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Friday, August 10, 2007

Univega Cult

I had my bicycle in storage for 18 years and bring it out to ride I find that I own some sort of cult classic bicycle? My bicycle is a Univega Gran Premio and to my surprise people are still racing with these frames and I soon found this on my Univega web search - "Women's World Cup - 5th Gran Premio Castilla y Leon Nicole Cooke wins in Spain." People are racing with these things and I learned that there are people watching places like E-Bay to bid for these bicycles as if they are looking for collectors items. I watched a Univega auction and the bicycle sold for nearly as much as I payed for mine new in 1982, but that one was in a lot better condition than mine.

When I was a sophomore in undergraduate school I owned a bright red Schwinn Letour that I bought as a sophomore in high school. I loved that bicycle, but it weighed almost 40 pounds and it made me feel like a little boy. I traded in my beautiful red Schwinn for a blue 21 pound road bicycle and soon discovered this new Univega was a thrill to ride. It was almost like a racing bicycle, less expensive than the European racing bicycles I was wishing to buy, and my new Univega was made in Japan. I think the Univega was much more affordable than any of the 21 pound European racing choices because they were new and the company probably wanted to promote interest in them. I didn't have a credit card as a sophomore in college, so having to pay cash the Univega Gran Premio was the best I could afford in 1982. I used this bicycle for transportation until 1989, when it went into storage as Ann and I moved to Wisconsin, and remained ignored until 2007.

The rear derailleur fell to pieces within a year after I first bought the bicycle and I replaced it with a Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear derailleur. This is probably as close as I will ever come to owning a European racing bicycle. Mostly, the Univega had been a very good ride, and this summer when Ann and I decided to start riding bicycles again I thought I should see if my old bicycle was worth fixing up for the road.

I thought my old Univega would be a forgotten make and that the Univega company was probably long gone. I understand they were reabsorbed by Raleigh and stopped making bicycles in the late 1990s. I was almost hoping that no one cared about these bicycles anymore so I could ride my old bicycle without having to worry about it or attracting any attention. This is not the case and because people are still racing with these frames I decided to spend a lot more money on a bicycle lock than I would have if these things were a forgotten make.

I guess spending more for a lock it's not that big of a deal. When I use to ride in my 20s I never had a helmet and took off all of my reflectors to make my bicycle lighter. I now have all of the reflectors back on, and the only thing I won't put back on is the kick stand. Bicycling now in my 40s I have a helmet, reflectors, 3 lights, and 2 locks, so there is a lot more equipment involved. I don't like having all of this equipment and weight, but still it is a joy to ride my old Univega Gran Premio.

Today while I was waiting at a stoplight I caught a young woman looking at my Univega with longing interest in her eyes - I guess I unknowingly bought a classic when I was 25 years younger. I smiled very briefly at her and went on my way as soon as the light changed. Whether other riders are interested or shun my Univega I'm very happy I still have this one to ride to work and for fun.

Ann bought a new Trek bicycle when I took mine in to be repaired and I'm excited that we can go for bicycle ridding together again.

Look at the lettering on this bicycle.

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Blogger Ann said...

"Look at the lettering".

I probably have that font...somewhere.

How do you know the young woman was looking with "longing" interest? Maybe she was wondering "what the hell is that fossil?"

6:48 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

BTW, It's ironic that company was absorbed by Raleigh. My dad has a Raleigh ....of's British.... that really should be in a museum. He must have gotten it in the 40s or 50s. He won't be able to ride it anymore, but it probably won't be gotten rid of until he's know how it is.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Dawn Marie said...

Ooo, 80s font, isn't it? That's so cool!

Never heard of it myself, but still cool all the same. Hey, in 1982 I was 5 or 6.


11:12 PM  
Blogger Stan said...

Dawn you are young.

The font almost looks like it could have been from the 70s - I'm unsure when it was actually made.

It seems strange to me that bicycles could become cult collector items. I sort of wonder if I should have kept all of the bicycles I ever had to auction on e-bay.

My first bicycle was some black and yellow old thing with solid tires. My parents bought it for me used from a hardware store, and I've never seen another one like it - ever. It was really old and was a one speed.

My second bicycle was one I picked out from another hardware store, and I can't remember its name. It was red and yellow and a one speed too. It had a large fat tire in back and a small tire in front - I guess to make it look like a drag racer of some sort. The small tire in front make it great to pop over curbs with and I rode it like a jeep everywhere. I probably eventually destroyed it enough that it had to be junked.

My 3rd bicycle was a 3 speed which looked like a 10 speed, but was less expensive than a 10 speed. I road it very hard - I needed a mountain bike, but this was long before they made them - and I crashed this bicycle a lot. I often wiped out on dirt roads, but this bicycle was a strong piece of heavy metal. This bicycle survived my hard riding and was used as a trade in for my next one.

This 4th bicycle was my red Schwinn Letour - my first 10 speed. I did less dirt road riding with this one and was using it for long road rides for fun. There wasn't a lot to do in small towns, so I often road my bicycle fast and far for hours at a time.

I also had a 10 speed I put together from bicycles which were thrown away. I spray painted it all black and kept it at my parents house to use as an extra when I was home in the summers. This one was sold at my moms yard sale after my father passed away in 1997. I have no idea who might have bought it, and it couldn't have sold for more than a few dollars.

It would be fun to have any of these bicycles now. Maybe its better that they are all gone, because I have no idea where I could store them anyway.

It is strange how emotionally attached I still feel to all of these objects.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

"I sort of wonder if I should have kept all of the bicycles I ever had to auction on e-bay."

That would be totally insane.

"It is strange how emotionally attached I still feel to all of these objects."

I have no emotional attachment to any of the former bikes I had. Cars either. Maybe the times I had on them or in them, but not the objects themselves. Plants, jewelry and small items, yes.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Dawn Marie said...

"Dawn you are young."

Thank you! :D

10:59 PM  
Blogger Stan said...

Sorry... I liked my bicycles.

3:15 PM  

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