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1931 Empire Superb

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1931 Empire Superb

Old 10-17-07, 11:05 PM
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1931 Empire Superb

Oh delight! After much patient waiting the 1931 Empire Superb road racing bicycle I purchased a while ago has been delivered


(Thumbnail - please click)


(Auction Photo)

Oooooo it hasn't been looked after the poor old thing and it will need much patient rust removal and Oxalic acid baths, but I don't mind in the slightest. This is my very first pre-war competition bicycle and it's absolutely wonderful. Light? - oh yes it is, - Lovely lovely chrome molybdenum steel
The biggest thrill is that this is a New Zealand made competition bicycle and while I had to pay $NZ100.00 and slightly annoy a bicycle enthusiast friend whom I heartlessly outbid, it's worth every penny
That's a Wright's 'Olympic' saddle btw, not a Lycett 'Aero', but otherwise the spec seems to match the factory pamphlet pretty much exactly.
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Old 10-18-07, 03:38 AM
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Wonderful find! Are the wheels and rear caliper original? Do you plan to repaint?
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Old 10-18-07, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh
Wonderful find! Are the wheels and rear caliper original? Do you plan to repaint?
The wheels in the auction photo are a pair of 28 inch English roadster wheels which have essentially being keeping the frame off the floor of the shed in which this bike had been stored for the past goodness knows how many years. I do have the original rear wheel and the original front hub though and the roadster wheels are a nice bonus because I can use those on another project
The rear caliper is an interesting centrepull design and the non-plated parts do have traces of Empire blue paint on them so I'm picking it came with the bike. The only marking I can see on the brake caliper is the word 'Warranted'.
I will repaint this bike because the red paintjob on the frame and forks is pretty disgusting - and besides Empire bikes were nearly always painted a dark blue. The factory pamphlet certainly says the 'Superb' model should be blue - so that's what it shall be.

(detail pictures are not from my own bikes)


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Old 10-18-07, 07:15 AM
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Sianelle,

wonderful looking bike, looks like a great project.
Can you give us (me!) a bit of history on Empire?
I'm really curious about the lesser known marques. We all
know about Colnago, Pogliaghi, Raleigh, Hetchins etc. but its the
small marques that truely pique my interest.
(and a lesson in New Zealand bikes would be nice too)
thanks
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Old 10-18-07, 07:55 AM
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Very nice, very nice.

Any close-ups of the fork ends with the Cam Adjustment? I'd like to know what that is.
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Old 10-18-07, 08:23 AM
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It looks almost like the underlying paint is blue.
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Old 10-18-07, 08:37 AM
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what a sweet ride. congrats.
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Old 10-18-07, 09:03 AM
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Congrats Ann .. uh .. Sianelle! What a fantastic cycle. I can't wait to see it transformed.

Bob
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Old 10-18-07, 09:09 AM
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That bike is sweet and the adjustable bar stem is sickly insane! note: the bars in the pamphlet photo are underneath the stem
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Old 10-18-07, 10:21 AM
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Beautiful!

It amazes me to see how little has changed in the basic geometry of the safety bicycle over the past 75 years or so. Aside from the steeper head tube angle and lack of trail, it looks as though it could have been designed today. I can't wait to see it restored in "brilliant blue"...

Good on 'ya.
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Old 10-18-07, 11:59 AM
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Ohh, I should have brought it!

I forgot about that bike. I should have brought it.
But I have two vintage racing bikes to restore already - a possible Jones Special and a c1910 bike.


It will look good when you restore it. Does it still have the snail cams on the rear hub? My possible Jones also has the Major Taylor stem, but it has been repainted silver. It must have been popular on prewar NZ made bikes.

Edit: It will look good when it is restored.
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Last edited by gnome; 10-18-07 at 12:00 PM. Reason: Forgot the rest of my post, doh.
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Old 10-18-07, 04:12 PM
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Thanks everyone Hello Bob.

I'm not any sort of real expert on the NZ bicycle industry, - in fact to tell the truth I know very little about it and it's only since I purchased an elderly (possibly) 'Farmers Trading Co' ladies roadster earlier this year that I've been trying to find out more about it. For years nobody has taken a great deal of interest in bicycle history here. The major transport museum in Auckland was donated a number of early bicycles some years ago and promptly swapped them all for a vintage car! While trying to find out further information about early bicycles I did make enquires with the local branch of the Vintage and Veteran car club and I received a decidedly underwhelming reaction to my enquiries. The sole authoritative text on NZ bicycling is 'RIDE: the story of cycling in New Zealand', published by the Kennett Brothers in 2004.

https://www.bikenz.org.nz/Article.aspx?ID=22173

I don't own a copy unfortunately, but the local library has been very helpful with tracking it down for me.
As far as I know there are no early bicycle clubs or associations here in NZ, - but hopefully Gnome can correct me on this.

The Major Taylor stem does look to have been very popular in prewar cycling competition. I certainly know I've seen more than a few old photos with bicycles wearing them. They do give a considerable range of adjustment and I'd be more than happy to use one on my later period 70s and 80s roadie bicycles.


My Empire is lacking its snail cams and has aquired ordinary drawbolt type adjusters BUT amongst my collection of prewar frame lugs I have these........

Unfortunately I only have the one original snailcam, but I'm reasonably certain that I can make more of them on my Myford lathe. I think it's a really good idea and I wouldn't mind converting one of my more modern spare roadie frames just to give it a good practical test. Oops - I should point out that the pair of pointy stay ends are not anything to do with the snail cam adjusters, - they just happend to be in the scanned picture.
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Last edited by Sianelle; 10-18-07 at 04:16 PM. Reason: forgot something
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Old 10-18-07, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Sianelle
As far as I know there are no early bicycle clubs or associations here in NZ, - but hopefully Gnome can correct me on this.
I don't think that there are any early bike clubs here in NZ; - there are some informal groups lurking around the country and possibly some information on the NZ cycle industry. What I do know, mainly from the book Ride mentioned by Sianelle is that we had a heavy protected local market and as subsidies and tariffs were slowly removed the locals couldn't compete with the cheap bikes made in Asia. The local bike industry is now a very few custom manufacturers and the bigger NZ brands (Avanti & Reiker) are now imported.

Originally Posted by Sianelle
My Empire is lacking its snail cams and has aquired ordinary drawbolt type adjusters BUT amongst my collection of prewar frame lugs I have these........

Unfortunately I only have the one original snailcam, but I'm reasonably certain that I can make more of them on my Myford lathe. I think it's a really good idea and I wouldn't mind converting one of my more modern spare roadie frames just to give it a good practical test. Oops - I should point out that the pair of pointy stay ends are not anything to do with the snail cam adjusters, - they just happend to be in the scanned picture.
The snail cams are a bit fiddly to adjust but are a nice idea. Do you happen to have a 40hole 28x 1 3/8 Westwood rim lurking in your collection of prewar parts?
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Old 01-22-24, 04:49 AM
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Empire Superb in the UK

Hello.

I am new to this forum today and I joined so I could send you a reply about your frame. I am in the UK and I have bought a frame thinking that i's a Superb. The frame number is 48113 on the bottom bracket. Unfortunately it seems that I cannot upload any images until I have made at lease 10 posts. The headset lug is the same as the one on an Empire SUperb.

Kind regards
Tony
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Old 01-22-24, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bikeman_uk
Hello.

I am new to this forum today and I joined so I could send you a reply about your frame. I am in the UK and I have bought a frame thinking that i's a Superb. The frame number is 48113 on the bottom bracket. Unfortunately it seems that I cannot upload any images until I have made at lease 10 posts. The headset lug is the same as the one on an Empire SUperb.

Kind regards
Tony
Hi Tony, so no worries but this a 17yo zombie thread.

You may not get a response but welcome aboard.
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Old 01-22-24, 12:24 PM
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Yes, Welcome aboard and keep posting. Want to see those pics. Don
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