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Old 06-04-10, 12:53 PM   #1
JetWave
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Nishiki American Eagle

I have picked up the above frame to build up for a commuter bike. The only thing I have found out so far is that it is a pre 1975 frame from Japan, there is a sticker that says Chrome Molybdenum, another stiker says Kokusai(model?), the serial number under the BB is KS86955 with a W beneath the number. So I research & found out the maker is Wakamura. Would like to know more about these bikes/frames? Are they high/medium/low quality bikes during its time? I want to know if its is worth restoring or just put minimal parts on it to make it ridable. I will post some pictures later. Thanks.
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Last edited by JetWave; 06-06-10 at 01:39 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-04-10, 01:00 PM   #2
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Pictures will tell the story. Take pics of the rear dropouts, lugs and so on.
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Old 06-04-10, 03:13 PM   #3
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I updated the Wikipedia Nishiki article with first hand information from Howie Cohen; the story is outlined very clearly there.

FYI, the manufacturer was Kawamura, not Wakamura. The company made a fine product, definitely above average at each price point -- but keep in mind that many of the bikes were sold at a very low price point.

Later, when the bikes were sold in the US, as Nishiki's, there were certain models that were of higher quality.
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Old 06-04-10, 03:27 PM   #4
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I know that your bike pre-dates 1974 because I have a 1974 Nishiki. Based on info I've gleaned from this forum, I believe the crossover occurred in or just after 1972, but there may have been some 1973 models made as American Eagle. Chromoly frames of that vintage would have been a better model bike. As an example, the 1974 International is Hi-Tensile steel with dual QR, alloy rimmed wheels and no chain guard on the chainwheels. As much of a Nishiki nut that I am, I've never seen an American Eagle up close, they aren't that common.
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Old 06-04-10, 03:48 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info. I did read thru your article at Wiki, and its my bad that I mistyped Kawamura. I would think that based on the material, the Kokusai model is of better quality. I hope to get more opinion from experience members here to help me determine what to do with this frame. Thanks.
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I updated the Wikipedia Nishiki article with first hand information from Howie Cohen; the story is outlined very clearly there.

FYI, the manufacturer was Kawamura, not Wakamura. The company made a fine product, definitely above average at each price point -- but keep in mind that many of the bikes were sold at a very low price point.

Later, when the bikes were sold in the US, as Nishiki's, there were certain models that were of higher quality.
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Old 06-04-10, 10:52 PM   #6
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Initially, Kawamura branded their bicycle American Eagle because at the time they were concerned that without an American sounding name, their bikes might not sell so well (Schwinn was king in those days). Remember, this was at a time when Japanese brands in general were still fighting to get a reputation for quality.

Later when it was determined that having a Japanese name was actually a marketing asset, the bikes were branded Nishiki which in Japanese means "brocade of gold". Japanese names are often symbolic. In Japan, the creation of gold brocade requires an extreme degree of skill and craftmanship. Hence, the name Nishiki symbolizes both of these qualities.

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Old 06-05-10, 05:40 PM   #7
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I bought what was likely a 72 Nishiki International, which was the model formerly known as Kokusai in the spring of 1973 and rode the daylights out of it for a year. It was a vast improvement over my Raleigh Grand Prix, it shifted better and it was more reliable, which led me to go on much longer rides. It was not particularly light, but it was of very decent quality for the times. It left me with a very favorable impression of Japanese bikes. About a year after I got it, I got a job working in a LBS that sold Gitane, the owner did not like seeing my Nishiki at work. I sold it and built up an old Italian frame, which was my last bike until I was in my 40's.
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Old 08-15-10, 06:38 PM   #8
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sorry to necrobump this thread, but is this frame actually worth anything? I have the exact same frame with the fork as well...
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Old 08-15-10, 07:16 PM   #9
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It's only worth anything as a rider. It's not really collectable.
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Old 08-15-10, 07:29 PM   #10
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sorry to necrobump this thread, but is this frame actually worth anything? I have the exact same frame with the fork as well...
Post pictures. If the paint is similar to the one at the top, very little (chipped up paint). And how are the decals? Value comes when it is a complete bike, with decent or better components. So if the paint is good, and you have a good donor, build it out. If the paint is pretty tired, save your parts for a better frame.

The frame itself does not have some of the desirable features buyers are looking for: no chrome stays, no frame DR hanger, etc.
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Old 08-28-10, 12:34 PM   #11
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So this is what it looks like... there's some chipped up paint and stuff at places though... Anyone have any estimates on its value? It apparantly has a mavic rim in the front with a conti super sport tire... the kokusai decal on the seat tube is really worn out
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Old 08-28-10, 04:08 PM   #12
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Very interesting....I picked up a Nishiki touring bike today at a garage sale. The frame looks identical to the blue one posted At some point braze-ons for cantis had been added and the frame had been repainted, so all the decals are gone. The owner said it was a Nishiki Professional. Seems like a real nice rider and came with Phil hubs and a Brooks saddle.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:31 PM   #13
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The original Kokusai (Japanese for International) had a straight gauge Ishiwata CrMo main triangle. My 1971 Semi-Pro (KS78091) had a double-butted Ishiwata CrMo main triangle and CrMo wraparound stays, but, I believe, the same cheapo carbon steel fork and stamped hangerless dropouts. My fork blades had tacky-looking silver tape over the chrome-paint transition. Removing the tape revealed a remarkably sloppy boundary, but the owner of my Schwinn/Nishiki LBS obligingly repainted my forks in Schwinn Kool Lemon (a good color match), using good masking tape to define the paint-chrome border more cleanly.

I put 40K miles on my Nishiki over a 20-year period, until the seat tube lug broke off of the bottom bracket shell. Although I enjoyed owning and riding it, I did not realize how heavy/dull/spongy the ride was until I started riding European bikes -- Capo, Bianchi, and Peugeot.

Many bicycle enthusiasts considered the American Eagle Semi-Pro to be the first halfway decent all-Japanese bicycle exported to the U.S. By the late 1970s, Kawamura was turning out some world class frames.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:49 PM   #14
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I picked up three 1973 Internationals about a month ago, along with a Concord Mixte (also made by Kawamura). The International is a nice step up from the Olympic, the Olympic is a pretty basic entry level bike back then (I had one of those last year). The International has several alloy bits: stem, bars, seat post, rims, a cromoly frame, and Suntour Vx derailleurs. I have finished two of the Internationals so far, one with red bar tape, the other with yellow so I could tell them apart (they are both blue, and the same size).

An International has roughly 2X the value of the Olympic in my market. But condition of the paint is really important to value.

I would need better pics on the gold bike above, and would need to know which model it is before venturing a guess as to value. The two Internationals I finished really had outstanding paint. I upgraded both to aerolevers and DT shifters. I need to reinstall the original crank dust caps and pedals.



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Old 08-28-10, 06:37 PM   #15
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So this is what it looks like... there's some chipped up paint and stuff at places though... Anyone have any estimates on its value? It apparantly has a mavic rim in the front with a conti super sport tire... the kokusai decal on the seat tube is really worn out
Nice bike and it looks to be in good shape. American Eagle is a very rare bike with a good heratige, (Nishiki). The problem is, other than a few Nishiki collectors, no one cares. To the best of my knowledge, American Eagle didn't make any high end bikes, so they are not in big demand. That said, I'd estimate yours to be around $100 to $150.
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