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  1. #1
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    History of the Royce Union brand?

    Obviously not the crap they output now with the Royce Union brand upon it, but I'm interested in knowing more about the history of the brand, so far what I think I know is that the Royce Union name came into existance in 1906? Some sources indicate they have a Dutch-built Royce Union, some say Austrian-built Royce Union, but the majority indicate Japanese. The only other thing I've been able to discover about early Royce Unions - around the time of immediate-post-WW2 - they were making knock-offs of English bikes - roadsters and eventually some folders and 10spds - further that the steel and size was more designed (on the 10spds at least) for smaller people (Japanese) rather than bigger people (American). So, what of its history, its quality pre-department store, pre-huffy days? Would a 60's/70's frame be of decent quality for a bit of a beater (with the addition of non-steel rims and better brakes)?

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    I Have A Royce Union 10 Spd. That I Got In The Late 1960's. It Has Been Very Durable & Comfortable, & Even Though It Is A Road Bike, I Don't Hesitate To Take It On Trails. Being 6'4" Tall I Should Get A Larger Frame Bike, But It Has Been Hard To Match The Durability/comfort Of This One.

  3. #3
    2 Wheels > 4 Hydrate's Avatar
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    I found one in my in laws garage says its from West Germany, model is explorer
    Not had a chance to clean it up yet to find a serial number

  4. #4
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    Let's confuse things further. I've also seen boom era Royce Union from Italy and Japan!

  5. #5
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    My wife had a Royce Union 3 speed. We bought it from a neighbor. I remember back when I thought I knew so much about bikes I was convinced her Royce Union was cheap because it was made in Asia, I'm about 90% sure it was Japan. It was one VERY reliable bike if not glamorous. It took her all over the neighborhood and never had a problem. Sadly I sold that bike at a garage sale for $10.
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  6. #6
    Love bikes
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    T-Mar, et al - I have a Royce Union frame that was made in Italy. Got it free when my Super Le Tour was stolen 20 years ago. It's still pretty funky looking, most decals badly scratched, etc. But - it rides great and I love it. I've been wondering what the story was with it after reading bits of this history and at Sheldon Brown's web site.When I built it up I put much nicer components on it than I'm sure it had when it was new: Cinelli bars, Campy brakes, TA crank I'm planning to get it re-painted maybe this winter.
    Last edited by AlanPetersen; 09-15-08 at 04:50 PM.

  7. #7
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    Royce Union

    Hi,

    My name is Simon living in the Netherlands.
    In the Netherlands we have Union as a bicycle brand.
    Royce Union is an American brand. On the head badge of early Royce Union bicycles you can find the text "established 1904" and "Holland". This could implicate that the brand name Union comes from Holland but is manufactored in the States somewhere in the beginning of 1900.

    Best regards,

    Simon
    www.bikestoremember.nl

  8. #8
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    I┤ve seen headbadge with anno 1904 and Made in Taiwan.
    the rider makes the bike - steel club member 198

  9. #9
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    I have a Royce Union that I know nothing about. It seems to be well built and sturdy so I ride it. Plus it looks cool.

  10. #10
    Chrome Freak Rabid Koala's Avatar
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    My only recollections of Royce Union are from childhood, they made imitations of the English 3 speed and some kids bikes, all were sold in discount stores.
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    From my memory, I believe my Grand Father Bought Royce Union in 1929 or 1930. He had a store in Brooklyn.. His name was George J. Seedman, and he owned and operated Time Square Stores. His store in Brooklyn went from selling Bikes to Auto Parts and then eventually migrated into the largest Retail Chain on Long Island untill it closed in 1989. I think Royce Union was then sold to Huffy.

  12. #12
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikesToRemember View Post
    Hi,

    My name is Simon living in the Netherlands.
    In the Netherlands we have Union as a bicycle brand.
    Royce Union is an American brand. On the head badge of early Royce Union bicycles you can find the text "established 1904" and "Holland". This could implicate that the brand name Union comes from Holland but is manufactored in the States somewhere in the beginning of 1900.

    Best regards,

    Simon
    www.bikestoremember.nl
    simon,

    i have a dutch-built union with stainless steel von schothorst rims and sturmey archer 3-speed with front and rear drum brakes. it has a "made in holland" decal and has decals all over it in dutch. the union brand was never sold in the US. this one came from holland and still has the sticker on the back fender with the name of the town and the dealer from which it was bought.

  13. #13
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    When my Dad owned his bike shop from 1952 until 1978, I remember selling English made RU's and , later on, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Chinese made RU's. Never heard of a Dutch one, but, coincidentally, just came across a Craigslist listing of one. They were definitely headquarted on Long Island for many years. Not sure what happened to RU the last 10 to 15 years.

  14. #14
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    I recall seeing somewhere that the Japanese built RU's were built by Panasonic but I was never able to find more than that... so far.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    The early/mid-60's Royce Union were all Japanese, if I remember my reading correctly it was the first brand name for a Japanese bike sold in the US. No idea who actually made them, and my reading had always led me to believe that, at the time, whatever Japanese bikes were being brought over were under the Royce Union brand name, no matter what manufacturer.

    For the money (cheap) a good quality bike. Unfortunately, it never occurred to the Japanese to size them for American riders, so they were invariably sold towards adolescents.
    Syke

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  16. #16
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Timeline of Royce Union:

    Unknown date: Company decides to market inexpensive brand of bicycles badged "Royce Union."
    Various years following: "Royce Union" name applied to many bicycles produced by various suppliers from various countries.
    2009: A company still sells inexpensive bikes under the "Royce Union" name.

    History lesson over.

    -Kurt

  17. #17
    Senior Member DavidW56's Avatar
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    The first bicycle I ever bought for myself, and the last one I ever bought new, was a Royce Union 3-speed. It was when I was nine or ten years old or so, maybe in 1967 or a bit later, and I used all my savings of birthday and Christmas money to get it, for about $39.

    It was as others described above -- an inexpensive department store bicycle, a knock-off of an English 3-speed. But the hub and shifter were not Sturmey-Archer; I'm quite sure it was 333. And the shifter was a stick shift mounted on the top tube. Handle bars were for upright seating -- perhaps they could be called North Road.

    It was, at the time, a beautiful bike to me -- glossy black body, black fenders with white tips, white handlebars, thin whitewall tires, white shifter and cables, black and white saddle. I had been riding my mother's hand-me-down rustbucket, a faded blue and gray Western Flyer that weighed as much as a 1958 Plymouth. That Royce Union instantly made me the envy of many kids in the neighborhood -- they called it an "English racer", which was about as far as our knowledge of bikes went. It was the top bike on my block, until my then-best friend got a ten-speed a little while later.

    It's easy to dismiss those inexpensive imports as inadequate and cheaply made. But I rode it for years, and I learned most of what I know now about bicycle repair from that bike. For one thing, I was hard on it, and the fender didn't look so good after I'd hit things a few times, so I took them off to match the look of the popular ten-speeds in the '70's. I can't count how many times I patched tubes or rubbed rust off the rims with a Brillo pad I'd snuck out of the kitchen before my mom saw.

    It's true that the bike was built for smaller people. It fit me fine when I was a pre-teen, but I outgrew it in my teens. And I still rode it. I didn't have a driver's license until I graduated from high school, at age 17. And I didn't always have the use of a family car for fun, either -- although I commuted to a city university, I sometimes still needed a bike to get around at night.

    I finally gave up on that Royce Union when I was finished with college, but I still have the Schwinn-approved speedometer I'd put on when I was in high school. It registers 2602 miles, and the bike was older than the speedometer.

    It may have been a cheap bike, but it served me well for at least ten years.
    Schwinn - World's Finest Bicycles.

  18. #18
    Junior Member phering's Avatar
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    Today's barn rescue, a 66 I think. She should clean up real pretty.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    but didn't you all have one of these in the '70s like my older brothers did?
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  20. #20
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    From Hoover's information on Huffy - "In 1997, Huffy sold Gerry Baby Products Co., gaining $73 million from the divestiture, and purchased Royce Union Bicycle Co., a Hauppauge, New York-based maker of high-end bikes."

  21. #21
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TitusTodd View Post
    ...and purchased Royce Union Bicycle Co., a Hauppauge, New York-based maker of high-end bikes."


    -Kurt

  22. #22
    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    My first 10-speed when I was 10 or 11 was a Royce Union. Nothing special, obviously, but I didn't know any different at the time. Got me started on 10-speeds and did everything else it needed to do. I vaguely remember steel Shimano derailleurs (Lark), cottered cranks, and Dia-Compe alloy side-pull brakes. The brakes & levers were the only alloy on the bike. It was stolen within a couple of years. I was relegated to my junk-built but fun mustang-style bike for a year or more after that, then got my first quality 10-speed, an Empire Professional, which I never left unattended.
    Last edited by old's'cool; 01-06-10 at 02:50 PM. Reason: corrected derailleur to Lark
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  23. #23
    Holy Spokes it's Batsman! Glennfordx4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikesToRemember View Post
    Hi,

    My name is Simon living in the Netherlands.
    In the Netherlands we have Union as a bicycle brand.
    Royce Union is an American brand. On the head badge of early Royce Union bicycles you can find the text "established 1904" and "Holland". This could implicate that the brand name Union comes from Holland but is manufactored in the States somewhere in the beginning of 1900.

    Best regards,

    Simon
    www.bikestoremember.nl
    Here is the badge and frame of a old Royce Union that I am building a custom beach cruiser out of it. It was a 3 speed and had about 15 coats of paint on it when I rescued it from a friends kid. I had tried to find out what model it was and the year but couldn't find anything at all about it. I am going to have it painted to match my Ford Bronco,install a springer front end with drum brakes. I have about 90% of the parts gathered for the build,bars,headset,seat,forks,24"front wheel w/drum brake,Tange BB and paint. The only thing I haven't decided on yet is what type of drivetrain I want and for now I will use a 3 speed set up.



    Last edited by Glennfordx4; 01-06-10 at 08:48 AM. Reason: wrong photos


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  24. #24
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    A Happiest Day to get my Royce Union

    The 10-speed with a 27" frame cost $100 - a good sum in 1974 for a 14 year old. Schwinn, Fuji and Raliegh were a little more upscale but it was built very well and a great value in its day. Riding it home from the ole Hunter's Western Auto store in Allegan, Michigan was an extremely happy afternoon! Pearl white replete with gold pinstripes, a pre-index era Shimano shifter, a cool looking but uncomfortable saddle seat, and the classic large, round with no-real brand speedometer that was mostly valued for its' odometer. Putting almost 1300 hard miles on it each year was a pride point for me and my best friend who had a similar bike. Until I got a driver's license, I rode that white Royce Union everywhere. With pride. Gumwall tires didn't last as long as bike tires today and I recall countless flat tires in the pre-kevlar era, but the chain was always well oiled. You dealt with flats like riding in the rain to a football game, beach or a drivers ed class - a pain, but that's the deal. At college in northern Michigan, it sat outside locked up in winter and summer and I didn't even give it a thought. You knew it would hold its own.
    Fast forward 13 years to 1987 and a move to Colorado as a zone mgr. for Ford Motor. When the movers delivered it from Michigan I realized how shabby of shape it had gotten in through the years. Greg LeMond had just made cycling cool again in the US and, well, one morning I lifted it over my shoulders and threw my Royce Union in the dumpster, planning to get a new `sport- tour' bike. But, I glanced back at it in the large green dumpster, had flashbacks of so many good times, and ended up hauling it back to my apartment, rusty wheels and all.
    So, that Winter I stripped it down to the bare frame, hired my dealer in Colorado Springs to repaint it the most beautiful pearl white w/ gold stripes and put on the latest components. Gel saddle, and alloy wheels, handle bars, pedals and a digital speedometer. Gone were the faithful, but rusty steel wheels, and other steel parts. Afterward, it weighed a fraction of its original weight, but it was and still is my faithful Royce Union with many hours/miles since logged on it, including while dating my, now, wife.
    My two kids, now teenagers, spent a lot of time in a child seat on the back of it, so now its part of our family.
    What a well built bike.
    David Voglewede
    trout345@hotmail.com

  25. #25
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    A Happiest Day to get my Royce Union

    The 10-speed with a 27" frame cost $100 - a good sum in 1974 for a 14 year old. Schwinn, Fuji and Raliegh were a little more upscale but it was built very well and a great value in its day. Riding it home from the ole Hunter's Western Auto store in Allegan, Michigan was an extremely happy afternoon! Pearl white replete with gold pinstripes, a pre-index era Shimano shifter, a cool looking but uncomfortable saddle seat, and the classic large, round with no-real brand speedometer that was mostly valued for its' odometer. Putting almost 1300 hard miles on it each year was a pride point for me and my best friend who had a similar bike. Until I got a driver's license, I rode that white Royce Union everywhere. With pride. Gumwall tires didn't last as long as bike tires today and I recall countless flat tires in the pre-kevlar era, but the chain was always well oiled. You dealt with flats like riding in the rain to a football game, beach or a drivers ed class - a pain, but that's the deal. At college in northern Michigan, it sat outside locked up in winter and summer and I didn't even give it a thought. You knew it would hold its own.
    Fast forward 13 years to 1987 and a move to Colorado as a zone mgr. for Ford Motor. When the movers delivered it from Michigan I realized how shabby of shape it had gotten in through the years. Greg LeMond had just made cycling cool again in the US and, well, one morning I lifted it over my shoulders and threw my Royce Union in the dumpster, planning to get a new `sport- tour' bike. But, I glanced back at it in the large green dumpster, had flashbacks of so many good times, and ended up hauling it back to my apartment, rusty wheels and all.
    So, that Winter I stripped it down to the bare frame, hired my dealer in Colorado Springs to repaint it the most beautiful pearl white w/ gold stripes and put on the latest components. Gel saddle, and alloy wheels, handle bars, pedals and a digital speedometer. Gone were the faithful, but rusty steel wheels, and other steel parts. Afterward, it weighed a fraction of its original weight, but it was and still is my faithful Royce Union with many hours/miles since logged on it, including while dating my, now, wife.
    My two kids, now teenagers, spent a lot of time in a child seat on the back of it, so now its part of our family.
    What a well built bike.
    David Voglewede
    trout345@hotmail.com

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