Vintage bicycle group Rusty Riders are dedicated to getting old classics out of the shed and back on the road.
Pre-loved bicycle group Rusty Riders meets once a month for a ride to the Rock Pool where they have a barbecue and talk all things vintage. The group was started in 2015 by James Fotheringham when, after buying a rusty old bike at a local market for his partner to use as a garden decoration, he grew curious about the bike’s history.
“I realised this old bike must have quite a few stories considering its age and thought it deserved much better,” James says.
“After researching its serial number I discovered it was made in the 1920s and I decided to bring it back to its former glory. I undid every bolt and screw until I had it stripped bare, then began the long but enjoyable task of cleaning all the old parts that could be salvaged and sourcing the parts I needed.”
After James finished bringing ‘Lucile’ back to life, the old girl got so much attention every time he and his partner Lia took her out for a spin that James wanted to know more about vintage bikes… and he wanted his own, too.
So James opened a Facebook page to see if anyone else in Townsville had knowledge of restoring old bicycles and, to his delight, four people put their hands up. Now the group has over 40 members locally and 500 worldwide and, together, they have breathed new life into about 30 old bikes.
Every month the Townsville-based members of the group meet up to show off their latest projects and go for a ride along The Strand. One of the projects James is most proud of is the restoration of a 1940s Healing, which was donated to Rusty Riders by an 84-year-old lady from Melbourne.
“She told me she saved her chore money for a year to buy it when she was 14,” James says.
“All she asked for in return for donating it was for us to bring it back to a riding state and enjoy it as much as she had.”
Another stand-out project for James was transforming two 1953 Malverns that he got from a couple in Tasmania who received them as wedding presents.
“They were just happy there was a group like ours who could restore them and enjoy them again,” James says.
“When I started this group I decided I didn’t care how old the bikes were – just that every bike must be ridden.”
James now has over 30 vintage bicycles, from a 1917 English Humber to a 1972 Malvern Star Skidstar and every one of them gets its turn to pedal him to his local coffee shop in the morning, where passers-by admire the workmanship of the past.
“As a group, Rusty Riders love nothing more than showing people the beauty in the bicycles of old when they were fashioned by master bike builders,” James says, adding that the group has a bike on display at the coffee drive-through on the corner of Meehan Street and Ingham Road.
“I realised this old bike must have quite a few stories considering its age and thought it deserved much better.”- James Fotheringham
“We regularly get around 15 vintage bicycles to our rides and we always put them where anyone walking past can come and look at them. Our members are of all different ages and walks of life, from teenagers and students to labourers, truck drivers and businessmen and women. We’re a fun, relaxed group and you don’t have to have a vintage bike to join us.
“We can help you pick one up for the next ride. You can buy them very cheaply and, after a bit of elbow grease and a lot of love, you’ll be proudly riding around on a much-admired piece of history.”