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Old 09-01-08, 03:35 PM   #1
Yen
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An old used Univega

During brunch with the bike group today, I mentioned my search for the next bike, something more upright than the Roubaix to use as an about-town commuter or take on slower rides. A man in our group offered his Univega. Steel frame, low-end Campy parts, and 20,000+ miles. It also has drop bars but I could swap those out. He offered to let me have it for $200.00 if I want it (if it fits), and he'll throw in the panniers for free.

He's available today and then will be on vacation for the better part of September and not available again until October.

What should I ask and look for on this bike? It could be a fun fixer-upper, or just the ticket for riding around town.
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Old 09-01-08, 03:37 PM   #2
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200 !! You crazy?

Pics.
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Old 09-01-08, 03:38 PM   #3
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No pics. I may take a run over to look at it today.
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Old 09-01-08, 03:38 PM   #4
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Sheesh.

what do you plan to upgrade on it?
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Old 09-01-08, 03:39 PM   #5
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Did you ride it? Do you know if it fits you?
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Old 09-01-08, 03:44 PM   #6
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Upgrade? Ride it? Fit? I haven't even seen it yet!

At this point, I'm looking for comments such as "I'd kill for any Univega, get it!!!"...... or to avoid certain models. For example, if someone asked me about a '66 VW Beetle and asked if they are worth even looking at for $200.00 if it runs and the body is decent, I'd say "GET IT!!!" because I know that car. I know nothing about vintage bikes or Univega in general.
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Old 09-01-08, 03:46 PM   #7
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Did you ride it? Do you know if it fits you?
About the fit.... the man is slightly shorter than I am and said the bike is slightly too big for him. So, it's in the ballpark. But as I said, I haven't even seen it yet and all I know about it is what I've already posted.

If it fits, shall I commit?
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Old 09-01-08, 04:03 PM   #8
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More info: It's a Univega Ital Sport, approx. 20 years old, he purchased it new. He said I'll be impressed with the good condition. I'm heading over shortly to see it. Any more comments/questions before I leave...?
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Old 09-01-08, 04:32 PM   #9
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I don't know anything about the bike but $200 sounds a little steep with that kind of mileage. Unless it's in really good shape I would think $100 would be more like it. eBay has several for less than $200.
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Old 09-01-08, 04:59 PM   #10
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The Classic & Vintage forum would be a better resource. I see Univegas all the time on Craigslist. I believe the Ital Sport w/Campy was one of their better bikes. Most Univegas that I've seen go for $100-$150, but that model may go higher. OTOH, that is a very used bike.

It's not a highly sought after hidden gem but has its admirers.

I assume it has down-tube shifters? Have you ever riden with those? I'm not a fan of them.

The gearing may be pretty road-aggressive too. A lot of bikes from that era use double cranks of around 52/42. My mid-80s Panasonic has a 52/42 double with a 12-24 rear. Doesn't leave me many gears that I enjoy using.
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Old 09-01-08, 05:15 PM   #11
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A used bike is worth only what you want to pay for it. Univega/ Raleigh at one time was about the same bike. At least 10 years ago they were. Look at it and ride it and see what you think. I believe $200.00 is a touch high but I havenít seen the bike.
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Old 09-01-08, 05:22 PM   #12
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If you like it and want to ride it buy it, if you don't then don't. Don't fret over what anyone else tells you is my honest opinion. Unless you've turned into some sort of horse trader or something, that is more interested in $$$ than horses.
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Old 09-01-08, 05:50 PM   #13
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Nope -- too big. A tad too tall, and too stretched out.

Thanks all...
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Old 09-01-08, 06:00 PM   #14
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What?!?!

You passed on that amazing deal!!??!

A once in a lifetime opportunity to get that special "only 50 ever made" rebadged handmade Colnago w/Campy that was sold as a Univega!!!
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Old 09-01-08, 06:59 PM   #15
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What?!?!

You passed on that amazing deal!!??!

A once in a lifetime opportunity to get that special "only 50 ever made" rebadged handmade Colnago w/Campy that was sold as a Univega!!!
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Old 09-01-08, 07:05 PM   #16
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What?!?!

You passed on that amazing deal!!??!

A once in a lifetime opportunity to get that special "only 50 ever made" rebadged handmade Colnago w/Campy that was sold as a Univega!!!
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Old 09-01-08, 09:44 PM   #17
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I'm a huge Univega fan. My first "good" bike was a Univega (1980), and so was my second (1983).

Here's a thread from C&V on Univega:

The Unofficial Univega Appreciation Thread!


Here's another:

What do you think of the Lawee Designed Univega's??

The owner of Univega created a bewildering number of models, so it can be tough to sort out what you're looking at when you find a used one for sale. The folks on these threads can be helpful.

A lot of their frames were made by Miyata, but the Univegas usually came in more interesting colors.
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Old 09-02-08, 06:12 AM   #18
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I'm with BengeBoy as far as the older Ben Lawee bikes are concerned. They are, IMHO, a greatly underappreciated machine. It does sound like the Ital Sport you passed on was one of the better examples (but if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit). The Univega name went through a series of owners over the years and the quality of bikes has varied widely. I just rode the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred on an '83 Gran Sprint (which has become my favorite rider in the stable), and barely noticed the chip seal that I heard everyone else complaining about. Vintage steel has a sweet ride.
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Old 09-03-08, 01:12 AM   #19
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I have a univega italsport I bought 7 years ago for $100. It had, perhaps, 5 miles on it. Original tires with no apparent wear.

Low end Campy of 25 years ago is nothing special compared to Japanese today. It isn't very collectible and the rear derailler isn't up to current standards.

One concern is that the higher end the bike is, the less friendly the gearing is for casual riders. Front chain ring is 52/42. The 42 is a non standard size so you can't go down. The rear free wheel is a 28/14. That older Campy derailler won't adjust to a larger one so you can't go up. I'm looking at replacing the whole crank set. If I lived in Iowa, it would be fine but here in San Diego, I can't get back out of the canyons.

I'm also looking at raising the bars but you can't go to far and still have an easy reach to the shifters on the down tube.

That said, I'm not selling mine.
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Old 09-03-08, 09:07 AM   #20
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Nope -- too big. A tad too tall, and too stretched out.
You made the right call. A bike which does not fit you perfectly is no deal. Keep looking -- there are lots of good used Japanese bikes out there.
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Old 09-03-08, 11:43 AM   #21
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You could have at least taken a picture.
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Old 09-03-08, 12:00 PM   #22
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what size do you need?
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Old 09-03-08, 12:57 PM   #23
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You made the right call. A bike which does not fit you perfectly is no deal. Keep looking -- there are lots of good used Japanese bikes out there.
I am partial to Univegas for emotional reasons, but you can also look at Miyata, Centurion, Panasonic, Nishiki, Lotus, Sekai, Fuji...they all made different levels of bikes at different quality levels. You can dig around online or the C&V forum and figure it out, but if you look for double-butted tubes, frame stickers, and know something about the component groups, you can sort out which bikes are better.

And, of course, condition matters - a lot. These used bikes are outstanding values if you get a good copy, but if you have to immediately turn around and invest in new wheels and/or you don't like the paint job, you're running into significant dollars.

The West Coast was filled with these bikes, you should be able to find a good copy.
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Old 09-03-08, 01:48 PM   #24
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My only experience with Univega was not a happy one.

15 years ago and my now son-in law bought a Univega Mountain bike. After about 6 months a lot of the parts had been replaced. Bottom bracket went tight on about his 4th ride-10 miles into a metric- Front derailler fell apart- wheels just fell apart. OK- Young rider giving it a lot of stick and I replaced the parts that had broken as the shop he bought it from said it was misuse. Then the Frame broke. Bottom bracket weld went and so it was back to the shop for warranty. We got nowhere.

Got in touch with Univega and not a good result. I could get a replacement frame for $250 but that was all they would do. So I sent them a letter with a copy of a letter to one of the Mountain bike Magazines that would be sent in 7 days. We had a very quick reply and got a new frame and forks out of them- and to compensate for the other parts already replaced- New crankset- bottom bracket and wheels.

We built up the bike and sold it immediately for a good price to the buyer. My son-in-law took over my Kona Explosif and I got the custom frame I had been hankering for.

And that "New" replacement frame----lasted 6 months before that broke.

Now that was 15 years ago-just before the group Univega belonged to bought out a lot of other well known names.
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Old 09-03-08, 07:57 PM   #25
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I'm not really looking for a Univega. This bike was just offered to me by a member of our bike group when I mentioned that I'm looking for another bike to use as more of a utility/commuter/upright rider. I felt way too stretched out on it and there was NO clearance above the top tube. Sometime, if I can clear some of my other hobbies out of the way, I'd love to try fixing up an old used bike, tinkering with it as an extra bike and taking my time.
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