It’s always interesting to spot a “small wheel” bike in the wild. These adult bikes, either with 16″ or 20″ wheels* were a popular bike category in the 60’s and 70’s. These bikes, whether a rigid frame “shopping” bike or a folding bike, were made by a number of brands in many a country. By the 80’s this category had faded from popular view (modern folding bikes are the direct descendant.) However, many of them still remain out there on the streets, where they belong.
I spotted this white one in inner SE last week. What made me decide to take photos of it is its country of origin. I’ve seen many a bike from the US, the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, etc. But I don’t think I’d ever seen a bike “Made in Yugoslavia” before!
|A very retro Rog Pony ad. Undated, but I’d guess around 1970.|
Well, to be correct, “former Yugoslavia”. Rog was a bicycle manufacturer based in Ljubljana, Slovenia and in business from 1951 to 1991. This was the first time I had ever heard of this bike company, but it’s not surprising, as bikes manufactured “behind the Iron Curtain”** and during the Cold War rarely made it State-side. The only one I knew that was imported was “Favorit” from then-Czechoslovakia. The only Yugoslavian manufactured vehicle I knew is, of course, the Yugo, and the less said about that the better.
From what I found on the internet, there are plenty of Rog’s still plying the streets of Ljubljana, but this be the first I saw here. The “Pony” was their shopper/folder, and the design is to my untrained eye, fairly standard and unremarkable as these types of bikes go. It does have a Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub which I find interesting. Maybe they figured trying to copy this hub would be just too much?
I didn’t see who the owner was, so I couldn’t ask what the ride quality was like. I’m assuming it would be similar to a Raleigh Twenty?
Anyone else run into Rog bikes, or other “Iron Curtain” bicycles in general?***
This just in! Info about the Rog Pony by flickr user klorpus, who owns one and left a comment on my flickr:
Mine is identical to this one, except in worse shape when I got it. Rims were steel Weinmanns, 3-speed hub is a Sturmey Archer AW, marked 1971. Pletscher made the rack; funnily the rear brake stay plate is marked as Esge. Brakes and levers are basic decent-quality Weinmann units. Lighting is Soubitez and Cibie. The bottom bracket is an oddball Thomson variant – these are a sort of cross between an ashtabula and regular bottom bracket type. The pedals seem like they might be Union. Downsides? Heavy. The headset wants to loosen itself, and the hinge is pretty flexy unless it is *really* snugged down. The weld quality is indifferent to rough. I cut myself on the hinge welds when touching up the paint. I think it’s made from melted down T-34 tanks. The original molded plastic mattress lookalike saddle was singularly awful. The levers for the folding clamps are large and heavy.
It is probably the equal of say, an Atala or lesser Peugeot.
It’s not as fine as the nicer Bianchis of the late 50s or early 60s, and a good bit heavier than the Raleigh RSW or Twenty.
UPDATE 19-June-2013: The owner of this Rog Pony just contacted me. She said she bought it from someone in Portland, and has sold the bike as she is moving back to Toronto.
More photos from klorpus can be found here.
*Yes, I know, there were a few oddball sizes thrown in as well, but 16″ and 20″ were the two most common.
**And yes, I know, Yugoslavia was not technically “behind the Iron Curtain” as while it was a socialist nation, it didn’t follow the party line dictated by Moscow. Thank you, Tito.
***Especially if you don’t live in Europe.