Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nishiki Project - Phase 1

I have completed the "make road worthy" phase of my project bike. It's gone from this

To this:

The Commuter
It's a late '80s Nishiki Sebring 12 speed that I picked up off of Craigslist - Omaha. It's going to be my winter/bad weather commuter. I've already ridden it to work a few times and have found the delight in being able to wear simple clothes as opposed to kitting-up on Old Yeller. The bike is kind of a tank - 29 lbs of cro-moly (naked), but it takes bumps and vibrations noticeably smoother than 'Yeller.

The Original Specs
Serial #G0683 3684274. Decoded, this means that the Sebring was built by Giant in June, 1983. I'm not sure what the sequence 3,684,274 stands for.

cr-mo 4130 tubing
Suntour AR front and rear der
Sugino 170mm crank w 52x40 chain rings
Avaya rims
Suzue hubs
DIA Compe brakes
Avocet touring saddle
Seat tube mark: 73
headtube marks: 73 top and 59 bottom by fork

The Mechanicals and Mods
It will also be tinkered with a lot to raise my mechanical abilities. Expect to see future modifications.

Since acquisition, I've purchased and installed:
* Bar tape
* Freddy Fenders

I've swapped/spared parts in house:
* Shimano SPD Pedals
* Terry saddle and saddle bag
* Blackburn rack & panniers
* Front and rear lamps

Completed Minor Tune-up:
* Removed, cleaned and lubed the chain
* Cleaned and re-greased brakes
* Cleaned and adjusted stem
* Installed bar tape for the first time - not bad!

More to come!


  1. Too bad there's not a smiley emoticon for a wolf-whistle, because that's what I'd write. That looks really good. I'll have to try to spot it on the racks and take a close up look.

    One thing I've always respected about bicycles is that ordinary people can learn some bike mechanic skills and turn another person's throw-away bike into something really useful.

    Looks like you've got some fun times ahead with the Nishiki, both on the pavement and in the garage.

  2. Not bad. Should serve you well this winter. And next summery you can turn it into a single speed for even more fun ;-)

  3. Swwwweeeeet. The crowning touch is the fenders. I totally dig the black look, and they are functional.

    Now as someone who loves to give advice, let me tell you THE SINGLE BEST/COOLEST commuting accessory you need:

    A Bicycle Bell..

    It works for safety, coming into an intersection, seeing people walking dogs, warning cars that you are behind them at stoplights.

    It works for other nefearious purposes: When I see an attractive lady walking, jogging, I give a quick Ring. If she's more than semi-fetching, I give a quick RING!-RING!. One for

    Last thing I'd recommend;
    Flop/Chop the handlebars.
    Lose the gearing and buy a new rear wheel with flip flop hub. Fixie on one side, single on other side. It would look like this. Hmmm.... notice the black fenders, rack & panniers? Imitation if the sincerest form of flattery.

    Ain't nothin' better than coming silently up a street, seeing an attractive lady and pealing out a RING!-RING! whilst you glide by all glit and flash.

  4. Agreed with Scott. Deserved of a wolf whistle indeed. And with John, too, fenders really are quite elegant and they look perfect on your bike. Panniers are perfect size, too. Good looking bike, bro.

    And as for steel, you're right on. I loved my Cross-Check for its smoove riding, and the babes did too - even though it wasn't a fixed gear / single speed.

    As for single speed / chopped bars ... I'm not so sure. It's pretty hilly in Omaha, relatively speaking, and after a tough day in the office I'd rather be coasting and grannying that pushing out hemorrhoids cranking on a Jan Ulrich gear up hills.

    I would say, though, that a flat bar would look pretty sweet and could give you a little more leverage and upright commuter posture ... and that "smart-commuter-bike" look that wouldn't be the target of Bikesnob NYC's postings...or really overly stand out at all for that matter.

    Regardless, I like it as is. Did you replace the crank, too? Looks like it.

    Whatever you do, *don't* get a license plate for it from a cereal box promotion. ;-) (Murphini - zing!)

  5. My semi-addled brother is talking about this.

    Did anyone see the picure of Brendan's other bike helmet?.

    Finally, here's a picture of me with my touring bike before I got manscaped.

  6. HEY! Wasn't that license plate deal from Life cereal? I remember that in the 80's and dreamt about getting one. That would actually be really cool.

    Great job Brady. I'm very impressed with how spiffed up it looks. I went through my parts bin and I have 2 right side levers of one brand, and one left side lever of another brand. So unfortunately, I don't have a matching left/right set for you. If you can find a right hand Shimano Exage brake (like this), I'll just give you my left hand one. I'm not a big fan of it's design, but it works really well.

    If you haven't already, you might want to take the whole thing apart and spray the inside of the frame with a rust inhibitor. That'll make that bike go for an extremely long time. Let me know if you want to borrow my garage/tools sometime if you want to work on it.

  7. Scott, thanks for the Nishiki cat call. I'm becoming more Bohemian day by day, you know. I velcro tied my R pant leg and cruised into work in what I'm wearing right now. From the door of my house to sitting at my desk: 25 minutes. Even better: no BS and no BO!

    Biker Bob: Summer may be too long to wait for a single speed or fixed gear conversion. It's just a matter of time. And you've been down this path with a Nishiki - before I knew you, the first email I received from you was an answer to question I posed from your own Single Speed Nishiki's craigslist ad. Did it sell?

    Brendan (nice bio picture btw) - I've been riding in single speed mode to see what the commute will be like. It's certainly do-able, especially if I choose a flip flop hub with different gearing. I doubt I'll go chop-bars on it, at least not for a while.

    Murphini: a bell is your favorite? I thought that it was your helmet-mounted dork mirror. Also, I didn't know that Connie walks along your commuting path. Ring - Ring!

    Munson - Thanks for the tip about rust proofing the inside. Kind of sounds like under-coating a new car, but better. I'll keep an eye out for the R Exage.

  8. I have a velcro mounted handlebar mirror thanks for asking. $7 @Target. Helmet mirrors don't work for me.

    License plate came from WalMart. $4

    Bell from Performance Bike $1.95

    I've recently changed the crank on the 76 Varsity/Fixie from the old ASHTABULA one piece steel crank with 1/2" threads to a NEW one piece crank with 9/16th" threads, which has enabled me to put modern SPD pedals on the beast. I've added cyclocross tires, changed the rear single speed side to an 18 tooth cog (running 39/18) and temporarily removed the fenders and will be racing* in the 45+ Cat 4 B Single Speed cyclocross division on Sunday the 28th of September in Lenexa KS.

    *Racing is the wrong verb: Participating is more accurate.

  9. Brendan - forgot ~ Crank is original. I just removed the chain guard. It still has a pie plate for my friend Bryan to ridicule, but too that will go away one day soon.

    Murphini: No mirrors for me; a bell may one day go on a commuter, when I can spare a $1.95.

    Any lingering doubts that the Varsity could withstand a nuclear blast has been eradicated with the upgrades to the crank, pedals and tires. Post a new picture.

    Also, I hate to bust your bubble, but you're racing, buddy. You are participating in a Cat4 Cyclocross Race. If you don't feel the slightest rise in heart rate at the starting line, then get off the bike and go home.

    You bought the entry ticket, you knew what you're getting in to, then I say you're racing.

  10. Nice job Brady. Look at that fence in the background. Slats perfectly plumed, horizontals at level, strong base board, and knots well arranged to add character, all to enhance the photo. Did I somehow miss the point? Old Dad

  11. hey,
    i think i won a nishiki sebring on ebay today for $50. i also think i paid too much.
    anyways, i plan on rebuilding it, and using only the frame and a few other parts.
    after the bidding closed i read somewhere that the bike uses 27" wheels, and that they are hard to find. or, that you can use 700mm wheels, but the brakes are too short.
    are you using the original wheels?
    what has your experience been?

  12. Hi Drew -

    Congratulations on winning the Nishiki. As a used bike, you're still getting a great deal. I wouldn't sweat how much you paid for it. While I got a steal on mine, I'd have been willing to pay as much as $150 now that I've owned one.

    Anyway, my Nishiki came with 26 1/4" wheels. The original thought was to convert the bike to 700cc wheel set and possibly as a single speeder. But alas, I got busy (lazy) and that never happened. Sigh. After cleaning it up with a new set of gum-wall tires ($25 ea), a new chain and shifter/brake cables, it rode great. The steel frame absorbs much of the road vibration. The fact that it rode so well as was probably the biggest reason I didn't convert it.

    Now if you want to convert it to a 700cc wheelset, you may need to get the frame stretched to accommodate the wheels. The next issue is to find a longer set of brakes that will reach from the frame to the smaller 700cc wheels. I've heard that can be an issue. Apparently, tektro makes a set of affordable long reach brakes that might suit your frame. Your best bet is to ask the LBS when you take it for a (typically) free safety overview. Just ask the mechanic about converting it to a single speed. Bike store mechanics are usually great resources on this and will be more than happy to help you in your project.

    Otherwise, there's plenty of stuff out there on the internet (Sheldon Brown) that can serve as a DIY guide.

    You should also find out as much info on the history of your Nishiki. You can learn lots from its serial number here:

    Sorry I can't help more. I like my Nishiki a lot just as is. Then again, I may convert it one day. I'm sure I'll post about it when I do. Either way you choose, I don't think you can wrong.

    Thanks for reading/posting a comment, Drew. Good luck and godspeed.