Hubert Opperman was Australia’s greatest racing champion. ‘Oppy’, as he was known to friends and acquaintances alike, had begun his racing career at the age of sixteen, in the same year that Bruce Small began building his bicycle empire. The first race that Oppy won was the Senior Cadet Road Championship in 1921, a ten-mile race. The following year, he rode the fastest time in the Launceston to Hobart race. His connection with Bruce Small and Malvern Star came in the 1923 Malvern Star 25-mile Event in which he achieved the fastest time. The following year, he again achieved the fastest time in the Malvern Star 50-mile Event.
He competed, with Malvern Star’s sponsorship, in an additional forty events by 1930. In 1936, he achieved a great feat in the Brisbane-to-Sydney event, a distance of 651 miles. He began on 15 October and completed the distance in 47 hours 10 minutes. In doing so, he lowered the road record by 45 hours 9 minutes. The previous record had been held by Les Cecil of Queensland, who ten years earlier had established the record of 3 days 20 hours 19 minutes. His previous year’s antics had occurred in England.
On 16 July, 1935, he broke the London-Bath-London record in 10 hours 14 minutes 42 seconds. That same month, on a similar ride over the same distance, he tandemed with another famous cyclist, Ern Miliken, and broke the previous tandem record held by C. Marshall and L. Cave of 9 hours 45 minutes 13 seconds. Miliken and Oppy’s time was 8 hours 53 minutes 34 seconds.
1934 BSA Opperman Super-eeze
with Sturmey-Archer ‘Type LB’ Internal Expanding Hub Brake
BSA logo Inflator Pump
BSA logo Bluemels Celluloid Mudguards
Frame No 26155
After Hubert Opperman broke the Land’s End to John O’Groats record in 1934, BSA added his signature to their top-of-the-range ‘Super-eeze’ model, designating it the ‘Opperman Super-eeze.’
This example is a historic machine, being the first of the BSA ‘Oppy’ bicycles. 1934 models are easy to identify as their brazed-on pump clips face rearwards. With various detail changes, the Opperman series ran until 1939 (and did not have the added ‘Super-eeze’ logo underneath Opperman’s signature).
Model 483A would be a 1934 model, while 583A (as illustrated in the catalogue extract below) would be from 1935. However, the model number is not stamped on the bicycle, so I’ve assumed that to be the model number. This example is fitted with a rare Sturmey-Archer ‘Type LB’ Internal Expanding Hub Brake, which is marked ‘LB3’ suggesting a 1933 model. The LB hub was short-lived (1932-1933), soon superseded by the similar BR series hub. I’ve not seen a 1933 BSA catalogue, but I don’t think the Oppy came out until 1934, so presumably the hub brake is old stock from the previous year.
The components on the bicycle are identical to the catalogue illustration, with the exception that the word ‘Super-eeze’ is on the down-tube below Opperman’s signature; it has one cable-operated drum brake instead of one calliper brake; white Bluemel mudguards rather than black; full lighting set is fitted; white pump (with BSA logo), not black; BSA logo celluloid handlebar grips not rubber grips. Four quick-release BSA wing nuts and matching BSA rat-trap pedals are as per the catalogue specification. The Marsh Shallow-drop handlebar that is fitted to this bicycle is illustrated in the 1934 catalogue for the Super-eeze model.
1935 BSA CATALOGUE & CYCLING ANNUAL EXTRACTS
Above, the standard ‘Super-eeze’ from 1934. Below, the 1935 ‘Super-eeze de-Light’ with pump clip now relocated to the down tube.
STURMEY ARCHER TYPE LB INTERNAL EXPANDING HUB BRAKES
BSA FRAME NUMBERS
The fourth entry in the Astleys shop sales ledger below shows a similar frame number 26044 Model 483A Super-eeze sold on May 11th 1934, to a Jack Sholes of 52 Littlemore Lane, Oldham. This is the closest entry I could find to compare with the Opperman Super-eeze #26155. However, there are many other entries with similar frame numbers throughout the following pages of the ledger up to 1939. A frame number does not provide much help in dating a BSA.
1939 BSA OPPERMAN GOLD SPECIAL