This Carbine was/is a terrific Australian road racer that handled/handles great and is/was a really comfortable bike to ride.
Wondering why we’re calling this thing a road bike when it looks like something made exclusively for the track? It’s because racing bikes in the 1940’s were typically meant for dual duty, and despite the fact that the bike has a fixed gear and doesn’t have brakes, it was ridden on the roads. Just a judgement call on our part.
Now, to start, there were two bicycle brands named Carbine in Australia a hundred years ago.
One started in Melbourne in the 1890’s, and another was founded by T. W. Henderson of Sydney (this is the Carbine related to our bike). Both brands got their name from a race horse that won the 1890 Melbourne Cup.
Our Mr. Henderson eventually sold the business to Fred Walcott, an ex-racer, in about 1918. Walcott manufactured and sold Carbines from his shop on Wentworth Avenue in Sydney until 1968.
Carbine bicycles were the choice of serious cyclists in New South Wales and they dominated the racing scene in the ‘30’s. At the 1932 New South Wales championship, riders aboard Carbine bicycles took all of the podium spots.
Now this bike didn’t look like this originally. At some point in the recent past the frame got refinished and the parts got some fresh chrome plating.
While we don’t really care if a restored bike is “as original” or if someone gives their bike the hot rod treatment (chroming everything, making the bike better than it ever was when new), we do care that the restoration does no harm. In the case of this Carbine, the painter was not up to the task. The horse head badge is almost totally obscured by gobs of paint. The pinstripe details are shaky and the colors are overwrought. Not saying we could personally do better, but if you’re going to “restore” something you need to restore it to how it was originally. If you want to “hot rod” the appearance of your old bike, just make sure that you and the painter actually enhance how it looks.