Friday, August 28, 2009



Austral Star down tube decal blue with white key line, on blue painted band.

Down tube decal

Now I could stand to be corrected on the following information........
Austral Star was set up in Christchurch some time in the mid 1940's' as a New Zealand branch of Australia's Malvern Star Cycle or at least Malvern Star had a major interest in it.
They built racing bikes until the mid/late 1950's.
Former Speedwell Cycles owner Laurie Coates (now 96) remembers "we lost our import licenses in the mid 40's, we had been bringing in Malvern Stars until then, I suppose this is why Malvern Star started Austral Star".
I think this seems plausible enough, and the time line certainly adds up.
Their racing bikes were widely sold through out New Zealand, Speedwell cycle Works in Auckland sold them along side their range of Frejus frames ( imported by W H Worrall & Co Ltd)
It is not to uncommon when discussing old steads with old riders that the name Austral Star will come up at some point in their career (either ridden by them or someone they knew), so with this highly unscientific research I assume Austral Stars were pretty popular amongst the peleoton of the time , Laurie Coates certainly thought highly of their finish and quality.

Map of Australia in the head tube, nice touch.
Can't really see it here, but this it the model name, Zephyr.

Friday, August 21, 2009


My new love, bike love that is, ( that's not as weird as it sounds, I think?),is this very early sixty's Bertin Track machine.
531 tubing of course, paint in pretty good order, with some beautifully fine and elegant pin stripping, chrome is a bit on the tatty side, as is the way with French chrome, thin and shitty.
Airlite hubs, Wobler Sprint rims (nice), Stronglight Competition headset, Cinelli stem, unamed bars, Nervex Professional lugs etc...

This is my favorite part of the bike, the TA cottered aluminum cranks, I really dig cottered racing cranks, but of course am always looking to lose weight on the vintage bikes that I ride regularly. So these will really help in that department ( as anyone who has felt the weight of a steel double chainset will attest ).
These are the ultimate expression of cottered chainsets, and really bridge the gap between what I consider vintage and classic bikes, that cross over being somewhere in the late 1950's and early sixty's, (according to me anyhow).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


An unknown rider at the end of a hard race, love this photo.
I saw some photo's the other day of the Round the Gorges circa 1920's, where the riders were actually riding along the railway tracks, because part of the road had washed out.
These old cash riders were made of tough stuff.

Jones Cycles, with Harry Watson and co.
At some point I think I will have to make a real small run of wool (merino )'Jones Special' jerseys with the side buttons, man they would be cool, but expensive to make I suspect. let me know if you want one, if I get enough interest I will look into it.( for enthusiasts only)

Unknown Butler rider 1920's
Butler was a Christchurch cycle company, whom employed the great Hubert Turtill to build their frames for a time. These 'Turtill' frames are some of the nicest frames I have seen made in New Zealand from this period (1940's-50s)

Gamage team riders, names and date to come.

Bill Pratney wearing a Wizard Cycles jersey,circa 1937.
This machine shows some remarkable lugwork for the period.
Wizard Cycles were a Auckland shop, situated on Ponsonby rd.
Many great North Island riders rode Wizards includind Laurie Byers who started on a Wizard track bike.
photo from "Bill Pratney, Never say die" from the New Zealand Cycling Legends series of books. BUY IT!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Leader Superbe
Yes one mans junk is another mans treasure, I found this Auckland built (Clark Cycles) Leader Superbe and a couple of other 30' -40's New Zealand race frames sitting in a trailer, about to take their last the dump.
Well I couldn't let that happen, home they came with me.
Not sure what I will do with them, as I already have quite a few projects on, although one of the other bikes, an Austral Star (which I will post soon ), is pretty interesting, so could well get restored.

Hand painted down tube writing, pretty common on New Zealand bikes from around this time, the main logo was always a printed decal. Most of the race bikes I have seen from around this time had plenty of nice hand done pin striping, some being real works of art. One early race frame I have seen had flowers painted in a sort of scroll on all the main tubes, it was a real stunner.

The ubiquitous stars on the head tube, lots of makers used them, there are all kinds of stories about them coming from Australia by way of Malvern Star etc, but I think they were just brought buy the builders along with the rest of the frame parts.
It's a bit hard to see in this photo, but there is some quite nice fine pin striping on this seat tube.

1951 Comet Road/track bike

Jack Wade on a machine with similar frame angles to that of the featured Comet. Photographed at about the same period that this Comet is from, maybe slightly earlier, notice the rather straight front fork bend, adding to the short wheel base (for the period) of these bikes.

Check out the tight frame geometry, unlike any other Comet from this period that I have seen.
It could have been especially ordered with these angles, I have heard that a couple of Auckland coaches were experimenting with the then radical (in New Zealand) frame angles at this time and were having them built by Slater Hayes at Comet Cycles.
I am sure this bike was used for the dual roles of both road and track which was the norm rather than the exception at this time, which makes the angles seem all the more impressive, as it would have made this machine a real hand full at speed on the really rugged New Zealand roads of the time.
Note the Durax cranks, Simplex chainwheels and Simplex rod front derailleur, a classic early 1950's combination.

Comet downtube decal still quite visible, Constrictor 27" alloy rims and Cyclo shifter.
A nice touch is the off set (to the left) pump pegs.

Classic Slater Hayes seat wrap style, refer to other Comets on this blog and you will see the obvious similarities.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Siobhans birthday ride

Had a nice ride out into the country( well it's all country around here really) with Siobhan on her Birthday this week for a little picnic.
Took the Mercian and loaded the Karrimore bag full of coffee and cake and other assorted treats. We had a great day, although the last half was quite a bit slower, after said coffee and cake.
Siobhan just told me to mention her bike, which you can just see in the background above, it's a 1976 Gitane Tour de France. We were told it was one of 10 that were Taken over to Canada for the Swiss woman's team to train on for the winter Olympics.
If you ever get the chance, come through the Hawkes Bay for a bit of riding pleasure, it really is beautiful around here, with lots of different routes to take you to all the,rivers, beaches a few lakes that are easily reached in a morning ride.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The new office

One of my favorite bike's is this '67 Mercian 'King of Mercia' which I have been using to get to the office since the weather has cleared, karrimore bag is essential for a work bike, well for me anyhow as I always seem to have lots of stuff to take here and there.

Hard at work.........

The New Office
Kindly donated by the Hawkes Bay Buddhists (thanks guys)
Yes as you can see, I have this great office in Napier now, so I can try and actually get some writing done on the"Wolves of the road" book. One of the best things about it is that it's about 25km's from home here in Flaxmere, so I can get a nice ride to and from there to here,or here to there or something like that.
I was also looking for a reason to make a new bike up (everyone needs a office bike of course) so I set set up a 1954 Hobbs into a single speed traffic beater for a bit of about town fun and op

The work bike, 1954 Hobb's, it originally had a Sturmey Archer ASC fixed hub, but I have loaned that to a friend for a while, so set it up as a single fixed for now, quite a cool looking bike & good fun too.
Publish Post

I am working on the 1960 Dulux tour year at the moment, trying to piece together all the action and excitement, seems to be coming along pretty good so far.