Malvern Star SuperMax, Maxi and Speedwell Sting

While researching information for my '81 SuperMax, '83 Speedwell Sting and up-coming '79 5-Hole gusset builds, I got so sick of finding information then losing it again that I started copying images of bikes, parts and advertising material into a single place. To assist others, I have reproduced this information over the following pages .. most of the information can be found on OzBMX and BMXMuseum and I am not pretending that this informtion will replace either of these valuable resources.

Please browse through all of the material I have collected:

If you have any Malvern Star or Speedwell information or photos, please forward them to me and I will add them to the site. I am especially interested in brochures and advertisements as these are most valuable when restoring bikes back to their original glory.

Timeline

Trying to piece together the history of the Malvern Star and Speedwell BMX bikes is not easy. Unlike some of the more prestigious brands who had loyal followers and a racing pedigree worth preserving, these bikes were literarily relegated to the back shed only to be dusted off twenty years later by those who used to own one and wishing to rebuild their childhood bikes. Unlike the Repco bikes, Malvern Star did not stamp their bikes with a build date making the dating process quite hard and inaccurate.

The timeline below has been pieced together from scant information. This is not a definitive work and I would love people to challenge the existing dates and content or submit additional information to complete it. Catalogues and advertising material from the time can provide irrefutable proof of release dates, model variations and marketing approaches.

'78 and before      
World History
  • Hustler publisher Larry Flynt shot by a sniper in Georgia, USA
  • Sweden leads world in outlawing aerosol sprays
  • Indira Gandhi expelled From Parliament
  • Smallpox completely eradicated
  • Worlds first IVF child born

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

Malvern Star opened in a small shop at 58 Glenferrie Rd, in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern in 1902. It was started by cyclist Tom Finnigan who established the shop with the prize he earned (240 gold sovereigns) by winning the 1898 Austral Wheel Race. Finnigan specialised in touring and racing bikes, which he called Malvern Stars. The business grew with the popularity of cycling and despite competition from English and American firms. Part of Finnigan's success was due to the endorsement of Don Kirkham, one of the best-known Australian cyclists. Finnigan introduced a logo featuring a six-pointed star, which matched a tattoo on his forearm, used throughout the 1900s. His family is still in the bicycle trade, running a shop in Northcote.

Finnigan retired and on 1 June, 1920, the business was bought by 24-year-old Bruce Small. His brothers, Frank and Ralph, joined in the business, enlarging the shop (despite a number change, still the same shop - 158 Glenferrie Rd). Small offered prizes in cycle races, resulting in 17-year-old racer Hubert Opperman winning a prize in 1921, and impressing Small so much that he offered him a job. Thus started a long relationship, with Small friend and sponsor of Opperman.

Small began a successful credit scheme, revolutionary at the time, to increase sales. The retail business expanded in 1923 to Gardenvale, and in 1925, the headquarters moved to Prahran. In 1928 a team comprising three Australians and one New Zealander entered the Tour De France. Although they rode French bikes, Malvern Star released a Tour De France model in recognition of their efforts. This model incorporated lessons learnt on the Tour including tubular tyres and wingnuts to attach the wheels.

With the Second World War, the supply of bicycle parts became scarce, so Malvern Star started manufacturing its own. Defence contracts help growth of the business. At its peak after the war, Malvern Star had 115 stores with 1,000 dealers. Opperman helped promote Malvern Star and make both a household name in Australia.

After the war, Small's Malvern Star bicycles were ridden by Sid Patterson, who won the world sprint championship in Copenhagen in 1949, the world pursuit championship in Li├Ęge (1950), the professional pursuit in Paris (1952) and professional pursuit in Zurich (1953). At the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Ian Browne and Tony Marchant won a gold medal on a Malvern Star tandem.
Reproduced in part from Wikipedia: Malvern Star


Reference Images

'78 Malvern Star SuperMax

'78 Malvern Star SuperMax

'78 Malvern Star SuperMax

Frames / Parts / Additional Links

This section contains additional photos of frames, framesets and other parts from 1978 Malvern Star and Speedwell bikes.

'79    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

1979 saw the introduction of the first Supermax / Maxi frame that would ultimately replace the 5-Hole gusset design. Despite competition from foreign manufacturers, such as Redline and Monoose, Malvern Star was building a nice business and distribution channel for its product range.


Reference Images

'79 Malvern Star SuperMax

'79 Malvern Star Maxi

'79 Malvern Star SuperMax

'79 Malvern Star SuperMax

'79 Malvern Star SuperMax

Frames / Parts / Additional Links

This section contains additional photos of frames, framesets and other parts from 1979 Malvern Star and Speedwell bikes.

'80    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

Malvern Star was sold to Raleigh, the British manufacturer, in 1980. At that time the industry was riding the crest of the BMX wave and strong profits were flowing from the business. Philips sold at a good time.

The 1980 Summer Olympics were held in Moscow leading to the boycott by the USA and a number of other countries - including Australia - in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Although Australia did not officially participate, our athletes were competed under the Olympic Flag. Malvern Star was an official sponsor of these athletes. Many Malvern Star bikes leading up to and after the event sported additional sponsor decals proclaiming their sponsorship.


Reference Images

'80 Olympic Sponsorship Decals

'80 Olympic Sponsorship Decals

Though never branded a Maxi or SuperMax, Malvern Star introduced a third BMX model in 1980. Sourced from Giant, the Taiwanese manufacturer who was already building bikes for numerous others in both Australia and abroad, the new bike had an identical frame and forks to that being imported by Repco who in turn would grow to be a major competitor to Malvern Star.

Malvern Star ultimately stopped importing the bike - in late '80 or early '81 - possibly in response to the market share that Repco was gaining with their new-identical variant. The bike was marketted as a cheap, entry level bike and was criticised as having a heavy, mild-steel frame. Ironically, the 5-Hole gusset and the lugged SuperMax and Maxis of this same era were also all-steel construction and this not changing until the release of the CrMo in late '81.


Reference Images

'80 Malvern Star (Giant)

'80 Malvern Star (Giant)

In 1980, Malvern Star's 5-Hole gusset SuperMax and Maxi were proving very popular both on the track and at home. The gusset design was looking quite dated compared with imported bikes from Redline and others.


Reference Images

'80 Malvern Star SuperMax

'80 Malvern Star SuperMax
'81    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

1981 saw Malvern Star selling two BMX framesets - the replacement for the 5-Hole gusset and, in the final months of the year, the new CrMo frame. The lugged steel frame was available in both the SuperMax and Maxi variants whereas the CrMo was only available as a SuperMax.

The steel frame shared similar construction techniques to the 5-Hole gusset and road bikes that Malvern Star was making at the time. The lugged frames were initially pinned together prior to the tubes being brazed in place. Though the resultant frames were beautifully constructed, they looked dated compared to their compeition. Malvern Star would continue making these frames up to 1985.


Reference Images

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax

'81 Speedwell Sting MK1

By late 1981, Malvern Star started sourcing chrome moly frames from Gardner Engineering in Nerang, Queensland. Gardner were already making the MX-II frames for Redline and it is no coincidence that the frames they produced for Malvern Star had the same design and geometry as that legendary bike. Malvern Star opted for a 1" top tube and down tube as opposed to the Redline's 1¼" tubes resulting in one of the lightest and stongest frames available on the market.

Many early SuperMax CrMo frames were built using bottom bracket housings that were stamped with the Redline Oval and sometimes even their serial numbers. Numerous examples exist where the serial numbers have been ground of but this seems to have been arbitrary and often the serial number is only partially removed or not at all.


Reference Images

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'81 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

Frames / Parts / Additional Links

This section contains additional photos of frames, framesets and other parts from 1981 Malvern Star and Speedwell bikes.

'82    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

1982 saw Malvern Star continue production of their lugged steel SuperMax and Maxi variants and the CrMo SuperMax.


'82 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'82 Malvern Star SuperMax

'82 Malvern Star SuperMax

'82 Malvern Star SuperMax

'82 Malvern Star SuperMax

Reference Images
'83    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

1983 saw the release of the Malvern Star SuperMax Turbo which was essentially an updated version of the original SuperMax CrMo. Whereas the CrMo was fitted with Win ALPs bars, a Nitto MX2 stem and a Kashimax MX Seat the new bike was updated with Nitto CrMo bars, a new Nitto Aero stem and a Kashimax Aero seat. Interestingly, the Turbo was also fitted with Tioga pedals - arguably a downgrade from the previous KKT lightning pedals of the original CrMo.


Reference Images

'83 Malvern Star SuperMax

'83 Malvern Star Maxi

'83 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'83 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'83 Malvern Star SuperMax

'83 Speedwell Sting CrMo

'83 BMX Pancake Article

Australia's BMX Pancake magazine featured a review of the Malvern Star Turbo in its February '83 issue (#11). The magazine itself only lasted 13 issue starting in 1981 as a quarterly then switching to a monthly publication before its demise in April 1983.


Reference Images

'83 Malvern Star SuperMax Turbo
'84    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

The 1984 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles and in retalliation for the US boycotting their event, the Soviet Union boycotted theirs. Few cared, least of all the Australian Team Pursuit team who won gold on their Malvern Star supplied, traditional steel bicycles. The win was unexpected as the Americans, sporting the latest in carbon-fibre frame technology were expected to win. The riders - Michael Grenda, Kevin Nichols, Michael Turtur and Dean Woods - won gold with three other Australians, Jon Siebens, Glynis Nunn and Dean Lukin.


Reference Images

'84 Olympic Team Pursuit Team

By 1984, Malvern Star was winding down its manufacturing of BMX and road bikes in Australia and opting to import more foreign made bikes. The first Malvern Star freestyle bikes were imported into the country and these were made in Taiwan by the same manufacturer that made for other well known brands such as Hutch.

The new Malvern Star Maxi - a looptail - was (allegedly) built in Malaysia for Malvern Star. It was a very generic looking bike and it is hard to determine if the design was unique to Malvern Star or a common frame that was sold in other regions under different brand and model names.


Reference Images

'84 Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

'84 Malvern Star Freestyle

'84 Malvern Star Maxi

'84 Malvern Star Maxi
'85    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

Malvern Star stopped manufacturing bicycles in Australia completely in 1985. The continued to import bicycles made in Malaysia but started also sourcing bikes from their original supplier, Giant. Although these bikes differed from the ones that Repco were importing from Giant at the same time, nothing substantial would have differentiated the offerings of arguably Australia's biggest BMX suppliers of the time.


Reference Images

'85 Malvern Star

'85 Malvern Star Maxi

'85 Malvern Star Freestyle

'85 Malvern Star Maxi

'85 Malvern Star

'85 Malvern Star Maxi (by Giant)

'85 Malvern Star Maxi Coaster

'85 Malvern Star Maxi Coaster

Frames / Parts / Additional Links

This section contains additional photos of frames, framesets and other parts from 1985 Malvern Star and Speedwell bikes.

'86 and after    
World History

Malvern Star and Speedwell History

In 1980, Malvern Star had been sold to Raleigh Bicycles. Raleigh's UK parent went through a number of hands and changes in direction thereafter. In Australia it had purchased the bicycle business of the Hanimex corporation which had two principal brands; Bennett, a specialist dealer product; and Cyclops which had been focused mainly at the mass merchant market. The purchase of Malvern Star gave Raleigh a major share of the Australian bicycle market. However, problems started to emerge in the Raleigh operation both at the parent level and locally by 1987. This saw the sale of the worldwide Raleigh business by its then owner, TI PLC, to Derby PLC. In 1988 Derby sold the Australian operations, including Malvern Star and the various brand names it had acquired over the years, in order to concentrate on its successful businesses in the UK and Europe, where it maintained the leading brand (Gazella) of bicycle in the very large Dutch market.

The purchaser of Derby's Australian bicycle business was Pacific Dunlop Limited. At the beginning of 1992, the South Pacific Cycles brand names were also acquired and folded into the Malvern Star business. As a result of these various takeovers, Pacific Dunlop, through Malvern Star, controlled; Speedwell, Cyclops, Bennett, Graecross, Peugeot and Raleigh brands, as well as Malvern Star.

Within a month of acquiring Malvern Star, Pacific Dunlop was able to acquire the Repco Group, including its bicycle interests, as a reult of the stock crash. Through the acquisition of Malvern Star and Repco, Pacific Dunlop acquired a strategic position in the bicycle market where in 1993 it controlled an estimated 60% of unit sales.

Rather than merge the Repco and Malvern Star operations, Pacific Dunlop adopted the approach of keeping them separate. The two entities had such a tradition of rivalry that it would no doubt have been difficult to merge them in, the short term. Furthermore, it would not have generated substantial cost savings or synergies given the fairly low overheads involved in running a bicycle wholesaling business.

Initially, Pacific Dunlop articulated distinct market strategies for each of the businesses however they have ended up being in direct competition in a number of markets. The initial strategy involved Malvern Star concentrating on sales to the mass merchant market and at the lower to middle end of the specialist dealers market. Repco, on the other hand, was to position itself in the specialist dealers market above Malvern Star using the Repco brand together with Diamond Back and Merida at the top end. The two companies have tended to overlap in the very important middle range of the market.
Reproduced in part from bicyclehistory.com.au


Reference Images

'86 Malvern Star Maxi

'86 Malvern Star Maxi

'88 Malvern Star Maxi 600F

'87 Malvern Star Freestyle

I am desparately seeking scans or originals of other catalogues and advertisements. If you have one, please contact me at Blogging a Dead Horse. I am also seeking assistance accurately identifying the models and date of manufacture of those shown - again, if you can assist please contact me.


Help me date these bikes ..

One of the biggest problems with Malvern Star bikes is that the serial number does not really tell you the year in which the bike was made. As such, I have found a lot of photos of bikes that I cannot accurately date .. if any of these bikes are yours or you can accurately date them, please let me know!


Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

Speedwell Sting MKI

Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

Malvern Star Maxi

Speedwell Sting MKI or MKII

Malvern Star SuperMax

Malvern Star SuperMax

Speedwell Sting MKII

Malvern Star SuperMax

Speedwell Sting MKI

Speedwell Sting CrMo

Malvern Star SuperMax

Malvern Star SuperMax CrMo

Speedwell Sting MKII

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Extra Info / Links

   OldSchoolMags.com  Have you ever wished that you could go back in time to the late 70's and early 80's when you could walk into a newsagency and see the latest issues of BMX Action, BMX Plus, Super BMX and Freestylin' in the racks as crisp and clean as the day they were printed? If you said yes to any of these questions, this is the site for you ..

   BMX Works  This site has everything you will ever need to restore an old school bmx from loose parts - nuts, bolts and bearings - through to complete brake sets, cranks sets and finishing parts, such as pad sets and decals.

   Madman's BMX Painting Services  Pete's work is second to none. I have two frames painted by him - a Hotfoot Freestyle in white and a Hotfoot 24" Cruiser in Hazard Yellow - and both have come out beautifully. Pete can also handle the stripping of paint and chrome and other prep work.

   Re-Rides  Sydney Australia based BMX restoration and photography. Rebuilding retro BMX bikes from 80's old-school, 90's mid-school and 00's new-school era's.

   SDBMX  SDBMX sells a distinctive range of cast alloy BMX rims that will finish of any old-school, mid-school or even new-school build. Styles include the Blizzard, Cyclone, Hurricane, Tornado and Typhoon.

Blizzard Cyclone Hurricane Tornado Typhoon

   Vintage Mongoose  Anyone who is interested in Mongooses (Mongeese?) has probably already found this site. When I was restoring my Motomag, I found this site invaluable for information and reproductions decals and grips. Warren, who is behind this site, is a local who is passionate - no obsessive - about the Mongoose brand and it shows.