Our grandparents rode them, our parents sold them, and we, today, want to have them.
This post is about the iconic Slovenian ‘Pony’ bicycle, and what made it so popular.
Firstly, we have to dive deep into Pony’s history. The ‘Pony’ has been around for over fifty years. Made in the sixties and seventies, Pony was mass-produced as an everyday bike that could be used for as little as a trip to work or your nearest grocery store. Or you could fold it, pack it in a trunk and take it to the seaside.
The company Rog was founded in 1949 in Vič, Ljubljana. Because of the demand for an everyday consumer’s bicycle, Rog designed a foldable 20-inch rim bicycle without a top-tube based on an Italian Graziella children’s bike, and called it ‘Pony’. They brought the same design to an adult user by making it bigger and more robust for the intended use.
By 1969, the Pony already grew to 43% of the company’s revenue. The most popular were the Pony 1 (the model in the photos, that one has three gears) and Pony 2 single-gear models. The only problem with the bike was the part of the frame, where it folded and it quickly broke under high load, but the issue was fixed towards the seventies.
There were also options of a non-foldable Pony, a 24-inch rim Pony, and a Pony Express – a motorized Pony bike. Under different company names, Pony also exported bikes to the USA and Canada, which were mostly used by yacht owners because of their convenience.
In the early eighties, Rog started to get into other evolving bike categories – road, mountain, and even BMX. But after the fall of Yugoslavia in 1992 Rog soon became less competent than other brands and went bankrupt in 2006.
For the last couple of years, there are more of these bikes on the streets, as they are getting more popular again. Red Bull saw the opportunity and organized Goni Pony – an event where you have to pedal a Pony to the top of a mountain pass, Vršič. This year is the fifth anniversary of Red Bull Goni Pony, and you can ride too on July 1st, 2019.
The Red Bull’s event sparked a great demand for these bikes in Slovenia (one-thousand and sixty cyclists at the last year’s event), and the prices of original Ponies are rising (about a 150€ for one in good condition). In 2017, a new generation of Ponies was introduced by Rog Bikes, an independent company based in Šoštanj. You can currently buy one new from their website.
So what exactly drives us towards this little bicycle? Nostalgia – I remember my father telling me how they used to race Ponies through the woods back in the day, and he still competes for the Goni Pony event every time it’s held. In fact, you can check out a video I made a while ago about Red Bull Gony Pony – by clicking here.
Besides that, it’s just a bike different from any other – the white wall tires, the bell, the pump, and even the dynamo. They make this bike a reminder to what it was like, a decade, or five ago – whenever you rode one yourself.