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Journeys : MNJ Aug Sep 2011
The idea of r iding 1930s bikes in the long-distance Paris-Brest- Par is event has certainly raised a few eyebrows, the immediate thought being that we’ll sit astride something akin to a penny farthing. It is with some relief that friends have learned that the bikes are recognisable, w ith a double triangle frame, slender chain drive, skinny tyres and narrow curling handlebars. For us, the challenge has been in coming to grips with the sheer mass of a bicycle constructed almost entirely of steel. During the Tour de France of 1931 Oppy noticed that the top professionals used bikes of custom manufacture in preference to the standard regulation machines. For the 1931 PBP, Oppy’s manager Bruce Small commissioned a new bicycle from a Parisienne builder, made of the lightest Reynolds tubing and finished with the best of new fittings and special lightweight tyres. In his autobiography, Oppy notes with some satisfaction the new machine’s responsiveness in compar ison to his standard bike. Given the ability to time travel, I’m sure that Gavin, Craig and I would also opt for a fitted machine of the lightest specification, in order to line up at the PBP start with the best of 1930s equipment. Instead, in order to understand a little of Oppy’s effort, we w ill loosely replicate his specification based around components we have managed to scrounge, salvage and rebuild. As a result, each of our own bikes has its own identifiable character and quirks. Although visibly dinged, Craig’s ‘Cressy’ is a fine example of Henr y Whatley’s workmanship from the late 20s to the early 30s, featuring smooth, carefully executed details. H .W. is stamped clearly into the underside of the frame, signifying that the bike was constructed by Henry in his shop and motor garage, first established in 1905 and still standing in the main road of Cressy. Of the trio it is the most modern in its geometry, and rides beautifully despite evidence of a chequered histor y. My Malvern Star is as elegant in its details, but blunt and functional in overall character. The frame is marked with a very roughly scratched ‘V ’, and I interpret this to mean ‘made in Victoria’, as the first Tasmanian Malvern Star agency did not open in Hobart until 1930 and this frame must date from the 20s. Long in the wheelbase, and with relaxed geometr y, this bike is a classic road racer suited to the demands of the rough back lanes frequented by bike races. Gavin’s Aero is more of a mystery. Its frame lugs are clearly pre- war, but the tubing is heavier in gauge than the other two. At odds with the robust main triangle is a pair of ver y slender seat stays and overall the frame weighs in somewhere between the other two. It compliments Gav’s strength, and w ith ver y time-scarred black paint and hand-lettering it looks wonderful out on the road. To avoid metal fatigue problems we have fitted new handlebars of a shape similar to or iginal, and laced new spokes and rims into the wheels. On trial rides the bikes have run a treat – only minor adjustments to braking were required before heading to France. How did they go? Check www.750m.com.au and our blog at www.ract.com.au Of spokes and chains and handlebars, of triangles and rims Scott Dickson describes his team’s vintage PBP bikes Life on the move August / September 2011 23 To apply call RACT on 13 27 22, drop into your local branch or visit www.ract.com.au Terms and conditions, including fees & charges apply. Full details of this offer are available on application. B&E Ltd. ABN 32 087 652 088 AFS licence No. 236870 RACT has partnered with Tasmanian financial institution B&E Personal Banking to deliver you a great home loan deal. As an RACT member you will pay no application fee on any B&E home loan, saving you up to $650! So let RACT and B&E help you get a home loan that really rewards you... let’s get together. Home loans that really reward you Home Loan application fee
Jun Jul 2011
Oct Nov 2011