05 December 2011

Union Fixie

Just completed yesterday the built-up for my first fixie, just in time for a test ride on the weekend. Red theme on a blue basis.

More photos here.

In September I bought an old Union frame from the Seventies at a very good price, an opportunity too good to be missed. As nevertheless I didn't want to spend too much money I thought that a fixie would be a nice and inexpensive project. As usual the right parts accumulated slowly over the course of time. I had no previous experience with a fixie drive train so I had to ask some experts for help and naturally I also made some stupid mistakes. Note in case you don't know: Track bike cogs and BMX cogs have different thread diameters.

Union used to be a large Dutch bicycle manufacturer in the same class as Gazelle, Batavus and Sparta. The company is defunct now, but they made mainly Dutch shopping bikes just as their competitors. Tom probably knows precisely what I am talking about. For marketing and image reasons Union sponsored a racing team in the Seventies. But as they were not able to produce racing frames by themselves, they asked Motta in Italy to weld the frames and labeled them "Union". This is the story I was told about the frame I bought.

I assembled quite a mixed bag of components. I got some mid-priced Campa Record brake levers and Campa Gran Sport brakes as well as a NOS Chorus crank from 2006. I also found some beautiful Mavic 500 hubs and Mavic clincher rims.

Again, as usual I saw some nice parts that I desperately wanted to have and which made the whole project expensive beyond reason. The red saddle is brand new, a replica of an old version and while it is still much more affordable then a carbon saddle it is still way more expensive that it should be. I also bought new hoods for the brake levers which cost about the same money as the levers itself and a NOS 3ttt Gimondi handle bar. But I just love the Gimondi handle bar shape which is a hybrid bewteen a classic racing bar and a track bar. And when I saw the red Veloflex tires at an internet shop in Toulouse I wanted to have them too. Luckily the tax return came just in time to pay everything off.

The weather was miserable today so I just took the bike to the Universum. This was the first time I rode a fixie for a longer distance. David and david gave me the chance to ride their fixies for a few meters in Tokyo but today was very much different. As could be expected I am too stupid to ride a fixie and I need a fixie training camp. So lets see if I can get used to it.

If not I am working on my new Chesini winter bike. Life has alternatives.

4 comments:

TOM said...

Beautiful color coordination...you are getting better MOB! Interesting story about Union. I guess many local brands in the Netherlands and Belgium outsourced the production of racebikes to some factory in Italy where labor costs were much cheaper in those days. The Flandria (lawn mower manufacturer) bike ridden by Freddy Maertens was likely also made in Italy.

David L. said...

MOB -- the bike looks great ... though I would like to see a picture of the front end too, including the most expensive parts -- the brake hood covers you mention!

mob said...

Italy used to be the world leader in steel frame production in the Seventies and Eighties. Not only in terms of quality but also in terms of cost. John Van Herwerden from Duell bikes also told me for example that he asked Casati for the production of frames for his private label.

This is the bike that "Rötkäpchen" should have owned to travel safely throug the forest to her grandmother.

After publishing the post I included a link to my photo album on a German bike forum. You can check many more pics of the bike there.

http://fotos.rennrad-news.de/sets/view/11051

lievendevlaminck said...

Hi,

That bike looks great! I've just bought an identical UNION bike frame (different color though), and I want to transform it into a fixie as well. Could you maybe drop me an e-mail? I might have a few questions on how you did a couple of things. Thanks.

My email is (replace the DOT with . and AT with @): lievenDOTdeDOTvlaminckATgmail.com

Thanks in advance, and again: great looking bike!

Lieven