Week-ending C&V: Univega Alpina Uno MtB
Unlike the world of vintage road bikes, older mountain bikes are not possessed of the same cachet that their pavement-loving brethren enjoy. Bring your old steel, lugged roadie out into the sunlight and geeks will drool all over it, exploring each angle and weld, sticker and head badge, each component for authenticity. Bike geeks have formed up all around the globe dedicated to restoring, riding and praising the virtues of the old time road bikes. All sorts of talented bloggers will gladly advise you on bringing your yard sale, or even dumpster, find back to life. In comparison, the vintage mountain bikes are by and large overlooked; they are like dinosaurs in a world that has evolved beyond them.
Or are they?
It is true that most of the performance cycling world has left the older bikes behind in favor of the latest and greatest. Realistically, who wouldn't want something that weighs less than a miniature dachshund, that makes you feel like you are skimming just off the ground or that, if needed, you could outrun a cheetah in full stride. Of course it is all a matter of simple perspective; old time mountain bikes do still have a place in our world, and I don't mean stuck up on a wall of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.
Built to last, that is how many of these things were put together. Mountain biking was still pretty new back in the 1980s (when this Alpina Uno came off the line) and manufacturers still were in the process of figuring out how much gnar a bike could take before it failed. As a result some heavy duty steel construction went into them. That is also probably why many of the ones that actually saw trail use and abuse are still around today. These days you will see them at your local cyclocross race, you will see them converted into urban commuters, heck on occasion you will still see one on your local dirtway. I am not aware of any vintage mountain bike groups, but that does not mean they aren't around, nor does it preclude one from rising into existence.
Depending on the year, the Alpina Uno was Univega's top of the line model. I would say this one is 1980s, and that much of the componentry is stock, or at least period correct. If anything has changed I would have to say it is the the wheels, the former owner probably swapping out for something more road appropriate. You can see it at the Velo, where it is undergoing a little clean-up and refurbishing.
Oh, and if you still think that old time mountain bikes are only worth the effort of reminiscing about, here is a guy who turned one, and an Uno at that, into one nice townie/commuter bike.