Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Portland, Oregon
Commissioned as a build for a good friend, this sturdy touring rig was tailored into a lightweight commuting behemoth. Although, careful consideration and numerous details needed addressing before this one could be buttoned up.
Narrow Fork Blades
Originally equipped with tried-and-true Dia-Compe #962 cantilever brakes, those had long been replaced by mismatched Dia-Compe X1 V-brakes by the time I had received it. This was not the look I was going for so a tasteful, atheistically pleasing upgrade would be necessary. I started with Tektro CR-720 cantilever brakes but soon ran into a considerable issue. Although I enjoyed the look of the Tektro’s on the Cresta, the cantilever posts on the fork blade were a scant 60mm wide. Almost all cantilever brakes, including the CR-720’s, are designed for wider post centers in the 75 to 80mm range. Sadly, this resulted in front bosses that would strike the rim no matter how wide I set them or how thin of brake pads and washers I used.
In the end, I discovered a product that solved the problem. Although the price was more than I would like to admit in terms of time spent researching this fix, the Planet X Frogs Bollox cantilever brakes seemed to have what I was after. A lightweight, wide profile canti brake with wide clearance and powerful stopping abilities. Plus, they came without logos or badging and were muted enough to not draw too much attention. The gamble paid dividends and the brakes fit splendidly. Although an issue at the time, the solution of the Planet X Frogs should be noted for anyone who has a vintage touring or cyclocross frame.
Altered Shifter Bosses
At the time of purchase, I looked over what would have likely been a deal breaker had I noticed it. At some point in time, a previous owner had somehow removed, ground down and smoothed off the shifter bosses. Sometimes people make this incredibly ridiculous alteration for rear dropout hangers to make homemade track bikes but I could see no reason for this particular modification. Luckily, they didn’t do a half bad job smoothing the blemish down, so I made sure the area had no rust then touched it up properly. A Shimano downtube shifter cable stop clamp band was installed and easily, and tastefully, takes care of the missing shifter bosses.
The Nishiki was originally stocked with two, dramatically ovalized Sugino Cycloid chainrings. These rings were built to compete with Shimano’s Biopace to smooth out the delivery of power to the rear wheel. But now, they both are more of an oddity than anything. Although this was a fine idea in concept, I have no tolerance for either the Sugino or Shimano chainrings of such a nature in this, or any, of my builds so off they came and new circular Sugino rings were popped on.
Originally the drivetrain was decked out in a full Suntour group set. This would have included the intriguing and increasingly rare 3-pulley rear derailleur system Suntour developed initially as an Nishiki exclusive. The extra pulley was said to handle chain slack by wrapping more than any other standard long cage derailleur. It is unfortunate this component was long gone by the time I obtained the bicycle. However, the long cage Shimano Deore LX, with its silver body and contrasting black panel that replaced it is certainly no slouch and not a bad alternative to have on your team.
Details Abound in Mass Production
In the 80’s, Nishiki was pumping out excellent, undervalued bicycles. Although the manufacturing process slanted toward mass production, a number of frames were still handcrafted with subtle but impressive details that were found in much higher-end bicycles at the time. One such detail, highlighted below is the classy addition of the inset “N” embedded into the rear seat stay caps. Don’t let the seat stay caps hog all the attention. Make sure to take note of that edgy and gorgeously brazed seat stay cluster.
Other notable elements to this bicycle are the incorporation of an outstanding 22 frame bosses! This includes room for three water bottles along with double eyelets front and back along with a few other bosses scattered around the rest of the frame and fork. Equipped with full gran touring geometry this frame was made with calculated Japanese craftsmanship and overall it was easily a steed worth taking time to preserve and get back on the road for another few decades of dedicated service.
Color: Metallic Anthracite
Frame Size: 63cm (C-T) seat post & 61cm (C-C) top tube
Frame/Drop-outs: Tange 2 double butted steel
Fork: Tange Chromoly steel
Drop Bars: Sakae Custom Road Champion
Bar Wrap: Fizik Dark Grey Soft Touch with black tape
Saddle: Brooks B17
Seat Post: SR Laprade
Crankset: Sugino VP; 48/40/28, 175mm
Front Derailleur: Suntour XC Sport
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore LX (anodized black)
Shifting Levers: Shimano Ultegra Bar End Shifters
Brake Levers: Tektro R200
Brake Calipers: Planet X Frogs Bollox Cantilever
Cable and Housing: Jagwire L3 and Shimano
Freewheel: 6-Speed Shimano (30/25/21/18/15/13)
Chain: SRAM PC830
Hubs: Sansin SE Sealed Bearings
Wheels: Araya, gold anodized (F) and Mavic MA40 (R); 27″ x 1-1/4″; 36h (F) and 40h (R); Sansin skewers
Tires: Panaracer Pasela; 27″ x 1-1/4″
Pedals: SR SP-150
Special Features: Nishiki “N” inset seat stay caps; Suntour GS-III dropouts; Double eyelets front/rear; Three bottle mounts; “Hadcrafted by Kawamura”