Australian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Malvern Star Motorcycles

The Malvern Star brand was established in 1898 and was acquired by Bruce Small in 1920. Prior to this date a small number of motorcycles were produced by the company using imported British-built JAP engines. The company expanded to become Australia's leading manufacturer and assembler of bicycles by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The Malvern Star Auto-byke was first introduced after World War II as an economical, lightweight motorised bicycle at a time when few cars were available and petrol was still rationed. Malvern Star assembled the machine in Australia using locally-made frames and a variety of imported components including a British-built 98cc single-cylinder Villers Mk. 1 Junior two-stroke engine with a two-speed gearbox. Small had obtained an exclusive Australian licence for these engines in 1945. Similar machines were made in Britain and sold in Australia under the Excelsior brand from 1937 with the same 98cc Villiers engine. Advertising for the Auto-byke promised "fun and adventure in the great outdoors.

An earlier Malvern Star autocycle incorporates a 49cc Mobylette engine. In the post-1945 years Malvern Star also sold a diminutive 32cc Berini cycle-motor priced at around 8 Pounds. This unit could be fitted over the front forks of any bicycle and was claimed to achieve a fuel economy figure of 240 miles per gallon. Malvern Star also acted as agents for imported Vespa, Jawa and CZ motorcycles and motor scooters which combined with the end of petrol rationing soon made the autocycle obsolete.

Source: Museums Victoria Collections - Licence: CC BY 4.0

1918 - Malvern Star 3½ hp JAP in The Victorian Motor Cycle Club reliability trial. Leader (Melbourne, Vic.) Sat 23 Nov 1918

"Atrocious Villain" to be Flogged

At the Criminal Court yesterday, before the Chief Justice and a jury of twelve, Thomas James Patten Todd was convicted of an offence against a youth on 9th January last at Pakenham. His Honor termed accused "an atrocious villain," and sentenced him to 3 years' imprisonment and to one Whipping of 15 strokes with the "cat".

Theft of Motor Cycle.

A report was mode to the Criminal Investigation Branch yesterday of the theft of a motor cycle, registered No. 19063. The machine was owned by Mr. Harry D. Abraham, customs agent, and was left on the wharf outside No. 4 Victoria Dock while he was attending to business. The machine is a Malvern Star, built by T. S. Finnigan, Malvern, and the engine is a 6 h.p. Twin Jap, the number of-which is known...

Trove NLA: The Age (Melbourne, Vic.) Tue 21 Mar 1916


Bruce Small Pioneers the Way to Economic Cycling.

Born at Ryde, N.S.W., on the 11th December, 1895, Bruce Small commenced a career which was destined to make its mark in commercial life. Employed as a lad in the estate agency business, a grounding in matters pertaining to finance and systems was obtained, and it was in this capacity that even in these days of his early youth, a distinct liking and aptitude for business life was in evidence. Later on the sport of motor cycling engaged his attention, and success in this direction caused him to seek employment where the mechanical trend of his mind could be given full scope, and it was in the capacity of foreman of one of the largest motor cycle factories of Melbourne that he studied the laws of manufacture and production, until in 1920 he took the step which was destined to bring him so much into the public eye, and which promises to eventually become one of the greatest ventures of this kind in Australia.

The business known as the 'Malvern Star' Cycle Works has been carried on for many years by Mr. T. S. Finnigan, and when Bruce Small assumed command there was a tidy cycle business at 185 Glenferrie road, Malvern. Realising the advertising value of results in the sporting side of the cycling world, but handicapped by the lack of capable riders, he set about to secure talent, and with that object in view his first step was to persuade that wonderful old rider and world's champion, Don Kirkham, to resume training for active competition, and it was into the hands of this veteran he entrusted the coaching of such useful talent as specially came under his notice; the chief of whom has been, of course, the present-day Australasian Road and Motor-paced Champion, Hubert Opperman, whose meteoric career has created such profound impression in sporting circles, and whose name to such a wonderful extent popularises the 'Malvern Star' bicycle, for rarely is the name of Opperman mentioned but the thoughts fly to the 'Malvern Star.'

Then that youthful prodigy, the late Ernie Lindsay, who met with his decease early this year, (as the result of a motor accident), and who showed promise of becoming the greatest bicycle rider of all time, holding even at the age of 16 years world's records over 100 miles, was another find which came about through his close attention to the sporting side of the business, and his quick discernment of youthful possibilities.

Other champions, too numerous to mention, but chief among whom would be Jack Watson, present holder of the 100 miles world's record; Roy Johnston, and Bill Smith, of motor paced fame; R. W. (Fatty) Lamb, Jimmy Beer, Geo. Sheppard, Horace Horder, Aubrey Box, and Jack Ballantyne, a body of riders which to-day undoubtedly constitutes the strongest team existing in Australia....

Trove NLA: The Prahran Telegraph (Vic.) Fri 19 Jun 1925

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