About finding & restoring a time-capsule, almost unridden 1983 Gran Turismo


Part 1: the bike from the time machine!

[ Forget it - start right on the pictures! ]

For the sake of velo-documentation (and pride) I'll start with some information on this 1983 Gran Turismo, which I bought in June 2011. This will also serve useful to others trying to see what these bikes were spec'd with when new. Note, though, that bikes at the time, and Univegas in particular, had many changes during a model year; for example, others have 1983 GTs without lowrider braze-ons. This isn't an indication of anything more than continued improvement and, occasionally, changes in availability of parts from Japan during this period.

I paid $300 for it, and it looks like it's been ridden maybe a hundred miles in the year it was new and then stored in a barn ever since (last few years a bike shop attic - the bike shop proprietor said his parents bought it way back from the original owner and then never rode it).

Straight out of a time machine from 1983 (the apex of bicycle quality, art, and design, in my opinion and experience) comes this beauty of a bike--almost as new!

The serial number is "L334521".

Looking at the 1983 & 84 Miyata catalogs and what people elsewhere have posted here & there about this Univega model, it looks like the addition of lowrider mounts was part of the 1984 model year for Miyata and, at least on Univega, is found rarely on some, I assume late year production, 1983 models.

See below on brakes for more hints on the production era of this bike - it's *very* late '83, and that helps explain why some '83s had the lowrider mounts and others didn't. Also why it resembles the 84 Miyatas (per their 84 catalog) more than their 83s.

The tube sticker on the seat tube says 'CHROMOLY DOUBLE BUTTED frame tubes chromoly fork and stays'

Dropouts are decent quality forged, no name on them, no 'adjuster screws' on rear (though it did have those two 'keep the axle 1cm from the back' screw-ins, whatever they're called).

There's a sticker of the dealer: Gregg's Greenlake Cycle, Woodward Ave., Seattle"

To add clarity or confusion to a few posts here and there, mine has braze-ons for:
- Front lowrider.
- Rear rack (inner side of seat stays).
- Down tube shift lever stop.
- Top tube cable guides (top of tube).
- Chain hanger.
- That Univega/Miyata 'loop' chain slap protector.
- Cantilevers and rear cable hanger (of course).

It's also got eyelets:
- Two sets front dropouts
- One set rear (the only thing that's 'off' in the design of this bike! - I notice that Miyata apparently didn't make or buy double eyelet rear dropouts at the time - pretty odd since this is a very basic need on any touring or commuting frame and they thought of everything else!)
- One bottle mount top side down tube; one set seat tube (two total).
- Threaded fender mounts on rear 'brake bridge' and chainstay bridge (this is a nice detail!)
- There's also a nice recessed-style through the crown nut & both to mount the front fender.

And, a great idea, the dropout, rack mount, and some fender mounts use M6 pitch threads, rather than the M5 (smaller) ones standard on most bikes: more thread for more grip and less change of thread damage if something goes wrong.

The lug-work is great, with nice even brazing and very few edges less than soft - not as smooth maybe as some super hand built job where the builder (or finisher) spent many hours filing & sanding, but pretty nice even for a Japanese production frame.

It's got the originally included 'Blackburn-like' rack (with integral rear reflector mount, marked "Made in Japan"), as well as front & rear and wheel and pedal reflectors.

It's also got some accessories I like to imagine were added at time of sale to put it into perfection - Esge "Chromoplast" fenders, two specialized aluminum bottle cages (one heavier gauge than the other; else identical), an ALE top tube pump end mount (the pump sadly missing), and, on the fork ends, two bungee hooks that were probably from a Cannondale handlebar bag (also missing; but I like to think it was a silver 'Trestle').

There are (were) also Spenco foam grips and brake hood pads. These, like the seat and part of the brake gum hoods, were chewed by squirrels, apparently, over the years. Of course, there are some who would delight in that 'look'!

The pedals have Christophe special clips and Lapize straps in good shape.

The component parts are thus:
- SunTour Mountech f&r derailleurs (both with ZH date codes, meaning August, 1983), SunTour down tube shifters
- the parts of the derailleur cables that are housed have the SunTour 'coiled metal' housings
- Sugino GT crankset (28, 48, 52!)
- Crank bolt covers chromed plastic, marked 'Univega cotterless'
- DID chain, gold
- 14-28 rear freewheel, 5-speed SunTour Pro-Compe gold
- SunTour sealed bearing hubs, 36h f&r
- Araya 27x1.25 rims (will add model later), Schrader valve
- Original tires (little wear!), skinwall, marked 'Univega grand touring 90lbs/360gr 27x1 1/4 NYLON BELTED TIRE'
- SunTour aluminum spokeguard
- SR seatpost - the kind with the steel upper swivel parts and a fluted shaft (flutes in gray)
- SR 'custom' stem
- SR 'randnner' randonneur bars (why are there so many weird corruptions of this word on Japanese bars??)
- Dia Compe 981 cantilever brakes, DC levers with the slide-out release to open the brakes to take the wheels off, DC pads. The cantilevers are dated '1283', so this must've been a /very/ late year production bike and probably sold in spring '84.
- Selle Italia (?) suede 'Avocet-style' seat with "Univega" on the back
- MKS AR-1 single piece body-cage 'sylvan-like' pedals
- headset - Tange Nova (looks like a Levin, but who knows... pretty much only found with this name in ref. to Miyata or Univega, occasionally Sekai bikes)
- bottom bracket - not sure of make; probably Sugino or Tange; unsealed, black shaft with crank fastening bolts (rather than nuts) and chromed steel mounting rings/cups

It's sparkly dark silver/gray with thin gold lines at the lug edges - with all the silver anodized parts, fenders, etc. it's a beauty all right!

Soon after possession I disassembled it and spent much pleasurable time over the summer cleaning, re-greasing, & polishing /everything/ before reassembly. Also coated the still clean innards with the CRC version of 'boeshield' for longer-term protection.

It's in very new shape; the tires have almost no wear (they're shot of course; old, dried, the 'skin' from the walls cracking off after 28 years), and the braking surfaces are still well-anodized. There are a few small scratches here & there from, I guess, moving around in the barn and having maybe stuff put on top of and next to it. The wheels are true and all bearings feel great (though some dry at first), with the exception of the bottom bracket, which felt a little rough and upon inspection turned out to have a tiny spot of pitting on one cone face, so replaced with the /excellent/ (and $25 and Japanese!) Tange sealed BB from Ben's. The hubs are prob'ly the smoothest and resistance-free I've ever felt new or old, by the way - wow. It seems to have been stored dry, far from the sea.


Part 2: the restored bike!

I finally finished the restoration of the bike in September 2011 after playing with the work all summer. It didn't need much actually, besides a new BB, handlebar covering & brake hoods, tires; tubes; & cloth. Also replaced a few items (see below). Anyway, the bike rides like a %$#**!ing dream! It's like riding a on a magic carpet - quiet, the best shifting I can remember, nimble and comfy, brakes work perfectly with no squeal, and looks, in my opinion, pretty doggone good in sliver, silver, and brown!

And I'm sold again on a standard-5 freewheel after shifting with this. Lots of space for the chain, and sturdy, quiet shifts (granted it's a 14-28 at present!).

I've kept it mostly original, but added/replaced with:
- Grab-on maxi grips (which I have loved since the day) with Tressostar tape over. (This was my first attempt at taping over Grab-Ons for better look and durability; I did a little bit of a hatchet job, but not too bad. Used 4 rolls total and used silicone adhesive in some areas for additional durability.)
- Cane Creek brake hoods (what else?).
- Panaracer 27x1.25 tires.
- Swapped the original MKS AR-1 quill pedals for MKS Sylvan touring 'prime', since I like the wider cages (a little shinier seems to be the only difference with that 'prime' addition).
- Added MKS pedal flips (but rats! - I can't use the reflector on that side anymore with the flips).
- Replaced the 48t chainring with a Sugino 40t (need to replace the 52 with a 48 or so).
- Ditched the front & wheel reflectors.
- The BB needed replacement as mentioned; got the excellent Tange LN-3922 sealed; the 127.5 fit about right with the GT crankset, maybe 125'd be a wee bit better.
- Added Sugino Autex bolts for the cranks.
- Replaced with Brooks "Flyer" brown seat; the springed B17 (seat, not saddle dammitt!)
- Replaced the still pristine stock Dia-Compe pads with nice Velo Orange adjustable brake pads (the black, regular compound).
- Crane brass bell.
- Replaced the brake cable housings with some cool translucent silver (reused the still perfect original cables!) from the very-recommended Porkchop BMX folks (the original derailleur cable housings are the wound-stainless SunTours, so also match well).
- Had to replace the original Esge fender struts, as the original installer (see below?) had trimmed them absolutely down to the minimum edge of the bolts for the original 1.125 tires; adding the 1.25s necessitated longer, so found a set of NOS Bluemels struts that works well. These remain untrimmed at the ends of course!
- I swapped the regular Dia-Compe triangular canti cable hangers with the "wheeled" ones on a similar-era Trek
- replaced most eyelet bolts with new stainless; a few were already thus.
- Will later swap the freewheel for a 13-34 (or maybe just the larger cogs first); I have a few 14-34 1st gen. winners, or maybe a new winner ultra 6 (mine are stored half a continent away, though).
- Added a Velo-Orange "elk leather" chainstay protector (this isn't very good quality, and will probably peel off soon; we'll see).
- I even contacted the original cyclery to confirm they have logo water bottles... I'm guessing that it rolled out of the shop 28 years ago with their bottles in the cages. A later update on that idea: I tried to call them several times but got switched back & forth to people who knew nothing - the same person several times - & in the interim holds listening to corporate propaganda about how huge their several stores are, before being promised an email back but no reply; to say the least it took numerous attempts! Finally had them mail me two of them ($20 shipped, but was going for the match, you see). Unfortunately, while their logo still looks like the one on the frame sticker, they have their website THREE %$**ing times in large print on the bottles! Not historically correct, /dangit/! (No telephone number on them, oddly, which I'd think'd be more useful, after all what idiot can't find a website?)
- Original Mirrycle rear-view mirrors mounted on the brake levers (both left and right; it's a real luxury to have two instead of one on a tour bike!). The photos here show the 'Third Eye' bar-end mirror that I had in the interim; I didn't like this position as much after trying it, so was pleased to replace with Mirrycles when they arrived).
- lots of car-polish!

Still to do:
- Maybe try a behind the seat tube pump fit, Zefal HP silver if I can get one, I suppose.
- Wd. like to get some old US-made Blackburn lowrider & standard front racks too...
- Add some reflectivity - maybe tape on the fenders and some velcro-on wheel reflectors like Rivendell used to have.

This is my first Univega, and first Japanese touring bike. I like it.


>Now look at the pictures!

The first ones are immediately after I got the bike home *all original dust is still intact*, and then after all restored and polished. Since this page is long enough, they're here!


A few links of reference for this bike (I believe this page is the best documentation for the bike anywhere as far as componentry and construction):
Where I originally posted the first part: pre-restore.
Where I originally posted the second part: post-restore.

Someone else's 83 GT on the same site - and still more if you search.

More bike stuff on my velo pages.

* * * *
edition: 2015.07.15 | © robert liebermann
url: http://rjl.us/velo/83univega-1.htm
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