Lady blue

I just realized that I have never presented the bicycle I call Lady blue. Perhaps now is a good time as any.

Some years ago I was asked about an old bicycle, it was standing unused in a basement for many years. The owners said that they wound never ride a bicycle again, so it was time to pass it on. Since they knew that I was looking for a vintage bicycle, they thought that it best to ask me. I was told that the bicycle was given to the present owners from a friend of theirs. The original owner, a elderly lady from south of Sweden, had received the bicycle as a birthday gift when she was 8 years old back in mid 1930’s.


Hella, made in Kalmar in about 1935 as I got it

It was a nice story behind the bicycle, I headed home and started to think how I would restore it in the best way. Restore it to how it once looked, adding accessories from the period. The bicycle it self had a headbadge with the name “Hella” and the text “made in Kalmar” written on it. The rear wheel Torpedo hub was stamped with 31, so it was made around those years. That was completely in line with the story about the young girl receiving the bicycle as a present around 1935.

Since it was my first vintage bicycle restoring after I had sold my old grey Panther, I felt like doing a good job, or at least as good as I could. All with the knowledge, tools and parts I had in my possession to renovate and restore the bicycle. The first thing I did was to completely disassembly the entire bicycle in to small parts. All bearings, screws, and parts were inspected and cleaned. Some parts were in very good condition, but others like the handlebars and wooden grips were in a really bad shape and needed replacement.


New tires and tubes to be mounted on the newly cleaned rims


The frame is clean from parts, I have just mounted brackets and wheels to see how it looks

It was during the cleaning I found the serial number on the frame. Of the number I learned that the frame was made in the town of Gävle, far from Kalmar.

Back then Gefle Velocipedfabrik manufactured bicycle frames and sold them to local bicycle shops that created their own style of bicycles from parts and named them after their own shop. There are may examples of that practice around Sweden in from the start up to about the 1950’s. There are numerous small branded bicycles, many are built with parts from one of the few large bicycle parts manufactures at the time. But they have all sorts of brands, often the name comes from the shop owners own name, a Greek god, perhaps a town and so on.


Torpedo stamped with 31, the hub is made in 1931.

I found new old handlebars on an auction site, there I found an old bicycle bell, chain guard and other parts that I needed. After cleaning all parts, polishing the chrome, the fun of mounting everything together started. This time I took my time to get the bicycle done. I did not want to rush the process, it was my therapy and I wanted to show the old lady the result.

During the restoration I tried to keep the parts I got as replacements in a 1930s range. The vintage crochet skirt guard, 30’s style Swedish made ASEA headlight and dynamo. The saddle turned out to be a bit difficult, vintage 1930’s cushioned saddles are rare to find after all usage during the years. Instead I used an old vintage Brooks saddle as a substitute.

One day it was finished, and it looked really great. In fact I used it as a prop when doing a photo shoot.


1930’s ASEA bicycle lamp…


… withan ASEA brass dynamo.

A few years later, I took a look at my first rebuilding project. I quickly realized that I never completed the job, the wheels were missing spokes, the saddle were still the worn Brooks and the tires were a bit to wide to fit the mudguards. It was at that moment after learning new information about old bicycles that the bicycle was remade in the early 1950’s.

Since the bicycle was made in mid 1930’s it was supposed to be painted with a special kind of finish and pin striping. As it looks now it is clearly an late 1940’s, early 1950’s style. The chain wheel is changed, the reflector and other parts where changed. Back then it was common to take your old bicycle to your local bicycle shop, turn it in for a complete overhaul. The shop would change the bad parts, repaint and refurbish the entire bicycle. It was cheaper, you got a new bicycle for less money of the price for a brand new one. Back then bicycles were expensive and when you had a bicycle it was supposed to be taken care of, and used for a long time. It was an investment.


The chain guard and chromed crank. Clearly changed at some time during the years


Brook saddle and some vintage tools and a repair kit


It turned out really great, I only need a better saddle

It is not original 1931, but it looks really great. The circle became complete when I sent a photo of the bicycle to the owners I got the bicycle from, they showed the photo of the bicycle to the old lady. She was very happy to see that her old bicycle still were going and having a new life. Sadly the old lady passed away some months after that. But I did manage to fix her old bicycle so she could see it, it felt great.

If I fix the small issues, Lady blue has many years left of riding along the roads on sunny summer days. Or why not attend a tweed event?


Lady blue

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