Flying Colors


I pretty much wrapped up the Univega Saturday morning- literally as you can see from the temporarily white handlebars. I figure they’ll get dingy pretty quickly, but that bar tape had been sitting around my basement for a couple years and needed to be put it to use somewhere. I’m pretty happy with the end result though, both in appearance and feel- the black brake levers and white handles contrast nicely and there’s plenty of padding there.

Despite finishing up fairly early in the day I didn’t get a chance to take the Univega out until after 8PM when Mary returned home. That actually gave me time to put on some metal toe clips that I had lying around in the middle day after I remembered I had them. You know you’re becoming a certified cycling nut when you start accumulating lots of random spare parts.

I will admit that by 7:45 I was a little worried that Mary wasn’t going to get back before daylight started to run out, since the Univega is strictly a daylight speedster at this point. With the lengthy daylight hours we’ve got going now it didn’t end up being an issue though. Initially I wasn’t sure how far I was going to go, but as I started heading north on Hatch the bike felt pretty solid and I decided to continue down High Drive past 17th to get in a descent and a climb.

I cruised along the upper relatively level portion of High Drive at around 30 km/h. I can do that on my Trek too, but it takes more effort. I was pleasantly surprised to find the ride was not as harsh as I thought it might be. I also figured the fairly narrow racing style seat I put on the bike (mostly as an inexpensive $15 experiment) might prove to be uncomfortable, but it was actually completely fine in conjunction with my usual padded shorts.

Despite the good start my ride wasn’t quite all roses, as I had a shifting miscue around 37th and ended up with my chain on the outside of my big ring. I’m not even entirely sure how I did that, but I hopped off my bike and got the chain squared away again pretty quickly. Prior to the chainring incident I found friction shifting on the rear derailleur worked pretty well for me- the key was just to be subtle.

Once the downhill commenced and I got past 29th I played it pretty conservatively. The Univega felt great up in the 50 km/h range and my brakes worked as they were supposed to, but I was reluctant to really see what it could do beyond that this early in the shakedown period. Before I knew it I was at 15th and turning around to begin my climb back up hill.

The climb itself was pretty uneventful. No shifting woes and I was able to keep a few cogs in reserve even through the steeper parts of Adams around 17th. I think my gearing choices are going to work out just fine since it’s not intended for hauling loads or touring.

Overall I like the Univega a lot. It’s quite different feel then my other bikes so it will probably be a while before I get completely adjusted, but I’m picking it up pretty quickly. Speed-wise at my low exertion go forever pace it’s at least a couple km/h faster than on my Trek (maybe 25 vs 22 km/h). What I notice is that I naturally want to ride it at a slightly higher exertion rate to get up to say 30 km/h and that higher rate feels less taxing and more sustainable than it would on my Trek. Now I’m looking forward to testing that initial analysis out this week going to and from work.