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Picking up an old Univega...what to do with it?

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Picking up an old Univega...what to do with it?

Old 03-09-13, 01:48 AM
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agmetal
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Picking up an old Univega...what to do with it?

A friend has offered to give me an old Univega he's got lying around. I've been told that it's in need of some work, and isn't currently rideable. Some quick internet research suggests, based on his description, that it's a NuovoTech 450, I guess like this picture I found online:



Now...I've never had a road bike before. As a kid, I had a couple MTBs, and then I went for about 10 years without a bike at all, before picking up an old Columbia 3-speed a few years ago. I've recently sold the Columbia (since I had a number of problems with it, and just got sick of it), after picking up an old Raleigh Sports (currently a single-speed with a coaster brake). I ride primarily around Boston and the immediate surrounding areas, with the bike as my primary transportation.

I'm somewhat inclined to convert it into more of a city bike, but looking at pictures is making me wonder just how practical that would be. The thing is, riding in the city, and having never had a bike with drop bars, I've always been concerned about the location of the brake levers. I pretty much always have a couple fingers on my front brake lever, and I prefer a relatively upright riding position. Is it likely to be completely impractical to replace the bars? What about adding fenders? Chainguard, since I always ride in just normal clothes? I've also never had a bike with shifters anywhere but on the handlebars...and for that matter, I haven't had a derailleur-equipped bike since I was a kid.

Not quite sure what to do here, and I haven't seen the actual bike in question yet. I'll probably have a better feel for what to do once I do, though.

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Old 03-09-13, 04:12 AM
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If the bike is anywhere as clean as the image you've posted, the best answer would be to flip it and put the cash towards a city bike. This isnt really the best bike to choose if you want fenders, chainguard, etc.

Obviously it depends on how 'unrideable' this bike actually is! If it's been neglected for many years then yes, it probably at the least needs bearing overhauls, cables, etc.

I know you said that's not an actual pic of the bike, but keep that option in mind. You should be able to get good money for a bike like this on the Boston craigslist.
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Old 03-09-13, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by PHT View Post
...the best answer would be to flip it and put the cash towards a city bike. This isnt really the best bike to choose if you want fenders, chainguard, etc.
Not sure that's necessarily the best idea. Accepting a gift then immediately selling seems a little tactless to me.
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Old 03-09-13, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Not sure that's necessarily the best idea. Accepting a gift then immediately selling seems a little tactless to me.
I agree. If your friend is going to give the bike that is great. If it fits and you can't do the work spend a few dollars and get it tuned up. Then ride it a bit and after a few months if you just can't stand it then trade it or sell it but tell your friend you intend to swap it for something more practical. If it doesn't fit or needs a lot of work you may consider declining the offer.

If the bike in question is a NuovoTech 450 they were pretty nice machines. A decent quality Aluminium frame with Exage Sport (it may have been the next Exage model up, I know there was three Exage road models but I can't remember which was which). They were nice for riders who were looking for a basic bike for exercise and some group rides. You might be able to get a fatter tire like a 700x28 in it and that will make Boyleston and Commonwealth a bit smoother.

Can't wait to see pics.
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Old 03-09-13, 09:53 AM
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I'm gonna pop by and see if he's brought it in to work today. I won't be able to get it home until sometime next week, probably, but he said he'd bring it in soon, so that it'd be there when I'm able to pick it up. If so, I'll try to get a pic or two.
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Old 03-09-13, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
A friend has offered to give me an old Univega he's got lying around. I've been told that it's in need of some work, and isn't currently rideable. Some quick internet research suggests, based on his description, that it's a NuovoTech 450, I guess like this picture I found online:



Now...I've never had a road bike before. As a kid, I had a couple MTBs, and then I went for about 10 years without a bike at all, before picking up an old Columbia 3-speed a few years ago. I've recently sold the Columbia (since I had a number of problems with it, and just got sick of it), after picking up an old Raleigh Sports (currently a single-speed with a coaster brake). I ride primarily around Boston and the immediate surrounding areas, with the bike as my primary transportation.

I'm somewhat inclined to convert it into more of a city bike, but looking at pictures is making me wonder just how practical that would be. The thing is, riding in the city, and having never had a bike with drop bars, I've always been concerned about the location of the brake levers. I pretty much always have a couple fingers on my front brake lever, and I prefer a relatively upright riding position. Is it likely to be completely impractical to replace the bars? What about adding fenders? Chainguard, since I always ride in just normal clothes? I've also never had a bike with shifters anywhere but on the handlebars...and for that matter, I haven't had a derailleur-equipped bike since I was a kid.

Not quite sure what to do here, and I haven't seen the actual bike in question yet. I'll probably have a better feel for what to do once I do, though.
I'm with BG in the trying it out camp, if you've never ridden a bike with drop bars you don't really know you prefer the upright position, and when riding on the hoods which a lot of people do, you will find your fingers can rest quite easily on the brake levers. Looking forward to seeing the pics.
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Old 03-09-13, 09:49 PM
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Fair point. One big concern for me is being able to see my surroundings, and as mentioned before, have full access to the brakes for emergency stops while riding on city streets.

I stopped in to see if he'd brought it in today, but no luck. He did confirm that it's a Nuovotech, though. Sounds like I'll probably get it on Tuesday.
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Old 03-10-13, 03:36 AM
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drop bars are best. they offer at least four hand positions for diversity on long rides and are easier to climb hills, as you can ride with hands on the brake hoods in the hand's normal position (not with hand always facing down with a straight bar). they look and feel great when wrapped properly and are a basic necessity to a serious person. you'll start riding your new bike and won't want to go back to your 40 pound sports.

if it doesn't fit, use it to learn how to overhaul a bike by finding a similar frame in the right size and moving over the components. warning: this can become addictive.
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Old 03-10-13, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by eschlwc View Post
drop bars are best. they offer at least four hand positions for diversity on long rides and are easier to climb hills, as you can ride with hands on the brake hoods in the hand's normal position (not with hand always facing down with a straight bar). they look and feel great when wrapped properly and are a basic necessity to a serious person. you'll start riding your new bike and won't want to go back to your 40 pound sports.

if it doesn't fit, use it to learn how to overhaul a bike by finding a similar frame in the right size and moving over the components. warning: this can become addictive.
^I agree. Besides you still have the Raleigh Sports, correct? Why not have another bike for a different riding style. If it doesn't work out you've learned more about what you do and don't want, and a little about tinkering on bikes. This all assumes it fits you properly.
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Old 03-10-13, 08:39 PM
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Well, yeah, I guess I more meant to say that this isnt the kind of bike that is a good candidate for this kind of conversion. I wasnt really thinking about tact, I was more posting from a practicality standpoint-- which is the question that was asked. Though it seems to me if someone has something that isnt being used and is willing to give it to someone who is looking to put some work into it to get it running again, it's fair for the person to do what they want with it? Donno, whatever.
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Old 03-10-13, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
I'm somewhat inclined to convert it into more of a city bike, but looking at pictures is making me wonder just how practical that would be. The thing is, riding in the city, and having never had a bike with drop bars, I've always been concerned about the location of the brake levers. I pretty much always have a couple fingers on my front brake lever, and I prefer a relatively upright riding position. Is it likely to be completely impractical to replace the bars? What about adding fenders? Chainguard, since I always ride in just normal clothes? I've also never had a bike with shifters anywhere but on the handlebars...and for that matter, I haven't had a derailleur-equipped bike since I was a kid.
to me it sounds like a vintage mtb would suit you better
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Old 03-10-13, 09:31 PM
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It wouldn't be that tough to hang fenders, a rack and a mountain bike bar on that. It would require new shifters and brake levers. The chainguard isn't doable, though.
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Old 03-12-13, 10:13 PM
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Well, I picked it up today. I was able to get it rideable with only a few dollars' worth of replacement parts. The main things it needed were a new chain and tires. I rode it a mile or two from the shop where I got those parts, to where I had my other bike locked up, but noticed a few things that bugged me, right off: first, the handlebars were a touch too low, and the brake levers were reversed compared to what I'm used to. Second, the toe clips had to go. I bought some brake cable and housing, and got to work right when I got home. Managed to get the brakes re-cabled, and a little more height out of the bars. I also took the toe clips off the pedals, and made a couple minor adjustments to the saddle. Much better!

I do need to get a new shifter cable and housing, since I managed to blow out the housing while attempting to adjust the derailleur without really knowing what I was doing, so I'm gonna do that tomorrow. I took it for a short test ride on my street, and other than riding it like a high-geared single-speed, it's not bad. Not big on the downtube positioning for the shifters, though...

Some pics:

Here it is as I first saw it:


Then at the shop where I got the parts and did the work:





And, at home, next to the Raleigh:

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Old 03-12-13, 11:36 PM
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I dig it man, and all I'm hearing out of you complaint wise are the basic ones most people do when they first try out road bikes (other then the brake thing)
If you want advice on adjusting the RD just ask, we have tons of knowledgeable people here. DT shifters take a little getting used to, but trust me it gets to be easy and if I'm not mistaken your toe clips came with no straps? Can't blame you at all for stripping them fast, you may want to try them out later though but with proper retention and when you actually want to try it. Oh I have that same cateye light

One question, when you raised the stem you did check for the minimum insertion line right?
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Old 03-13-13, 12:30 AM
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looks like you need a new chain. i like the sram pc830 at about $12 at my local shop. get a good chain tool if you don't already have one. and go by your hardware store and pickup some naval jelly. you can drop the little bits in the jelly for ten minutes to remove the rust (chainring bolts, headset parts, etc.). once you move on to a complete overhaul, you can put all the little bits in the jelly like derailleur nuts and bolts. if you ever restore it, you might look at deanodizing the stem with oven cleaner and polishing it and the other components.
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Old 03-13-13, 08:31 AM
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Yeah, I checked for a minimum insertion line on the stem. Couldn't find one, though, so I played it a bit safe.

The thing I don't like about the toe clips is where they place my foot on the pedal. I'm used to riding with the pedal more centered under my foot, and having it force me to use the front of my foot was really hurting my legs after a short distance.

Already did the chain, just haven't taken a closeup picture with the new one.
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Old 03-13-13, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
The thing I don't like about the toe clips is where they place my foot on the pedal. I'm used to riding with the pedal more centered under my foot, and having it force me to use the front of my foot was really hurting my legs after a short distance.
That means you need longer toe clips--they come in small, medium, large, and sometime extra-large, depending on the brand. Clips that are too large aren't a big problem, but if they're too short they make it impossible to pedal efficiently, as you've discovered.
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Old 03-13-13, 02:44 PM
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Ok, so I've got the shifter working again. There's a bit of a mismatch between the derailleur and the freewheel, apparently, so I've got the shifter in friction mode, which is a bit annoying.

The biggest problem for me, though, is how much force is required to pull on the brake levers to get the bike to actually stop. Even with things set up correctly, in terms of brake lever/cable/caliper functionality, I have a hard time getting enough leverage. Also, how the hell are you supposed to downshift while braking? I prefer my brakes set up Euro/Moto-style, with the right hand controlling the front brake, and I'm sure that European bikes don't have their shifters reversed...so how does this work?
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Old 03-13-13, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by agmetal
…how the hell are you supposed to downshift while braking?
you don't. if it's an emergency, apply the brakes and worry about your gearing later. if you're coming to a normal slow or stop, coast a bit, while turning the crank freely (and thus the freewheel), downshift to a gear near where you want to be (it needn't be perfect), then apply the brakes. these actions occur in seconds. if you're coming to a stop, you needn't be in the perfect gear unless you need to climb a tall grade directly from the stop. when you get going again, and you still need to downshift, get the bike going again (even if you need to stand and mash), and repeat the steps above: coast a bit, turn the crank freely while coasting, and downshift. you'll figure it out. always plan ahead of a stop, and err on the safe side.

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Old 03-13-13, 03:20 PM
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from the look of the rust in the pics, it appears the braking system needs to be overhauled. if you've already replaced the cables and housing and are still experiencing difficult braking, i would overhaul the calipers. if you can't do that for whatever reason, remove their mounting bolts, clean them, and retighten with fresh grease. don't overtighten (this might be the problem). make sure the calipers are only tight enough where the caliper arms do not move up or down (use your fingers and push or pull up or down on the arms -- there should be only movement from side to side along their natural pivot). also, if not overhauled, spray the hell out of them with a light synthetic oil (where the spring meets the caliper and pivot points) and work them back and forth with your hand. also spray the levers where they pivot.

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Old 03-13-13, 06:07 PM
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The front brake is fine, I just put a dual-pivot caliper on it this afternoon and recabled it last night, and it's perfectly functional. The trouble is that the levers are in an awkward place for me to reach, so I can't get enough leverage to stop quickly.
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Old 03-13-13, 06:16 PM
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That looks like the part aluminum part steel bike frame. The stays and fork are steel and the maintubes are aluminum. Sort of an early version of the late model aluminum frame with carbon fork and stays. I had two of those Univega bikes. Both had an excellent ride, not harsh like a full aluminum bike. Try to keep it, it's a nice performer. It should come with 6 X 2 speed downtube shifters. Once properly tuned, that bike will shift perfectly.
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Old 03-13-13, 06:18 PM
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Maybe you could just get some of those cyclo-cross/low end road bike interrupter levers? I don't know if the pull ratio/bar diameter would fit though.

I don't like them, but if you are riding on the top all the time like a lot of people new to road bikes do, they could work. You would need new cables/housing too.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/CANNONDALE-C...item2ebe0d5d3d
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Old 03-13-13, 07:06 PM
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most road cyclists ride most of the time with their palms on the hoods, braking with their fingers from this same position. but it's important to be able to ride with hands in the drops and reach easily to the levers. those with small hands might have trouble doing this, leading to alternatives like the installation of additional flat bar levers. it looks like crap to have four levers on a road bike, but if you got to, you got to.
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Old 03-13-13, 07:48 PM
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I've really only been using the hoods, actually. Maybe I need to try some levers like this? https://harriscyclery.net/product/ori...ebars-1841.htm

I wish brifters weren't so expensive, I feel like that would help solve the shifting issues. Sounds like they might not be properly compatible with the rest of my setup, though?
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