“lightweight bike frame
Seat tube (c-c): 52cm
Top tube (c-c): 57cm
This has to have been custom made, no bike would be 52×57 off the shelf. (And I just happen to have a long body compared to leg-length; what are the chances of that?)
A “Santa Lucia”? A search required extensive filtering of cycling through Passo Santa Lucia in the Dolomites and group rides in the Caribbean. After which pretty much nothing was left. Except for the odd old, expired E-bay ad:
“This is my Santa Lucia Reynolds 531 road bike which I need to sell as I am downsizing…..
This bike probably has the sweetest ride of them all, and any unevenness of the road is well and truly damped.”
So the top pic looked full of eBay promise. Particularly since the seller also had five other 80’s frames listed (including a Cecil Walker), as well as a much older “Two Star” Malvern Star bike (complete with the original carbide lamp on the front). The clincher was that the location was Toowong! Now you can read into that what you want, I read “it was meant to be”. What are the chances in the vastness of eBay-space of that!
So all-in-all it was a frission filled weekend – at one stage I was leading bidder on 4 of the 5 bikes. In the aftermath I am two bikes richer. First this Apollo ($15.50):
A fine Australian lightweight frame. I am seeing a nice head-badge, but whaaa?, I’m not seeing the bosses for the down-tube shifters… The other photo shows:
Huh, a single speed front crank? Then a chill runs through me. A Fixie conversion! I quickly check. No, it had not been emasculated yet:
The Santa Lucia! ($62):
Again, the attachments for the shifters are missing. Have I uncovered a Fixie chop-shop!? No, far far worse, a Fixie chopshop specialising in just Australian bikes. Have I saved these beautiful Australian icons from a fate that doesn’t bear thinking about?
For I realised that the very few Santa Lucia mentions on the web are from Australia. Mainly Brisbane. (So what are the chances of that?) Then this from the QLD bike forum, a guy giving his bike history:
“First a white Premier in the early 80’s
Then a Santa Lucia – from UQ Uni Bikeshop (I loved that bike)
Then an ALAN aluminium frame..
Yep, that’s the bike shop in the next suburb: St Lucia (what are the chances?)
I pick up the bike tomorrow and I’ll have to pay the UQ bikeshop a visit.
The Two Star Malvern Star is currently $33, auction finishes in 5 days. This is a really beautiful bike. And it has 28″ wheels! See it here.
There is a story here, but this will take some time.
Now, where was I? Before I poured a cup of soup into my laptop, I had just picked up 2 two steel-frame bikes.
With bike purchases in the “classic” era, you can either expect the seller to be a grouchy old guy divesting his beloved bikes as he down-sizes or the younger serial eBay addict cycling his cycles.
The seller had plugs in his earlobes, but my eyes were on the Two Star Malvern Star:
Lacquered cotton bar-tape: need I say more? It went for $250, what a bargain. It was very tempting; the main attraction for me was the calcium carbide lamp. What’s not to like about a having an exothermic reaction bubbling away on the handlebars and a pressurized acetylene flame shooting out in front of you?
But it was no fixie chop-shop. Both bikes were clamp-on instead of brazed-on bosses for the down-tube shifters. The Apollo had the single speed crank because the thread on the derailleur hanger was stripped (the single-speed crank should have been a give-away: live and learn). But it’s hard to be upset about $15 when the seller also threw in so many spares.
And the geometry is pretty stretched out. Here the 52×57 laid over the 57 square Apollo frame:
I think it will be a perfect fit. Long and lean:
The seller said the frame was built by the legendary Eric Hendren, part of the three generations of a famous Brisbane frame building dynasty: Hoffman -> Hendren -> McCulloch.
Bill Hoffman: started Hoffy Cycles at Sandgate, Brisbane. Hoffy frames are keenly sought after.
(This one is not to be confused with a Huffy)
Hoffman dropped dead of a heart-attack at work in the shop, and Eric Hendren took over as head frame builder (catching the frame as it fell from Hoffman’s hands…). Hendren frames are keenly sought after.
Handcut polished stainless steel lugs. Not chromed, this is what stainless steel looks like after hours of hand polishing. Llewellyn frames are keenly sought after. Interview with Darrell here
So, it was with some excitement that I searched through the Hoffy shop “red book”.
Off to the Uni bike shop. I keep getting Jeremy and Gavin mixed up, so lets just say the “old Dude” in the shop has fond memories of the Santa Lucia bikes and their particular metallic grey colourway. The frames were imported from Japan through Bennetts Cycles. Constructed of Tange (it’s Japanese for Mitsubushi) steel. It’s so Tange you can smell it.
But you never want to look too deeply into things. Sure Tange has produced quality bike tubing since 1920, but recently they may have lost their way:
A gravity bike. In case you missed it, no pedals. For that one-way ride:
However, I think I have established a clear Llewellyn lineage in the Santa Lucia graphics, at least in the Celtic font.