MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

NISHIKI INTER - INTRO

FINDING THE NISHIKI

BUILD/ RIDE THE INTER

 

BICYCLES OF JAPAN

 

BUILDING/RIDING THE NISHIKI

The Nishiki International, at 47cm, sports a relatively small frame set.  In fact, for a vintage road bicycle, they do not come much smaller.  This is important since a bicycle must fit the intended rider, and in this case, the bicycle was a long ways from a good fit.

With that in mind, the action plan was to inspect, clean, repair/replace (as required) and then test ride the bicycle to ensure that all was working as it was intended.  Once satisfied that all was in order, the Nishiki would be offered for sale, with hopes of finding it a good home.

No effort, during the test ride, would be made to extract peek performance, nor would any ride quality evaluations be made unless something glaring, be it positive or negative, presented itself during the test rides.  In addition to does it work right, the test ride also serves a second, and equally important, purpose - to demonstrate ride quality, or perhaps lack of ride quality.  A vintage road bicycle, with a bent frame or fork ,will not be as rewarding to ride as it should be.

The first thing one should do when preparing a bicycle for a test ride, before anything else, is consider the frame and fork set's integrity.  Put another way, consider the bike from each side, front and back.  Does everything look straight?  From the side, does the line of the fork follow the line of the head tube?  From the front, does the front wheel rim evenly split the difference between the fork blades?  Is there any paint cracking near head tube/lug joints?  Any one of those issues will suggest that something is bent.

Vintage road bicycle frame and fork set, when compared to most other bicycle styles, are very fragile and easily tweaked out of true.  Sometimes the tweak can be redefined as a bend and a bent frame or fork might signal a deal breaker on the project.

But the Nishiki showed none of the tell-tale signs of disrupted integrity.  Everything looked just as it should and, other that some cosmetic concerns, was in perfect order.  With the "is it bent" thing out of the way, the "dent" thing surfaced next.  Casting eye, and hand, over every possible to view, and feel, square inch of the bicycle, it was determined to be dent free.  Perfect!  Time to address mechanical issues...

Secured in the work stand, the transmission was shifted through its range several times, front and back derailleurs both being put to the test.  A bit of cable tightening was all that was required, to get accurate response every time.  Of course, accurate shifting response would be, in part, the rider's responsibility.  The Nishiki's eighteen gear transmission is friction shifted, all the way.  No indexing, from one gear to the other, with this nice old touring bicycle.

And the gearing offered by those fifteen gears is considerable thanks to triple rings driving a wide range five cog freewheel.  This lovely old long hauler should prove to be the better of any hill encountered, loaded or otherwise.  And those lovely drilled rings, just add to the vintage appeal of this old bike.

The Nishiki is fitted with Dia-Compe cantilever brakes.  The brakes proved to be in near perfect adjustment, and proved also to be very effective stoppers, which is exactly what one would expect of a bicycle designed for touring purposes.  It was also nice to find that the hoods were still undamaged and supple to boot.

The wheels were spun and found to be true enough, however; once again, small adjustments were made to eliminate wobble.  Once trued, the braking action - in the stand - proved to be very good.

Everything else on the bicycle was torque tested (mostly by feel) to ensure that nothing was loose.  A lesson on loose stuff, learned the hard way on an early eighties Olmo Grand Prix, helped to incorporate a "check everything" policy into every bicycle test ride.  Every one!  Anyway...

Once everything was proved to be working as it was intended to, clean-up time was upon the project.  The wheels were pulled, and the chain was dropped from the front sprocket.  Both the steering stem and seat post were pulled, cleaned and prepared for assembly with a thin coat of grease on each.

The entire frame set and component group was damp rag cleaned of bulky debris, and then carefully waxed with a good quality cleaning wax.  Any oxidized alloy was polished, briefly, with a brass brush and plastic scouring pad, both of which will leave a nice patina to the original alloy surface.

Once cleaned, the serial and component numbers were considered, in an effort to determine the bicycle's vintage.  All component evidence would suggest that the Nishiki was born in 1984, and that determination was supported by the Nishiki's serial number, also suggesting the vintage to be 84, the same year the Big Brother was supposed to be doing his Orwinian thing.

The tires were pressurized and found to hold air, however; they are old and using them will become the new owner's call.  Though some pretty dilapidated tires have proved to work just fine, old rubber can fail at the molecular level, and present blow out concerns when put to the riding test.

Test day proved to be cold, as it often is with the approach of Winter in Thunder Bay.  But the bicycle preformed as expected, tracking like it was on rails, shifting smoothly through all fifteen gears and stopping, not quite on a dime, but certainly a quarter.  Needless to say, the bicycle's small size would make offering any appraisal of ride quality both foolish and misleading.  However...

The saddle, a woman's style cross saddle, proved comfortable and would most likely continue to do so on longer hauls.  The controls were well placed, with brake levers that were both easy to reach and pull, however, smaller hands might be challenged with the style.

All in all, the Nishiki International is a very nice bicycle, presenting both appealing aesthetics and note worthy mechanical function.  One would be hard pressed to find a better touring bicycle, and this lovely old Nishiki International can even compete with more legendary vintage touring bicycles, such as the Miyata 1000 Gran Touring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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