Posts Tagged ‘older australian bikes’

Ahh, so you thought this blog was finished, dear reader …. Not so, but hey, it’s been a while, and how the time has run away from me…

Anyway, I’ve had this pink peril for some time, occasionally entertaining myself by wondering what sort of Velo-Re-Cyclo masterpiece I would  create with it. As usual, the price was right, but the condition was a bit hairy.

as acquired, a bit of a mess.

Swifts were made by Guthrie Cycles ( Brisbane ) whose other brands included ‘Local’ and ‘Ashby’, before becoming Cycles Australia with the ‘Madison’ brand, then finally exiting bicycle manufacture, like so many others of the era. I don’t know whether the pink frame was locally made, or imported, though I also have a 1964 Swift frame ( below ) that I’m sure was made here.

there is also a 1964 swift, underneath the grey primer on this one !

Once upon a time, it was a typical 1970s ten-speeder, before having been unsympathetically fixie-fied with an ancient Williams crank set that had the five bolt chain ring mercilessly spot welded to its spider ! It did, at least, have a nice set of 27″ Fiamme alloy rims that I have since used elsewhere.

Another thing to deal with was a badly bent rear triangle, which I corrected with the aid of some large lumps of wood and a steel pipe as levers, a string line, and my trusty dropout alignment tools.


an earlier version with 175mm cranks

Post the re-build, I can do the hands-free ride thingy on it easily, so I have vainly assumed alignment success, despite the unsubtle means.  Given the basic pressed drop-outs, I didn’t want to go with bolt-on derailleur gears, and I also happened to have a set of 700C Alesa rimmed alloy wheels from the Speedwell Popular, following the 28” re-conversion of the previous blog post. They had a 95mm front hub and a Sturmey Archer S2C 2-speed  kickback coaster – perfect !

The 42mm tyres only just clear this frame and fork, but will stay, for the time being, though 35mm would likely have been my ideal choice. 

latest version -105 cranks

You may wonder why I have used dual hand brakes as well as the coaster hub. It’s because they look better, and function better, as hand holds on the drop bars, than a single front hand brake would. I can use the hand brakes when I don’t want to change gear when slowing down with this idiosyncratic hub. The coaster isn’t exactly a screaming stopper on it’s own either ! It is useful though, when I’m wanting to change gear while gently slowing at low speeds in high gear.

 To my mind, the S2 hubs work best with a 42 x 22T combination, which gives a reasonably low low, and a moderately low high gear of 42 x 16T equivalent. At 90 rpm, I am looking at 20 or so km/h in low and around 30km/h in high for my typical ‘commuter’ gearing. Remember, you can vary the overall gearing, but not the ratio between the 2 gears, which is a large 33% jump !

So, using a 2-speed hub, either low is going to be too high, or high too low. I am generally happy to sacrifice a little top speed for an easier low, though a 44T chainring would likely have been OK too. The cranks are early Shimano 105s, in 170mm ( FC-1050 ). 

Any bike with the S2 coaster version is going to be a little weighty, and the lowish gearing helps compensate. It’s always going to be a bit more flexible than a single speeder, at least. 

Hand brakes are Tektro long drop callipers, with cane Creek levers on a Genetic Bar and stem, and the frame is approx. 57cm seat x 55cm top. Paintwork is in pretty average nick, but holds the metre ( or two ) rule – just !  

a handful of pink-ness

As to the bar tape, I thought “ why hide it ? “, and went for the cushy Fizik ‘performance’ in pink, of course …

One must be prepared to accept a mix of comments when riding a pink bike – thankfully, they are mostly favourable, perhaps a reward for the unconscious efforts to help neutralise gender stereotypes ?

I can’t decide whether the shiny 70s decals look ‘too glitzy’ or ‘quite flash’, but I’m sticking with the latter for the time being.   

looking heroic …. and i’m off to the beach – see ya !

 Happy Re-Cycling !


Read Full Post »

conqueror loopy

conqueror loopy

I recently had the kind offer of a bike to restore from reader Justin, in the shape of a ladies’ Conqueror loop frame. Just like yours truly, he didn’t want to see a bit of Australian history just thrown away in his local council chuck-out …

stencilled and lined...

stencilled and lined…

It seems that Conqueror was a company from northern New South Wales but there is little info on the web, as is typical with many things ‘old Aussie bike’. I spotted only one other, a red diamond frame 3-speed in the web forums.

Interestingly when I googled the brand, I came across one of my own photos from the 2013 Newcastle Tweed Ride !

another one seen at the 2013 newcastle tweed ride !

another one seen at the 2013 newcastle tweed ride !

This bike is very complete, and that’s mostly what appealed to me. It is also in pretty reasonable condition for age, and sports an original Bell ‘Lady’s’ model 80 saddle which bears a close resemblance to the current Brooks B18 ‘Lady’ leather saddle.

made in oz

made in oz

bell 'lady's'

bell ‘lady’s’

Serial number under the bottom bracket shell is V59158 and the Czech ‘Velamos’ 40H coaster hub is stamped ’58 10′ so I assume the bike was finished in 1959. This hub is virtually identical to the Favorit and Renak European coasters of the period and is very weighty compared with later 70s Shimanos.

can you believe it ?

can you believe it ?     – the original colour

As with my Speedwell loop frame the original colour was completely different to now, showing the remarkable fading power of our southern sun on bright 1950s paint. Seeing is believing – the original main colour was a bright candy red as is shown under the chain guard bracket.

The bike must have been truly spectacular when new !

lovely lining work ..

lovely lining work ..

There is a gold coating under the transparent red to reflect light through it, though it has now all degraded to a very sedate ‘vintage port’ colour. The seat stays are bolted on, much like Speedwells and Malvern Stars of the period.

Given the lovely hand-lining details it would be crazy to repaint it, still, the paint is oxidised and quite fragile.

There are hooks for a skirt guard under the back axle nuts, and the matching holes are drilled in the guard. The plastic coated wire basket has a support on the fork crown that doubles as the mud guard fixing.

an old 'woods' valve

an old ‘woods’ valve

The 28 x 1 & 3/8″ rims are Australian made and painted & lined to match the frame, the front hub is a German Durex ’55’ – 32H – in very poor internal condition. I have a much better almost identical hub shell in my box of tricks, so I should only need cones and bearings to make it go again.

'three arrows' crank set

‘three arrows’ crank set

The 37-642 tyres are one Australian made Dunlop Atlantic and one later Vee Rubber ( Thailand ) though it’s more rounded in profile than the current ones.

Stay tuned for another restoration …

Read Full Post »

mystery loop frame

mystery loop frame

Thanks to fellow bike restorer Patrick Calmels from Tassie, i have managed to free the stubborn fixed cup. As he suggested in the comments of the previous post, using a large bolt through the cup ( along with plenty of Reducteur H-72 Releasing Agent ….  it’s available from Bunnings, though not cheap ! ) …  and the cup is free !

home-made fixed cup tool

home-made fixed cup tool

bingo !

bingo ! cup removed

The main difficulties to removing fixed cups are either not getting good leverage with a tool, and / or not getting a safe grip – and in the case of this cup, no spanner flats – only two pinholes. These offer very little hold for any pin spanner, with the likelihood of barked knuckles following a slip. This homemade tool is an approx. 18mm bolt with a number of washer spacers, to be used with a ring or socket spanner.

was it once an oil-bath ?

was it once an oil-bath ?

As Patrick suggested, tightening the bolt clockwise actually loosens the left handed thread naturally. I was worried at first that the bearing surface might be damaged, but it was fine.

This tool wouldn’t work on the left side adjustable cup unless one used a left hand threaded bolt, but I find it’s usually the right side fixed cup that gives most trouble.
On a bike that could be up to 7 or 8 decades old, the bearing surfaces are all shiny and un-pitted, even more remarkable in an unsealed bracket which is open to both internal and external grit. An explanation might be that the oil port was used frequently to top it up, as there is a lot of dried lubricant all over the inside of the BB shell. The cups are Bramptons and the axle is a Bayliss-Wiley No. 14.

typical period crank-set

typical period crank-set

i'm not losing sleep now !

i’m not losing sleep now !

There are no markings to identify the crank set, though it uses the same 5-pin arrangement to remove the chain ring that is used on the Williams and Utility brands I’ve seen on similar old bikes.

getting there..

getting there..

I used citrus paint stripper, steel pot scourers and an old knife to remove the light blue enamel, which has revealed a  very tiny amount of the original finish – dark blue, with orange and white ( or cream ) highlights.

cool bananas !

cool bananas !  a limited edition

There was rough surface rust under the paint, so it needs more work yet, but have a look at that serial number on the seat lug No. “165” – cool bananas !

neat dropouts

neat dropouts

f & f

f & f

So far, so good !

See Ya…

Read Full Post »

my day off ...

my day off …

Well, after carefully checking  over my new-old Speedwell Popular, I took it for a ride around Swansea, and some sort of magic happened there – firstly,  a kindly cyclist saw me photographing it and stopped to comment. I was remarking on how hard it is to photograph yourself on a bike and he offered to take my picture.

i'm a rollin' rambler

i’m a rollin’ rambler

Then, a few kilometres later and discovering that it was hard rubbish day next week, I saw a flash of yellow and heard a tiny voice calling “save me”.

Voila ! – a rusty but complete Malvern Sportstar ! The owner was outside chatting with the postman, so I asked him if it was OK if I took the bike, but that I had to go and get my van.  He kindly put it away for me, and later told me that the scrappies went past only ten minutes later .. whew !

it's not what it is - it's what you can make of it ...

it’s not what it is – it’s what you can make of it …

I must say, I’m not the fastest rider around, but if you told me there was a freebie bike at the end, I might just win a  stage of the Tour de Swansea … I bet that old Speedwell hasn’t gone so fast in ages.

the only word

the only word

Anyhow, I’m trying hard not to be a bike snob, but this Sportstar seems a bit of a clunker to be honest – it’s very heavy with cottered cranks and steel everything, (save the brakes) but the frame definitely has possibility.  I don’t mind weight in a heavy comfortable upright, but a heavy and un-comfortable “sports bike” doesn’t work for me at all ….

the best detail

the best detail

I couldn’t figure out the lack of decals at first – it has a Sportstar decal on the head tube and a serial number sticker?? on the BB, no other decoration on the bike save for the stars on the chromed fork crown cover.

Late 70s, very early 80s perhaps ? It has Shimano Eagle II and Thunderbird II derailleurs. After looking online I am guessing it’s been repainted and only a new head decal stuck on – shame !

The owner said he was given it in Sydney by a friend and had only recently stopped riding it himself. There’s plenty of Swansea rust on it, that’s for sure.

Oh, and did I say ? —- More details on the beautiful 1956 Speedwell Popular in an upcoming post …


Read Full Post »

on a test ride

on a test ride

Repco is a long standing name in this country, mostly known nowadays for its automotive products, and as far as cycling goes they once had a range of 10-speed bikes ranging from this model right up to superlight and triathlete chro-moly racing bikes. Of course the exotic models are much more rare, though there are plenty of Travellers still getting around.  The Traveller was the basic “pressed steel everything” model, and exists today in name as a vastly different freewheeling single speed commuter – a cheap, aluminium framed, department store bike selling for around $100.

This bike was bought for twenty bucks with a straight 58cm frame, a lot of component rust, and without me initially knowing what I would do with it …

a nice touch

a nice touch

So then, thinking how to approach a rebuild, given that I already have both a ten speed light roadbike and a heavy-ish commuter that I’m reasonably happy with. Keeping things simple I have opted for a five speed by removing the front deraiileur and small ring, sacrificing low gear but retaining simplicity and some flexibility.

wall flower

wall flower

I have to confess, I like my gears, I can only ride single speed for so long before I start to pine for them. I’m not greedy about it, I mean, an uphill gear, a neutral gear, and a downhill / tailwind gear and I’m pretty happy. A few more than this is a bonus but only until overkill is reached …

With my resto’s,  a lot depends on the parts that I have on hand… and my ‘semi – conservation’ style may not appeal to the perfectionists … I like to keep some character or imperfection here and there.

These are roughly the steps involved in this case :

Frame : Basic lugged hi-tensile “1020” steel, some surface rust, some scrapes on the paint and decals though the overall condition is not bad. Finish is a slightly metallic black with silver lettering on the decals which have started going opaque. I personally dislike new paint jobs on original frames, as uniform “perfect” paintwork lacks character and the bike can easily become prettily anonymous.

another person's take on the humble traveller

another person’s take on the humble traveller – as a commuter

Removed all fittings and bearings for overhaul or replacement, and to access, clean and inspect the frame. Fish-oiled the inside of tubes, steel wool and phosphoric acid converter on the rust spots, lined the lugs gold (always nice on black) and touch-up the worst scratches by hand, including the silver decal lettering where scraped off.. Clear coat the paint areas to regain some lustre and conserve the finish.

Wheels : Original Femco steel rims, very rusty chrome on the front one, replaced with a Shimano/Araya overhauled steel 27″ Q.R. Nutted rear cleaned up nicely with some TLC and I fitted new gumwall tyres.

Stem : Heavy chromed steel stem swapped for Nitto Dynamic 10 alloy 100mm – a beautiful looking stem makes such a difference. I overhauled the original headset as it was reasonable.

synthetic cork is comfy but lacks the looks of leather

synthetic cork is comfy but lacks the looks of leather

Bars : Unappealing rusty chromed drop bars replaced by the unused steel drop bars from my Malvern 2-star coaster braked bike. These have an old-fashioned deep drop and an unusual dappled finish, courtesy of some brutal rust removal and clear coat. I had some Serfas brand spongy black bar tape which I twined on the inner end and fitted with home made “shellacked wine cork”  bar end plugs. These give a bit of character and don’t cost.

Luckily the frame is relatively large so the bar drop relative to the seat height is not too bad for me, though I am stretched out a bit.

Cranks and bottom bracket :  Removed the bolts holding on the small chain ring and guard, keeping the original 52T chain wheel and crank. Replaced the original square BB with a slightly shorter used square tapered to help with the chain line. Tried to get the chain wheel as close to the chain stay as possible so I could use first gear 28T cog with the large ring. It works well without chattering. New SunTour 5-speed chain fitted. MKS Sylvan pedals fitted to replace steel rat-traps.

hard, but a good pedalling shape

team pro – hard, but a free pedalling shape

Saddle and seatpost :  I kept the original chromed 25.6mm seatpost. I find the variation in seat post width really amazing on older bikes e.g. 25.4, 25.6, 25.8 then into 26’s and 27’s, unlike say, with 1″ quill stems, there are so many slight variations  … and you really need a snug fit with these. The saddle was a throwaway plastic  item on base model bikes of this vintage, and a Brooks is always called for, of course ! I happened to have a spare team pro model on hand. These are as hard as rock to begin with, but even then, they are still more comfortable than plastic…

Brakes :  As I have no suitable light replacements, the heavy steel callipers have been retained for the time being, fitted with new basic Jagwire road pads. New cable inners fitted. Recycled Dia-compe alloy road levers of a similar vintage with the “suicide” levers removed.

Derailleur :  Original Shimano “Skylark” rear derailleur replaced with a better quality used Shimano. (The models were all named after various birds at one time ).

living green

living green

A Quick Ride :

The bike is heavy-ish, but fairly comfortable, and much more stable than my smaller, lighter Cecil Walker.

Sure, it would be better if a little lighter – alloy cranks, brakes, wheels and bars would have helped here. The 5 gears work well on the flat, but are a little limiting on steeper hills.

The ride is rough, but I think softer tyres would help here. More testing to do … well, someone has to do it !

night ride

night ride

Read Full Post »