Friday, January 11, 2013

1979 Miyata 912 (May 2011) the one that started it all

Make: Miyata
Model: 912
Year:  1979
Obtained: April 2011
Found: Garage Sale
Paid: $25.00

If there is a bike I can point to as the start of my old 10 speed obsession it would be the Miyata 912.  I had spent the winter and spring pouring over Randy's excellent Mytenspeeds site and I think by that time I had discovered OTSG and Hugh's bicycle blog as well.  Yes I had come down with the old steel 10 speed bug big time.  In April there was a local garage sale where a block had got together to raise money for the Japanese Tsunami disaster relief.  I thought it might be a chance to try to find a bike and practice my garage sale skills.   I arrive and find myself in a big backyard with wall to wall "stuff" none of which is a bike, so I wander into the garage where there is even more stuff but again no bicycle...until I look up.  Hanging from the rafters is what appears to be an old 10 speed!  I was so excited I didn't really even inspect it (Dumb) but found the lady who appeared to be in charge and asked "So is that bike in the garage, the one in the rafters, for sale?"  she says "its my husbands but he told me I could sell it, how much?"  I answer with the first number that comes into my head "how about $25?" she gets a great big grin on her face and says "That's great!".  As I am handing over my $$ she explains her husband used to commute on it a "few" years ago.  After paying the nice lady I go claim my prize and based on the dust on the frame and the cobwebs in the wheels I realize a "few" years ago might have been 20.  Once I am in the light I start seeing things that make my 10 speed nerd heart race; forged not stamped drop outs, gold lug lining, aluminum wheels, and -be still my heart- Shimano 600 Arabesque down tube shifters - YAHOO!
When I got home I did a bit more research and found that the Miyata 912 was a solid middle of the Miyata range sport-touring bike.  (1981 catalog shot -oldest I could find)

In addition to the normal dusty-musty-needs-alot-of-TLC factor this bike does have a few issues.
Its brake hoods are beyond salvation- my neighbor (a cyclist) described them as looking like "old bacon" apt.
While being stored upside down in the garage moisture had collected between the rear brake cable (running the length of the top tube) in spots and caused the paint to bubble and start some surface rust.  The crank was a funky triple combo of 48/46/28 which I found out from my LBS was called a mountain triple back in the day with the small ring as a bail out for hills.  That wasn't going to fly for the riding I intended, oh I forgot the best part -the bike was MY SIZE! I would discover in the coming months that finding a bike that really fit was not so easy. 

I spent the next few weeks very carefully disassembling the bike while referencing Zinn and the Art of road bike maintenance (my shop manual), Sheldon Brown and Mytenspeeds websites for instruction and inspiration.  carefully sanding the rusty blistered spot on the top tube and painting it -thank god for black!  I finally had it taken apart cleaned up and ready for being built back up.
I went with a cyclo-cross compact setup of 48/34 using the original Sugino crank.  I was inspired to spend some long hours getting this bike together so I could ride it on a fairly flat metric century I had promised to do with a friend in Salem Oregon in early May.  The bike rode like a champ and got some nice compliments.
I made several changes over the next year to the Miyata; a longer stem for better fit, wider bars (vintage Cinelli Giro D' italia), a new freewheel rear hub wheel-set from Velo Orange (the original rear came with an odd freewheel/cassette hybrid that started to fail), a nice brooks saddle and some spiffy whitewall red tread Panaracer tires.  Its probably a bit over the top but the least I could do for the bike that got me hooked on old steel.



  1. I really like the Miyata, Ryan. To this day I regret the Miyata 1000 I let get away. Fifty bucks at a garage sale. I was on my way to Daytona and thought, "If it is here when I come back, maybe..."

    It wasn't. Do you still have this one?


  2. Keep on looking Tim Joe you never know what might turn up. I do still have the Miyata 912 although it might get sold to finance another bike project - more on that in the weeks to come......

    Thanks for stopping by


  3. I think I like the look of the Miyata in the picture from the century ride. Although I still like the version with the Brooks and the red/white tires. Marilyn Monroe or Raquel Welch?

    I need to get out more to see pretty rides and not be stuck in the traditional style!

  4. Hi Ryan. My name is Jesse I Have a 1979 Miyata 912. This bike was given to me by a friend, I am not into road bikes, my son and I are into BMX racing bikes. I am trying to see what I can possibly get for it. The bike is all original even the tires. Tires are a little dried rotted but not crack they hold air and everything works. If I had to rate this bike between 1-10. I say she is in the 9-9.5 from being new. The only thing wrong is the grip tape came loose.I road the bike and it rides nice, but its not my thing. looking into getting rid off it and what they are going for. Or if there is anyone that can help me with it. I have lots of pictures I just don't know how to post them on here.
    Thanks Jesse
    I just post it this link to my photobucket. I post it the Miyatas pics on it. let me know if it works.

    1. Jesse first of all thanks for stopping by and for sharing the shots of your Miyata 912. I would agree that the frame, components and decals look to be, from your photos, in very good shape. The downside of "all original" is that tires, tubes, brake pads, bar tape, cables etc don't fare so well after 30 years and to be a safe bike to ride those items would need to be replaced. I would recommend looking at your local Craigslist to see what other bikes of that era and condition are going for (note that not all Craigslist prices are based on reality !). Under for sale select "Bikes" and int the search for box type "Vintage" and that will narrow your search. Off the top of my head if I were listing it I would knowledge that the rubber cables etc need to be replaced but play up the fact the frame paint and decals are in excellent shape and the bike has a full Shimano 600 Arabesque group. I might start at around $150 as is. Another option would be to check Ebay for the prices of Shimano 600 groups, they are getting pretty popular, and consider parting the bike out. You might get more that way but its also more time and hassle. Hope that helps and that your sweet Miyata finds its way to someone who will appreciate it.