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1973 Nishiki Competition arrives!

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1973 Nishiki Competition arrives!

Old 09-11-07, 07:15 PM
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Rabid Koala
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1973 Nishiki Competition arrives!

I have received and worked over my new 1973 Nishiki Competition. This was an ebay purchase. I have wanted one of these ever since my questionable teenage decision to buy a Nishiki International rather than the Competition. The $40 additional cost of the Competition was a big stretch for a 15 year old spending his own money in 1973!

The seller was a nice guy who had stored this bike for the last 20 years. I certainly believe his story as the bike appears to have been ridden very little in it's 34 year life span. It still had the original Nishiki tires on it.

And thanks to T-Mar who helped me determine its age. All the date codes I found were June and July of 1972, so with shipping time and the serial number, we both felt 1973 was the model year. I did later find one on the derailleur.





The biggest shock I had upon opening up the box was the weight of the wheels. Yes, I know those Araya clincher rims are heavy, but this was ridiculous. It took me a minute or two to figure out that someone had replaced the stock inner tubes with these solid tubes. No more flats! No more riding, either, at that weight. I took out my trusty postal scale and weighed one. It weighed in at 1 lb. 13.3 ounces.



Everything else was in fine shape for the most part. The chain was greasy and stiff, but no rust. The SunTour freewheel was grimy and a little sticky. The original nylon caps were still on the end of the cables on both brakes and derailleurs. I did not ride it before I started working on it. I soaked the chain and dismantled and cleaned the freewheel. The rear derailleur came off for cleaning, the front stayed on. I did remove 2 water bottle holders, the kick stand and the dork disc. That thing was just TOO big.







The brakes cleaned up and looked like new with a little washing. The wheels have stainless spokes, Sunshine hubs and the Araya rims were just a bit out of true. Even the 34 year old grease was in pretty decent shape considering. The Sugino Mighty crank set came off and cleaned up like new. I did replace the Pro Ace pedals with MKS touring pedals because my large feet would not fit in the clips. My feet never fit in the clips. The bottom bracket was just like new after washing the grease away.





I got some Kenda 27x1 inch tires from the LBS. I had to cut down some Performance rim strips to fit. I was prepared for what I thought was going to be a nasty job getting the tires to seat on the non hook bead rim, but the Kendas were great. I have only pumped them up to 75 psi so far, but they seated evenly which is more than I usually get under the circumstances.

One thing that struck me is how well made my Nishiki seemed in 1973, and how many flaws I could pick out on this bike. Part of that is that in 1973, I had previously ridden a late 60's Raleigh Grand Prix. Maybe I was just dazzled that the SunTour derailleur would shift after having the Simplex equipped Raleigh. Maybe it was because the aluminum rims were lighter than the ones on the Raleigh. There are several notable flaws in the Competition frame, the most prominent being the downtube/headtube lug is crooked! The seat stay is not so hot either, but I do like the design.





The decals on the down tube have one side mostly scraped off and the other is OK. My decals lasted about 6 months on my International. I may make my own reproductions for this if I get motivated enough. The headbadge is all there and most of the other decals are too. Only the tubing decal is missing that I know of.

I have not been on a Nishiki since 1974. The first ride felt very, uh, different than my Paramounts or other bikes. I do like it and find it comfortable. I will replace the stock saddle with a Brooks for the benefit of my backside. It is a flimsy feeling frame, something I remember from my old one, also being a 25 inch frame contributes to this. The original Dia Compe pads do an adequate job stopping all 200 lbs of me and the bike, but I will likely switch over to Kool Stops. The barcons are like new and all that remains to do is to mount a computer and put on some new bar tape.

I don't plan on putting tons of miles on the Nishiki, but I plan to keep it around for a long time. My old International was a great bike, giving me 3500 + miles of good service and taking a lot of abuse at the same time. I was hit with a little buyers remorse while waiting for it to be shipped, but one ride and that all disappeared!
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Old 09-11-07, 07:16 PM
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Two more pictures I couldn't fit in the first post:



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Old 09-11-07, 07:27 PM
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Very nice looking bike, and good job cleaning it up. I wish my '75 looked that good. I've noticed that mine also shows signs of somewhat crude craftsmanship. How many teeth are on the big cog of that freewheel? It appears to be quite large! Also, did you notice if the stem and steerer tube are .833" or 1"?
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Old 09-11-07, 07:51 PM
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The large chain wheel is a 54, the small is a 48. I have some smaller ones, but I didn't want to move the front derailleur.

I think the stem is a .833, compared with a caliper to a 1" stem.
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Old 09-11-07, 08:04 PM
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I may have a chance to pick one of these up. If you don't mind telling what did you end up paying for it? You can send me a PM if you would like instead of posting here. The one I might have a chance for belonged to a co workers dad and its supposed to be in near pristine condition so I''d like have a good idea of what to offer him and not insult him.
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Old 09-11-07, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by stringbreaker View Post
I may have a chance to pick one of these up. If you don't mind telling what did you end up paying for it? You can send me a PM if you would like instead of posting here. The one I might have a chance for belonged to a co workers dad and its supposed to be in near pristine condition so I''d like have a good idea of what to offer him and not insult him.
No problem at all. It was a Buy It Now for $150, which I felt was fair and reasonable. Here is a link to the auction:

https://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWN:IT&ih=014

I hope you can get it for a decent price. If you do, please post pictures!
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Old 09-11-07, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamplight View Post
Very nice looking bike, and good job cleaning it up. ... How many teeth are on the big cog of that freewheel? ...
Stock gearing on my 1971: 54-47 / 14-18-22-27-34
Stock gearing in 1973: 54-48 / 14-18-22-28-34

I tried various other combinations, including 54-44 / 14-16-18-21-24 for the 1972 Double Century
and later 50-47-44 / 14-16-19-23-26 until the frame broke.

The Nishiki Competition ride is indeed very comfortable, but I did not realize how leaden and dead mine was until I got the Peugeot PKN-10 and later the Bianchi. (I was already used to bottom bracket torque flex with my first Capo.)

If one did not look too closely at the brazing defects, the Nishiki was indeed a sharp-looking bike. During my Earth Action Council years at UCLA, mine hung a "This Vehicle Is Smog Free" sign from my aftermarket Brooks Pro saddle; one chap yelled out, "That's a sharp-looking way to fight smog!"
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Old 09-11-07, 08:21 PM
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That is nice! It makes my crusty old Pro look ... well ... crusty.

https://home.mchsi.com/~shufford/nishiki.html

Congrats!

Bob
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Old 09-11-07, 08:31 PM
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Bob, I just saw yours over at Schwinn a couple of minutes ago.

I am going to keep my eyes open for one of those!
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Old 09-11-07, 08:50 PM
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RK thanks for the info. I figured about 150.00 on that bike but I think he may want more than I'm willing to pay. Now provided this bike would fit me and he tells me his dad was pretty short like me I might just tell him if he decides to sell it let me know and leave it at that. I don't think his 13 year old kid is going to appreciate Granpas bike as well as an old geezer like me would. That's an entirely different story.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:21 PM
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Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I was a college student back in '73 and the first item I bought with my income tax refund was a brand new 21" coffee-colored '73 Nishiki Competition bike--first 'decent' bike I had ever owned! Paid $189 new for it, and kept it stock for many years until I finally put a triple on it and tried to turn it into a touring bike. Realized that it just didn't work right for a tourer, stripped it of its parts & sold the frame & fork about 10 years ago. Still have the original components to it in a box unused since, although I did put the wheels on my wife's mixte. The lugwork was quite crude & not finished well, but it was a beautiful looking bike with that metallic dark brown color offset by the chrome stays & fork. A heavy bike, but not a bad riding bike considering it was an early Japanese import!
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Old 09-11-07, 09:34 PM
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Oh man, that is sooooo cool. I really like those old Nishikis. That one is beautiful. Enjoy it.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:40 PM
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wow, that thing is in awesome shape for the age. congrats
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Old 09-12-07, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by karmantra View Post
Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I was a college student back in '73 and the first item I bought with my income tax refund was a brand new 21" coffee-colored '73 Nishiki Competition bike--first 'decent' bike I had ever owned! Paid $189 new for it, and kept it stock for many years until I finally put a triple on it and tried to turn it into a touring bike. Realized that it just didn't work right for a tourer, stripped it of its parts & sold the frame & fork about 10 years ago. Still have the original components to it in a box unused since, although I did put the wheels on my wife's mixte. The lugwork was quite crude & not finished well, but it was a beautiful looking bike with that metallic dark brown color offset by the chrome stays & fork. A heavy bike, but not a bad riding bike considering it was an early Japanese import!
Your experience is remarkably similar to mine, except mine, KS78091, was a yellow 1971 model under the American Eagle marque. I paid $149.95 (a splurge for a UCLA undergrad) at Rancho Park Cycles, a Schwinn + Nishiki shop in west Los Angeles. Mine lacked the barcons and chrome stays of the later models, but it had those cool leather coverings on the ends of the toeclips. When I peeled the tacky-looking red-striped silver decals off the fork blades, I discovered that they hid horrendous-looking junctions between the painted uppers and the chrome-dipped lowers. When I showed this to Russ Hughes, the shop owner, he kindly pulled the fork and repainted the top part in Schwinn Kool Lemon, which was a pretty good match to the Japanese paint, carefully masking to create a straight border to the exposed chrome. Twenty years later, when the frame finally broke, the paint on the forks had held up better than the paint on the frame.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:18 AM
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I read in "No Hands" that many Schwinn dealers started selling Nishiki or Centurion bikes because of the shortage of Schwinns due to the high demand of the bike boom. Many dealers found out they could make an easier sale and more profit with those bikes than with the Schwinns.

My International, also silver, came from Hal's Schwinn in San Diego. Back in those days, I didn't even look at the Schwinns before buying the Nishiki. Anything they had to offer at the time at a price I could afford was too heavy.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:12 AM
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It's nice to finally get the model you want, even a few decades later.
Nice bike, great pics; enjoy!

I still ride my 73 Nishiki once a week. They are lovely bikes.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:18 AM
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Gorgeous; I love the solid inner tubes... ah, innovation... That kind of stuff always amuses me when I rebuild a ride.

I got an "American Eagle" Nishiki awhile back, mostly for the crankset. Wound up giving the bike away to a kid who wanted a (you guessed it) fixie. It had a no-fatal dent in the top tube, but still seemed like a fairly nice bike. The crank wound up on a Half-step geared Follis...
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Old 09-12-07, 07:26 PM
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Very sharp bike!

If you don't mind, where would an Olympic fit in the line up of Nishiki's? IF it is still available, a guy had 3-1973's-2 mens, 1 womens. $75.00 each.

Again, the bike is sharp. & thank you,
Chris
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Old 09-12-07, 07:42 PM
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In the early 1970s the best Schwinn could offer against the American Eagle Semi-Pro / Nishiki Competition was the Super Sport, which they actually could have made competitive by deleting the built-in kickstand and installing cotterless cranks and road quill pedals.

I considered a used Lygie ($100), the Peugeot UO-8 ($115) and the Raleigh Super Course ($125) before stretching my budget to the Semi-Pro ($150).
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Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
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Old 09-12-07, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by green814 View Post
Very sharp bike!

If you don't mind, where would an Olympic fit in the line up of Nishiki's? IF it is still available, a guy had 3-1973's-2 mens, 1 womens. $75.00 each.

Again, the bike is sharp. & thank you,
Chris
Dates are approximate. Model designations changed midyear, and new models were introduced during various months.
1971: Custom Sport; Semi-Pro
1972: Custom Sport; Olympic; Kokusai; Semi-Pro; Road Compe
1973: Custom Sport; Olympic; International; Competition; Road Compe
1974: Custom Sport; Olympic; International; Competition; Professional (?)

The early Olympics were aimed squarely at the Schwinn Continental and the Peugeot UO-8.
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Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
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Old 09-12-07, 08:42 PM
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I thought in 73 the Olympic was the entry level model, but I could be (and probably am) wrong.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Dates are approximate. Model designations changed midyear, and new models were introduced during various months.
1971: Custom Sport; Semi-Pro
1972: Custom Sport; Olympic; Kokusai; Semi-Pro; Road Compe
1973: Custom Sport; Olympic; International; Competition; Road Compe
1974: Custom Sport; Olympic; International; Competition; Professional (?)

The early Olympics were aimed squarely at the Schwinn Continental and the Peugeot UO-8.
Custom Sport was the low end of the Nishiki line-up at that time
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Old 09-13-07, 07:56 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by karmantra View Post
Custom Sport was the low end of the Nishiki line-up at that time
True. Both the Custom Sport and the Olympic (not to be confused with later versions) had heavy steel frames, cottered cranks, and rims. The Olympic had quick-release wheels. The Kokusai/International had a straight-gauge CrMo frame, low-end Sugino Maxy aluminum crankset, and Araya aluminum rims. The Semi-Pro/Competition had a double-butted CrMo main triangle, but the stays and particularly the forks, were unknown "mystery steel." It is possible that the stays were CrMo and the forks were carbon steel; I never have been able to determine the frameset's full composition, beyond the double-butted Ishiwata CrMo main triangle.
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Old 09-16-07, 03:27 PM
  #24  
Rabid Koala
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I was finally able to get the Competition out for a ride last night, a pleasant coastal route starting just before sunset. I have been way too busy at work lately and it has seriously cut into my riding time. I had been planning this ride for a week!

I rode 20 miles. I was very comfortable on this bike. It is not as light as my other bikes, but had a nice smooth ride and a comfortable seating position. It also wasn't as dead or flimsy as I had expected. The narrow randonneur bars were great and I did not get as much of the numbness in my hands as I usually do. I was not even bothered by the presence of the safety (?) levers. It rode, shifted and stopped flawlessly. Before the ride I changed out the seat and seatpost to a Brooks that was hard as a rock, and used a SR Laprade seat post out of my parts stash. The stiff old Brooks felt way better than the stock Nishiki seat did. It took a lot more movement of the barcons to shift the SunTour than it does to shift a Campy NR with the same barcons. I had to limit tire pressure to about 70 PSI with the Kenda tires on the Araya rims. More than that and I started to see some sidewall movement. Even at that low pressure it rolled well.

To sum up, 33 years after selling my old Nishiki it felt like I had it back only better than before! I am sure the other lighter bikes will get used a bit more, but every so often I will need to get my Nishiki fix! I will probably use it more for night rides due to the slightly wider and lower pressure tires because I can't see road hazards as well. Better to risk the Arayas than Mavic or Weinmann rims.
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Old 09-16-07, 04:19 PM
  #25  
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Wow did that ever clean up nice!
That shine is so nice it could pass for a machine-polished finish!!
The red/yellow/blue on the badge is awsome
Great job!
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