What the average British bicycle used to look like


My grandmother’s BSA Star Rider.

Built like a tank. 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub gear. Mud guards. Dynamo lights. Chain cover.

A bicycle that is nearly maintenance-free, that you can just jump on and off, in ordinary clothes. Practical, in other words.

50 years old, and still ridden every day.

(Nice bell, too.)

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9 Responses to What the average British bicycle used to look like

  1. OldGreyBeard says:

    Add puncture resistant tyres and its got another 50 years of use. Possibly change the lights to LED. Not everything was good in the past! Still, a lot more practical than the cuurent bikes with no mudguards for most people.

    What is the leather band on the rear axle for?

    • stabiliser says:

      No idea! I’ll have to ask her the next time I see her.

      • Edward says:

        I remember friends having similar things on their bikes years ago. Over time, they used to collect grease and dirt and so I assumed that was their intended purpose. The axles were usually quite clean as a consequence. Having said that, I am probably wrong.

      • Iggy says:

        They rotate and thus clean the axle. My grandfather had those on his bike back in Russia.

    • Leather band is probably to polish the rear hub so it’s nice and shiny 🙂

      All it needs is a decent prop-stand for parking anywhere, and a European-style permanent lock so you never need to search for a lock and key before pedalling off. A full chaincase would also be nicer, to completely protect the chain and your clothing. Also hub brakes are cleaner than rim brakes, and lower maintenance.

      But, yes, this sort of bike is what 90% of people should be riding.

    • tony del prato says:

      help keep it clean and free of rust

  2. Alex Taylor says:

    I restored something much like that when I was a teenager in the 90s – an old bike of my granddad’s that he’d left down the side of his shed for some years. I completely stripped it, sprayed it British Leyland Nautilus Blue from Halford’s spray cans (which my dad had actually bought for his Morris Ital), brush-painted the lugs black, fitted a brand-new sprung saddle in white, and it worked great (other than an issue with the headset top bearing not quite being assembled correctly). My dad used to use it occasionally, to get to work when his car was broken.

    I asked my parents about it a few months ago, and they seem to recall giving it away to someone, which was annoying.

  3. Stuart says:

    Yes I had a leather strap on the back to keep the S-A hub clean. Worked remarkably well. no need to conver to LED – the Dynohub on the front was/is a very reliable to run lights. And they aren’t nickable.

    Not completely maintenance free. A dollop of oil in the hub every couple of years would ensure a quiet smooth ride. As you say the major, major advance is Kevlar tyres. Change nothing else – well treat yourself to a nicer saddle maybe …

  4. OldGreyBeard says:

    How about a LED light run from the Dynohub with the advantage of a standlight feature.

    My old school bike had a 3 gear hub plus a dynohub on the front. My parents gave the bike away after I left for University!

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