Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vintage bicycles in Bali - Part 2

Part 1 of my "Vintage bicycles in Bali" post focused on the many vintage styled bicycles in Bali. 

Some of the bicycles were probably from the 1930's to 1950's, however on closer inspection I found that the majority of the bicycles were modern copies, mainly of the "Phoenix" brand (of Chinese manufacture) that perhaps were only 20 years old. Some were even more recently made and are still available for purchase in new condition.

A Phoenix with 28 Westwoods and cottered cranks.

In essence these bicycles carry the following features:
  • Steel rigid frame
  • 28 inch (or 26 inch) steel Westwood rims
  • Rod braking system (or rear coaster brake)
  • Cottered cranks
  • 32 hole front hub, 40 hole rear hub.
  • Leather saddle 

An everyday classic with 28 inch Westwoods.

As there were so many of these bicycles I was curious to find out where they sourced their spare parts. This interested me because vintage bicycles are hard to locate in Perth and I have always found it difficult (and expensive) to source original or new parts when restoring a vintage. 

So whilst holidaying in Bali I hunted around for some bicycle shops that carried old spare parts for vintage bicycles - and they were common and easy to find.

I walked into one shop and hanging from the ceiling was a row of about 40 brand new chromed Araya brand 28 inch Westwood profile steel rims. They were hung in two groups - 32 hole rims, and 40 hole rims - all shiny and new. All the rims were perfect, and all were coated with a thick generous coat of chrome - they looked fantastic, never before had I seen such a thing.

I had only recently restored a 1974 Raleigh Tourist DL-1 roadster (Dec 2010 posting) and had the 28 inch Westwood rims rechromed in Perth, an expensive exercise!! In Perth I could not source any new chromed Westwood rims for the job, and at the time I found this very frustrating.....but there they all were...... hanging right there above me......and much to my surprise they only cost about 20 Australian dollars for a pair...amazing.

So I grabbed a pair of chromed 28 Westwoods (32/40's) and continued hunting through the shop for other parts. I also located a pair of new shiny 26 inch Westrick chromed rims (32/40's) that I was also happy to take with me....only about 15 Australian dollars for these ones!

I located rod brake parts, vintage styled cottered cranks and bottom brackets, 28, 32 and 36 hole front hubs, an assortment of 28, 36 and 40 hole rear hubs - some with coaster brakes, and all sorts of other goodies for old vintage classics - fantastic. 

Some parts had various manufacturer's markings (probably of Chinese origin) and most were good quality and made from chromed steel - perfect for vintage builds. I bought lots of goodies - mainly opting for those parts that had no maufacturer's markings as I consider that these parts would be more suitable for use in English vintage restorations.

Sure....original parts are always best, but some parts are very difficult to locate and the parts I grabbed will definitely come in handy.......especially the rims.

To my the back of one shop a couple of new roadster classics for sale (Raleigh DL-1 copies) pictured below.

A couple of roadsters tucked away in the corner.

I located several shops in the Kuta area and a couple in Denpasar. On inquiry I found that all of the shops could source almost any vintage parts for the old Phoenix bikes rolling around the island - and all of the shops had at least one pair of brightly chromed 28 Westwood rims hanging up somewhere in the store.

I also came across a few classics on the roadside that were for sale as below:

.....including an English made Hercules for sale!!

In my travels I also inquired if there were any vintage cycle clubs on the island and was told that there was.....although the bicycle shop owners were not able to provide any specifics. Here's an image I located from "The Jakarta Post" site capturing members from the 'elusive' Denpasar based Bali Vintage Bicycle Association. I've gone to Bali and bought some vintage bicycle goodies, how do I get them home? Excellent question!

The small stuff is easy, just wrap them in newsapaper and put them into your normal baggage, whilst giving consideration to the overall weight of your bags of course. The only issue I had was with the rims - not an issue realty, just a little more effort.

I went to a local supermarket and bought a large roll of brown packing tape and wrapped the rims (placed side by side for strength) with newsapaper and packing tape. I then bought a cloth serong from a market stall and wrapped the rims again with this and more packing tape. The final package was nice and secure and very robust.

At the airport I labelled the rims with my personal address and the ticketing guy was happy to place some 'fragile' stickers over the whole package. The item went through as a normal luggage item and as my allowable weight was not exceeded I was not charged any excess - easy really!

People bring home all sorts of unusually shaped items from Bali so the rims did not attract any attention from the authorities. Although I did have to remember to collect the item from the baggage carousel when returning home!  

Once at home it was nice to build up the rims that I had found in Bali. Here's a couple of images of the 28 inch Westwood rims after having them laced.....just perfect for a vintage rebuild!!

32 hole front hub with wingnuts.

So if you restore old vintage classics and plan on travelling to Bali, or anywhere in Indonesia for that matter, make sure you visit their cycle shops where you're sure to grab something you need.

So until next time, safe riding!



Monday, May 2, 2011

Vintage bicycles in Bali - Part 1

Due to it's poor economy and massive population, the quality of personal transportation throughout Indonesia has not progressed rapidly. The island of Bali, a popular tourist destination for Australians, presents a typical example of Indonesian transportation conditions. The public transport infrastructure is poor, the road quality is generally terrible, and road safety and driving conditions are always chaotic.

Small vehicles are prevalent on Balinese roads, however the majority of personal transportation is on scooters. Scooters, scooters, and more scooters......every intersection choked with locals on scooters conducting their daily business. It is normal for a local Balinese family to rely on the scooter for family transportation and a regular sight is of dad, mum, and two small children huddled up on the seat of scooter making their way through town going about their business.

Typical family transport in Bali.

On the island of Bali many older locals still rely on bicycles for their primary mode of transport...bicycles which they have personally owned for a long time - probably since new! Older bicycles that reflect the designs of English bikes of the the 1930's and 40's. Steel frames, chromed rod caliper brakes, with old leather saddles, that usually roll along on rusted 28 inch Westwood rims. 

An old Balinese man with his steel bicycle.

Having an interest in vintage bicycles I am interested to see that the old bicycles I have seen are used so commonly. After all they are usually 40 to 60 years old - maybe even older. So this presents a few intersting factors for me:
  • Who manufactured these bikes,
  • How old are they, and
  • Where do they source their spare parts?
Part 1 of this article will have a look at what brands they are and how old they might be, and Part 2 will have a look at the spare parts issue.

The old bicycles are frequently observed being ridden on the bumpy roads trying to make their way through the chaotic maze of scooters. Some of the riders use their bikes for personal transport, and others use their bikes as a tool of trade, often carrying produce on panniers connected to a rear rack.

A local with his vintage work horse.

Due to the poor physical condition of the roads throughout the island of Bali, riding a modern carbon road bike with 700C tyres would be treacherous to say the least. The road surfaces are in poor condition and this would cause a modern tyre to puncture very easily, an expensive carbon frame would not last long in these conditions....and clipping in (clipless pedals) would not be an option due to the chaotic traffic conditions where unexpected stops are frequent.

The only modern bicycles I have sighted are 'Polygon' brand mountain bikes that have robust 26 inch tyres and solid aluminium frames. Even these bikes are not common - poor roads and chaotic traffic discourages many from riding bicycles! In fact I'm even surprised to see the vintage bicycles being ridden around...they may be robust but the traffic is crazy! 

After having had a look at the manufacturers marking on the vintage bikes I have noted that the majority carry the "Phoenix" brand. The giveaway is the PHOENIX lettering contained within the chainring... this identifying feature is quite reminiscent of the old Engish bikes that also carried their brand name or symbol in a similar fashion ie BSA, Raleigh, Hercules. 

Here is a typical Balinese vintage that carries the classic PHOENIX chainring:

The vintage "Phoenix' bicycle....common place in Bali.

....and another Phoenix below.

A more modern ladies Phoenix with full chaincase.

Phoenix decals on the downtube.
Phoenix bicycles originate from the Shanghai Bicycle Company which was born in China in 1958. Phoenix still manufacture "vintage" styled bicycles and even today supply a large range of vintage styled bicycles throughout Asia. These vintage designs are still popular and sell in large numbers. Have a look at:

These bikes are really copies of the old English classics that were originally designed in the 1930's to suit the English road conditions of the day and the English economic climate of the time. Unfortunately similar conditions still prevail throughout many countries within Asia;
  • Poor roads - you'll need big 28 x 1 1/2 tyres,
  • Steel construction - robust steel frame that can be used to carry heavy loads,
  • Rod brakes - solid with little or no maintenance required,
  • Cottered cranks - easy to source and replace worn or broken parts,
  • Lots of steel bikes - cheap parts means inexpensive repair costs.
...a modern lightweight expensive design can't compete with these requirements so you can see why the vintage styling is still the preferred choice not only in Bali, but throughout Asia.

Here's a couple of more images of old bikes and their owners I captured from my last visit...

A classic...

...a front internal hub brake on this one!

..........and of course a visit to Bali would not be complete without finding a (brand) copied item of some sort. Here is an old men's steel classic that carries a Raleigh styled headbadge and is pretty much a copy of the old Raleigh DL-1 Tourist that I featured in an earlier blog.

The "Raleigh" styled head badge that has "RELIGHT" printed in red under the red "R". these vintage bikes in Bali may not be that old after all, they just look old!! We all know how a bike can quickly deteriorate if it is kept in the open air near the ocean exposed to the salt air for a few years!

Phoenix manufacturers started making vintage English styled bicycles in 1958 so alot of these bikes may well be old, but without the ability to record and research frame serial numbers (if they indeed have any) it woud be very difficult to accurately age a vintage styled bicycle in Bali.

There are plenty of old vintage styled bikes in where do they get their spare parts? Can I get some? I'll cover this and more in the next installment.

Until next time, safe riding.