Another Day in Paradise in Santa Lucia

SantaLucia1
(I have been accused of having too many bikes. But I will point out that only 7 are in working order at the moment.)

This caught my eye in eBay. Minimal description, but telling.

“lightweight bike frame
Seat tube (c-c): 52cm
Top tube (c-c): 57cm
Suntour dropouts”

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:
Other
“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):
Apollo1
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:
Apollo2Huh, a single speed front crank? Then a chill runs through me. A Fixie conversion! I quickly check. No, it had not been emasculated yet:
Apollo3

The Santa Lucia! ($62):
$T2eC16hHJHsFGld8gup9BSdzFYv!sQ~~60_58Again, 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.

Postscript:
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.

Update (11/11/13)
rubbish:Apollo1

There is a story here, but this will take some time.

SL1

Update (21/11/13)
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:
MStarLacquered 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.

The Santa Lucia. It’s about as local as you can get, “assembled“ at the Uni Bike Shop in the next suburb: St Lucia.
UniLabel

And the geometry is pretty stretched out. Here the 52×57 laid over the 57 square Apollo frame:

Overlay

I think it will be a perfect fit. Long and lean:

Straight
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.
EricHendren
Bill Hoffman: started Hoffy Cycles at Sandgate, Brisbane. Hoffy frames are keenly sought after.
hoffy bike 2

(This one is not to be confused with a Huffy)

breaking_away_shaun_cassidy-1

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.

IMG_5327hendren
Hendron Bike

Darrell McCulloch started out building frames in the shop at 16, working with Eric until he start his own brand 10 years later: Llewellyn cycles. Darrell talks with Eric here.

Llewellyn_1
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”.

Early on things were itemized. $52 for a new frame in ‘72:
Hoffy_p8
Later it is just a list of serial numbers:
Hoffy_p19
A new 531 SL bike for $315? And the buyer of the #1318 Cinelli track bike? Dick Smith.

I scan the pages for The Santa Lucia frame number:
SantaLuciaSerNum,
But it doesn’t go up to 3310668 G0983.

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:

Yasujiro

A gravity bike. In case you missed it, no pedals. For that one-way ride:

yasujiro-01

However, I think I have established a clear Llewellyn lineage in the Santa Lucia graphics, at least in the Celtic font.

Llewellyn_name

name

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This entry was posted in ebay, history, retro restoration. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Another Day in Paradise in Santa Lucia

  1. daniel says:

    Hi,

    Great looking bikes. I would like to point out however that the hoffy shown in these pictures is actually mine and I was the one who captured it’s beauty. Not sure where u got the photo from (probably Facebook ) but I give you permission to use it ;).

    It is a great bike but needs a touch up.

    Cheers
    dan

  2. 888riley says:

    Wow … you’ve been busy. Good luck with that (and the Malvern Star looks amazing although I am confused by the Apollo.) Hey have you ever had a look at the Hillbrick website? If you want to hand build your own frame (you know you want to) the website below is a good place to start

    http://www.hillbrick.com.au/bars-a-grips.html?page=shop.browse&category_id=36

    In the meantime I have acquired an italian threaded bottom bracket for the Viner and new headset … will have to resurrect the Treeturner site and post some pix

  3. Leah says:

    “Really? Winning how many?” is not the same as “being accused of having too many bikes”. It is simply ascertaining whether it is necessary to win five bids ON THE ONE DAY. On the upside, I HAVE bullied him into not reregistering the Toyota death machine so there will be so much more room to store and work on bikes.

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