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Thread: Univega History

  1. #1
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    Univega History

    I was given an '82 Univega Nuevo Sport a few years back. Tought of it as a rat bike until some folks who know better informed me that this Miyata frame is one of the better (thougth not top of the line) early 80's mass produced Japanese frames.

    Miyata contracted with Univega's American founder Ben Lawee for frames building. Here is what a former dealer told me when I asked how the Univega models compaired to the Miyatas since there seems to be little Univega history available;

    "I don't think you'll find a same model by Miyata. Univega was not a relabeled Miyata. Univega/Lawee was an independent company. Their bikes were designed by Ben Lawee and the production was contracted out to Miyata."

    So what do you guys out there in cyper space know about these under rated frames?

  2. #2
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    As I understand it, Univega is Italvega east. From all I've heard, nicely made bicycles - good value for the money. That fit several brands made in Japan in the 70's though.
    Last edited by USAZorro; 12-28-07 at 10:19 AM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member bigwoo's Avatar
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    I really love and respect these bikes, How about posting some pics of yours!
    Every dbl or triple butted Univega I've come across from the 80's ROCKED!

    I'm not sure if you saw this, but we had a really great Univega appreciation thread going here until the last time the system crashed: http://bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-314236

    This is a very nice brief/history of the man and the "Lawee Designed Univega's" : http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-tr...4135027-1.html


    This is my very favorite Univega of the one's I own; Viva Sport: It came from the original owner with great Karma
    http://

    http://

    http://
    Last edited by bigwoo; 12-27-07 at 08:46 PM.
    "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, They just seem a little weird"

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    Ah, an excuse to show my Univega Competizione, powdercoated orange

    Neal


  5. #5
    Senior Member bigwoo's Avatar
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    It's definitely short. I wish that I could find more. The name was already changed to Univega by '73-4 wasn't it?
    "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, They just seem a little weird"

    BICYCLE- The simplest and noblest machine:And they're all fun to ride, really

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    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    All I know is my early '80s Univega is my favorite bike!

    Here he is:

    And his younger, more flamboyant cousin:

  7. #7
    Prodigal road guy MajorA's Avatar
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    At the risk of leaving the Univega core of this thread behind, a pic of my '72 Italvega, reworked into a freewheel singlespeed, is attached. I love the way it rides ...

    Italvega frames were built by Torpado in Italy for Ben Lawee; I think producition shifted to Japan in '77 or so, and then to Taiwan by '83, but that second date is pretty squishy. Italvega bikes featured a full range, from straight gauge tubesets (mine) to Columbus tubesets built up with Campy Nuovo Record into 20-21 lb. beauties. Somebody will correct me if I'm wrong, but the really high end offering disappeared from the line when it became Univega. That said, the Univegas I've seen - and there are a lot of them out there - compared really favorably to the quality Japanese marques of the era.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    Senior Member bigwoo's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Lamplight;5880623]All I know is my early '80s Univega is my favorite bike!

    Here he is:


    Lamplight, that bike is one of the most beautiful bikes I've ever seen! It's my favorite too...
    "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, They just seem a little weird"

    BICYCLE- The simplest and noblest machine:And they're all fun to ride, really

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigwoo View Post
    Lamplight, that bike is one of the most beautiful bikes I've ever seen! It's my favorite too...
    Thank you sir! It's going to have a little different luggage system and new wheels soon.

  10. #10
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    As long as we're posting Univegas, here's my current commuter, a 1982 Sportour with Shimano 600 Arabesque:


  11. #11
    Senior Member bigwoo's Avatar
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    Hey Mod's,
    Can we start an official Univega Apreciation thread? If it's OK with dcfreiboth that is..
    "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, They just seem a little weird"

    BICYCLE- The simplest and noblest machine:And they're all fun to ride, really

  12. #12
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    sure you can start one of those, hell I'd start it myself but I don't own a Univega or Italvega.

    marty
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  13. #13
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    The great and powerful dcfreiboth speaks! It is okay to start a "Univega Appreciation" thread ... so let's start with, like what's up with Ben Lawee and the term vega? Italvega, Univega??

  14. #14
    SLJ 6/8/65-5/2/07 Walter's Avatar
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    The only Univega I've owned is from their "last" (so far) incarnation when they were owned by Derby Cycles. Mine is a '99. Though modern bikes the Univegas (and Raleighs which were also a Derby owned marque) threw at least a bone to their heritage as they were Columbus steel frames equipped with Campy.

    Regarding the questions above: I have no idea about Ben Lawee but am pretty sure "Vega" translates to something like "star."


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    I sold Univegas and thought that they were a great bike for the money. The Lawees had a great eye for designing bikes and making them very attractive. I also believe that Miyata manufactured the bikes for them, to their specs. The company was great to deal with and the bike was very profitable. It was nice to retail something a bit different that also looked very appealing to the customer's eye. They did a great job with the entire line. After Derby picked them up, I think that they became just another bike, sort of like a rebadged Raleigh

  16. #16
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    Miyata manufactured some of the Univega but not all of them. It all depends on the model and year. Lawee was careful to design and spec their brands so that it was not readily evident that they were Miyata or anything else (i.e Bianchi in the case of Bertoni). I'm not sure exactly when the name changed from Italvega to Univega. The earliest reference that I found to Univega is 1978, so we know they go back at least that far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
    ... I'm not sure exactly when the name changed from Italvega to Univega. The earliest reference that I found to Univega is 1978, so we know they go back at least that far.
    Here's a reference to Univega from a 1977 Bicyling Magazine article. Article features a Univega Gran Rally as they test bikes from $180-205. This is an awesome reference source with tons of articles on vintage bikes. Check it out.

    http://www.wooljersey.com/gallery/v/...ng-1977-04-05/

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    My Sportour wanted to be included.




  19. #19
    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    Very nice intheshop! I love the aero shift levers.

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    Senior Member roca rule's Avatar
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    i have a gran premio that i picked up from a yard sale for 5 dollars since then i change the rims to a pair of alex rims for 100 dollars and bought bondrager tires. is is blue some paint has chipt off but really works great came with a sakae handle bar and sun tour cyclone derailers and gc brakes. i will post a pic tomorrow.

  21. #21
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    I've been on the look out for a road bike for my boyfriend's sister and came across this one. I am relatively new to the world of road bikes but this one looked nice. Wanted to make sure it was worth the money. If it is worth it, I am half tempted to buy it for myself and let her borrow it! I just love the colors and the way it looks. Any input would be very, very helpful! Thanks!

    Univega road bike in good condition and features:

    * Lugged Chromoly Steel frame
    * Horizontal drop outs
    * Suntour Honor derailiur
    * Side Pull Brakes
    * Sakae SX Alloy Crank
    * Wheels are 27" with Araya Alloy Rims
    * Tires are nearly NEW Panaracer Pasela TG tires that cost over $40
    * Frame and paint are in very good condition with no dents or dings
    * Frame measures 20.5" (52cm)from the center of the crank to middle of the top tube
    * 21" from the center of the seat post to the center of the headtube
    * Standover height is 31"

    Bike should fit someone about 5'2" to about 5'7"

    * I am asking $130 but am open to offers.

  22. #22
    Resident Car-Nut Atlantian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by intheshop View Post
    My Sportour wanted to be included.



    OMG! that is the exact frame that I got just this afternoon, I am planning on using it to make a fixie.

    Idk, I feel like there is something wrong with me shaving off the cable holds and/or even stripping the paint and decal to repaint it.

    Can someone here tell me a bit about this frame?
    2008 Kent GMC Denali and proud of it!

  23. #23
    Senior Member oldbobcat's Avatar
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    I'm currently rehabbing an early '70s Gran Tourismo for a friend, and I'm finding the component choice and build quality (frame and assembly) impressive. There's nary a seamed tube in it, unlike the frames of a particular French marque hitting a similar price point.

    BTW, intheshop, we'd respect you more if you'd convert the Denali.

  24. #24
    Senior Member CMC SanDiego's Avatar
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    I agree that the Denali should be sacrificed and the SportTour should be left alone. My father in law is the original owner of one and it is a great bike. Since I'm the only son-in-law, I'm hoping to have it in my stable one day.

  25. #25
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Denalis don't look bad SS'ed either:


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