Old 10-25-08, 12:36 PM
  #108  
BengeBoy 
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Posts: 6,940

Bikes: 2014 Pivot Mach 5.7 MTB, 2009 Chris Boedeker custom, 1988 Tommasini Prestige, 2007 Bill Davidson custom; 1988 Specialized Stumpjumper

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Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
WOW! I had no idea Univega's were such a cult fav! I had the pure luck to have been working at a bike shop in San Marino, CA in the mid 70's. It was amom and pop shop, but they retired, and sold it to Bob Olson, who had bought the old Jones bicycle store in Long Beach. This made his fourth store, and they needed staff, and I got hired. Jones sold Italvega's, and Motobecane, Raleigh, and some other stuff. I remember going to Ben Lawee's warehouse with Eric Olson, Bob's son, and was overwhelmed with all the stuff he had accumulated over the years. i got to know Ben pretty well, because he was just that way. Very easy to get to know. Plus, I had just started racing USCF Senior 4, and he liked that. I also remember he had a daughter, about 15 then, and she was absolutely beautiful!! Very nice,as well. I remember when the first Univega's came in, and we opened the box, and I think it was a Nuovo Record, and we were impressed with the frame quality, and the component selection. A nice machine, especially for the price. Odd point. Ben kept the Italian model names from the Italvega days. Pretty cool. Italvega. "Vega" being the brightest star in the sky, built in Italy. "Ital-Vega" Switched to The Brightest Star in the Universe. "Uni-Vega". I am sorry to hear he died, it makes me feel old at 53. I also feel fortunate to have been so close to his passion for riding, and he was a pretty cool guy. The things you get to experience growing up in L.A. makes people who haven't lived there think you are making it up, but they say truth is stranger than fiction! I bought the firstlowend MTB he offered, and it was NOT made for offroad! It would be better on a bike path, not a mountain single-track. The only Univega I ever had, but not a good example of what he did offer. Generally, the bikes were good, if not great! Later.
Great post, thanks for sharing.

I bought my first two Univegas when they were new (in the early 80's). I thought Ben did a great job putting together frames and component packages that made sense (good / better / best); picking colors; and even picking names. Obviously the frames have held up well; my Univega is my daily commuter and is fantastic.
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