Univega has its roots somewhere back in the 70s, when Ben Lawee founded the company. It quickly turned into a brand, quickly winning great popularity, especially on the U.S. market. I can still remember when I first saw the Alpina model, it was around 1999, and I was fascinated: CrMo frame, smooth welds, quality paint, and excellent durability. However, the time has passed, and in 1996 the brand was bought by Derby Cycles.
The Alpina series was first launched on the market in the 80’s, and even today is still among us. HT-510 inherits a few genes from the original models, at least if we take a look at its design. The combination of white and blue suits me and is quite rare too, making the bike look special. But are looks enough to face fierce competition? Let’s take a ride with Univega Alpina HT and see for ourselves!
Frame/On the track
Univega plays the card of agility, given the 70.5 degrees headtube angle. This means that the sporty side has not been forgotten, which only adds value to the brand as it exists nowadays. Regarding climbs, things are also good, as Univega, like most manufacturers, opts for a seat tube angle of 73 degrees site.
Regarding frame weight, 2.28 kg (in size L) is not quite small, Univega being surpassed by some competitors, with up to 500 grams. The stiffness we measured on our test bench, shows the value of 115.4 Nm / degree, so a ratio of 50.6 STW. With these figures, performance is not impressive, but we have to remember that this bike was not designed for racing, but rather for recreational rides.
Welds are well done, the paint is of good quality and tubes are round-shaped, except for the down tube, which is elliptical. Univega preferred not to do any experiments, at least for this chapter.
Position on the bike is comfortable, because it won’t force you to bend too much, and the handlebars are positioned relatively high, for the same reason. Riding on mountain trails or fire roads is a real pleasure. However, by any means avoid suddenly turning right, heading straight to a tough trail! Here is why…
The fork is the first component which fails to give you the necessary support for difficult tracks. XCT V4 is the entry level in the Suntour range and it works on coils. It benefits from a Lock-Out function and preload adjustment, but it lacks refinement, as well as the ability to quickly absorb successive bumps. This is why we recommend you to avoid more difficult tracks. Also, with 2.62 kg, this fork only adds weight to your bike.
Drive train is composed of a triple Suntour XCR crankset, a 9 gear cassette, Shimano Acera levers, same as the front derailleur, and a Shimano Deore rear derailleur. Overall, the transmission does a good job but you shouldn’t shift under heavy load (when climbing a steeper hill for example). With a weight of 0.98 kg, the Suntour XCR has removable chainrings, which is a plus.
The bike accelerates slowly which shouldn’t surprise us too much as the wheels weight 5.02 kg. However, HT-510’s wheels weight is still better than what other more expensive bikes have to offer. Tires come from Schwalbe, we’re talking about Smart Sam, to be more specific, and they are optimized for a better rolling speed and a good grip on dry surfaces. Cornering is alright, as long as the bike is ridden on dry tracks. It’s a different story if it gets wet, especially when riding on rocks.
Brakes come from Tektro, Draco 2, to be more specific. They offer acceptable performance, as long they don’t have to work on long descents. The 180-mm front rotor plays first fiddle, supported by the 160 mm rear rotor.
Beyond doubts, Univega HT-510 is a recreational mountain bike, clearly oriented towards rider’s comfort. Its cool look should be mentioned, even if this can’t be considered for the final rating. However, aspect matters for some people, and as this is a bike designed for innocent fun, than looks get even more important.
Equipment is not impressive and the fork leaves the worst impression in the final ranking. The weight of 14.74 kg in size L is a bit too much and does not recommended this bike for intense climbing or races. In compensation for it, Univega HT-519 offers a relatively robust set of wheels, decent brakes and good tires, and these details should please customers in this niche.
Some new competitors, especially coming from the Balkans, provide better components for the same money, but not a similar image.