Vintage Malvern Star Frames - How Strong?

Does any one have experience riding the old Malvern Star one & two or even three star frames?

I’m looking for the canvas to build my first fix, but want a functional, everyday ride. These seem readily available, but I’m unsure if it’ll be strong enough. I’m a clyde (crack the tonne) and would hate to build one of these only to have the frame crack or fork fold up dufas dragster style…

On a related note, can you fit a sealed bottom bracket into an old frame, or are the threads all different? Is a bottom bracket with an oil valve an advantage or disadvantage?

Lastly, and more generally, what are peoples thoughts on vintage equipment vs. amount of maintenance required? Is this why some people get n+1?


older bikes in the English style such as Malvern stars will have standard English threaded bottom brackets unless they’re Raleigh or Carlton bikes. An oil valve is not an advantage for a sealed bottom bracket. You won’t use it.

The one, two and three star frames will be heavy duty tubing, substantial lugs and stout fittings. I wouldn’t worry about killing them any more than I’d worry about anything else.

Something to be aware of though, is that until the 1960s the head and seat tube angles on bikes, even racing and track bikes, were a lot slacker than is considered the norm today - partly because of the shock absorbing effect on low quality roads - not an issue these days. They will have a long wheelbase and may or may not be your cup of tea geometry wise.

Vintage parts can be a bit hit and miss. All bearings were open and poorly sealed, meaning regular overhauls. Sometimes once per race. Heavy tubular tyres were harder to repair than modern clincher tyres.

My suggestion, if you want to build up something in a vintage style but keep it reliable, is to use modern alloy rims and clincher tyres, and a modern bottom bracket and crankset (a cotterless or square taper crankset). Vintage brakes are a bit dangerous too…

  • Joel

Thanks Joel, thats extremely helpful. I think I’ll take you up on your suggestion - vintage frame with modern parts, sounds cool. My preferred geo is a mystery at the mo, haven’t ridden a road bike before.

I just picked up my first potential ‘project’ (read piece of crap), admitting an impulse buy, but in the least a cheap lesson in how things (used to) work.

Its rough, but for my $20 I’ll enjoy stripping her down, and checking how rusty the frame really is. I’ll get to perform an autopsy on the internal hub too. The dyno light/speedo/odometer cracks me up: 1426 original miles!

Oh the joy of pulling something apart - its the simple things. Let the learning (carnage) begin.

I doubt it but if anyone wants any of the old parts…