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Book excerpt: Italian Racing Bicycles on Universal

Editor’s note: This week VeloNews is publishing excerpts from the new book,Italian Racing Bicycles: The People, The Products, The Passion.

Italian Racing Bicycles
A box of Universal Model 77 side-pull brakes. Photo: Italian Racing Bicycles

Today, specialization in manufacturing seems normal. In the early days of the bicycle, however, builders in Italy had only a limited number of suppliers to choose among and often had to make parts or components themselves. It was precisely for this reason that Universal played such a decisive role in the panorama of the history of bicycle manufacturing in Italy. Created in 1919, Universal was the first Italian maker of brakes.

Italian Racing Bicycles
Universal center-pull brake Model 61, mounted on the bicycle used by Rik Van Looy in 1966. Photo: Italian Racing Bicycles