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When WTF meets OMG: Plastic, lugged Union/Polybaronex city bicycle!

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When WTF meets OMG: Plastic, lugged Union/Polybaronex city bicycle!

Old 06-02-20, 04:39 PM
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When WTF meets OMG: Plastic, lugged Union/Polybaronex city bicycle!

I've been cleaning out the shed extensively, so I called the scrap guy to come over and pick up some aluminum. He knows I've been interested in what he's described to me as a bicicleta de carrera, so he brought it by today.



This is no bicicleta de carrera, but I wasted no time handing over some dollars for this thing for the novelty (and parts) alone. This appears to be a mid-1980's Union city bicycle, and while a German city bicycle is odd enough to find in any form, I can literally create a bullet-point list of the immense amount of "when was the last time you saw ____?" that's on this bike:
  • Full lighting system (admittedly, not that unusual for city bicycles from places where the bicycle isn't seen as a toy),
  • Aluminum Pletscher rack with the two-bolt mounting to the stays (if I'm not mistaken, I think this thing is a bolt-on to my 1980 Raleigh Sports!),
  • Altenburger dual-pivot brake calipers and plastic-bodied versions of 1970's upright-bar Altenburger brake levers,
  • A steel porteur bar. Because someone was channeling their inner Francophile,
  • A chrome chainguard that looks like it belongs on a 1960's Italian city bicycle. I hope it will straighten out a bit better, because I really want to use it on Leo, the Bottecchia,
  • Weighted, plastic Shimano platform pedals,
  • High flange nutted Normandy (?) hubs,
  • An aluminum expander seatpost...that was once lined with plastic...and the expander is plastic too. Yep!
  • and Shimano Positron 5-speed - because, hey, it's not that weird on it's own, but it is when it is here!
But that's not the greatest part. The frame is made up of aluminum tubes, mated to...plastic lugs. Yes. Plastic "Polybaronex" lugs.



And the Vitus guys think they're cool riding bikes that will spontaneously explode. They've got nothing on the mighty Polybaronex!

Jokes aside, I have no idea how strong this thing is - perhaps it's a lot more resilient than the jokes I'm cracking about it (har har!) would suggest.



And how about these dropouts?





Union light, still with factory wiring running up the externally-looped fender stay. Speaking of which, get a load of the Shimano platform pedals. One of them has absolutely eaten a bearing though, so I doubt I'll be able to bring them both back.



Altenburger's delightfully centerpullish-looking dual pivots. I wonder how these would respond to the same bushing upgrades as some have done on Dia-Compe/Weinmann 999s.





I never thought I'd find something that has yet to be mentioned here in C&V. But apparently, it hasn't.

More pictures later. Took the seatpost out, but had to bug spray the back of the frame. The saddle and lock adapter would have made some kid's ant farm proud.

-Kurt
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Old 06-02-20, 05:22 PM
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That is interesting. Plastic lugs. I never knew that they existed on a "real" bike. I guess if they lasted this long they should be good, on the other hand plastic usually gets more brittle over time and exposure to ultra violet. Is it lighter than a comparable city bike? Does it have steel fenders? Is the Positron shift cable(s) missing?

Are you going to keep it?
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Old 06-02-20, 05:40 PM
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So this is probably built using the same technique as Bridgestone Kubuki did with aluminum lugs and stainless tubes. I typed in Polybaronex and found a bunch of these bikes, all in Europe. So, that is a rare find in the US. Or at least I think so.
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Old 06-02-20, 06:17 PM
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That is awesomely weird and funny. I would totally ride that, but maybe not too fast. Polybaronex must be a trade name for something. Acetal resin? Maybe glass reinforced?

All it needs is a Nylfor headset to go with it.

For anyone that thinks that plastic bikes sound like a dumb idea, that is what most people ride nowadays....
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Old 06-02-20, 07:39 PM
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I stripped it down to the frame tonight. I found out a few things. First of all, I found out that this thing is infested with ants. Second of all, the ants found out that I'm well equipped with bug spray.

Answering all your questions in one post:

Originally Posted by Velo Mule
That is interesting. Plastic lugs. I never knew that they existed on a "real" bike. I guess if they lasted this long they should be good, on the other hand plastic usually gets more brittle over time and exposure to ultra violet. Is it lighter than a comparable city bike? Does it have steel fenders? Is the Positron shift cable(s) missing?

Are you going to keep it?
Steel fenders, Positron shift cable missing, rear freewheel appears to be a corncob 6-speed ATOM and jammed solid. Also appears to be spaced like a Suntour Ultra 6. Didn't check if it's 120mm. I was also wrong about the hubs - they're Malliard.

I took the fork off as I rather fancy that headset, and found that it's lined on the inside with a steel tube. Probably so the force of the headset is better distributed across the plastic. I didn't get a look at the seattube, but I'm guessing this is the only "lug" designed this way.

I haven't weighed it yet. Can barely get the kickstand bolt loose and I'm afraid of breaking it, while the BB is still in it too. The single worst thing about this bike are the crankset bolts, which look like they were pulled off the Titanic. Right arm is off, but left arm is still on the bike. Not so much because of the crankset bolts, but because the plastic dustcap jammed itself in there nice and solid.

I hadn't figured out the bottom bracket yet either, but now that I've seen this picture, I'm pretty sure it's a press-fit Thompson. Whack the spindle to remove. All I really want is the chainguard bracket; the cup will go back in after that.




Believe it or not, the kickstand turned out to be a Greenfield once I cleaned the logo off. I would have guessed for sure it was a Pletscher, given that this is a German bike and is equipped with a Pletscher rack.

I'm going to put it in the For Trade thread. I'd gladly send it for cost of shipping + something on my ISO list. Doesn't have to be anything equal, like a frame - just something that'll make it worth it to spend the time of packaging and padding this turd.

Originally Posted by Velo Mule
So this is probably built using the same technique as Bridgestone Kubuki did with aluminum lugs and stainless tubes. I typed in Polybaronex and found a bunch of these bikes, all in Europe. So, that is a rare find in the US. Or at least I think so.
Yep, found a few in the EU via Google Images. The interesting thing is that the frame appears to be a contract job - quite a few brand names were stuck on it, it appears.

Originally Posted by Salamandrine
That is awesomely weird and funny. I would totally ride that, but maybe not too fast. Polybaronex must be a trade name for something. Acetal resin? Maybe glass reinforced?

All it needs is a Nylfor headset to go with it.

For anyone that thinks that plastic bikes sound like a dumb idea, that is what most people ride nowadays....
It's probably named for Polly, the Baron's Ex. She tried to murder the bum by creating a frame with plastic lugs

In all seriousness, probably a fancy trade name. It looks like the plastic used on 1970's and 1980's pot and pan handles.

-Kurt
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Old 06-02-20, 08:15 PM
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Wasn't Polybaronex a sci-fi villainess with a really tight suit?
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Old 06-02-20, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue
Wasn't Polybaronex a sci-fi villainess with a really tight suit?
You've been daydreaming again.

-Kurt
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Old 06-02-20, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888
just something that'll make it worth it to spend the time of packaging and padding this turd.
what a salesman!
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Old 06-02-20, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by droppedandlost
what a salesman!

-Kurt
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Old 08-17-21, 07:57 AM
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Rack

The rack is not Pletscher it is German Esge...
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Old 08-17-21, 08:44 AM
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Makes me wonder how strong "Delrin" is and if this material is similar.......Simplex D's always looked good until they didn't. To bad smiley doe not come with a few teeth missing!
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Old 08-17-21, 09:15 AM
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Nice! You can pull the sticks off and turn it into an animal too:
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Old 08-17-21, 11:01 AM
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This frame is currently hanging in my basement. Anyone want it?
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