1952 75th Anniversary 5 - Star Superb

 In 1986 Columbia Mfg. began production of the now famous RX-5 to commemorate their 110 year anniversary. This was to be a reproduction of the 1952 5-Star Superb Men's Motobike. The 1952 model in green and cream was itself made to commemorate the company's 75th anniversary. 

 The plan was to make a limited 5,000 that would sell for an estimated $400 each. These would be sold throughout 1987.

 One of the hopes for this bike was to stimulate a slumping U.S. bicycle market. Import bikes were selling in department stores for less money than one could be made in the U.S. For years Columbia had made lower end department store bikes for the kids market. Now they could not compete with the imports. Columbia Mfg. was loosing the war and needed to do something.
 It was felt the answer was to return to making High-End bike shop bikes and the RX-5 would be the thing to get them noticed.


Artical from the Springfield Republican

 Ultimately this bike would not prevent the bankruptcy that would befall the company in a few short years. 

 This did not change the fact that this was an exceptional bike although it did have it's flaws.

 Some of the good things about this bike were the sheet metal parts. In the 50's Westfield Mfg. had all their sheet metal parts made by McCauley Metal Products. McCauley was approached again in 1986 to reproduce the Chainguards, Luggage Racks, Fenders and Tanks for the new RX-5. The good news was all of the original dies used to make the 50's parts were still around. These were used to stamp out these parts so they were exactly like the the originals.

 Some of the other "good things" were the frames, forks, rims, pretty much the rest of the bike was made at the Westfield Columbia factory.

 Notable are many of the failures. These include rough butt-welds on the rims, something that would have been sanded and polished back in 1952 making the joint invisible. Similar finish issues existed with the crank and sprocket which were left rough and un-polished. The handlebar stem "goose neck" also failed to replicate the 50's type. Less obvious was the tail light. It looked good but for the sake of cost the brake light was excluded and the repro just had on and off. 

 The most obvious deviation from the 1952 bike was the headlight. The one put on the RX-5 simply did not look right and did not come close to what the original looked like.

What the headlight sould have looked like

 The following are some pictures from the 1986 - 1987 RX-5 production run.


 One of the goals for the RX-5 was to bring attention to Columbia's new "Classic" line of high end "bike shop" bicycles.