An awesome early-90s Miyata touring bike came into the shop over the weekend. The owner is planning to ride the bike through Tennesee, retracing the route of his life-changing tour from years ago. The fella wants the bike to be overhauled, and he wants new shifters.

The rub: The old shifters are on the frame. The rear hub has 7 gears- not 9 or 10 as today’s bikes have. The owner wants new shifters that mount on the handlebars- making them easier to reach.  Seven-speed cogsets require seven-speed shifters. The shop doesn’t have any circa-1992 shifters in stock- nor do our suppliers. There’s no mixing and matching with current-model 9 or 10-speed shifters, either. 7 speed cogs dictate 7 speed shifters. Of course, there is the Ebay option. Surely somebody, somewhere on earth has some new, old stock, 7-speed handlebar-mount shifters.

The ‘Aha’: Bikes of that vintage usually have relatively narrow spacing for the rear wheel. (126mm) Somehow, Miyata had the foresight to specify 135mm spacing. That was unorthodox for a road bike of that era. Those 9 millimeters make all the difference. Now we can put a new rear hub on the bike, a new 9 or 10-speed cogset, and new 9 or 10-speed shifters. If Miyata had gone with the then-standard 126mm spacing, the mechanic’s task would have been more difficult.

The decision to upgrade is made easier by the fact that the rear wheel is fairly worn. While we don’t like to ‘modernize’ for modernization’s sake, this update will be a win-win:
Gear Range: higher highs and lower lows will help on hilly terrain
Shifting Ease: click shifters on the handlebars will be easier to reach
Reliability: new parts will replace worn parts (especially good for rear wheels and rural touring rides)

Overhauling your old Miyata: around $500
Care-free riding to through hilly Tennessee: priceless

tags: Bar-con, Suntour, cassette