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.


Group Cycling

I went on my first group ride yesterday morning with the school cycling club. It was a bit depressing showing up at the meeting location with my toe clips, friction shifters, and 1989 Miyata, when everyone else present was sporting expensive carbon fiber and aluminum racing bikes with stiff racing shoes, but I ended up keeping up passably well, at least for the first half; I ended up falling behind the pack on the return trip since I wasn't really used to pumping out 20 MPH for three hours.

I had some trouble riding together in such a close pack. Its a little scary to ride a foot behind someone's wheel at 20 MPH, and my rather poor bike handling certainly didn't lend me any confidence. Towards the middle of the ride I started getting more comfortable with riding in a tight group, especially when I started to feel the burn in my thighs (drafting does make life a little easier).

My Miyata Alumicross was most definitely not made for racing, a fact which became very apparent on hills. On long descents when everyone ducked down into a tuck, the air resistance generated by my knobby cyclocross tires resulted in me slowly drifting more and more towards the back of the group, despite the fact that I practically had my nose on level with my headset. And on very small descents, when the group shifted into their smallest sprockets and started pedaling with speed, I was doing 120+ RPMs in my smallest sprocket, struggling to keep up.

Nevertheless, I found it to be a highly enjoyable ride, and I will definitely be going out for more group rides in the future.

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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.


Maximum Cow Capacity

This sign (a sort of precursor to modern speed limits and bridge maximum carrying capacity signs) hanging over a foot bridge, located next to Greenback Lane and spanning the American River in Folsom, California (Google Maps link), has always amused me. Based upon my scant knowledge of Folsom and Sacramento, I would estimate that the sign and the bridge are about 100 years old. During those days, $25 dollars would have been considered a fairly substantial sum.

Although I have always tried to obey the speed limit (walking speed)  while crossing the bridge, I have noticed that most other cyclists pay no attention to the sign and that no one seems to be enforcing the speed limit across the bridge. Housing developments have sprung up in the area surronding the foot bridge during the past hundred years and I doubt that anyone has driven cattle across it in at least four decades. Nevertheless the sign still stands to amuse all those who happen to look up as they walk across the bridge.

And for those who can't be bothered to click on the picture and experience the slightly tacky yet cool lightbox effects, here is what it reads:



Three Weeks in Biking

Distance Traveled: 13.497 miles
Average Speed: 12.9 MPH
Maximum Speed: 31.2 MPH
Elapsed Time: 1 hour, three minutes, and 12 seconds

Distance Traveled: 20.253 miles
Average Speed: 11.8 MPH
Maximum Speed: 31.2 MPH
Elapsed Time: 1 hour, forty-three minutes, and 10 seconds

Distance Traveled: 27.360 miles
Average Speed: 13.5 MPH
Maximum Speed: 31.2 MPH
Elapsed Time: 2 hours, two minutes, and 0 seconds

I really did a number on my two weeks ago. I took a shortcut through some bushes, which as it turned out were obscuring some rather large rocks, and somehow managed to derail my chain off both the front and back gears. After I reset the chain, I then noticed that the right pedal was spinning extremely freely; closer inspection revealed that the pedal was wobbling around on the axle and that the pedal housing was dropping bearings everywhere. When I got my bike back to my room and started to dissemble the pedal in hopes of repairing it, I noticed something quite odd.

It appeared that somehow, in the process of traveling through the bushes, I had managed to slam my pedal straight down into the ground, causing the plastic pedal housing to be pushed towards the bicycle body, which resulted in the pedal housing cracking down the center. Of course, the pedal was entirely non-rideable since putting much pressure on the pedal would make the pedal crack entirely in half.

So now I have a non-ridable bicycle. Go me.


Three Weeks of Biking

Because I've had these numbers on a post-it-note for almost a month now...

Distance Traveled: 16.529 miles
Elapsed Time: 1 hour and 17 minutes
Average Speed: 12.9 MPH
Max Speed: 30.4 MPH

Distance Traveled: 10.18 miles
Elapsed Time: 44 minutes and 39 seconds
Average Speed: 13.7 MPH
Max Speed: 29 MPH

Distance Traveled:  10.692 miles
Elapsed Time: 49 minutes and 51 seconds
Average Speed: 13.2 MPH
Max Speed: 29.7 MPH

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Daily Biking

Numbers from last week...

Elapsed time: 44 minutes and 20 seconds

Distance traveled: 9.542 miles

Average Speed: 12.9 MPH

Max Speed: 28.5 MPH

I guess alot of high schools have been on break the past week, and as a result we've had  a lot of tour groups roaming campus and a lot more cars driving around. Last week, I got pretty fed up with Asian high schoolers and their parents that drive at insanely slow speeds, so I started passing cars on my way to class. Probably not the smartest thing to do since the streets around the campus are single lanes.

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Weekly Biking

Numbers from my bike computer for this past week of riding to class.

Distance Traveled: 9.313 miles

Average Speed: 13.5 MPH

Max Speed: 31.5 MPH

Time Traveled: 41 minutes and 22 seconds

So pretty average stats.

I want a real road bike. I'm not saying my bike is bad (beause its not, I like my antique KHS), I just want a bike that doesn't weigh 32 pounds and have a knocking headset. Sometimes when I have some extra time between classes I like to check out the bikes locked up at a nearby bike rack. Generally, the only bikes I see are antique Schwinn road bikes, shiny Huffy mountain bikes with crap-tastic components, and a few home-made fixies (some of them quite nice) that seem to be all the rage these days. But every now and then I'll see a good road bike thats worth admiring: a Trek 1000 or 1.2,  Giant OCR3, Jamis Ventura Sport, or a Fuji Newest 2.0. On a few occasions, I might see something really expensive, like a full carbon fiber Fuji, or a fancy Scattante racing bike. And seeing a nice road bike just makes me want to get a road bike even more. Unfortunately, I'm not winning to fork over the several hundreds of dollars that I would need to make such a purchase. Still, I like to dream.

Anyways, back to studying. At least my head doesn't feel like its going to explode, like it did last night.

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