Saturday, February 18, 2012

Univega Viva Sport

The bike that started it all.  I'd had other bikes before this one,  Mostly kids bikes and then a few 10 speeds mostly by the department store brands of the time, Huffy and Murry.  I did get to "experience" my first ambulance ride in what could be considered my early mountain biking days.  I say "experience" because I was unconscious for most if not all of it.  The Murry could also be considered my first front suspension bike.  It was actually a spring on the front fork that did something.  I think it mostly looked cool.  So I come around from my friend Jeff's house, down the banking and into the road when my front wheel hits a big patch of sand and that's about the last thing I remember.  No helmet of course, I'm pretty sure bike helmets hadn't even been invented in the early 80s.

Skip ahead several years and 10 speed bikes to my Huffy Wind.  It was called the Wind because the tubes were flattened to give an "Aero" design.  I'm not sure how a bike that must have weighed in at 50lbs could be called the Wind but it was a nice marketing attempt.  I road it to the end of my street and left it near the bridge by the waterfall.  When I went back for it it was gone.  This would have been a horrible thing except they left a Takara bike with a slight dent in the down tube that looked like it had probably run into a wall.  I decided, well, a trade is a trade and I didn't have much choice so I brought the bike home.  We figured that the bike was probably stolen just like mine was and they were just trading bikes.  I think we made some attempt to find the owner but came up short.  In the end I took that bike apart, cleaned out the bearings and when I got it running smooth it was a world different than any other bike I had riden.  It was at that moment that I realized that department store bikes sucked.  After riding that bike for a few weeks or months I can't remember, my father asked if I would like to get a new bike.  We went to The Portland Bicycle Exchange and bought my first real bike, a Univega Viva Sport.  Not the Univega Viva Sport I am writing about in this post, not yet.  My dad bought a matching one in his size.  That was the start of my true passion for bikes and I think it was the start of my Dad's passion too.  We got bikes for the rest of the family and brought the to Acadia National Park to ride the park loop road and climb Cadillac Mt.  Once I was grown and he moved to Florida he started riding more than I did for a number of years.  I think he's done more charity rides than I have.  I wish we could have shared more of the passion together.  In 2010 he lost the battle with Cancer. 

After a few years I traded my first Viva Sport for the one I ride to this day.  I'm not even sure why.  But the new model was much nicer.  I remember that it cost $405 somewhere around 1987.  It was paid for with lawn mowing money.
This bike also started my commuter years.  I would ride it all over Portland before I had a car.  Usually I would pick a person to go visit and the would give me a destination.  It didn't even matter if they were home.  I'd just show up on their doorstep and if they were around I'd chat for a while and if not I'd ride.  I remember I biked a lot back then but I'm not even sure what a lot was.  A few hundred miles/year, 1500 maybe. 

I'm still riding the same bike today, 25 years later.  Original frame, wheels, handlebars, fork, brakes and laptop sized bike computer.  In 2011 I put around 1500 miles on it.  With 5 other bikes this one still remains a favorite.  It's supposed to be a nice day today...Maybe I'll have to get it out for a ride...............

13 comments:

  1. There's something to be said about a bike that is durable enough to ride with you for 25 years. After that much time together I have to wonder- is it your longest-standing love affair thus far?

    I think the original bike-snatcher did you a favor!

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  2. When i was 14 years old i was heavily into BMX, however i didn't have the patience to get up hills. I decided to sell my bike for a measily $20 to someone who wanted it more than i did and they got it that day. After a couple of hours i needed a new bike, craigslist it was. And when i clicked on bikes, i saw her. My first road bike was a 1980 Univeg Viva Sport, gold. I was in awe. I called the seller and told him i'd get him the money by friday. I bought and sold 4 different bikes through trades until i had $200, and that friday he dropped it off. He asked, "Aren't you going to see if you fit the bike?" I didn't even look at him and i said, "I know she'll fit." That was about 4 years ago and i have not gotten another bike. Although i do wish i had a lighter bike sometimes, i love her.

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  3. I have a much lighter bike. I ride the Viva more.

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  4. i just picked up a 54cm viva sport for 150 at a thrift shop in el cajon ca. this machine has just a few knicks and scuffs, other than that, flawless. it must've been in someones timecapsule/garage for the past 25 years. a little oil on the cassette, and air in the tires, and i was on the road. this thing is solid! seriously, i've gone through quite a few bikes in the past few years., (collecter and am cyclist here) and ben lawee, if you can here me? the ride of the viva sport trumps the feel of others big name bikes i've ridden!

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    1. The ride of this bike is what has convinced me that spending much more doesn't really get you much. I can jump into group rides with people riding their sub 20 lb bikes and hold my own just fine.

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  5. I love your post i have the same model but i think I got you beat, I have been riding mine for over 30 years

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    1. Well, it has been 2 years since I posted that so I'm up to 27 years. And I know for a fact that 30 years ago the Viva Sport was black with red lettering, cause I had one. So I'm not so sure I believe you. ;) It's all good though, after riding the same bike for 27 or 30 years memory starts to slip away. It could be mine.

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  6. Got the exact same bike. In the same color. Still going strong

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    2. Nice looking bike. It looks like the same size too.

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  7. I'm still riding my 1983 Viva Sport with all original components. It's a great bike. Solid as a rock.

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    1. Hey Nitch,

      Just seeing this. 1983, is that the black one with red lettering? That is the one I have previous to this.

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