1902 rambler tandem nz Dexter & Crozier Victoria Street East Auckland copy

Hi, My name is Ross S- and I have been living in New Zealand for 8 years or so now. I’ve sort of always been into vintage bikes. My father is a vintage car enthusiast and we always used to go to the Boulogne bike ride every June with our 1904 Singer trike.

Here in New Zealand there seem to be a few old bikes around. The culture surrounding old machinery is a bit different. Over here, nothing dies. There is a fix it and keep it living mentality which means lots of these bikes survived, but most have been horribly bodged, welded up, changed and re-painted. In fact I have several gents bikes that have been ‘converted’ into tandems, ladies bikes, exercycles etc. People then put their bikes in their gardens as ‘art’. There are a few kicking around within 100 metres of my house in fact.

Also different is the way the town dumps work. Over here you pay to dump stuff but each tip has a re-cycling centre close at hand where it is free to dump stuff. They then sell it on. I’ve picked up loads of gems from these places. Most recently a mid 30’s BSA racing bike with a 531 frame, it has very narrow chain stays, reversible rear hub, big swoopy bars and it weighs nothing.

From the same place I discovered a 1928 Rudge coupled brakes ladies bike that had been changed into a shop bike. I’ve cut out the sign and will follow your photographs to re-paint it. The coupled brakes are long since gone but that’s OK.

I recently was given a BSA standard 15, identical to yours. It had been bought as a garden ornament from a deceased estate sale for $20, after 40 years in a barn and a friend of mine couldn’t bare to see it rot away so swapped it for a 1900 ish ladies bike with a rotted out frame, then gave it to me. It is very original, right down to the seat. It currently has a 50’s stem and upside down drop bars. I will put on some correct (ish) bars and rod brakes shortly. The only thing I lack is the steering lock wheel..

Something that may be of interest to you is Empire cycles. I read in the local museum that these were just badge engineered BSA’s and were available up to 1950. They have a great crank with empire written on it. I will send you a picture if you are interested for your chain wheel database. Bikes here were also sold as ‘Farmers trading’ machines.. Farmers is now a big department store. I believe these were also BSA’s. I have one, I believe from 1904ish. My friend found it with a broken frame, but original pin striping. He then welded chunks of steel all over it and painted it………….now it’s useless for anything!

– Email from Ross which kick-started this new section on the ‘British Empire,’ its decline, and the cycle industry of its old ‘dominions.’



 The bicycle shown at the top of these two pictures is a typical BSA Fittings bicycle, using the first pattern BSA Fittings chainwheel (retrospectively called a ‘Y Pattern’). These chainwheels were current between 1899 and 1903, but so many of these chainwheels were shipped to Australia and New Zealand that they continued to be used for many decades later.



Many of the bicycles show the same headbadge, but have quite different fittings (fork crowns, stems, brakes) so I assume they were assembled from components and/or imported and rebadged for the local market.

 The three saddles on the right of the picture below show older style nameplates, while the one on the left has a newer nameplate.