I've got in my possession a Nishiki Olympic. I checked the serial number, and it reads KS237673. I don't know too much about this brand, and to my understanding, it was made before 1975 (because of the S?), and apparently that is good. So I'm just wondering if anyone else here can help me know a little more about this bike and brand?
Nishiki was a US brand owned by West Coast Cycle Supply. They contracted with Kawamura in Japan to manufacture their American Eagle brand. During 1972, the brand name was changed to Nishiki, to reflect the Japanese origin.
The Olympic was originally called the Olympiad, then changed to Olympic for 1973. It was an entry level model, typically second from the bottom of the lightweight line. During the early 1970s the model 2nd from the bottom of the line tended to be a brand's most popular seller. Most customers did not want to spend a lot of money but also did not to be seen riding the bottom of the line model. The Olympic rec'd a big boost when it was ranked #1 choice in the 1972-1973 Consumer Buyer's Guide.
The configuration in 1973 was a hi-tensile steel frame equipped with a steel cottered crankset, Shimano Eagle derailleurs, Dia-Compe center-pull brakes and steel rims mated to large flange aluminum hubs. Retail price was $119 US. Advertised weight was 33 lbs.
The Olympic was competiton for other notable boom era models such as the Gitane Gran Sport, Motebecane Mirage, Peugeot UO8, Ralegh Gran Prix and Schwinn Continental.
I sold a number of these in the mid 70's. Between the Raleigh Grand Prix, Peugeot UO8 and Nishiki, the bikes were comparable but had different appeal.
On a test ride, (setting up the bikes in about a 70" gear) -
For Ride, the Peugeot won
For shifting and ease of use, the Nishiki, Stem shifters, dual position brakes, easier to mis-shift and it still shifted well.
The Raleigh, won from time to time on looks. Took the most time to assemble well.
If I did not set the bikes up in a similar gear, the bike set in the lightest gear won.
I had one a couple of years ago, typical entry level bike from the boom: steel rims, claw derailleur hanger, steel seat post, turkey levers, stem shifters, high ten steel frame, cottered crank. But IMHO, the decal work on that era Nishiki was better looking than the competition.
Before 1975 does not mean good. Most of the Japanese brands improved their bikes, sometimes dramatically, over the years. By the mid 1980s, a model that might have been totally entry level in the mid 1970s, was mid range, with a huge reduction in weight, much better frame, better wheels, etc.
The early 1970s was the time of a bike boom, where shops had waiting lists to just buy a new bike, and many manufacturers had little incentive to improve their bikes, particularly at the entry level end of their product line. Once the boom was over, the competition got fierce and a lot of companies really improved their products.