Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Portland, Oregon
Behold the first non-steel bicycle showcased on Simplicity, or that I have owned. Why? Because it’s done so well, it feels like steel.
By 1991, steel bicycles were seeing increasing competition from different frame materials. Introductions of materials such as titanium and carbon fiber had begun hitting the mainstream and changing schools of thought. Aluminum frames had been around for decades and with production technology, they also begun gaining more steam. Miyata’s advent of Alumitech, featuring a bonded aluminum frame and cast aluminum lugs, left the ride stiff but not too stiff, like past aluminum frames. “Bonded” is a scary word in the world of bicycle frames. Though the bonding process was not new, previous iterations had helped work out the kinks and by 1991, the material clearly had not evolved into the same ride as steel but the feel wasn’t too far off.
The 721 feels like the type of frame that was trying to satisfy a broad range of riders. It weighed a svelte 21.5 lbs and the geometry fell between competition and grand touring, but a bit more towards the former. A triple crankset made it suitable for centuries, fast day rides, or for the average strength cyclist who lived in hilly country and desired a zippy commuter.
Clearly the frame was light, fast and responsive but it also was constructed with useful function in mind. Front and rear dropout eyelets, a rear rack chainstay mount along with double water bottle bosses, gave a rider the capability of attaching a rack with panniers for rain gear, tools, adequate water and a meal or two. Everything needed for a day, or few, on the open road.
One oddity found was the single braze-on fitted roughly mid-way on the down tube (examples here and here). The location was too far down the tube to be a Flickstand mount and research turns up fascinating information on the origins. “The single braze-on accepts a holder for compressed air cartridges (example here). This feature was common on many of the mid and high range Miyata’s in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was a nod to the triathlon crowd with which these models were popular. Unlike road racing, triathlons did not allow outside assistance for punctures, so carrying your own spare and means of filling it was necessary. The compressed air cartridges filled tires much more quickly than a pump, thus they were a competitive advantage.” (BikeForums.net)
True to it’s triathlon roots, the top tube had a through cable guide that helped cheat the wind and bypass the clutter and possible rubbing exterior guides provided. Although challenging to get new cable housing through, I appreciate this clean design. Not having to clean and polish out the light scuffs left behind by years of rear brake housing rubbing on the frame from the exterior guides was a welcome treat during the buffing process.
Color: Sierra Green
Frame Size: 53cm (C-T) seat post & 54cm (C-C) top tube
Frame/Drop-outs: Alumitech aluminum bonded frame; Cast aluminum lugs
Fork: CR-MO steel
Bars: Sakae CT
Bar Wrap: Fizik Superlight yellow with black tape and Georges Sorel bar plugs
Saddle: Contour; Black
Seat Post: Sakae
Crankset: Shimano; 52/42/28; 170mm
Front Derailleur: Shimano Mountain LX
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Exage 500LX
Shifting: Shimano SIS 7-speed downtube shifters
Brake Levers: Shimano Exage 500LX
Brake Calipers: Shimano Exage 500EX; Shimano pads
Cable Housing: Clarks + Jagwire L3 black housing
Freewheel: 7-Speed Shimano Hyperglide (12/14/16/18/20/24/28)
Chain: KMC H6 narrow
Wheels: Araya SS45; 700 x 25c; 36h; Shimano skewers
Tires: Continental Gatorskins Ultra; 700 x 25c
Pedals: Campagnolo Record black
Special Features: Through top tube cable guide, Double bottle mounts and eyelets front/rear; Pump peg; Rear rack bridge
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