Malvern Star Octane – time to climb mountains

‘A better basic bike’ has been on my want list since the start of the year and wouldn’t you know it, suddenly a Malvern Star Octane appeared randomly today.

Even better, it was twenty times cheaper than the last bike I bought and on top of that, both brakes work. Winning!

Before the Malvern Star Octane came the Raleigh 1800 RS

Yes just like my Subaru Impreza, my previous bike came with an RS in the model name. It’s probably of the same era (Circa 2005) And just like my Impreza, it hasn’t been working very well.

I mean I did pick it up from the tip shop for a staggering $20, completely glossing over the fact that half the brakes were missing and that the paint had tried to make a break for freedom over time. It rattled and clunked when I rode it (not very often) and getting it to do anything (much like the Subi) turned into a massive chore. It was a solid plan at the start, getting a bike to get fit – but I gave up on it pretty quickly with this beast.

Which is why a) I haven’t ridden it in forever because god it needed brakes and a service and b) It ended up for sale on the Facebook Classifieds where it’s been there for close to thirty weeks now priced at $20 again and attracting nothing but idiots.

Bought it to get fit, didn’t go to plan. Was going to do it up until I realised I know nothing at all about bikes in general. Needs front brakes and possibly a bath in holy water from a high pressure hose. Oh and a new chain maybe, this one looks like it’s survived quite a few Tour De Frances. And a seat unless you like that battle scar look. Do you like bikes? Can you fix bikes? Did Santa not give you a cheap bike project? Come and take this away before it attracts even more spiders while going at 0kph out the back of the house. Pick up East Albury and ride it home at your own peril, possibly possessed, not sure as I am not a priest.

-My ad on Facebook, not going anywhere just like the bike!

So while I wait for this thing to sell (or more than likely just giving it away..) let’s take a look at my new addition!

Malvern Star Octane – the stats!

Price when new: No idea
Price now: Free
Years produced: Haven’t a clue
What do I know?: Not much at all apart from what I can read on it.

Malvern Star Octane

Yes apologies in advance if you’ve arrived at this post hoping for information on this make and model because I’m hoping you know more than I do and you’re willing to part with said info. In a nutshell I saw it on the side of the road with a free sign attached while bringing the kids home from school, just a block away from home. So I parked the car, wandered around for a look and bumped into the previous owner on his way out who was more than happy to see it go and apologised for a lack of air in the tires.

Seriously, it’s free and I’m a block away. I’m sure I could carry this thing home if I needed to. And so I did (pushed it, not carried.)

According to the various dusty stickers this is a large bike and part of their ‘Mountain series’. Luckily it probably won’t get anywhere near a single mountain under my ownership, in fact any roads it’ll find itself on here on in will probably be deceptively flat more than anything..

It’s also got a sticker from Buzz’s bikes and bits here in Albury Wodonga who now sell a lot more motorbike gear than anything it seems, which means it isn’t an old KMart kit bike pretending to be better than decidedly average. Sadly, that’s about it as information goes on this thing other than a similar model turning up for auction back in 2015. Apparently it was a listing from the Australian Federal Police as ‘part of their normal operations’ and I don’t know if that means a Malvern Star Octane was a police bike, or something a criminal once pedaled around on and now it ended up for auction.

Would I be able to outrun criminals on my newly acquired Malvern Star Octane? I’m going to hazard a massive no on that one.

I’m going to suggest it’s been a while since this thing has seen any action, mountain or otherwise and that’s on account of the slight squeak when moving it about. Nothing a quick spray of LP1 Lubricant couldn’t solve – I bought the can for a turbo install and now it’s fixing bikes. Interestingly the front wheel took and held air, the rear coughed up some green juice which is obviously sealant. (Or coolant, it does look like coolant.)

The wheel doesn’t want to take any more air nor just it want to hold the stuff it’s got either so it looks like this one’s knackered. Luckily I believe the Raleighs wheel is the same size and should be a direct swap – once I YouTube how to remove one from the fancy gearing system.

Yes according to the sticker the Malvern Star Octane comes with a stonking 18 of those whiz bang Shamano things which I thought was a fishing rod. How they work is beyond me but I’m sure once the new back tire is on, I can click through the various handlebar options and work something out. Come at me speed!

Time to tune up the Octane!

After a quick YouTubing, I learnt the ancient art of rear wheel removal and a massive thanks to The Pro’s Closet for making it look relatively easy:

Of course they’re working with years of experience where as with the free Malvern Star Octane I was working with years of dust, grime and grease so it was fair to say that my swap wasn’t half as clean as theirs. Still, I amazed myself by getting and swapping the wheels off both the Malvern Star and the Raleigh without cutting myself or doing myself much of an injury.

I feel a sandblaster or high pressure hose might be needed here..

A special shout out to my great mate Heath who has used many a mountain bike over the years – I asked him if this was possible and he warned me about the possibility of needing a spacer depending on frame size. Still, I had time and to kill and so I tried anyway and managed to get the Raleigh wheel on easily enough only to discover that it was just the slightest of smidges (like a couple of mm) wider and the rear rim was now rubbing up against the brake pad.

So I slept on it and bought a new tube for the original wheel, planning to fix that and popping it back on. Only after some time it dawned on me that a couple of hard brakes would be more than enough to shave down enough material to let things spin freely, so I did that instead. All of a sudden, big wheel turning. (No proud Mary burning though.)

And since the wheel cannibalisation from the Raleigh to the Octane went so well, I wondered what else I might be able to use – well that old drink holder isn’t doing much anymore, so how about that? So I broke out the allen keys and the sixty second bike surgery was complete. Yes I could buy a cheap new one somewhere but why bother when the old one is not doing anything out back?

Ahh the cooling taste of spiders..
Malvern Star Octane with drink holder
Ahh, much better!

Now that things spin freely and it doesn’t look like anything is about to explode anytime soon, the last thing to do here is ride it and report back!

Malvern Star Octane road report – aka The Mountain Bike that skipped leg day.

Look, I don’t need a short bike ride to point out how deadly unfit I am but for the sake of science (and this blog) I still strapped on the helmet, filled up the water bottle and rolled along to the nearest bike track..
…where it wasn’t long at all before the other cyclists using the same East Albury path pretty much zipped past me.
But hey, I didn’t come here to race, I came here to test this bike. And I’m happy to report that all things went very well!

Construction going on at the East Albury bike track

The Malvern Star Octane chugs along just nicely like it’s the Toyota Camry of bikes. It’s not exciting, but it works. Like the Camry, there’s nothing fancy going on here whatsoever. No lightened frame, special springs, titanium or carbon fibre anything. No one will ride past and and drool, the chances are extremely good that I won’t be bike-jacked here, no women will swoon at my puffing along on my Malvern Star Octane and kids I pass probably won’t clap in admiration. But then if you’re expecting that from a free bike I think you and I are hailing from completely different neighbourhoods my friend.

The gears (not that I know what I’m doing with them really) seem to sync through without any problems (no sudden jarring) and there’s a supreme lack of squeaks and rattles like the old Raleigh. It’s nice to have a bike that doesn’t make odd noises every 10 meters.
The brakes? The brakes work very well and that’s possibly because of my replaced tire setup now having the pads just an eyelash away from the rim.

I tell you, biking around on an 18 degree day (Celcius) was tough going with all of this glorious sunshine. Really tough, but hey someone has to do it.

At certain times of the year this bridge is full of orb spiders. But the Malvern Star Octane is not afraid.
Strava app on Android

As a basic bike goes, the Malvern Star Octane works just fine. It could do with a bit of a clean and grease obviously, but it goes hilariously well for something I paid zero dollars for and works better than other bikes I parted money for (not much mind you but still..) No the only problem with this one here is the rider and his (my) supreme lack of fitness.
It’s fair to say my little test run has worn me out but in my defence according to my Strava app logs, it’s been over a year since my last time on a bike so it’s fair to say I’m very rusty (just like parts of the Raleigh!). But today I did clock up more than 5kms on it and that’s pretty impressive for me. I’ll be sore for the rest of the week but happy for that number after a year off.

(In the end it was 5.89kms over 32 mins and 52 seconds. Is this good? Not sure. But I came home feeling like I’d had a workout and I guess for a rookie cyclist, that’s probably an okay start.)

If anything it’s another tool in the toolbox for my ongoing plan of ‘Get fitter and stronger‘ so now we can add ‘working bike’ to the barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells and fitness band out the back. I mean who needs an expensive gym membership when if you’re eagle eyed you can find the occasional free bike out there? After a great start, it looks like the Malvern Star Octane is here to stay for a bit (unless something better suddenly turns up of course!)

Edit: A couple of days later – the unofficial ride to work day!

It’s very rare that I work on a Saturday but with a few people sick at work, today was that day. And so after getting up early I figured why not take the bike for a spin? And so from slick roads (rain last night) to empty bridges off I went off to the station.
Incredibly I landed at the bridge above in a touch over four minutes, starting from my driveway.
A little over 6 minutes later, I was at the front door of work. Now that’s a trip that normally takes me over twenty minutes by foot, done in less than half the time.

Okay yes there was a squirrelly bit of wet road where I put the brakes on and one wheel went one way and the back went the other (but I quickly moved them back into place.)
Then there was sitting like a zombie for twenty minutes after I arrived because I’m not used to fitness and my body threw up a time out.
But the good news is that I survived the journey and the return. That’s another big tick for the Malvern Star Octane.

But what happens to the Raleigh RS 1800 now?

Take a bike, give a bike. Well, something like that:

I figured since I got one for free and it’s working just fine, I really don’t need the other sitting out the back breeding spiders. I have tried to sell it for months but ‘Facebook marketplace users’ (enough said.) So I put a free sign on it, parked it out the front and less than 24 hours later someone swooped in and nabbed it. I hope they enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying mine now!

(PSA: If you grabbed it don’t try to sell it, it’s not worth the headache..)

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