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Posts Tagged ‘malvern star LA 84’

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 ‘grey ghost’ is looking like a pretty quick project, as much of it is in good order. The front wheel was given a slight true and new grease and is running well. These 80s Araya rims could have been really good on the Cecil Walker, but I don’t want to go there for a while, and this one is worth keeping (fairly) original …

Malvern Star could have made this a brilliant bike by using cast dropouts, a better alloy chainset and derailleurs, down tube shifters, and the same brake levers sans the suicide bits. That’s all it would have taken, but there you go … I like it anyway.

the classy SR laprade seat post is worth putting a decent saddle on

the classy SR laprade seat post is worth putting a decent saddle on

I’ve always wanted a slightly sporty 3-speed, which was what the Sportstar was planned to be, and in lieu of the bent rear axle I’ve removed the rim from the rear and laced it to a Nexus 3 coaster hub. This internal geared hub is heavy-ish, but I wonder if it’s really any heavier than the derailleur hub and cluster plus the rear brake and lever & calliper plus the front and rear mechs and associated hardware, and the extra weight of the double chainwheel ?

Probably not much, and certainly not as heavy as the 7, 8 or 11 speed Nexus/Alfine versions.

nexus inter-3 coaster

nexus inter-3 coaster

You have to be careful with the 3-speed coaster though, as it’s easy to lock it up accidentally if you unthinkingly back pedal, but like everything ‘new bikey’ one gets used to it fairly quickly.

A coaster brake is clumsy with foot retention systems so I generally use flat pedals, in this case the brilliant Speedplay Drilliums.

drillium !

drillium !

With a coaster there is also the often added routine of rotating the cranks to the correct o’clock before mounting the bike !

For a derailleur 10-speed to gear-hub conversion the newer internal geared hubs are ideal as they are generally around 120mm width and that means less worry about spacers. 10 speed frames are generally 120 (older) or 126mm wide.

For older coaster hub single speed frames you are better off using an older hub like the 70s/80s Sturmey-Archer AW or Shimano 3S, because these are the same 110mm width and don’t require widening of the frame.

I need to keep the front brake, and in order not to be too asymmetric I think the drop bars may have to go, but I’m still thinking. They really do suit this frame. A cross top lever could be useful if it fits, otherwise it’s Tange moustache bars from Project Sportstar.
Because the Nexus 3 revo-shifter needs a long straight section of bar I guess it’s to be the Tange, unless I can figure out a different shifter system. These revo-shifters are a lot more fragile and fiddly than the old 3-speed triggers as well.

generally, i prefer trigger shifters...

generally, i prefer trigger shifters…

This bike is another example why the serious recyclist needs to be able to build and true wheels – it just wouldn’t be worth it to pay someone else for all this !

So many old bikes need wheel work, as that’s often the reason they were abandoned in the first place. The rear wheel gave me some problems and took a long time to straighten, perhaps because the rim isn’t as stiff as modern ones. Old single wall alloy rims are the hardest ones to re-lace, in my limited experience anyway.

The conversion to a single chainring means that the crank axle probably wasn’t the correct length for a straight chain line so a little measuring is required. I find that most likely a 107mm or maybe 110mm bottom bracket will do the job.

Most current square taper bottom brackets are sealed, no maintenance and non-repairable, though they only cost around $20 to $25. I have successfully used models from Miche, Genetic, and Gist (italy), in standard JIS square taper for single speed and hub gear conversions. In this case ( after measuring the BB and hub ) it’s a Genetic 110.5 mm and lines the chainwheel up quite well with the offset 22T Nexus cog.

a new genetic 110.5mm JIS bottom bracket

a new genetic 110.5mm JIS bottom bracket

I recycled my newish Token TK2051 165mm chainset, it’s nice and light and the black ring vaguely matches the original ‘look’.

Gearing ( i.e. second ) is 48x22T. Unfortunately 3-speeds have unavoidably large gaps between the ratios compared with a derailleur system and so it’s all about compromises. If second is too high, then third becomes little used so I try to make second just high enough to work OK on level road but able to pull up a moderate incline too. Perhaps a 21T would be sufficient although the solid saddle and shortish 165mm cranks mean that spinning fast is relatively easy compared with some other of my bikes. I won’t change the gearing yet without a fair amount of riding first, to suss it all out …

now pretty much completed

now pretty much completed

I lifted the Velo Orange hammered guards from the pink mixte ( toe overlap on that one ) and borrowed the Nexus-fitting Brooks grips from my Gazelle. The front brake lever now operates from the left side so as not to foul the shifter – and to make the cables look more symmetrical. I used the brazed on brake loops on the top tube to hold the gear cable in place, as of course there’s no need for the rear calliper now. The Bontrager Select K 27″ tyres used to grace Cecil W. before his conversion to 700C. I’m pretty happy with the look and concept so far.

the grey ghost in fernleigh tunnel

the grey ghost in fernleigh tunnel

Steering is quite quick and the bike accelerates and climbs well for an old school ride. As geared, it’s certainly better equipped for the various moderate inclines on the Fernleigh Track than the Duo-matic 2-speed hubs, allowing easy pedalling pretty much everywhere, though the ride is never as finely tuneable for ‘cadence vs.gradients’ as a derailleur system, of course.

See Ya !

 

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the L.A. 84

the L.A. 84

 

The Malvern Star L.A. 84 was released to commemorate those Olympics, but is a far cry from what the Olympians would have been riding. Still, it’s a step up from the Sportstar  that I was in the process of renovating and so has jumped the proverbial recyclist’s queue … the frame is nice and high, with a 59cm seat tube and a relatively short 56cm top tube.

cro-mo go slow...

cro-mo go slow…

The frame is indicated as being double butted Chrome-Moly steel, and I at least think the 3 main tubes are, as they have that high ‘ting’ sound when tapped. Other nice features are 27″ Araya alloy rims on decent Shimano hubs ( though the back axle was found to be mysteriously bent ), SR Laprade fluted alloy post 26.6mm, SR alloy stem and SR “Road Champion” alloy bars with Cinelli tape.

fluted SR post

fluted SR post

The brakes are Dia Compe ‘500’ side pull callipers. Shimano Z series gear components are reasonable too, with a mid length rear derailleur to cope with the 32T largest cog and 12 friction shifted gears via stem shifters. A Tange Seiki headset looks to be in decent condition. There is a single plastic star on the head tube in typical Malvern Star fashion.

steering detail

SR steering detail

The ordinary parts include an alloy crank / steel ring combination 52/40T Takagi chainset and a basic PVC covered plastic saddle. Also the rear dropouts are only pressed steel 126mm and the front are 95mm wide. Brake levers are those annoying Dia Compes with no gel hoods and suicide levers … ah well.

note the missing bolts !

note the missing bolts !

It’s a good starting point, and I would like to keep the old parts aside just in case I want to build it back as fully original.

rear mech

rear mech

I can’t understand how the axle got so bent when the derailleur appears straight – the dropout needed straightening too.

kkt alloy pedals

kkt alloy pedals

These KKT pedals are exceptionally light – one is tight and has some rust under the black end cap – hopefully it’s not terminal.

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