out of place on a “tweed ride” … but perhaps it will be a little bit jazzier than that ?
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I would like to keep as much of this bike as I can original, so I have been cleaning and examining all the parts. I found tiny traces of red and blue enamel under the newer paint, but not enough to get a real idea of the original scheme.
I am thinking of painting the frame and mudguards Indian Red, with black lugs and the stars red on a white ground as they were before, and also include a white traditional safety strip at the lower end of the rear guard. The Indian red reminds me of some old motorcycle colours and seems a pleasing muted colour. I don’t want the lugs to stand out too much as they are quite plain, so the darker red and black should blend reasonably well.
Here are some more parts disassembled :
Perry coaster brake hub – the original worn sprocket is 18T, a N.O.S. Villiers 16T for comparison. I want to fit a 20T or so to help with the hilly terrain where I live.
The 5 little square head bolts allow the chainwheel to be removed independently from its crank – the cotter pins in plastic packet are from my youth ! The caged bearings are new, but I think I’ll use new plain 1/4″ ones instead.
Pedals like these can be fully serviced, not like most modern throwaway ones. I will fit new bearings, though I know the treads are very worn – we’ll see, I might fit new pedals if I can find similar modern ones later. The Britannia grips are beyond saving.
Here is the front hub rebuilt with new bearings – it has no locknuts for the cones so I hope it stays in adjustment. No tight-fitting seals either, so I put some O-rings on to keep out the dirt.
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My friend Vicki from “Bicycles in Newcastle” has passed on this donated Malvern Star. The bike is a “popular” style, a single speed roadster with back-pedal (coaster) hub brake. It appears original except for the paint work, though I can find no traces of original paint. It needs a lot of work !
Here are some details, the serial number on this bike is on the top seat tube lug :
Serial No: 52M 32–.
Chainset : Williams 48T track style chainwheel letters ZB relate to 1961 manufacture.
Rear Hub : Perry 40 – 14 England with 2 stars on brake arm next to Perry name.
Rims : “Rigida Deco – A – made in France”, chromed steel 28″.
BB Axle : TDC No.2
Tyres as fitted : Dunlop Highway Type ” Made in Australia” ! 28 x 1 & 3/8″
Pedals : marked “Phillips England” rubber platform.
Grips : marked “Britannia England” Black rubber.
Saddle : blue and white sprung vinyl mattress “Oxford – Made in Japan”
The above are the only markings I have found so far.
As you can see, a great deal of TLC is required — stay tuned !
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