Saturday morning, early, my friend Adrian and I drove north to Louisville, Kentucky, to look at a blue Miyata 610 touring bike offered for sale by Michael Carroll of Old Bikes Belong. I brought along, for purpose of possibly trading, the 2011 Trek Navigator 1.0 I bought last August and that served to reintroduce me to bicycling, something I hadn’t done since I was a teenager, some thirty or so years previously. Last Sunday I rode the Trek to worship service and found it miserably uncomfortable and slow (after having ridden the Razesa several times a week for the past several months) – I knew our relationship had come to an end.
I’d researched the Miyata 610 touring bikes by reading information on bike forums – everyone who claimed to have owned one claimed to have found it an excellent bike. Some people are still riding the 610’s they bought new. I was able to find that 1981 was the last year this model was manufactured with stem-shifters by perusing the catalogues found here: http://www.miyatacatalogs.com/ And I was able to determine that the 610 at Louisville was manufactured in 1981 by comparing its serial number to information found here: http://www.vintagemiyatabicycles.blogspot.com/
We arrived at 2020 South Preston St, Louisville, Kentucky, at about 12:00 pm local time, parked down the block, took the Trek off the rack and walked back to the bike store. Michael Carroll, the owner, presents with what I’ve come to regard as “Louisville reserve.” That is, his demeanor is courteous and reserved, he exhibited a willingness to laugh at this customer’s jokes, and displayed his own dry sense of humor from time to time. I’d describe him as confidently cautious. It’s a small space he occupies in what appears to be remodeled older sidewalk commercial strip alongside a barber college a bric-a-brac store, a nondescript storefront that might be anything at all behind its opaqued windows, and a vacant unit at one end. The store was busy. I think Michael sold four or five bikes during the time it took me to make my mind up about the Miyata. Michael had put the Miyata in back when I told I planned to drive up Saturday, and brought it out for me to look at. Although the paint and chrome had a few blemishes, for a bike 30 years old that’d probably been somebody’s regular ride, it was in extremely good condition.
I asked whether I could take it for a spin (my helmet and gloves were in the car), and Michael said sure. He suggested that I ride down Preston and turn left on Eastern Parkway where I could ride about four miles before it ended (I think it becomes Wilson or Williams near Cherokee Park). I didn’t ride that far, but did ride as far as Baxter Avenue. I remembered having driven that stretch many years ago during the time I resided at Louisville as a seminary student. I’d forgotten the hills. Unfamiliar with the use of stem-shifters, I had a couple of panic shifts at hills finding the stem arrangement messed up my center of gravity. I hated the bike’s saddle. Traffic was a lot heavier than that of Stepford, but there’re a lot more people riding in Louisville, and the automobile drivers didn’t seem to mind the presence of a cyclist on the busy four-lane.
I think JR Robinson had a used Volvo lot near Baxter and Eastern many years ago. I was reminded by the time-machine character of the ancient neighborhoods of the fact that Ernie Pyle listed the Louisville address of a nurse he met in, I think it was, North Africa – Mildred Keelin of 929 Ellison Ave., in the Germantown section of the city – https://christov10.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/here-is-your-warthe-complete-list/ As I rode, I wondered about the past histories of those residing in the old homes.
My route took me to the farthest point indicated by the arrows on the map below, and then back again the same way. Adrian told me later Michael said I was taking the longest test-ride any of buyer’d taken and wondered whether I ‘d crashed.
When I got back to the store, I still wasn’t sure about the Miyata. Michael said he had one other touring bike on the premises in my size and brought it out. It was a very old Ross Grand Touring model from the mid-1980’s with complete Shimano 600 groupo and lugged steel frame of double-butted Ishiwata 024 tubing. Kind of a dull tan version of battleship gray in color, the ugliness of which kind of grew on me. I took this bike for a much more abbreviated ride in the neighborhood around the bike store, and immediately liked it. Now, I had to figure out which bike I liked best.
Adrian and I decided to have lunch – I would make up my mind over lunch. The place Michael recommended, a block or two down toward Eastern Parkway was closed, so we walked to El Nopal, located on Eastern Parkway, had a big lunch, then walked back to the store. Seeing the Ross again, I observed that it probably hadn’t been as well cared-for as the Miyata and that the manufacturer hadn’t attended particularly well to details as compared to the Miyata. Finally, I decided that if it turned out I completely hated the SunTour components, I could probably source a complete Shimano 600 groupo from somewhere or other. Anyway, I didn’t know squat about Ross bikes, but had spent a few weeks studying Miyata bikes. So I bought the Miyata. Here’s a picture of Michael making some final adjustments to it.
Here’re a few pictures of the bike – I’ve since raised the seat and the stem. I wish the top tube was a little longer. The Selle Italia seat I’d had on the Trek is now on the Miyata. I’ve got a rear rack and a couple of crazy-looking half-fenders to install. I’m about to take a short ride in my neighborhood to get further acclimated to those weird shifters and three round (as opposed to Biopace) chainrings.
No helmet or gloves, just showing off the bike for the camera
I’ve had a Ross Grand Tour since the mid 1970s. Its a great bike!
I’m not saying the Ross I saw at OBB wasn’t a great bike, but the thing that sold me on the Miyata was the manufacturer’s apparent almost obsessive attention to detail, whereas the Ross struck me as a frame the maker’d slapped a complete Shimano 600 component set onto as almost a substitute for meticulous attention to detail. Also, the Ross looked like it’d been left outside rather a lot sometime during its life.
It looks great. There were a lot of great Japanese touring bikes made in the 80’s. I haven’t ridden a Miyata, but my ’83 Nishiki Continental is one of my favourites. Suntour made good components at that time.
Thanks! Although I must credit the seller with having done the work to make it look great. Yesterday evening, I further adjusted the saddle on its rails and now the bike feels like it was made for me. I’ll probably get a set of Gatorskins (the roads around here are rough) and start riding it longer distances. Nice website you have. C.
BTW, that Nishiki of yours is one fine-looking machine
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Hi. I have a 1981 610 that I am looking to update with modern components. I cannot find any specs anywhere that lists important sizes such as stem, BB, seat post, etc. Do you have this info or know of a site that does? Please don’t direct me to Sheldon Brown. I’ve researched his site and after reading eight pages I found a possible size of my seat post but not confirmed. Thanks.
I’ve just emailed to you the “full-size” version of the specs-sheet image that appears in this post. You may just have to disassemble your bike and measure the components to get what you’re looking for.
Wish I could have been more helpful.
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