Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking
12 posts • Page 1 of 1
I picked up another old bike at the Sunday market yesterday. It is very, very old, with the remains of its original decals on the downbar. It has a large single star on the head tube, and the legible parts of the decals say, BETxLxHEx STxR. My detective skills can only make out of this, 'Bethlehem Star'.
Every year, around this time, stories of the elusive Bethlehem Star come to light amongst collectors. But after many years of searching, this is the first one I have actually seen ‘in the metal’. It is almost a miracle!
It is amazingly complete, with its original Jingle bell on the handlebars, Silent Night freewheel, and Mistle toe clips, all still in tact.
I opened the sealed bottom bracket, and a beautiful aroma of frankincense was released. What looked like a wasp's nest under the seat has been identified by a chemist friend as myrrh.
The quality of this bike is amazing, and even under its countless years of grime and wear, it was obviously immaculately conceived by its maker.
Three wise bike collector friends have suggested that it is the find of the millennium. So it will find a warm dry space in my stable, for evermore.
The frame number is 0B 25.12.00. The keeper of the Bethlehem Star serial number register tells me that this means it was built in Bethlehem, on the very first day of production.
The actual frame builder is unknown, but Bethlehem Star lore suggests that in the early days of production, it was someone pretty high up in the organisation.
If anyone else has a Bethlehem Star in their collection, please let me know, so we can get together and take them for a ride.
Merry Christmas to all. I hope Santa brings you lots of rusty old bike stuff!
Hahaha - that cracked me up.
It WILL happen - if we all concentrate and put out those positive vibes.
I have been working on the Bethlehem Star flat out for the last couple of days. I have just about had my fill. Lots of friends and relatives were around to look at it, and all agreed it was a great find.
I will give it a bit of a rest for a while now, then build it up slowly in the latter part of 2013, and then probably finish it off in a mad, highly stressed panic, ready for its next outing, next Christmas.
My understanding is that Bethlehem Star bikes originated somewhere in the east, but most proceeded mysteriously westerly so it is surprising that you have discovered one so close to your easterly location.
Looking at some advertising for the Bethlehem Star and it would seem that they were typically fitted with Westwood Leading rims. I wonder if your bike has these?
From your description, I suspect your Bethlehem Star is from the BC era (Before Carbon). In view of this, I would expect it would have Magi-stroni cranks, although later models used Holly-tech cranks (not to be confused with Holy-tech cranks, or Drillium componentry from the 80's which are a wholly different thing entirely).
I appreciate you might like to put this project aside until later in the year, but I think it is worth persevering with as I'm sure there are many more miles left in this bike.
Thanks Paul. Yes, we can assume that it did come out of the 'Star factory in the East, not sure how it ended up here, but these things tend to get around in mysterious ways.
On close inspection, it does indeed have Holly-Tech cranks, I did not think to look for that. It has other 'Holly-T' components as well, which makes sense. From what you have said, this means that it is not a B.C. model. And this helps me confirm that it is in fact an early A.D. model, (after drillium).
It does have Westwood rims as you predicted. The front wheel has no spokes left at all, but it is still round and true, I have never seen anything like it.
I really need to leave this project on the back burner for a while though. I may get it out again for a few days in late March on the anniversary of the demise of the original founder.
In the meantime, I have it safely stored under a shroud in my barn.
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