Tuesday, July 4

Hawaiian Rescue Bike

I really don't go around garage sales looking for bikes or bike stuff. However, once in a while something drops into my lap affordably enough that I have a hard time passing it by. Ocean Shores, being a tourist town, has GOBS of garage sales on holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Oddly, it doesn't seem to have nearly so many on the town's biggest holiday; Flag Day.

This particular example showed up over the weekend. Apparently its owners traveled, with a bicycle registration from Fort Collins, Colorado. Relevant to this post's title, it also had a "Bicycle License" from Honolulu, Hawaii. According to the script on the "License," it expired on December 31, 1990. Apparently, Hawaii has changed its laws, since nowadays, the city imposes a $15 "permanent" fee, as noted here. This is also enshrined in STATE law, documented here. Apparently, the most recent change was effective starting this year. Apparently you can be tasered and jailed for not having a bike license in Hawaii, or more likely they'll just take away your bike and sell it as described here. I thought about trying to contact Honolulu to see what records they had on it, but nearly 30 years after the "license" expiration, I decided that some things are better just left alone. You can't see it in the photo, but Hawaiian bike licenses didn't use to be permanent since there's another one underneath. Like car license tabs in many states, each year they use a new color.

But I digress. The bike's asking price was $25, but the seller readily accepted $20. There were a few other bikes up for sale, but they were all junk bikes. The bike is a Univega. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, Univega was pretty popular in the 1980's. Unlike many other Japanese brands, Univega didn't build their own bikes. Instead, they contracted with other companies, notably Miyata. These bikes were built to Univega's specifications. Technically, Univega wasn't a Japanese brand, as it was started by an Iraqi immigrant, Ben Lawee. Univega headquarters was in Signal Hill, California and it was Ben that designed the bikes built by Miyata.

Still, the bikes, after an early period in which they were imported from Italy as "Italvega," were pretty purely built entirely in Japan. In the late 1980's, manufacture moved to Taiwan and the company was bought by Raleigh in the mid 1990's. Raleigh discontinued the brand around 2000 or so.

This particular bike had a flat front tire upon purchase, along with surface rust that you can see in the various photos. It also looks like it had a peg-mounted pump at one time.

The bike is a mixte frame, and uses Suntour ARX derailleurs. It rides on 27" Araya rims and uses middling Dia Compe brakes. I think the pedals originally had toe clips since there are pedal reflectors only on one side of each pedal. You can see the Lawee imprent in the "Lawee design" decal on the chainstay.

Suntour ARX Derailleurs. Designed by "Lawee design"
Just a Touch of Drivetrain Rust! However, Everything Works
You can see there will be a bit of rust removal necessary on this bike's drivetrain, which has suffered over the years in the humid climates of Hawaii and Ocean Shores. Though it is an early 80's design, it does have a six-speed freewheel. That's particularly convenient since my daughter's bike has Shimano shifting indexed for six speeds. The Univega's Suntour has no indexing so I plan to swap the freewheels.

One oddity is the saddle on the Univega. I suspect it is something the bike acquired during the years. It's a fairly low end mattress saddle. Actually, it might work well in Ocean Shores, since the place isn't all that big anyway.

Vinyl Saddle by "Bike Extras Cycle Products Co"


Trevor Woodford said...

I would probably have bought it too Steve... An interesting post...

Khal said...

I seem to recall that Honolulu went to permanent licenses when I still lived there but that is reaching way back. Interestingly, I bought a used Univega, a dark red Speciallisima, in the late eighties after moving to Honolulu. It was a garage queen and in immaculate condition with nice lugwork and high quality Japanese Cr-Mo steel; I think I got it for around fifty bucks. It was a five speed in back with a very inappropriate triple on the front, which I replaced with a half step plus granny. It became one of my stable of commuter bikes.

I finally sold it about ten years ago to someone retiring from LANL and wanting to do some touring. Then I kicked myself and eventually got a Long Haul Trucker.

GreenComotion said...

What a nice find, Steve.
I have heard of Univega, but I learned a whole lot from your post, about Univega.
I was just thinking you should notify Khal, but I see you have caught his eye already :)
Have a Happy Weekend!
Peace :)

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