I must be insane

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Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: Cranbourne, Victoria

I must be insane

Postby wombatoutofhell » Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:03 pm

As some of you know, I've been considering a new bike and have been a little undecided as to what I want. My head says hybrid/comfort, my heart says road. As a compromise I was planning on stretching the budget to a tourer.
Then I remembered an old Gitane Racer my brother had rusting in his back yard. So yesterday I went and had a look. After much soul searching, I decided the Gitane was a little far gone for now-but maybe later would be a great project-the frame and forks are straight, alloy rims and hubs seem in good nick, spokes are all rusted but maybe only surface, tyres are shot, front brakes are fine (alloy centrepull-no idea on brand), rear brakes are seized-might be just cable. Chain and seat are stuffed. Ok it's not a hard resto but I don't have time right now.
So I went looking to see what else was there. In the Shed was an old Ricardo-i used to ride one of these in my teens and remember it as a top bike. "keep looking" was the response from Bro-"thats ones mine!"
So keep looking I did-and I settled on an old Malvern Star SL Sport. Alot lower on the food chain than the Gitane or the Ricardo, but in one piece and not looking too bad. Front forks are bent back a bit and either the handlebars or the headstem is bent-see pics below. I grabbed the required parts from the big pile of spares.
Tonight i thought I'd try her out-just put some air in the tires, made sure the brakes worked and rode carefully around the block. All was fine so went around again faster-My god I'd forgotten how much fun a road bike is at speed! Even with the bent components she flew-compared to the MTB anyway. I ended up doing about 10 laps before stopping-I'll go longer once i fix a few things. but now i remember what i used to enjoy about riding. And this on an old steel framed bike, with steel wheels and about 25 (at a guess) years old. Magic!
Funnily enough, wheels seem pretty true, brakes are fine but will benefit from new cables and pads, Likewise gears could use new cables. Then a general lube and clean up, new tyres and replace the forks (unless someone can tell me an easy way to straighten them-I'd rather keep it original) replace the headset and bars and thats about it-unless I decide to repaint it which frankly doesn't seem necessary at this point. Oh-and of course a new saddle may be in order!
The Beast
Bend in forks
Close up of lop sided handlebars
Brake Caliper-not bad these, Shimano Tourneys
Rear derailleur-Shimano Altus
So as you can see, pretty easy to get her in reasonable shape to commute to and from work. After that I can work out what I want in a new bike-or maybe live with this for a while. Might even be a good base to build a proper tourer-who knows? Or there's always the Gitane......
Last edited by wombatoutofhell on Mon Apr 09, 2007 7:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby LuckyPierre » Mon Apr 09, 2007 4:15 pm

Welcome to the mad-house!
Your Malvern Star looks pretty good, but the forks really do look a bit sus. Any generic cro-mo or steel 1inch threaded fork will work - just take the old one out, measure the steerer tube length (and how much thread there is on it) and get one the same (too much thread is OK, too little isn't). Or, wait until your brother isn't looking and become a Ricardo rider.
You are now on the threshold of hours of haunting eBay, tinkering here, adjusting there - but mainly rding for fun.


Postby MountGower » Sat Apr 14, 2007 10:30 am

Last edited by MountGower on Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby cludence » Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:18 am

Hi, sorry I dont know how to save your forks. I often get those forks here so I will have a look and see if I have any I can send down to you.


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Postby europa » Sat Apr 14, 2007 2:40 pm

Good one. Suicide brake levers and all :D (the so called 'safety levers').

Rusty spokes - may not be a problem. My son's Gitane has rusty spokes and, despite me redishing the rear wheel twice (once to go to a fixie and once to return it to road), I've only replaced two spokes.


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Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: Cranbourne, Victoria

Postby wombatoutofhell » Sat Apr 14, 2007 5:49 pm

Update time-A star is reborn!
well-sort of. Last Wednesday night i pulled the front end apart, greased the bearings, put on another set of forks-i did try straightening the originals with some success, but weren't quite right. I replaced the headstem as well-once i took it off i could see just how bad it was. After that I oiled up the chain and gears, fitted lights and bingo-instant bike!
Thursday i rode it to work-went like a dream, all the gears work well, brakes are ok but will benefit from new pads, tyres are pretty ordinary-most likely because of the age. I found out how ordinary on my way home from work. I was making pretty good time-passing all the cars as there were roadworks-but when I reached the end of the traffic jam the bike wasn't feeling as smooth. Went a little further and it got worse-rear tyre was dead flat. I was about 13 km from home but about 500m to the nearest servo so i thought I'd put some air in and see how it held up. No air! same with the servo across the road. So very carefully I rode flat about 6 km to the next servo-thank god for steel rims! I put in 60pound-thats all the pump would go and the tyre was losing pressure before i even got out of the car park. I prepared to ride the rest if the way home on a flat tyre, but for some reason it held pressure at about 20 pound (at a guess) and i made it home. I did not expect to spend my 40th birthday nursing a broken down bike home!
Otherwise the bike was pretty good. It developed a squeak in the cranks on the way to work and theres a rattle somewhere I haven't been able to find but thats it.
Bought new tyres and tubes today-we'll try again next week. I'll still buy a new bike in the future, but for now I'll keep using the Malvern Star. might even paint it-a yellow bike looks silly with blue forks!
Thanks for the offer of forks Cludence-I'd love another set the same with the chrome ends!
The Suicide brake levers are really for looks-I don't generally use them. I'd take them off but then I'd need to adjust the brakes.
And yes I know the rusty spokes on the gitane may not be a problem. I'm still thinking about that bike-like I said it would be a great project. The Malvern Star was just easier and quicker at the time.
You may have noticed in the pics another road bike in the background. Also from my brothers place, it's an old roadmaster with a small frame-my 15yo daughter decided a while ago she wanted to restore a roadie and that seemed like a good one for her. It's not bad, rides ok, but she wants to repaint so we'll strip it right down and rebuild from scratch-at least untill she loses interest!

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