at first glance, this bike looks a lot like a raleigh sports (or superbe), ladies' frame. at least, that's what i thought. in fact, i thought that it must be a raleigh "clone" or a raleigh-produced bike that was branded as something else for export. upon closer examination, it's an altogether different beast, and a really nice alternative to a sports/superbe:
it's my wife's 1973 union savoy. union is a very old dutch brand, that dates back to the early 1900s in holland. (not to be confused with royce-union, the japanese brand, although there is some strange connection that i haven't figured out). the union brand is still sold today in holland, although they stopped producing them in the netherlands in the 90s and switched to asia like most everyone else. the savoy was holland's version of the venerable raleigh sports. in fact, when paired up against a sports, the similarities are striking and the frames appear nearly identical. they both have sturmey-archer 3-speed hubs, northroad bars, and rim brakes on 26x1-3/8" wheels, all on a step-through frame with parallel downtube/top tube pairs. up close, more differences become apparent. it's slightly taller than a sports with a 22" seat tube length, and it has track dropouts. cranks and bottom bracket are stronglight, brakes are altenburger (precursor to weinmann). in fact, the only connection to raleigh/sturmey archer is the 3-speed hub itself.
it also has a few accessories that are typical for dutch city bikes old and new alike: rear skirt guards, rear wheel "cafe" lock, front and rear dynamo lights with wiring running inside the frame and a braze-on bottle dynamo mount, full vinyl chaincase and a matching heavy-duty rear rack. (about the crate: while i prefer bags, my wife prefers a crate. she likes being able to go to the store and throw a shopping bag in there and forget about it...no hassling with flaps and buckles. more on the crate later).
lighting setup (i like seeing structures found in nature incorporated in objects-- can you tell what i'm recreating by the shape of my wiring?):
lugwork and paint quality are actually quite nicer than standard raleigh sports fare. headtube lugs are detailed in gold from the factory, but it's faded and needs redoing:
rear taillamp and original dealer sticker:
parked next to my DL1:
so back to the crate. i think it detracts from the lines of the bike, and makes it clunky and even a bit demeaning. but my wife really prefers it. but she also has a personal attachment to it: it was part of a set of crates my wife's dad made for her to hold her vinyl LPs when she went to college!!! so the crate itself has a piece of history connecting it to my wife. (being that the crate is 22 years old, i guess it is vintage in its own right...i guess it can stay .
my wife is not a cyclohoarder like myself. over the past few years, she's had the opportunity to call two DL1 ladies' roadsters and a raleigh sports her own... after collecting them all, then finding this one, she felt that cleaning out space in the basement was more important than having a bike stable (where are her priorities??!!), and the union won out. it's smoother riding than a sports, albeit slightly heavier (there was never any evolutionary pressure on the dutch to produce lightweight bikes outside of the racing market, given that their country is so flat!). but it's smaller and lighter than a DL1, and this was critical in her decision since she (and i) have to carry our bikes up 13 steps to our porch...