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What's so special about Univega?

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What's so special about Univega?

Old 06-09-09, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Gambutrol
IWhat's so special about Univega?
Nothing really special about them at all. They're not bad. But they sure aren't special.
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Old 06-09-09, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Gambutrol
3Rensho, Miyata and a few other Japanese companies made bikes for Specialized in the mid 80s.

So people like Univega for the paint job and because they used good steel for a better price than their competitors? Why isn't there a cult around Miyata as there is Univega? Or maybe there is and I'm just oblivious too it.

Thanks for all the responses so far!
There is definitely a cult of Miyata. Also, from what I understand, they were not rebranded Miyatas but since Miyata (maybe the only company to do this) made it's own tubing in house, they took orders from some other manufactures. Maybe this is a slight difference, but, if true, worth noting.
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Old 06-09-09, 10:13 AM
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Than obviously, you've never seen the Univega Super Special. Super nice tubing and all campy super record.

Yeah. Pretty special. Ride it and see!
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Old 06-09-09, 10:23 AM
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I mean, just further food for thought, they had a real product line with entry and advanced level bikes.
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Old 06-09-09, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by banjo_mole
Than obviously, you've never seen the Univega Super Special. Super nice tubing and all campy super record.

Yeah. Pretty special. Ride it and see!
I concur. I was just as happy on my old Univega Super Special as I am on my Pinarello. Both early 80s vintage. Well, maybe a little happier on the Pinarello, but it's difficult to measure.
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Old 06-09-09, 10:32 AM
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They suck. Especially the smaller frame (50cm or so) ones. I'll take any you have off your hands because I'm such a nice guy.
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Old 05-12-10, 11:35 AM
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I always liked the Modo Volare. Just look at the component list:

TIG-welded Columbus Thron Frame
Campagnolo Daytona Brakes
Campagnolo Daytona front and rear Derailleur
Campagnolo Veloce hubs
ITM Mantis Handlebar Stem
Mavic rims
Sabre Carbon Fiber Straight Blade fork

I purchased mine for $1000 with tax. Find me a bike with these quality components for that price. Many people buy these bikes just to harvest the Campagnolo components.
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Old 02-01-14, 02:53 PM
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AS I am wont to do, I resurrect old threads while searching for info &
opinion. This thread makes me happy. I just scored a mint '84 Univega
Sportour mixte 12 spd. off CL for $60, dbl butted chromo, incredibly
light for a steel bike, very fast & smooth. I feel like a thief, but
I'll get over it.
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Old 02-01-14, 03:36 PM
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nothing ... it's an importers brand name..[ LaWee or something ] some contract filled somewhere ..
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Old 02-01-14, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rawly old
AS I am wont to do, I resurrect old threads while searching for info &
opinion. This thread makes me happy. I just scored a mint '84 Univega
Sportour mixte 12 spd. off CL for $60, dbl butted chromo, incredibly
light for a steel bike, very fast & smooth. I feel like a thief, but
I'll get over it.
My neighbor moved away in 2013 and gave me 2 Univega Mountain bikes. They had been left outside for many years and were restoration projects. I gave one of them to my son's friend, and the other was included as a parts bike in a deal with the sale of another bike. Both of the frames were keepers, but I had too many projects at the time. Strangely, the ladies bike had alloy rims, stainless spokes, and steel rims - front and back. Why?

That is steel HUBS. Sorry
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Old 02-01-14, 04:00 PM
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The ride, the paint, the components all make it a wonderful bike. What secures it's place in history is the driving force behind the product... Ben L. He read the market, used manufacture's skills and gathered parts together to create something for everyones taste and level.

Plus he gives us the uber cool electro magnetic spectrum decal (ROY G BIV ) to explain to everybody !

declaimer : Yes I do own a Univega 83 Sportour
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Old 02-01-14, 10:46 PM
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I'm just in love with this Sportour mixte I just got. After adjusting
the seat,(the only thing it needed besides a bit of air), I took it for a
long ride today. This thing is lighter than most aluminum bikes. It
glides like skiis on fresh fluff powder. I did a price check on 'Bike Trader'.
some of these old 'vegas' are going for $500 to $600. At $60 for a
virtually mint bike in need of no tuning I couldn't be happier.
Thank You Cycling Gods!

P.S. That 1st pic is one I pulled off the web. This is the one I got.
the other pic has no chain.
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Old 02-01-14, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rawly old
AS I am wont to do
Well said.
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Old 02-02-14, 07:25 AM
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With a Miyata-built frame and careful selection of components, Univega marketed some very nice bikes at a better price point than the competition. Great bang for the buck.

What is difficult in regards to Univega is finding catalogs or sales literature from back in the day. Also models were quickly renamed - almost every year - so it is difficult to pin down components of the original build/yr.

Last year I had picked up a Univega Viva Sport, and going by the Miyata serial numbering system, it is an '84 (M-prefix). The components used on the Univega very closely follows the Miyata 710 of that year. Araya 20A double-wall eyelet rims (700 for Miyata, 27x1" for the Uni). Frame, fork, brakes, hubs, seatpost, etc are the same. The derailleurs on the Uni were SunTour BL-GT rear and Vx front, but I replaced both with 1st gen Cyclone - the same as the Miyata 710...

So in essence, what I got was a ever-so-slightly downgraded Miyata 710. I call that a very decent upper-mid-grade Japanese bike. It has a much livelier ride than my old Fuji S-10S, but I attribute that mostly to the longer wheelbase on the Fuji. Factory-spec weights are very close at 25.5 for a '84 Miyata 710 and 26.1 for the '75 Fuji.
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Old 02-02-14, 12:19 PM
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The only Univega I've ever owned or ridden is my early 80s Specialissima. But it's easily the nicest riding bike I've ever swung a leg over. That doesn't mean there aren't better ones out there, just none that I've ridden. Interestingly, I also owned an early 90s Bertoni (another B. Lawee import) with Columbus TSX tubing and modern Campy 10-speed components, but I eventually sold it because I never rode it after getting my Univega. It was a bit faster than my Univega, but not so much that it justified the inferior ride qualities.
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Old 02-02-14, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamplight
The only Univega I've ever owned or ridden is my early 80s Specialissima. But it's easily the nicest riding bike I've ever swung a leg over.
One of the best composed pictures of a nice bike on all of BF.

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Old 02-02-14, 03:14 PM
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Thanks! That's a fairly old picture of my bike but it seems to be a favorite. The bike looks a bit different these days.

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Old 02-02-14, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamplight
The only Univega I've ever owned or ridden is my early 80s Specialissima. But it's easily the nicest riding bike I've ever swung a leg over. That doesn't mean there aren't better ones out there, just none that I've ridden. Interestingly, I also owned an early 90s Bertoni (another B. Lawee import) with Columbus TSX tubing and modern Campy 10-speed components, but I eventually sold it because I never rode it after getting my Univega. It was a bit faster than my Univega, but not so much that it justified the inferior ride qualities.
I didn't appreciate my early '80s Gran Rally enough until after foolishly selling it. Very nice riding and responsive frame. Rode most of my centuries on that bike and it was comfortable as well as a quick handler (relatively low BB though. Watch the curves if you've got 175 crank arms). Great value and good 600 EX components. Most of my riding partners had Schwinn Super Sports which mine compared favorably with but the Univega was prettier.
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Old 02-03-14, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamplight
Thanks! That's a fairly old picture of my bike but it seems to be a favorite. The bike looks a bit different these days.
Wow... It's a real beauty.

Whenever a friend asks me for a 'first bike' recommendation, I usually mention the Gran Turismo & the Super Strada, depending on the kind of use they have in mind.
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Old 02-03-14, 09:41 AM
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I have a couple of Univega mountain bikes gathering dust in the basement. Probably circa. 1987 or 1988. I'll check the model name and component mix and update this in a day or two. Aside from a clean-up, new tires/tubes and new saddles, they should be pretty mint. I'm thinking about making one of them my "workhorse" bike. The other belongs to my wife.

Edit for new information: Model name is Range Rover ES. I think these are fairly low-end Univega mountain bikes. 18 speeds. Has Tange Chromoly frame, welded mostly. Shimano Exage Country cantilever brakes, Shimano SIS thumb levers, Exage crankset with Biopace ringsets, Exage Country FD and RD. Hubs are Joytech. Frame is set-up for front and rear racks if desired. I could not find any rust or scratches on the black chrome painted frames. Just needs new tires, tubes, saddle and some TLC. I'm going to put these bikes back in action this season.

Last edited by sirupate; 02-04-14 at 11:54 AM. Reason: new info.
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Old 02-03-14, 10:44 AM
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Show me a pic, all the 'vegas I've seen are road bikes. I'm
curious to see what the mtn. bikes look like.
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Old 02-03-14, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rawly old
Show me a pic, all the 'vegas I've seen are road bikes. I'm
curious to see what the mtn. bikes look like.


1984 Alpina Ultima. Their top of the line at the time, and one of the better MTBs available in the mid 80s. Still a pretty nice ride.
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Old 02-03-14, 11:23 AM
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looks good to me; It's exactly the same color & frame geometry as my
mtm. bike, an '89 Raleigh technium Ovation. You must be pretty tall,
judging from the setup. Mine's a 59cm.



1984 Alpina Ultima. Their top of the line at the time, and one of the better MTBs available in the mid 80s. Still a pretty nice ride.[/QUOTE]

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Old 02-03-14, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean


1984 Alpina Ultima. Their top of the line at the time, and one of the better MTBs available in the mid 80s. Still a pretty nice ride.
I'm fairly certain that was the first mtn bike I ever rode. Granny gear, beartrap pedals, what is this witchcraft?
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Old 02-03-14, 11:55 PM
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I really want to get back to polishing, but I have to say that I find the story of Univega, and some of their bikes, very special indeed. I sometimes wonder what it was like in mid-century, post-war Iraq, where Ben Lawee was born. Was his love of the bicycle was spawned in the sun-drenched sidestreets of Bagdad, or was that passion born in his new homeland (he emigrated at age 19 and then attended Columbia University)? Perhaps he scored a 50s Bianchi or Gloria at some old professor's estate sale. Whatever the case may be, Ben Lawee was ahead of the curve in many ways--founding Italvega just before the bike boom, with nicely crafted and intelligently spec'd bikes, and then remolding his company as Univega, when he realized Japan was about to take over the bike industry. Smart young chap travels half-way around the world, educates himself, builds a multi-national corporation, gets to ride bikes! Sounds like the American Dream.

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Originally Posted by cb400bill
One of the best composed pictures of a nice bike on all of BF.

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