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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
2/23/21 3:18 p.m.

Okay, sorry for the clickbait headline. I'm not talking about my Japanese sportscar. I'm talking about my Miyata, which in this case refers to an entry-level Japanese touring bike from the '80s.

I picked this thing up used five or six years ago, and at the time it was still wearing the worn but usable low-end components it left the factory with 40 years ago. I figured I'd ride it a little bit, see if I liked the frame, and then upgrade if I liked it.

I did some quick math, and that was probably 2000 miles of riding ago. Most of it in the summer of 2015, when I lived in Traverse City, Michigan and used this bike as my primary form of transportation. I even did some light touring on it, using it for weekend getaways with a rear rack and panniers. It was the perfect bike, equally at home commuting to work and exploring dirt roads.

Between the Michigan potholes, Michigan hills, and Michigan intern's hourly wage, that summer was ROUGH on the Miyata. It got daily abuse and absolutely zero maintenance aside from adjustments and chain lube, with the sole exception being the time I taco'd the rear wheel so badly I ended up buying a new one instead of trying to replace the broken spokes and true what I had. Fourth gear dissappeared a few weeks before the end of the internship, so I learned to focus my energies on three and five instead. The Miyata took it like a champ, and even survived the trip home from Michigan in a cardboard box at the end of the summer.

Then, it mostly sat while I focused my time and energy on race cars and mountain bikes. Fast forward to now, and my wife is riding a fancy modern aluminum road bike after getting fed up with all the cheap steel clunkers I kept dragging home for her. We've been riding together more and more lately, and I'm finally ready to upgrade the Miyata.

I was going to order some new components and restore it, but then I gave the bike a real examination. Both wheels are bent, the rear cassette is missing so many teeth it could star on Moonshiners, the bottom bracket has a ton of play, the headset is sloppy, one downtube shifter is broken, the cables are due for replacement, and it also needs the usual consumables like bar tape and tires.

Obviously it doesn't make financial sense to upgrade this bike, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings to hang it on the wall as-is as a fun reminder of my summer in Michigan.

That brings me to my question: What the heck do I replace this with? The goal is something comfortable for long rides at a reasonable pace on imperfect surfaces. Think rails to trails with crappy pavement, not singletrack or anything like that. I'm a big fan of touring bikes and their geometry, which has me looking at gravel bikes. Any suggestions?

Right now this is my top candidate, but I'm still in the window shopping phase of my search.

https://www.statebicycle.com/collections/4130-steel-bikes/products/4130-all-road-sonoran-tan-650b-700c

I love my Surly Pugsley, which had me looking at their gravel bikes, too, but I'm having a hard time justifying the higher prices compared to State's offering.

Any advice? Or a bike I'm not thinking of?

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/23/21 3:22 p.m.

My dad did some riding back in the day—even some semi-professional-ish stuff when he was in college in the 80s IIRC. I'll ask him and see if has any useful info.

fasted58
fasted58 MegaDork
2/23/21 4:20 p.m.

New or used MTB w/ e-conversion, mid/ crank or rear hub drive. 

Been thinking of doing this myself w/ my old MTB. Road tires instead of trail tires on rail trails. I'm 62 tho.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/23/21 6:08 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Do you really like drop-bar riding position? If so I'm of no use, but if not maybe look into a cyclocross bike?

Oh and I'll make you a hell of deal on a pre-war Schwinn Superior track bike, if that's something that interest you. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
2/23/21 6:27 p.m.

Yeah, I'm most comfortable on a bike with drop bars, but I'm getting too old/lazy for all-out race geometry. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
2/23/21 6:29 p.m.

In reply to fasted58 :

Ebikes?! THEM'S FIGHTIN WORDS!!

Nah, just kidding, I'm not that kind of mountain biker. They have their place, and I love that they make riding more accessible, but I'm looking to stay pedal-powered for this bike. 

fasted58
fasted58 MegaDork
2/23/21 6:56 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Guess I'll hafta do the eMTB build thread then.

Good luck on whatever you decide on.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
2/23/21 6:57 p.m.

In reply to fasted58 :

I'll be following with interest. Always wondered how well you could put one together on a budget. 

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/23/21 7:10 p.m.

Tom,

I faced your situation a few years back with my well used road bike showing its age.  I went into sticker shock looking at replacements.

Instead, I took the old one to a good shop, told them to fix everything.  For a few hundred dollars I was back on the road with a bike that I knew fit and had history.

I know it looks dated with down-tube shifters, etc.  But it is still faster than I am.  For me it was the best decision.

OBTW, when I ride with Mrs Frog, I just use the old MTB, fat tires and all.

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/23/21 7:37 p.m.

The old Miyata is a worthy candidate to be updated and would still serve you well for what you want to do. A gravel bike is the right way to go though for a replacement, with 700c wheels you can go from a skinnier tire dedicated to asphalt all the way up to larger ones with a bit of tread that will eat up rail trails, gravel and even some light less technical single track if you are feeling adventurous.

Path Less Pedaled is a good youtube channel dedicated to more casual riding and gravel bikes, he did a review of the bike you listed above as well as a comparison to some other similar bikes. He's also done a lot of component reviews so if you are interested in updating what you have then you'll probably find some answers for that there as well.

You really can't go wrong either way, the new bikes will give you disc brakes and a bit more tire clearance but the Miyata is a classic that still deserves some attention. 

bmw88rider (Forum Supporter)
bmw88rider (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/23/21 10:21 p.m.

I bought an Orbea Terra used and never looked back. It's considered a gravel bike but I would be that the geometry is similar to what you are use to with all of the modern stuff and the 35MM tires. I went tubeless on mine and that is really nice. 

 

I looked at the surly line and if I didn't find the deal on this one, I'd have a surly in my garage instead.  

TVR Scott (Forum Supporter)
TVR Scott (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/9/21 8:12 a.m.

I have a Jamis Renegade gravel bike, and it's pretty versatile.   Drop bar road bike with fairly slack geometry.  700c wheels and hydraulic disc brakes.  Mine has a double crank, but I think they make some of them in a 1X now.

This is it with the slicks on:

I've done 120 mile rocky-mountain road rides on slicks, and I've done rough-doubletrack with 38mm knobbies.  And it feels pretty good either way.

Regardless, do yourself a favor and go to your LBS and try a variety of new bikes.  They're really good now.  Notice the frame stiffness when turning or jumping out of the saddle.  The brakes should be a revelation after riding that old Miyata.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/9/21 8:15 a.m.

Nice timing!

I actually ordered one of these last night:

https://www.poseidonbike.com/collections/adventure-bike/products/pre-order-2021-poseidon-x-foothill-green

It should be here in a few weeks, and I'll post my impressions when it arrives.

And yeah, normally I'd do this shopping in person, but I have zero interest in sharing an indoor space with strangers, and Covid has sent all bike prices through the roof.

TVR Scott (Forum Supporter)
TVR Scott (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/9/21 8:21 a.m.

That's perfect, Tom.  That should be a really fun bike.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/9/21 8:24 a.m.

Thanks! I hope so. I'm a little worried about buying a bike sight-unseen online, but the used/retail markets are so insane right now that it seemed like the only viable option.

TVR Scott (Forum Supporter)
TVR Scott (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/9/21 8:32 a.m.

It definitely can be tricky to get the right size.  For me reach is always the big concern.  I used to ride 56 cm frames, but ultimately switched to a 54 for a little less reach.  But the bike that I wanted to ride at 35 isn't the same one as I want to ride at 46.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/9/21 9:03 a.m.

Yeah, per Poseidon's sizing chart I'm exactly in-between the medium and the large. I was measuring all my other bikes and weighing pros and cons and sketching out the geometry on the floor and everything and just couldn't decide which to buy. Then the large frames sold out in three minutes, so I ordered a medium. I figure it'll be slightly lighter and a little easier to manage off-road, plus I can always play with the stem if I need to. And I'm not looking for the most efficient stretched out position, just something comfortable.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/9/21 9:55 a.m.

For how it seems you'll ride the bike, a shorter Medium is probably a good idea. It should have a little more upright riding position.  Fit is a personal thing, so don't resist experimenting with different stems to make the bars higher/lower/farther/closer.  Also try adjusting the position of the saddle in the seat post.  Just be sure to take notes.

I'm the opposite. After almost 30 years of riding classic European racing geometry, a more upright position on a road bike tends to make my back hurt.  Which I'm sure makes no sense to most folks... Even when I was racing downhill mtn bikes, I was always more comfortable with as low a stack height as I could get.  It's only after I made a concerted effort to learn bigger jumps a couple of years ago that I started raising the stem on my mtn bikes a little.

maschinenbau (I live here)
maschinenbau (I live here) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/9/21 12:28 p.m.

Cool Miyata. I have a 912 model (top-of-the-line back then) with Shimano 600 components. I moved the downtube shifters to the hoods with modern handlebars. Even though it's still friciton shifters, having them on the hoods really improves the ergonomics and makes it more rideable. The shifters are designed for cyclocross, but they're great to retrofit older bikes. https://www.gevenalle.com/shifters/ 

It's hard to judge how much effort your bike and components are worth saving and upgrading. My 912 is in such great shape that it was an easy decision. Plus it's just my city beater and I have a carbon Felt for the fitness/competitive oriented rides. I've heard great things about the bike you bought. I think you're going to love how it rides compared to 80's tech. But this is always an option if you want to upgrade the Miyata later.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones HalfDork
3/9/21 6:40 p.m.

I have a Miyata mountain bike I bought new in 1994 or so, still going strong. I've never seen any other Miyata bikes, welcome to the club...

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/9/21 6:45 p.m.

Nice purchase! I've heard good things about the Advent 1 x 10 drivetrain so hopefully it works well for you. Let us know how it goes once it arrives, new bike day is always special.

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/9/21 6:51 p.m.

Since this is also turning into the post your Miyata thread here is our 1994 Duplicross tandem. Originally this would have come setup with flat bars and canti brakes, now we have V-pulls and a Sora(!) drivetrain. We have two sets of wheels for it and three sets of 26" tires, road, marathon touring and a set of mountain bike treads. This was it's setup before one of the Paris to Ancaster races, we are three time tandem champions there! It now sports green tape and goes by the name Barney.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
3/9/21 9:27 p.m.

That Poseiden X looks pretty cool.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
3/9/21 10:10 p.m.

Posideon X is a great score. I have a 1x9 Advent drivetrain with a bar end shifter on my Civilderness from Bilda Bike (look them up, great bike and company) and really like it.

Gevenalle is a fantastic company. Also, Path Less Pedaled is a great resource for bike info. Plus Russ and Laura are really nice people. I met them at the Philly Bike Expo a few years back.

SanchinMiata
SanchinMiata Reader
3/15/21 7:13 p.m.

I'd suggest you look at the All-City Spacehorse as well. Steel is real. And it's an incredibly versatile and surprisingly comfy bike...

https://allcitycycles.com/bikes/space_horse_grx

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