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

Part 1: the bike from the time machine!

[ Read later, start right on the pictures here! ]

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.

A good deal:
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!

2018.09: And the poor thing went back into the time machine (=UP storage) at the end of 2012 when I moved back to Alaska, and stayed there until I moved back down to the Lake Superior country, re-polishing and riding again only fall 2018!

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. Of course back then the bicycle racket was different and there wasn't the ridiculous emphasis on 'year' models and insinuated obsolescence as nowadays. Still, companies put out yearly catalogs, so we use those years as a guide.

See below on brakes for more hints on the production era of this bike - it's very late 1983, and that illustrates how some '83s had the lowrider mounts and others didn't; the change apparently made mid-year. Also why it resembles the 84 Miyatas (per their 1984 catalog) more than their 1983s.

Frame details:

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

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.
- Three top tube cable guides (12 o'clock top of tube).
- Chain hanger.
- That Univega/Miyata 'loop' chain slap protector.
- Cantilevers and rear cable hanger (of course).

It's also got eyelets and threaded mounts:
- 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.

The original bike:

Component parts:
- SunTour Mountech f&r derailleurs (both with ZH date codes, meaning August, 1983)
- SunTour LD-____ down tube shifters, clamp-on
- the parts of the derailleur cables that are housed have the SunTour 'coiled metal' housings like included with bar-cons
- Sugino GT crankset (28, 48, 52, man!)
- 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, 36° f&r
- Araya 27x1.25 rims; possibly model 16A(3) or (5), Schrader valve
- Original tires (little wear!), skinwall, marked 'Univega grand touring 90lbs/360gr 27x1 1/4 NYLON BELTED TIRE'
- SunTour aluminum spokeguard (dork disc)
- SR CT-P6C seatpost - the kind with the steel upper swivel parts and a fluted shaft (flutes in gray)
- SR 'custom' stem
- SR 'randnner' (Randonneur) handlebars (WR-420?), about 42cm width at ends (why are there so many weird corruptions of this word on Japanese bars?? Nitto too, and their ridiculous 'raundoneur' - cripes, I bought a pair of their 135 bars in 2005 and again in 2018 and they still misspell it! Reflects poorly on their ability to just call France or look in a French book or catalog to see how to spell it! (Or maybe retool; the 1982, & 83 SR catalogs spell it right.)
- Dia Compe 981 cantilever brakes, DC pads. The cantilevers are dated '1283', so this must've been a very late year production bike and probably sold in spring '84. (Back when 'year' was only just on the verge of being a marketing gimmick for cycles.)
- Dia Compe levers (161G?) with the slide-out release to open the brakes to take the wheels off (a great feature!!).
- Selle Italia (?) suede 'Avocet-style' seat with "Univega" on the back
- MKS AR-1 single piece body-cage 'sylvan-like' pedals; The pedals have black Christophe special clips and Lapize straps in good shape.
- Tange Nova headset (looks like a Levin, but who knows... pretty much only found with this name in ref. to Miyata or Univega, or 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 got the original 'Blackburn-like' aluminum rack (with integral rear reflector mount, marked "Made in Japan") - it had the front & rear and wheel and pedal reflectors.

Parts added when new:
It's also got some accessories that were likely added at time of sale to put it into perfection, including:
- Esge "Chromoplast" fenders,
- two specialized aluminum bottle cages (one heavier gauge than the other; else identical),
- an ALE top tube pump umbrella 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 (or similar varmint) over the years. Of course, there are some who would delight in that 'look'!

My mission:

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 [update 2012: actually saw a similar date GT in Moscow - riding on those same original tires!]), 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 (e.g., SE Washington state).

Now see what it looks like after a little restoration & care!

Or just go to the pictures if you haven't already! The first ones are immediately after I got the bike home *all original dust is still intact*, and then after all restored and polished.

More bike stuff on my velo pages.

* * * *
edition: 2018.09.28 | © robert liebermann
url: http://rjl.us/velo/83univega-1.htm
[ velo main ] [ photo ] [ contact ] [ HQ ]