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Apr 29, 2021
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Over the past few years my idea of Polish bikes has changed. When I arrived here some 26 years ago it was rare to see a bicycle in use in the cities, although quite common in rural areas. The most common make of bike was Romet, and while they are recovering as a company, most bikes seem to be imported. Romet and Kross are both big bicycle producers today, they are very separate companies, but Kross began by buying Romets and rebranding them.

In my barns I now have a collection of old Romets, but very few of them are branded as Romet. That is not because I have spent time hunting down these unmarked Romets, I just seem to find them wherever I go.

Here are some of my Romets, a Romet Jubilat, a very common bike here in rural Poland, and sometimes I have seen them in the city. Now behind it is another Romet, a Wigry, but it is branded as 'Universal' with no mention of Romet, and I think were only available as an export or in special type of shop in Poland that sold foreign goods and Polish goods intended for foreign markets, and probably for foreign money. I have another Wigry, but that one is branded as a Romet.


Now here is another Romet Jubilat frame, but this one is branded as Danusia. It even has the website of the shop they were sold through, which no longer seems to work. It has some lovely markings, slightly crooked, but a really bad repair weld on the joint. The welding might be fine, but I think I will avoid proving that.


Well that is enough for now, just a minor introduction to a brand that I cannot seem to escape.
Of course! :)

Over the last couple of years I have discovered a whole range of unmarked bikes and other branded bikes that I never really noticed before, marking Romets rise and fall and rise again. I ws even given one a few weeks back.
Here is a classic well-to-do home, with a great floor, lots of plants, cheaply designed furniture – and a very nice Romet Samanta, It has nicer looking front forks than I see on the other small Romets, probably better if you were planning to take the bike off road.


This is the frame of a very similar bike – a Kross Best Junior. Made by Kross, under the Best category and the model is Junior, or something like that. It dates to around the year 2000, which makes it about 10 years younger than the Romet above, and it used a later style of brakes.

It was a bit of a wreck when I bought it, but a wreck with a very good frame and repairable bits. It is also a bit small for me, and I have since used most of the parts on other bikes. I like the rear mount for the dynamo, but I can understand why they generally moved the mount to the front wheel.


Other than the fact that both bikes have been photoed at very different angles, they are essentially the same frame, because Kross made use of some frame designs that they could buy off a struggling Romet. They do not look quite the same, but that is mostly because of my phone and the angle I took the picture at.

Over the next few years the frame changed a lot at Kross, eventually becoming available with suspension front and rear.
This is one the other three Romet Jubilats that I own/have owned and, I don't know whether that is due to luck or not, only one of the five Jubilats have been marked as being a Romet. Some collectors focus on the early models, when the company was still called 'ZZR' instead of 'Romet, others collect them when they were called 'Romet', but I seem to focus on those sold by other bike shops and supermarket chains. I did not choose this, it kind of chose me.

This one is a very late model, from about 2004 I think, and purchased from one of our local supermarkets, replete with random stickers that did not match the other Jubilat that we purchased at the same time. Nowhere does it say that either of them is a Romet. I think they originally designed these bikes back in the late 1960s, which made it about a 35-40 year old design. I still see many of these Romets being ridden around in the countryside - my neighbour has one I rebuilt for him, and the guy three doors up occasionally rides one as well.

I used this one for a little while, rebuilt it several times, until eventually it achieved a classic level of coolness. Then I gave it away to one of wifie's friends who had serious medical health problems and needed to exercise. In exchange I got a worn out, heavy Chinese bike her son used to ride, with 'suspension' front and rear - while it was heavy and a mess, the parts have proved very useful.

Finally, that is my mark 1 work bench, made of some piece of furniture that that someone dumped our basement area.


The next one, Tigger, was the other one we bought from the supermarket, and it has a lot of things painted black as some parts of each bike got a bit rusty while stored in our garage. This one still lives in my workshop, and gets folded and packed in the car sometimes when we are going somewhere that I can ride while wifie walks.

It has changed slightly since this picture was taken, as it has knobbly tires now that it lives in the countryside, a steering stem from another bike that is bent further forwards and a few other detail changes. Currently it has no cranks or chainwheel, as I have removed them - it shows some wear even though it has not been used that much, and since they no longer make these cranks their value is going up. I have a pair of cranks and chainwheel to fit, but I need a new BB. In fact I need three new BBs and two more crank sets as I have two other Romets in my city garage with cranks that are worth saving.

In total I have three bikes that are/were marked 'Romet', and eight that were not.


Here is my last 'Jubilat'.

It is a Romet, but for some reason when they installed a derailleur set up from their larger bikes they marked them as 'Zenit' and 'Kowalewo' (the village where Romet had the factory to build their cheaper models).

The frame is almost identical to the other Jubilats, except that it lacks the front and rear mount for the chain guard. This one also has shorter stem, because I trimmed it to fit a later fork off another model of a former Romet. Presumably the spacing for mounting the rear wheel must be different, but mine is slightly bent as the frame got a little scrunched at the breakers yard.

I chopped the stem since the frame is rough, but I have all its parts stashed away or fitted temporarily to other bikes, so I could rebuild it with this or another Zenit frame. I have smartened up the frame a bit by giving it a clear coat, so it looks better and hopefully will look presentable for years.


Zenit is now my field bike, when I want to ride the 5 mile short and hacky route through the northerly wood.

Finally, all my Jubilats are actually Jubilat 2's as they have a small tube between the BB and hinge, unlike the flat metal strip the first models had, back in the 1970s. I have seen some pictures of them, but not an actual bike; however, since I seem to collect Romets from about 1985 to 2005, then I have never tried to own one. I do have a Wigry from about 1977, but I have rarely ridden it as it is also too complete.
Here we have three Jubilat 2's that are not mine, but still doing good service. Somewhere I do have a picture of another Zenit, but I cannot find it at the moment.

This one looks fairly original, and since it has two baskets fitted then they are using it to seriously shop. The front-to-rear wiring is wound around the frame by the joint, so hopefully only in daylight hours.


This one is also used to shop, but only for things carried in a plastic bag or something tied to the rather dead looking rear rack that looks like it began life on a bigger bike. It has been resprayed with undercoat, the front brake, lights and most of the wiring has gone and there is mold on the rear frame. Hopefully the coaster brake still works.


Finally we have this example, which looks fairly complete, except I cannot see any wiring to the rear lamp - and it does have the incorrect pump fitted in the correct position. I am not sure how comfortable that sprung but hard-looking plastic seat is, though, it is certainly not original.

There is a good chance that the rear wheel is also from an older bike, as not only does it have a different style reflector but the shape of the rim is also different - the sides are longer and at quite an angle, making the base width much narrower. I have a rim like that which had been fitted as a replacement to one of my bikes after someone broke or bent the aluminium rim it was originally fitted with.


Here is my Zenit, and it has a similar rear wheel fitted - it was not fitted here originally, but my Zenit does tend to end up with the odds and ends that I have lying around.


There is a chance that those wheels are off a Jubilat 1, but I do not know for sure.

There was also a Jubilat Lux, but I have only heard of those dating back to the 1970s, for a model 1 Jubilat, which had a flat strip instead of a tube welded between the BB and the hinge.
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After the Jubilat, the Wigry is probably the next most popular old Romet around, and this is how I gained my first one. It was missing a crank and pedal when I found it abandoned like this down by our waste bins, along with a much bigger and front-end damaged Amsterdam bike that happened to have a crank that was almost identical.

Maybe the crank was originally from this bike anyway, and the one on the Amsterdam was damaged? Who knows, I am not enough of a crank detective...

The bike is in pretty good shape, other than the rather bent up rack, and I kind of like it. The fact that, like the Jubilat, it is a folder, means it easily slips into the back of the car, so no need for a bike rack on our car.


It was also missing the saddle, but I bought, accidentally, another Polish made bike - simply because it offered newer wheels, tires and actual gears. I also straightened out the rack.


I was also given another Wigry, although technically since it is a 'Universal' brand it does not have an actual name, presumably because they were going to translate or invent a name in the foreign market it was going to be sold.

Now I know I have slightly modified my purple Wigry, but you can see here the many slight differences. This is a 1970s Wigry, so it has a sprung saddle, lights front and rear, big plastic wing nuts to allow the seat and handlebar to be removed or adjusted, chain guard and a plastic cover over the top of the forks. It also has mudguards/fenders, which while I have seen them on most other Wigrys, are absent from mine, even though mine still has a front light. Other than that the pedals are white plastic instead of the bolack that became common later.

The wheels are also very different, as my purple Wigry has chrome 1980s style shallow rims, the Universal has deep painted ones. In fact, other than the size, are rather like the pair of deep ones I got on two of my other bikes - one on each bike.


I occasionally pump the tires up and ride this one around the space outside my garage - it is a nice bike to ride, but I prefer my purple Wigry.

It did come with something I had only seen pictures of before - a tough carrying bag.

The saddle is still peering through the top of the bag, but I could easily have removed that and the handlebars, especially since it does not have a front brake to get in the way.

I am not sure who lugged their bike around in one of these bags, but maybe that was what you did when you took your bike on a train journey to the sea or the mountains?


Our small local town still has many Wigry in active service, generally ridden by older ladies and occasionally an older man.

You can see that while this one does have mudguards/fenders, it too lacks a front brake. I can also see that the pedals have been replaced


Well, that is the Wigry, an ideal bike if you are a bit shorter than my 5 feet and 10 inches and do not live in anywhere with many hills.
When is a Romet not a Romet?

The company was formed after the Second World War from the remains of a set of prewar companies, and for the first 20 years it was known as ZZR, before it became officially known as 'Romet' - from 'rower' (the Polish word for bicycle, from 'Rover', a British bicycle company) + 'metal'. Now while the bicycles they sold were branded 'Romet', those built to be sold abroad were branded 'Universal', except you could also by Universal bikes in Poland if you visited the special shops that sold foreign products with foreign cash. So if you had a relative living in Poland, you could send them some cash, and then your relative could buy a better quality/outfitted 'Universal' bike.

For some reason I cannot understand they took one of their popular models, the coaster brake 'Jubilat', outfitted it with a three or four speed derailleur, and marketed it as a 'Zenit'.

And here is my 3-speed Zenit derailleur, a Falcon 5 speed hub made in Taiwan with no gears ever fitted in the first and fifth position. I am sure that I could find some extra gears to fit, but I think it is special enough.


After the end of communism in 1989, Romet began to fall apart, partly I am sure because now you could import a used car from Germany for relatively little money - and to make sure that no one would steal it you would remove something from the engine, like the rotor arm, every time you left it.

One of the things they attempted to do was sell rebranded bikes that other people would sell. These would include rebranded bikes for bicycle shops like Danusia, made up names for supermarkets or new bicycle manufacturers like Kross and Arkus.

Of the five Jubilats I have had, two were supermarket bikes ('Tigger' and 'Smart'), one a Danusia, one a Zenit and only one marked as a Romet.

Now below you can see a number of the forks off some of my 'Romets'.

On the right we have the Zenit, with a standard Jubilat fork and some fancy Zenit graphics.

The fork in the center is from another Jubilat, sold under the Danusia brand, probably sold some time around the year 2000, the frame for which you can see in my first post.

The fork on the left is from a larger bike, with 26" wheels, from another bike built around 2000, that I was given a few weeks ago by a farmer who had had it from new.


Now these forks were for another Romet frame, designed probably in the late 1980s, but this pair came off a version of the bike after the design had been purchased by Kross. It has V brakes rather than the canitlever brakes I have seen on the Romet. The design of this bike has gone far under Kross, as I have seen three or four derivatives.

Danusia's forks needed a bit of welding as the top tube had rubbed the frame. I have since had it welded up, and now I am thinking of fitting it to Tigger as part of its winter rebuild.

This pair of forks is on my now modified Zenit, which is due for some further updates over the winter.


The values of the standard old Romets is going up, and while I bought three for 300 zloty, I could not even buy a single one for that amount of money, and I even see them advertised for as much as 2000 zloty.
I can understand why they generally moved the mount to the front wheel.

My father helped me mount mine, and put it on the front fork. He showed me how to turn it on and off with your toe, while you ride.

I don’t remember seeing a bicycle with the dynamo mounted on the rear wheel.
Anyway, now we have the Turing story. If you are wondering why a Polish word ends in 'ing', it is like 'camping' or 'Rower' ('Rover'), words simply borrowed from English, like: 'touring'.

This is an example of the first Turings, with the tubes welded together. Okay, someone has done a quick paint job on the wheels and mudguards without taking the bike apart, but it is in quite good condition despite this, since it probably dates back to the 1970s.

It also has a basket front and rear, so it probably gets used for some serious shopping. Many people in the West seem to think that a step-thru design of bike means that it is a woman's bike, but if you are, say, a farmer and you are taking stuff to sell at the market, the chance of swinging you leg over the back of the bike becomes impossible. Hence it is a farmer's bike, not a lady's bike.

The chain guard also has a nice curve to it, one that goes far above the chain line, and the saddle looks like the one on my 1970s Wigry, although it might be a bit larger.

Finally, the dynamo is mounted on the rear part of the frame, but the front light is missing and the rear one is broken.


This next one is a Turing 2, and you can see that rather than welded joints it has a frame socket system. The top tube also seems to be slightly different, maybe because the tubes are slightly thinner. The front forks seem very different, they bend further forward, and they have plastic caps at the top.

I think the three parallel splashes of colour means this one is from the mid 1980s, and it looks like they have also faded a bit as well since two of the colours look very similar now.

You can see that the dynamo has moved to the front of the bike, and we still have the original front light - while the lens of the rear light is missing here as well.

This bike has seen some modifications, particularly the seat, stem and handlebar, which is nice since often the seats crumble while the stem and handlebar tend to rust quite easily.


Here is another Turing 2, but it has been repainted, the handlebars may have been changed and the front light is much newer. The fact that it has a sprung seat and chromed rack and fork caps suggests that it is an earlier version.


Here we have yet another Turing 2, another one with the faded three stripes, except this one has been owned by a farmer and then left in a barn when he could no longer ride it.

Since it was now my barn, it did not take much effort to convince him to let me have it. It did come with a front wheel, but I did not think about photographing the bike until after I began to strip it. This one has the chrome rear rack and fork tops, but the large round front lamp, as well as the classic sponge seat that most of my 1980s and 1990s Romets have fitted, and usually with irretrievable damage.


Here is the same bike after I had modified it mostly with bits from my other bikes, especially my Amsterdam, including the handlebars, seat, rack and rear hub. The wheels came off a Kross, another and now even more successful Polish bicycle company, a bike owned by a neighbour who was having a lot of trouble with it.


Soon I am planning on changing the crank, the last part that still marks it as a Romet, before it wears out.
My father helped me mount mine, and put it on the front fork. He showed me how to turn it on and off with your toe, while you ride.

I don’t remember seeing a bicycle with the dynamo mounted on the rear wheel.

I do not really remember dynamos at all from when I was a kid, as they were generally only fitted to really old bikes that I was unlikely ever to ride, but instead we had a choice of Everyready electric bicycle lights in chunky plastic designs that had to be removed, or partially removed, every time you left your bike somewhere...

I have never really used any of my now many dynamos, I usually just repair the original lighting system with them fitted. As I have never even ridden one of my bikes with the lights on, as I ride them during the day, I have never thought about switching the dynamos on and off using my foot, but now that I know I must give it a try some time :)
Well that’s more Romet history than I could have imagined. Thank you.

I think what you call undercoat is what we call primer.

Here, undercoat or undercoating is a black tar-like coating, applied to the underside of a car, to deter rust. Sold in spray cans and quarts at most auto parts places.

It’s not popular locally, as it just doesn’t snow here. In Minnesota, everybody had it done on new cars, right at the dealership. Some dealers sprayed every new car that came in.

Of course the cost was added in to the price of the car.
Well that’s more Romet history than I could have imagined. Thank you.

I think what you call undercoat is what we call primer.

Here, undercoat or undercoating is a black tar-like coating, applied to the underside of a car, to deter rust. Sold in spray cans and quarts at most auto parts places.

It’s not popular locally, as it just doesn’t snow here. In Minnesota, everybody had it done on new cars, right at the dealership. Some dealers sprayed every new car that came in.

Of course the cost was added in to the price of the car.
That is bad stuff, I had a new 86 F150 and after a few years it started rusting under the coating and it held moisture for more rust, saved the motor and trans. the rest is in rust bucket heaven...........Curt
I’ve never had undercoating done to a car, and I’ve heard both good and bad stories about what happens.

I think it all has to do with how clean the metal was when the coating was applied, however, It’s entirely likely that not everyone is using the same product. Maybe some of it was good and some of it was absolute garbage.
I’ve never had undercoating done to a car, and I’ve heard both good and bad stories about what happens.

I think it all has to do with how clean the metal was when the coating was applied, however, It’s entirely likely that not everyone is using the same product. Maybe some of it was good and some of it was absolute garbage.
True, but they stopped using it I think, I have a 2017 and there was no mention of under coating ...........Curt

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