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Old 05-16-16, 07:11 PM   #26
Roadwanderer
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I’ve managed to pick up a Univega Safari 10-speed for a song. Well, a song and a few bucks. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it was built between 1975 and 1980.

It is 20” tall, a much better fit for me than my mountain bike, which is about 17.75”

The wheels are 27” x 1.25” Not quite the 700c I wanted to upgrade to, but still a larger radius than my 26” wheels.

My chain rings are 40T and 52T
My freewheel is: 14T, 17T, 20T, 24T and 28T

The crank is 180 mm.

The gear inches are as follows:

77.4 ...... 100.6
63.7 ...... 82.8
54.2 ...... 70.4
45.1 ...... 58.7
38.7 ...... 50.3

My mountain bike has a gear range from 27.8 to 92.6, so I’ve lost some versatility in the lowest range, but I’ve gained in the highest range, which is what I wanted. And, truth be told, I only use the biggest two chain rings on a normal day on my mountain bike. So my practical usual range is actually 36.1 to 92.6.

Now, I’m going to have to switch out the drop bars for something upright, remove the second brake levers, and add fenders and a chain guard if I can find one to fit, but I think this will work out. I might repaint it as well, but the color is fine if I decide not to. It would just look better kept up with a new coat.

The old-style friction shifters are stem-mounted, and I think this will work out well. It will be easy to change out the handlebars with this setup. Additionally, I think I like this shifting action better than the thumb or twist shifters.

What do you guys think? Overall, the construction seems pretty decent, and once I do all my modifications, I think it might meet my needs.

I’m a little worried about the tires. It was a “buy this right now or you’ll never have another chance” sort of deal, so I threw caution to the wind. Right now, the width is 1.25”, which is too skinny. I’d like to get the fattest 27” tires I can, and I’m not opposed to getting new rims to accomplish this. It might be good enough. I already did some preliminary off-roading with the skinny tires I have, and I found it to be surprisingly adequate. But beyond that, I enjoy the stability of a fatter tire. Any suggestions?

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Old 05-17-16, 07:21 AM   #27
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RW - 27" is only 8mm in diameter bigger than 700C - it's a very easy switch to 700C, should be able to use the existing brakes.
If you're switching to a flat or riser bar from the drops, you'll likely need to get brake levers. Make sure that you get levers that work with the road calipers you probably have, you're looking for short-pull, a lot of levers can be set up for either. If you switch to hybrid 700C wheels and something like 32-36mm tires (should fit on a bike like you describe).

Good luck - I love old 70's & 80's cheap road bikes myself - I like the road riding position and drop bars though.
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Old 05-17-16, 09:40 AM   #28
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You can read a review or two on the bike. They are there online. Here's one: Yello Velo: Univega Safari Ten - The Review The comments I read point to this being an entry level 10 speed bike in its day which means you should be careful before investing a lot of money in it. It should be a perfectly good bike to ride with a little TLC but buying new wheels and a lot of other stuff for it may not make sense if the frame itself is heavy. One review said it has steel wheels (rims) and that also points to "entry level" for the time. You can still get a reasonable selection of 27" tires online from companies like Niagara Cycle. I buy tires and tubes from them as the selection for the size I use is vast and the prices are way better than my LBS. Here's what you can get in 27" Tires & Tubes - Tires - 27" - Niagara Cycle The widest tire in this size is 27 X 1+3/8". They also have a decent selection of road bike handlebars Road Bike Handlebars | Bullhorn Handlebars | Road Bicycle Handlebars - Niagara Cycle
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Old 05-17-16, 10:46 AM   #29
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@VT - I'm not sure I agree. That review is based on a bike that was being ridden with a bent fork, and was mostly critical of components, not the frame. In comparison to a modern road bike, it'll be heavy. In comparison to anything sold now with an upright geometry, it will likely be quite light and lively.

He's established that what he likes is not readily available. Even entry level steel frames from the 80's I find are quite nice to ride on. If he can get a used set of 700C hybrid wheels that have the 126mm OLD, that is an EXTREMELY easy conversion - it involves moving brake pads down 4mm. Rear frame spacing is the only issue I think is likely. If he's having issue with the spacing, 130mm should be easier to find, and the frame can be easily cold set that far. If the OP likes the friction shifter I'm positive he could find a 126mm OLD wheel with a 6 or 7 speed freewheel, even one of the 'megarange' ones with the serious bail-out gear. some riser bars (I'd probably say use the ones he likes off his current bike, or maybe try trekking bars), and off he goes.
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Old 05-17-16, 02:41 PM   #30
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I agree that there is a lot of value in older bikes compared to an entry level bike of today. However, just because a bike is old doesn't make it a good candidate for spending a lot on upgrades. I've resurrected quite a few decades-old bikes but never bother with the lowest quality ones. You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig.

I've looked over quite a few posts about this bike here and on several other bike related sites. It definitely is entry level and in some places has been described as being at the very bottom of the Univega line. Indeed there were several references to the low quality of the components on the bike. It makes no more sense to spend a lot on upgrading a 30+ year old entry level bike than it would to buy a new entry level bike and upgrade it. If the OP wants 700C wheels he is either going to have to buy a new set of wheels or replace spokes and rims on the existing (cheap) hubs. If he is not capable of building and truing his own wheels he will have to pay a bike shop to do the job. That's not cheap. I still think the best idea is to do the minimum needed to make the bike comfortable and ride-able and after a while start looking for a better one to work with.
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Old 05-18-16, 12:27 AM   #31
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If the OP wants 700C wheels he is either going to have to buy a new set of wheels or replace spokes and rims on the existing (cheap) hubs.
.
No worries there. That was always part of the plan, which was find a sturdy frame with a crankset that works well, and switch out the quill stem, handlebars, wheels, etc. to suit my preferences.

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Old 05-18-16, 12:34 AM   #32
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RW - 27" is only 8mm in diameter bigger than 700C - it's a very easy switch to 700C, should be able to use the existing brakes.
If you're switching to a flat or riser bar from the drops, you'll likely need to get brake levers. Make sure that you get levers that work with the road calipers you probably have, you're looking for short-pull, a lot of levers can be set up for either. If you switch to hybrid 700C wheels and something like 32-36mm tires (should fit on a bike like you describe).

Good luck - I love old 70's & 80's cheap road bikes myself - I like the road riding position and drop bars though.
That is good to know. Thanks. "700" is meaningless to me as a measurement, so I wasn't sure what I was dealing with. Someone somewhere claimed they were 29" which is why I thought they were bigger. If they're slightly smaller, that's fantastic, because I know I can get a 700C that is thicker than the thickest 27" readily available.

Honestly, I'm tempted to snap up a used hybrid bike if I can find one for under $100 and harvest the components I want. I'd probably save a lot of money that way.

As far as the brake levers go, it looks like they're actually two separate sections attached with a bolt. I thought they might be separable. But I could be wrong; I haven't actually taken them apart yet (no need before I get the new handlebars).
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Old 05-18-16, 05:27 AM   #33
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That is good to know. Thanks. "700" is meaningless to me as a measurement, so I wasn't sure what I was dealing with. Someone somewhere claimed they were 29" which is why I thought they were bigger. If they're slightly smaller, that's fantastic, because I know I can get a 700C that is thicker than the thickest 27" readily available.

Honestly, I'm tempted to snap up a used hybrid bike if I can find one for under $100 and harvest the components I want. I'd probably save a lot of money that way.

As far as the brake levers go, it looks like they're actually two separate sections attached with a bolt. I thought they might be separable. But I could be wrong; I haven't actually taken them apart yet (no need before I get the new handlebars).
It looks like that, but you may be better off with a new lever. You probably won't be able to use a lever you get with a cheap hybrid, unless you're lucky enough to get 'dual pull' levers. They're likely to be 'linear pull' brakes to be used with V-brakes. If you happen to get an old bike with Cantilever brakes, you could probably use those levers.
The cheap used bike route is good - you may not get much better components than you've got though, just the 700C wheels - which would let you go slightly wider on tire. Around here I could get a cheap hybrid wheelset that would likely work with your bike for about $50. You do need to watch the width though - here's a better explanation than I can write: Bicycle Frame/Hub Spacing

Explanation of wheel sizes here at SheldonBrown.com - 27" is 630mm bead seat, 29" is the same as 700C and is 622mm. It doesn't make much sense. 27.5 is smaller than 27 as well.
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Old 05-19-16, 10:36 PM   #34
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but buying new wheels and a lot of other stuff for it may not make sense if the frame itself is heavy.
Define heavy? It's lighter than my mountain bike by at least four or five pounds if I'm feeling the weight correctly.

I'm not overly concerned about weight since I ride for fitness as well as enjoyment. I'll take lighter if I can get it, but it's just not something I worry about.

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Old 05-19-16, 10:37 PM   #35
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You do need to watch the width though - here's a better explanation than I can write: Bicycle Frame/Hub Spacing

Explanation of wheel sizes here at SheldonBrown.com - 27" is 630mm bead seat, 29" is the same as 700C and is 622mm. It doesn't make much sense. 27.5 is smaller than 27 as well.
Thanks for the information.
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Old 05-19-16, 10:40 PM   #36
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It makes no more sense to spend a lot on upgrading a 30+ year old entry level bike than it would to buy a new entry level bike and upgrade it.
Don't worry about me, friend, I'm looking forward to this project. It's going to look and feel fantastic when I'm finished.
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Old 06-04-16, 01:52 PM   #37
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UPDATE.

I'll get some pictures up soon. With the help of a local bike shop specializing in recycled parts, I've got new cables, brake levers, stem, handlebars, and tires.

I still need to scrounge up some fenders, a chain guard, a new saddle, a mirror, lights, and a bell, but the basic concept is there, and it's a lot of fun to ride. It's a lot faster and smoother than what I'm used to. It's also my size which is a huge plus. You have no idea how comfortable this thing feels to ride, even with a sub-par saddle. Well, maybe you do. I've seen a lot of posts from people who haven't been riding the correct sized bike.
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Old 06-04-16, 02:30 PM   #38
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UPDATE.

I'll get some pictures up soon. With the help of a local bike shop specializing in recycled parts, I've got new cables, brake levers, stem, handlebars, and tires.

I still need to scrounge up some fenders, a chain guard, a new saddle, a mirror, lights, and a bell, but the basic concept is there, and it's a lot of fun to ride. It's a lot faster and smoother than what I'm used to. It's also my size which is a huge plus. You have no idea how comfortable this thing feels to ride, even with a sub-par saddle. Well, maybe you do. I've seen a lot of posts from people who haven't been riding the correct sized bike.
Excellent! can't wait to see some pictures.
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Old 06-07-16, 07:05 AM   #39
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Here's a before pic:



Here's after (or more correctly "in progress"):



As you can see, I still need a new seat. My problem now is I can't find one I like in brown.

Here's a good view of the handlebars on a ride:



Sorry about the lower quality of the pics. I had to edit them to make them smaller for uploading.
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Old 06-08-16, 06:07 PM   #40
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Looks great! I'm more likely to go the other way and put drops on a mountain bike, but I do absolutely understand the joy of riding a nice, well fitting bike.

You can probably find something as nice local, but I think something like these would look quite nice on that bike. Should fit the fork and frame based on my experiences with old steel road bikes.
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Old 06-08-16, 07:16 PM   #41
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Looks great! I'm more likely to go the other way and put drops on a mountain bike, but I do absolutely understand the joy of riding a nice, well fitting bike.
Thanks. I also put cruiser bars on my mountain bike ;-) But I totally get wanting what you want and what feels good.


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You can probably find something as nice local, but I think something like these would look quite nice on that bike. Should fit the fork and frame based on my experiences with old steel road bikes.
I agree. Is that an appropriate size for my 1.25" wide tires?
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Old 06-08-16, 07:23 PM   #42
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Might be a hair wide, but yes, absolutely. Labeled max width of 45mm is 1.77"
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Old 12-02-17, 05:12 PM   #43
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Introducing my new Royce Union 5-Speed

So, I’ve done it again. I’ve picked up another old steel bicycle. This time it’s a 1972 Royce Union 5-speed. I would say it was on a whim, as the purchase was sudden (and completely unexpected), but this bike had all of the features I have been looking for.

My Univega journey is at an end. It was a fun bike to ride, but I’ve basically traded it for this new (to me) Royce Union.

As those of you familiar with my posts know, I’ve been researching some fairly significant changes to my Univega, but I’ve never quite gotten around to it—for various reasons including a.) being too busy to put too much time into a major overhaul and b.) being unable to find appropriate parts for a price I think is reasonable / unable to justify spending more on parts than I might spend on a new bicycle with 90% of what my end goal is already installed.

Well, my hand was forced. Toward the end of the summer, the 30 year old rear wheel began to malfunction. It was either a problem with the bearings or the axle. I took it apart, cleaned everything, greased the bearings, replaced a missing one, put it back together, and it ran smoothly for awhile, but then it got much worse in a very short amount of time—wobbling quite a bit on the axle. It really took away from my riding experience, and as a result, I rode less. I pretty much only went to and from school with my kids for about a month and a half.

I trolled craigslist and local dealers in used bicycle parts until I found a low price on a matched pair of newer wheels and installed them on my bike (along with a six-cog freewheel and a newer chain). When I was installing the rear wheel, I noticed that the rear brake had gotten mangled somehow. I bent it back, but it didn’t work quite right. I finished putting it back together, and test rode it. It felt good. The wheels were a little out of true, but not nearly the kind of wobble I was getting before. When I ran it through the gears, however, there was a kind of pop from the front derailleur assembly when I shifted to the large chainring. (Another issue I had this year is that I’d had to replace the original derailleur due to a screw popping off and the chain guide getting mangled by the crank—the replacement was different than the original one, so I couldn’t simply copy the way the cable plugged in; I actually ended up letting the professionals at my LBS MavGyver a solution).

Anyway, I don’t know what happened really, but the front derailleur would not shift anymore. I guess I put the cable back on wrong or something, but it didn’t seem to be able to get the right angle to pull the derailleur. So I took it down to my LBS to have them work on it.

Long story short, they recommended a significant amount of work, which I was willing to pay them to do. I chatted with them a little bit about what I looked for in a bike, and the question was asked, why I didn’t buy a new bike. I explained that I was always on the lookout, but nothing really had the elements I was looking for.

One of their people suggested I try out one of their offerings: A Fuji Sagres. I wasn’t feeling it though. Something about the geometry was wonky. It wasn’t a bad ride, but it didn’t feel great, and I couldn’t balance without my hands on the handlebars.

While I was test riding the new bike, the owner actually came over and looked at my bike. When he saw that, he dragged this old Royce Union out from the back and flagged me down to try it out.

I have to say, the Royce Union was nearly exactly what I was looking for. It had a chainguard, a larger chainring (I later confirmed it was 46T, which is what I’d eyeballed it as being), a good tall height (22”), North Road handlebars, stem-mounted friction shifter, clip-on (or whatever partial ones are called) fenders (not as good as full fenders), a comfortable (non-sport) saddle, and (as I found out when I rode it) a decent gear range.

The balance was excellent, and this thing is fast. I was surprised, honestly, because the actual gear range is less on the extreme ends than either my Huffy Blades or my Univega Safari. It is really fast. I can beat the GPS arrival time estimates as easily on this one as I could on my Univega.

When I rode it back to the shop, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: They’d take my Univega to fix up and sell; and I could have the Royce Union for roughly the amount it would have cost to fix my bike (all the recommended repairs).

I said, “please take my money and my bike,” and the deal was done.

I’ve had it a few days now, and so far I’m very happy with it. I mean, I don’t like the color (black), but I’m not going to turn down a bike that feels that good riding over the color. I’ll post pics in a few days, but for now, here are the vital statistics:

Royce Union 5-speed
Year: 1972
Country of Manufacture: Japan
Color: Black
Height: 22”
Wheels: 27” x 1.25”
Crank: 165mm
Chainring(s): 46T
Freewheel: 14T / 17T / 20T / 24T / 28T

Gear Inches:
88.7
73.1
62.1
51.8
44.4

One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t understand all of the factors that go in to how gear ratios affect the speed you’re able to easily go. This thing feels as fast as my Univega, but the upper gear range is lower than the Univega.

While we’re waiting on me to actually take some pics, here’s a video featuring a bicycle that appears, to the naked eye, to be a step-through version of the bike I bought:


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Old 12-04-17, 12:02 PM   #44
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Update:

The week isn't even out and my Univega already sold. At a significant markup. Farewell, old friend, I hope you bring your next owner as much enjoyment as you brought me.
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Old 12-04-17, 06:36 PM   #45
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Interesting story .... waiting on the next installment.
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Old 12-04-17, 08:27 PM   #46
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Interesting story .... waiting on the next installment.
I'm considering (actually decided and researching parts) replacing the stem and handlebars. I need to raise the stem about 3" for it to be where I'm the most comfortable. Unfortunately, the stem is already maxed out. While I'm at it, I'm going to see if some wider handlebars are available--these are actually slightly narrower than the ones I had on my Univega.

I rode my new Royce Union by my LBS today to drop off a seatpost I'd traded out for a longer one and they had a customer there who was looking for something exactly like what I was riding. Unfortunately, since they sold my Univega, the only thing they had in stock that was similar were those Fuji Sagreses. I didn't stick around, so don't know if he bought one of those.
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Old 12-06-17, 08:00 PM   #47
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I've been pretty busy during daylight hours pretty much since I got my new bike, but I've finally taken my first pictures.

Here's my new bike:
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