failing like never before


Miyata 914 – Acquisition and Review

About how I acquired a Miyata 914

For the past three months, while  on my way to class, I've been walking past a wheel-less bike chained to a bike rack underneath an overhang. The bike's distinctive bright green saddle was pretty much the only speck of color amidst a sea of dirty Huffys, so it was hard to miss. One day, I happened to catch a closer glimpse of the green-saddled bike and was surprised to notice that it was a Miyata (I have a soft spot for Miyatas, since I already own one), and closer inspection revealed it to be a Miyata 914. I spent several minutes examining the Miyata and noticed that aside from the thick layer of dust and grime that coated it and the lack of wheels, it was in surprisingly good condition. I started to wonder if the owner of the Miyata had graduated and forgotten his bike, or had simply abandoned it after the wheels were stolen. On the off chance that the latter was true, and hoping that the Miyata's owner still walked the same route to class, I left a note asking the owner to contact me if he had any wish of selling.

My note was gone the next day, and I received an e-mail from the Miyata's owner by the end of the week, saying that he was considering selling his bike and would I make an offer? Betting that any man who puts a kick-stand on a semi-pro bike (the atrocity!) and leaves it outside for three months, probably doesn't realize the worth of a good, splined, triple-butted Miyata CrMo steel frame, I offered him a low-ball offer of $50; high enough to tempt him into selling, but still low enough to make it a bargain buy. We eventually settled on $75, which was higher then I would have liked, but still pretty decent. I've been told that the Miyata 914 has the same frame as the top-of-the-line Miyata Team, but with slightly inferior components, and I saw a NOS 1990 Miyata Team selling for $600 on ebay, which makes the $65 I paid seem like daylight robbery. I think given the condition of the Miyata that I purchased, it could have fetched close to $200 on craigslist.

My initial suspicions about the owner were confirmed when I met him: he did not appear to be a cyclist and didn't realize the full worth of the Miyata 914. Strangely enough, he was several inches shorter then me (I'd put him around 5 foot 7 inches), which would have meant that ridding the 60 cm Miyata must have been extremely awkward for him.

As soon as money and bike exchanged hands, I raced home, threw some newspaper down and set up my bike stand in the middle of the living room (thank God my roommates weren't home...). I started with just cleaning the bike off first, and as soon as the dirt started to fall away, I began to realize that the 914 was actually in better condition then I had thought; the paint was only scratched in a few places, and the chainrings looked brand new.


Miyata Alumicross

I got a 1989 Miyata Alumicross earlier this summer and have managed to put a few hundred miles on it so far. We bought it from the previous owner for $200 who apparently had the bike sitting in storage for almost the past two decades, so its in surprisngly good condition despite its age. Almost all of the components on the bike are original, except for the saddle, bar tape, and toe clips (all of which I replaced myself).

Here's a description of the bike:

  • 58cm, weighing approx. 24 lbs.
  • Aluminum main tubes, APA-bonded 3-lug construction
  • Suntour XCD-6000 deraileurs
  • Suntour Accushift Bar Con shifters (front shifter is friction, rear is index/friction)
  • Suntour cantilever brakes
  • Suntour XCD-6000 CW-XD00 cycloid triple crankset (48, 38, 28)
  • CrMo fork
  • Wolber GTx 700C rims
  • IRC cross-country 35mm tires
  • Suntour 6-speed freewheel (13, 15, 17, 20, 24, 28)
  • Sansin sealed hub
  • air-bottle basement (braze-on for CO2 cartridge)
  • Interior back-brake cable thru top tube
  • Steel pedals with strapless toe clips
  • SR Sakae custom Modolo patent (Anatomic bend) handlebars

The Alumicross was apparently Miyata's top "cross" bike at the time of its production. I'm not quite sure if Miyata designed the Alumicross with cyclocross specifically in mind, or if its just a hybrid type bike. Nevertheless, its a good ride, and is light and speedy despite its thicker tires and heavier then normal frame, while still being well suited for cyclocross rides. Its also a good bike for riding around town and doing some recreational riding, and I suspect that it would do quite well at loaded touring since it seems to have all the threaded holes for attaching additional racks and panniers. The low gear gearing and wide gear ratios makes the Alumicross great for long, steep hill climbs while carrying lots of additional weight, but they also mean that the Alumicross is ill suited for high-speed road races.


Weekly Biking

More biking states for the past week. Not exactly my best numbers.

Distance Traveled: 15.427 Miles

Max Speed: 28.3 MPH

Average Speed: 12.6 MPH

Time Traveled: 1 hour and thirteen minutes


Weekly Biking

Distance Traveled: 6.475 Miles

Max Speed: 29.2 MPH

Average Speed: 12.7 MPH

Time Traveled: thirty minutes

I walked to class twice last week, and Monday was MLK day, so I didn't bike very much.

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Weekly Biking

I thought that since I now have a bike computer, I could post how much riding I'm doing weekly. I generally go down to campus at least twice a day and maybe two other short trips out to town every week. Unfortunately, I forgot my computer a few times this past week, so my numbers aren't quite accurate, but still surprisingly higher then I would have thought.

Distance Traveled: 18.805 miles

Maximum Speed: 29.0 MPH

Average Speed: 12.0

Time: 1 hour and 34 minutes

Another surprising fun fact: after only three weeks, I had to pump my tires up again.

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Writhing in Agony

I finally used a Target giftcard that I got for Christmas last year. I bought myself a Schwinn twelve-function bicycle computer, that can (amongst other things) tell me my current speed, average speed, maximum speed, distance traveled, and time traveled. So its quite the useful little device. I also bought myself some Franklin batting gloves, not for basebell mind you, (I don't play baseball) but for riding, because I've found that my hands tend to get amazinlgy cold when I'm riding and I couldn't find any riding gloves that covered a person's entire hand.

But back to the writhing in agony part, I took a longer ride today, just to see test my physical condition and to give my new Schwinn bike computer a test. As I was crusing along on my mountain bike at a solid 17 MPH, a bee hit me dead center in the forehead (or rather, I hit the bee). I stopped pedaling immediately, started to probe my forehead with my gloved fingers and discovered that the bee was still stuck to my forehead. Ow...

But since there was no way for me to safely remove the bee from my forehead with gloved hands, I grabbed my brake levers and slammed to a halt, intending to remove my gloves so that I could get rid of my new insect friend. I was perhaps a little too enthusiastic with the brakes and and the front wheel locked up, so that I was thrown foward. It would have almost been better for me to have flipped right over the handlebars, but instead I slammed my crotch into the solid metal headset. Sheer brilliance.

At this point, I stumbled out of my toe clips and collapsed on the side of the road writhing in agony, and it took a few seconds before I was able to extricate the bee from my forehead. Pretty sure people were staring at me, and I can't really blame them. Its not often you see a man laying on the side of a bike path, trying to clutch at both his forehead and pelvis region at the same time, all the while muttering incoherent curses.

Once the pain started to fade (which took a long time), I turned my mountain bike around and headed for home at a much slower pace. My stats for this ride where:

Distance traveled: 38.372 miles

Max speed: 33.5 MPH (I was going downhill of course.)

Average speed: 14.6 MPH

Elapsed time: 2 hours and 38 minutes

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My Old Trek 820

Several years ago, when I was much smaller, my parents bought me a mountain bike. If I recall correctly, it was a Pacific (kind of a generic brand), purchased for about $80 from Walmart. It wasn't exactly a great bike, but at the time I thought it was awesome. I spent a lot of time working on it, fixing flat tires (I managed to get way too many of them), and adjusting my brakes. A few days after I replaced the tubes and put a new seat on it, my Pacific bike was stolen. And then for several years, I didn't have a bike.

About six months ago, my dad bought me a cheap Huffy (another generic brand) at a garage sale. I fixed it and rode it around quite a bit. It was quite frankly, a piece of shit, and it broke quite often. After one of the bearing-cages in the crank assembly was crushed, my dad and I decided that it was time to try for another bike, and we eventually found a Trek 820 for sale on Craigslist for $20. At the time, my Dad and I had no idea what bike companies were good, and we didn't realize (nor did the seller) that the 820 was worth a whole lot more then $20.


The Parable of the Bicycle

Once upon a time, there was a young lad (read: me) who owned an ingenuous, two-wheeled, mechanical device for rapid human-powered transport. The device, called a bicycle, was in fact quite common in these times and could be purchased for a minimal fee. Now, this lad was dismayed to find one day that his bicycle had been seized by vicious thieves one day whilst he was at school improving his mind, and because the poor boy was loathe to spend his hard earned money it was many years before he obtained another bicycle.

When the lad, now a young man, finally got another bicycle, it was nothing like his shining bicycle of old, but was a rusted cast-off of some rich gentleman. Built of heavy steel, with thick sprockets the size of dinner plates (the big kinds that people use for eating extremely messy foods), and poorly made derailleurs, the bicycle was not the sort of device that a lad of these times would have lusted for. Indeed, most would have deemed the hulking metal mound a waste of time. But nevertheless the young man purchased it for a mere pittance, and labored over the bicycle, cleaning and mending it, making it whole and strong (or rather, as whole and strong as the decrepit bicycle could be). Yet all of his sweat was for naught, for the bicycle scarcely managed to travel two score miles whereupon the front tire was punctured by numerous thorns and the badly made grease-guard was ripped asunder. The young man however, though disappointed, did not lose faith, and yet again he strove to make the bicycle whole. On the bicycle's next trip however, the tire was punctured yet again, the crank-shaft's bearing-cage was crushed, bearings were spilled from the crank assembly, the rear derailleur was knocked askew, and the bicycle was reduced to a rattling, crippled steel beast. And although he made every effort to restore the machine to it's former state, he knew that the bicycle was beyond hope, for it had suffered greatly and was beyond all mortal skills of repair.

Bearing these dark and ill thoughts, he set out in search of another bicycle and happened to chance upon a Trek 820 mountain bicycle. The Trek, much like the young man's previous steel machine, was old and rusted, and happily, also quite inexpensive. He bought quickly bought the Trek, for the old man who sold it knew naught what a treasure it was. For though the Trek was quite dirty and rusted, it's derailleurs were true, the frame was made not of readily available heavy steel but of light-weight chromium-molybdenum steel, and the wheels spun with a lightness and vitality that the young man had never felt before. He took the Trek home and cleaned and adjusted it, until the spokes shone and the brakes were tight. The next day he set out on a great quest.

But not a dozen miles from home, the strangest thing happened; the rear tire made a noise like "WHUNK PHIsssshhhhh" and in the space of five seconds the tire was reduced to the thickness of a sheet of parchment. The young man's heart fell, for not only had his great machine failed him, he was also many miles from home without any form of transport save for his feet. He attempted to use the power of the demon Motorola, (an otherworldly creature capable of facilitating communication across long distances) to call forth assistance, but the demon had grown weary of roaming and lay as though dead. And so, the young man lifted the bicycle with both hands and attempted the journey towards the nearest sanctuary. His step did not falter and his grip upon the Trek's frame did not grow weak, for though the Trek was weighty and refuge far away, his strength was as the strength of ten for his heart was pure.

There's a lesson in this badly written not-quite-parable. It is: you get what you pay for. Paying ten dollars for a bicycle generally means you're going to get a piece of shit (excuse my Klatchian). One must not however, be like my mother, who often confuses price with quality. That is to say, an increase in price does not always mean an increase in product/service qualtiy.

So basically, I have no point. If you've got a problem to that, and feel as though I've just wasted a good one minute of your life, please be sure to direct all comments to /dev/null.

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