Summary

This bicycle was used by Hubert Opperman to set a world record time for 100 mile motor pace riding at the Melbourne Motordrome (later known as Olympic Park) on Saturday 12th April 1930.

This was a specially modified version of a standard design made by the Malvern Star Cycle & Motor Co, Melbourne, circa 1926. It has an extra large front crank sprocket wheel for additional speed and a smaller front wheel enabling the forks to be reversed so that the bicycle rider could ride close to the rear wheel of a pacing motor cycle (in the slipstream) to minimise air friction on the bicycle rider and hence conserve energy for pedalling.

Opperman set a new world record of 1 hour 39 minutes and 38 seconds, bettering the previous world's best time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 3 seconds that had been set by E. Bonhours in Paris in 1903. His motorpacer Bob Finlay was riding a Henderson 4 cylinder motorbike that he had used to pace Opperman to the 10 mile record, five years previously but had added a second fuel tank for this attempt. He rode the motorbike in a standing position, which helped to shield the following Opperman. The motorbike also used a shield on the front to reduce the air friction.

The final 35 miles of riding was achieved at speeds over 60 mph (approx. 96kph). On the way to achieving this world record, he also set a new Australasian Hour Record, covering 59 miles 629 yards in an hour (104,469 yards in one hour, = 95.49 km), bettering the distance by over 55 miles which had been set by the previous Australasian Record Holder, Ossie Nicholson. He also broke all the records between 15 and 100 miles. Conditions for the attempt were considered excellent. Although only a small crowd were present at the track for the start of the attempt, there were thousands watching and cheering by the end.

This object is currently on display in "The changing face of Victoria" exhibition in the Dome Gallery at the State Library of Victoria until 4 Dec 2018.

Physical Description

Steel bicycle with lugged, diamond style frame. Painted red with hand painted decorative line work. Drop handle bars. Reversed front forks and smaller wheel at front than at the rear. Rubber tyres on wooden rims. Front wheel rim diameter is approximately 584 mm; rear wheel is approximately 686 mm. Front chain wheel has 64 teeth. Rear wheel hub has a cog with 13 teeth on the drive side and 17 teeth on opposite side, allowing a gearing combination of either 133 or 102.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Sir Hubert Opperman Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Transport

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Bruce Small Pty Ltd, Malvern Star Cycle & Motor Co, 31 Mar 1931

  • Manufacturer

    Bruce Small Pty Ltd, 325 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, circa 1926

  • User

    Sir Hubert Opperman, Australia, 1930

  • Inscriptions

    Top Tube: ' OPPY'S PACE FOLLOWER ' Down Tube: ' MALVERN STAR ' Seat Tube, sticker: ' MALVERN STAR / The / World's / Super Cycle / BRUCE SMALL / PTY LTD ' Head stem: ' BRAMPTON ' , ' [three rifles logo] / BSA ' Head Tube, sticker: ' Malvern Star ' Chain wheel, outward side: ' B.S.A ', ' RD 310844 ', ' W / [three rifles logo] / BSA ' Chain wheel, inward side: ' DEPOSE [in two places] ', ' V / B / 64 ', ' D.R.G.M 102738 [in two places] Chain link: ' TRADE [BW in circle] MARK ' Toe clips: ' MADE IN / GERMANY ', ' STAHL / GEHARTET ', Pedal: ' BOA ', ' Made in France ' Pedal crank, right side: ' BSA ' Pedal crank, left side: ' CHATER-LEA ' Rear drop out, right side chainstay: ' 16280 ' Crank axle housing, underside: ' 16280 ', ' J124 ', 'CHATER-LEA ' Seat: ' BROOKS ' [in two places] Seat Post: ' BROOKS ' Rear tyre, right side: ' VITTORIA '

  • Brand Names

    'Malvern Star' (Bicycles)

  • Classification

    Road transport, Cycles, Bicycles

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline

    Technology

  • Type of item

    Object

  • Overall Dimensions

    1540 mm (Length), 850 mm (Height)

  • Keywords

    Bicycle Racing, Bicycles, Cycles