1987 Miyata 912 Rebuild

miyata 912

I have deep love for vintage bikes, and as easy as it is to lust after old Italian or French frames, I have a soft spot for upper-end Japanese steel.

During the American bike boom, Japan filled a major gap in US production, giving us heaps of Fujis, Nishikis, Univegas, Bridgestones, Centurions, and more. I’ve owned and sold too many of these bikes to count, and the vast majority of them were entry to mid-level bikes of their day. They were nice enough, but they tended to be heavy and the ride quality left a lot to be desired. However, every Japanese brand had their top level offerings, and many of these frames rivaled their European counterparts in craftsmanship and ride quality.

Miyata was originally a Japanese firearms manufacturer which re-tooled to create bicycles (gun barrels are tubes, so I suppose it was a natural progression), and because they had the ability to draw their own tube sets in-house, they were able to fine tune each frame for a ride quality that was unrivaled by the majority of their competitors. Miyata’s top level bikes had a different tube set for every size frame that they offered, ensuring that the 50cm frame would ride exactly the same as the 58.

At Miyata’s peak, they offered splined, triple-butted tubes (similar to Columbus SLX) which made their frames lighter, stronger, stiffer, and more compliant than any other competitor at the time. In fact, a Miyata 1000 of that era is still a very sought after touring bike, and rides far better than most modern touring bikes. *find a decent one for sale and the price will reflect this.

Now, not all Miyatas were excellent bikes, and they definitely produced a slew of lower quality steel for their less-expensive models. The quality of the frame and build were dictated by the number of the model; The higher the number, the nicer the bike. So a Miyata 912 is a significantly nicer bike than a Miyata 312.

miyata 310
An old Miyata 310 I had once converted to a single speed.

Remember the fixie craze? Yeah, unfortunately so do I. I built the above bike out of a 1984 Miyata 310 that was destined for the scrap heap. It was one of the lower end models but it was a lot of fun to ride and I still miss it.

This leads me to the current issue with vintage Japanese bikes; there just aren’t that many nice ones left out there. Thousands of them were turned into single speeds and fixies between 2005 and 2010. Braze-ons were ground off, frames were spray-painted, and many were crashed and destroyed.

Finding a nice one nowadays is rare, and the odds of finding one that’s barely been ridden is even more rare.

A completely original 1987 Miyata 912

miyata 912
My 1987 Miyata 912 as it was when I received it.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across this bike. This particular model was near the very top of the Miyata line, with only the Team and Pro models being above it. Plus, it was my size. Even better, it was one-hundred-percent all original, all the way down to the tires and bar tape. And, it had hardly been ridden… Like at all.

This bike has spent the better part of thirty years sitting against a wall in a heated garage, patiently waiting to see the road again.

Now, as nice it was, it would be a shame to just keep it as a museum piece. A bike of this quality deserves to be ridden and I had every intention of getting this bike back on pavement. However, while there is still an art to building a nice steel frame, components have come a long way since 1987, and I am not the biggest fan of downtube shifters, tiny cassettes, and super deep drop bars.

I stripped the bike down to the frame, washed and waxed it, and then treated the insides of the tubes with framesaver to prevent any possible rust (If you’re gonna ride a steel bike through a PNW winter, I highly suggest you treat your frame).

*I should note that I cleaned and kept all of the original components, even the bar tape. The original Shimano 600 group is in fantastic condition and someday I may restore this frame to it’s original state.

With the rebuild complete, the frameset has now been completely modernized with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset and a set of Mavic Aksiums wrapped in 25mm Vittoria Corsas (the only thing remaining original to the bike is the Shimano 600 headset and the bearings in it are still butter-smooth).

The black components look amazing on the frame, and the ride quality… well, it rides far nicer than any steel Surly, Kona, or All-City I’ve ever thrown a leg over. In fact, it rivals the 2001 Lemond Zurich I once owned, and that was an 853 pro team frame.

miyata 912
Fully restored and rebuilt

The term “Steel is Real” gets thrown around a lot, but I have ridden plenty of steel bikes that may as well be boat anchors; lacking any real road feel or positive characteristics.

This bike is not one of them. It has all of the comfortable qualities that one expects from a nice steel frame, but it’s also snappy. It accelerates and climbs surprisingly fast, and it feels absolutely planted in corners. I can remove my hands from the bars and it will track straight and true. It responds to rider input the same way that any upper-level modern bike does and it sucks up road noise and bumps as if they were never there.

This is one of those bikes I waited patiently to find, and the wait was totally worth it.

miyata 912

Steel Is Real.

Published by joeski

Look Fast. Ride Slow

11 thoughts on “1987 Miyata 912 Rebuild

  1. I bought the 86 Miyata 912 recently, and I am curious if you would share what kind of stem adapter stem and handlebar that you use.

    Thank you so much!


    1. Hi! I’m using the Velo Orange quill stem adapter. This allows you to retain your threaded fork and headset while using a Threadless stem and modern bar. You can use any 1 1/8 threadless stem you choose, so brand is not an issue. Just get the length and rise that suits your needs. I’m using the FSA Gossamer compact bar, because I like the shape.


  2. I’m excited I found your post! I have Miyata 912 with original parts that looks just like yours! I’m looking to make it a little less aggressive and more of a bike to ride around with my kids. Riding on sidewalks and maybe some dirt paths. I’m switching to a straight bar to make it more of an upright ride, and want to try changing out the wheels. It looks like the Wobler Super Champion Alpine is a 700c rim? I’m nervous about taking these thin tires out on the dirt. I looked into a 650b conversion but it looks like one would have to crush the fork to get those tires to fit.


    1. Hi Jeff, thanks for reading. Honestly and unfortunately it will never make a good non-pavement bike. The frame and fork won’t clear larger than 25 (maybe 28 if you have really skinny rims) and that’s just not gonna work on unpaved surfaces. 650b won’t clear do to the brake positioning and the frame is just what it is- a road frame meant to go fast on pavement.

      Sorry. It’s a fantastic bike, it’s just not meant for what you want. Keep it for what it is and look to other directions for what you’re describing. 🍻


  3. I have the same 87 912 model. I reimagined it as a modern endurance ranndonuer, with dirt drop stem and nitto mustache bars. Managed to get mostly dura ace with black 105 crank and wheels. Gotta say, the black bits absolutely do it against the white frame. Reading the comments about tire size, I have 30mm and they roll perfectly in the frame under some DA 7700 brake calipers. I definitely use it on mixed surfaces and light gravel no sweat. Don’t sell it short. This bike is capable of many duties not just rolling fast on pavement. Cheers


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