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I almost love my Nishiki Seral

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I almost love my Nishiki Seral

Old 09-25-22, 11:50 PM
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Bug Shield
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I almost love my Nishiki Seral

I have had a few great bikes over the years and wanted to add my Nishiki Seral to that short list but I am not sure it's going to get there.

Last year I was looking for a grocery hauler. I had moved to a large city and was not at ease with locking my beloved Surly ECR up in shady places. My ECR is fantastic all-around bike; It is great at hauling big loads and more efficient than one might think being rigid on 29x3.0 tires but I wanted something that had less appeal to thieves. I thought that a classic grand touring bike would haul a load just as well, have a lower investment, be much more efficient, etc.

I acquired a 1984 Nishiki Seral that seemed to check all the right boxes. There is much to appreciate about the bike:

* Front/rear rack mounts
* Clearance for big tires
* Cantilever brakes
* Triple bottle cages
* Fully double butted
* Low investment/appeal

My plan of attack was to get to know the bike by replacing only what was needed and using what I already had on hand. I installed my Tubus Logo and Tara racks, a Large Arkel handlebar bag, and a Brooks Professional saddle that I had in my stash. It got new brake hoods and bar tape, cables from my parts bin, and a shorter stem and wider bars from the co-op. I quickly found that I did not care for the bar-end shifters and reverted to Suntour Power shifters on the downtube from Ebay but other than that I pretty much stuck to the plan. I replaced the bottom bracket pretty quick and the original chain at about 400mi. I got 1k miles out of the tires that came on it then replaced them with Swift Sand Canyons. I've got 1,800mi. on it now.

I did a century on it and a bunch of club rides. I hauled almost all groceries by bike last year -- largely on the Seral but often tandem on the weekends or on my ECR if I was going for a big load. I mostly succeeded at using a bike rather than a car for everything except vacations last year.

My Nishiki Seral does not really owe me anything at this point. It's been a good bike and done most of what I asked of it but I'm afraid I just do not love it. Maybe I was asking too much to haul groceries with a touring bike? It handles fine with 40lbs well distributed and alright with 50lbs but I frequently haul more. Really, I think the bike just does not carry weight all that well in the back. A magazine review of the era complained that the rear brake interferes with good rear pannier positioning and I find that true with my rack/pannier combination; I have to run my panniers much further back that I otherwise would in order to clear the brakes but I don't know if that is the whole problem. It's possible that the installation of a V-brake might really change the hauling capabilities of the bike by eliminating that interference. I appreciate the clearance for big tires but sadly none are available in the 27inch rim size. Thankfully the cantilever brakes will work with 700c rims. I'm thinking about this because the hub I was looking for came up on Ebay.

Meanwhile, I have moved back to the countryside and find that my ECR is better suited to just about everything here.



PS. Originally misfiled in Appraisals. Oops.
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Old 09-26-22, 04:58 AM
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Beautiful bike, but I hear you. I think most of us have had bikes that we envisioned for a specific purpose but for whatever reason it just didn't work out, or another bike comes along and just checks a few more boxes. The key--and this is what I struggle with lol--is giving up those bikes to the universe, because for someone else, it might check all the boxes for why they want a bike. Easier said than done, of course.
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Old 09-26-22, 08:37 AM
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Looks like the "ancestor" to my '89 Nishiki Cresta GT, which ticks all the same boxes, plus a 40-spoke rear (which yours appears to have as well). Interesting about the rear panniers; for me, it's just right. Any further forward and I would have heel strike, before it ever interfered with the brakes. As a rough guide, any pannier extending forward of the seat stays on any given bike will most likely catch my heel. But that's obviously a very rider-specific thing.

I still find that, no matter which bike, a "full" grocery run goes better with a trailer. Easy to say, I guess, when my longest grocery run is about 4 miles each way, mostly on paths. Longer distance and more road presence, YMMV.
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Old 09-26-22, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Looks like the "ancestor" to my '89 Nishiki Cresta GT, which ticks all the same boxes, plus a 40-spoke rear (which yours appears to have as well). Interesting about the rear panniers; for me, it's just right. Any further forward and I would have heel strike, before it ever interfered with the brakes. As a rough guide, any pannier extending forward of the seat stays on any given bike will most likely catch my heel. But that's obviously a very rider-specific thing.

I still find that, no matter which bike, a "full" grocery run goes better with a trailer. Easy to say, I guess, when my longest grocery run is about 4 miles each way, mostly on paths. Longer distance and more road presence, YMMV.
Hi, madpogue. Mine also has the 40-spoke rear wheel which is great for running as-is and a limitation when looking for 700c rims compatible with the hub. My usual city grocery run was about 5mi. each way, mostly on a MUP with the ability to avoid a busy intersection by hopping up/down a curb. I never abused my Seral that way but didn't think twice about it on the ECR. On the flip-side I could avoid a left turn onto a busy road by making a right onto an even busier one and sprinting 1/4mi. to my turn. The Seral was better for that since the ECR is a singlespeed. I rarely chose the sprint since the light wouldn't change for a bike and the walk button would hold traffic back way longer than I needed.

My new grocery run is a 18mi. each way on a highway with a big shoulder and big cracks in the pavement. I can do 10-mi. of it on a deserted gravel road by adding about 3mi. and that's my preference unless I'm on a schedule.

Yes, there is a limitation to how far forward I could bring my panniers before encountering heal strike. I don't know how much it would take to make a meaningful difference in loaded handling or if it would make a difference at all. My wheel could also go back about 1/2in. at the sacrifice of shifting quality if I remove the axle stop and I'm tempted to try that and see if there is a difference but now that my environment has changed I really just take the ECR.
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Old 09-26-22, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Looks like the "ancestor" to my '89 Nishiki Cresta GT, which ticks all the same boxes, plus a 40-spoke rear (which yours appears to have as well). Interesting about the rear panniers; for me, it's just right. Any further forward and I would have heel strike, before it ever interfered with the brakes. As a rough guide, any pannier extending forward of the seat stays on any given bike will most likely catch my heel. But that's obviously a very rider-specific thing.

I still find that, no matter which bike, a "full" grocery run goes better with a trailer. Easy to say, I guess, when my longest grocery run is about 4 miles each way, mostly on paths. Longer distance and more road presence, YMMV.
I also have a Cresta GT but have ridden it very little since acquiring it two years ago. I meant to swap stems and do some other things but have not ridden enough to warrant it.
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Old 09-26-22, 06:13 PM
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I've really enjoyed my Seral as a trail and CX-training bike, using 27" tires. The modest tire width forces me to take advantage of available traction, and to improve my technical skills at dealing with chunkier surfaces.

I like that the chainstays aren't too long for decent rear tire traction. A rack-trunk bag helps here by adding a couple of pounds over the rear wheel.
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Old 09-26-22, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Bug Shield View Post
My new grocery run is a 18mi. each way on a highway with a big shoulder and big cracks in the pavement.
Now I understand why you wouldn't just make more trips with a lighter load. Maybe time for a home garden and either delivery or car share.
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