Univega were one of the original American mountain bike companies. Their presence in Britain has dwindled in recent years, but that's set to change thanks to new distributors BikePlaza who have a promising lineup of bikes for 2010.
The bikes are built by German group Derby Cycle, who also own Focus and make Raleigh and Diamondback bikes – and that link is apparent in some of the designs. For example, some of the full-suspension models use the same Knucklebox suspension platform found on models from both Focus and Diamondback.
Derby's head of marketing, Herwig Reus, told BikeRadar that Univega prided themselves on the strength and durability of their bikes. "We have one of the best price to quality ratios,” he said. “Our bikes aren’t the lightest but they will last.
"They’re not for the guys in the World Cup, they’re for the guys who enjoy riding and know how much money they are spending. A bike from here will last all your life.”
Reus added that many of Univega's staff were remarkably young – the head of quality control is just 25 – and said: “As a company we believe in the power of young people. You can see that in the product. It’s a different approach."
Univega offer a wide range of mountain, road and commuting machines, plus a handful of BMXs and a couple of trials bikes. Watch out for reviews on BikeRadar soon. For now, here are some of the highlights of the 2010 range – see the thumbnail gallery for more pictures. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alpina is Univega's cross-country/enduro range, which includes everything from top-end carbon full-suspension race bikes to €300 hardtails. The top-of-the-range Alpina SL-UPCT is a 100mm-travel race bike based around Univega's new carbon Deltabox II frame. Finishing kit includes a full Shimano XTR drivetrain, Mavic Crossmax SLR wheels, a Fox 32F FIT fork and RP23 shock, and Avid Elixir CR brakes. RRP is €4,499.99. Claimed weight for a medium frame is 2,120g (4.7lb).
The aluminium Alpina SL-7 is less than half the price at €1,999.99 but still boasts a mix of Shimano XT and XTR kit, a RockShox Reba SL fork and DT-Swiss M-210 shock, and Avid Elixir 5 brakes.
On the bottom rung of the full-suspension ladder is the Alpina SL-260, with a Suntour SCT fork and DNM coil shock, Shimano Acera drivetrain, and a Promax mechanical disc brake at the front and V-brake at the rear. RRP is €399.99.
On the hardtail side of things, the range is headed by the Alpina HT-UPCT Team, with a unidirectional carbon fibre frame, RockShox SID World Cup fork, full XTR groupset, Mavic Crossmax SLR wheels and Avid Elixir CR brakes. RRP is €3,999.99.
Slotting in at a more wallet-friendly €999.99 is the aluminium Alpina HT-560, shown here in the women's Sky version. It comes with a RockShox Recon SL fork, Shimano XT drivetrain, Hayes Stroker Ryde brakes and Concept finishing kit.
Further down the range is this €599.99 Alpina HT-530, with a 100mm-travel RST Gila fork, Tektro Auriga disc brakes and Shimano SLX rear mech.
RAM is Univega's all-mountain range aimed at harder hitting riders. At the top sits the 130mm-travel RAM AM-7 with RockShox Revelation Team fork and Fox Float RPL shock, Fulcrum Red Zone XLR wheels and CrankBrothers Joplin seatpost. RRP is €3,299.99
The RAM AM-3 comes in at €1,899.99 and for your money you get a Fox 32 TALAS-RL fork and Float RPL shock, Shimano XT and Avid Elixir 5 brakes.
The RAM range also includes hardcore hardtails like this XF-932 dirt jumper. For €999.99 you get a Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 2 fork with 20mm axle, Avid Elixir 5 brakes, a Truvativ Hussefelt crankset and SRAM X9 kit.
While Univega have dozens of mountain bikes (see www.univega.com for the full list) they offer a slimmed down selection of just five drop-handlebar road bikes. Topping the range is the €3,999.99 Via Mountain King Team, which boasts a unidirectional carbon frame with tapered head tube and integrated seatpost. Kit includes Mavic Cosmic SLR wheels, Shimano Dura-Ace kit and lightweight FSA parts including an SLK BB30 crankset.
The €1,999.99 Via Strato Pro shares the same frame but cuts costs with the speccing of Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels, Shimano Ultegra and Concept finishing kit.
At the bottom of the range, the entry-level Via Laser comes in at €799.99 with a double-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork, Shimano Tiagra groupset and Concept finishing kit.
Terreno bikes are what Univega describe as "cross-trekking" machines but we here in the UK would call urban commuters or hybrids. The top model is the €1,499.99 Terreno 900, which has a triple-butted aluminium frame, full Shimano XT including hydraulic disc brakes, an SR Suntour NCX Air fork and Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution tyres.
Lower down the range, the fetching white Terreno 300 gets a more basic frame, an SR Suntour NEX4610 fork, Shimano Deore gearing and Schwalbe Silento tyres. RRP is €499.99.