The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles

Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Portland, Oregon

1991 Miyata 721

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.

1991 Miyata 721

1991 Miyata 721

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.

1991 Miyata 721

1991 Miyata Catalog: 721

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
Stem: Nitto
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
Hubs:
Shimano
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

© Josh Capps and The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Josh Capps and The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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8 comments on “1991 Miyata 721

  1. Nola Wilken
    May 20, 2016

    Josh – wow!! Quite a beauty you have there. I love Miyatas and had a 1985 Pro Miyata for a while. Your pink wall background is a photog’s envy – a great choice to show off the early 90’s color scheme.

    • Josh C.
      May 20, 2016

      Thanks for the kindness, Nola!
      I am constantly scanning around for suitable bike backgrounds and with this one, it and the build came together serendipitously. I have to agree with you though, that color of wall is what photographers dreams are made of. Especially since it showcases something that fits a particular color with an exact era.

  2. Peter Dunn
    May 21, 2016

    Hi Josh, fabulous bike again, well done. You’ll have to find a carbon tubed, aluminium lugged Specialized Allez Epic next ! Cheers Pete

    • Josh C.
      May 21, 2016

      Ha! Thanks for the kind words Peter but I’m not planning on changing up the Simplicity formula for different frame materials.

      Although, if you think about it, every bike will eventually become “vintage” over time. Even the full carbon frames of today.

  3. Todd
    June 13, 2016

    Nice bike ….I have a Miyata 721 as well but showing more wear/tear then yours.

    I have had replace various components. I just had to MacGyver the downtube shifters, they have a M5 threaded rod through a hole in the frame – the threaded rod broke so had to go to a machine shop to get a replacement. I had to re-tap one side of the shifter as it was partially stripped.…hopefully it will hold. I almost had to resort to using a down tube shifters with a clamp, but they looked terrible.

    Does anyone know where one could purchase the shimano SL-A500 SSI 7S shifters from which include the threaded rod? I found a couple on-line, but none showed the threaded rod so I do not know if the shifter end would accept a M5 threaded rod…

    • Josh C.
      June 13, 2016

      I’m picturing a bit of a Frankenstein bike, Todd. But, well loved, of course.

      I would start with your local bike co-op, if you have one. This way, you can bring your bike and compare the parts making sure you get what you need. If that is not an option, I then suggest eBay. Others may have better solutions but them’s my thoughts!

  4. Ryan Surface
    July 12, 2016

    Lovely build and great vintage paint, I am a former Aluminum Frame/Carbon fork rider (1999 Cannondale R800) turned vintage steel lover and one of my first garage sale finds/rebuilds was a late 70s Miyata 912. I didn’t know they did an Aluminum bike but should have realized that like Raleigh’s “Technium” its what all the cool kids were doing back in the day.

    • Josh C.
      July 12, 2016

      Thanks for the thoughts, Ryan.
      I personally do not believe Raleigh’s Technium ever received quite the attention and credibility the Miyata aluminum line acquired. But, even that isn’t saying much. Miyata moved the needle on aluminum frames but during the era, steel still reigned fairly supreme.

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