“Sometimes you gotta slow down to get rad.”-Me. Circa: just now
Rebuilding a 1991 Nishiki Pueblo
I don’t know if this applies to everyone, but the bike that I choose to swing a leg over can have a pretty large effect on how I approach a ride. A dedicated go-fast road bike is cool if you just want to go for PRs and attack hills, but let’s be honest- it’s just not fun to cruise along at 8mph when you’re in an aggressive riding position and wearing carbon soled shoes.
Plus, my kids want to ride like kids, and I’m not going to take my TCR off curbs and go explore unpaved shortcuts. Even my gravel bike has a relatively aggressive position, and while it excels at carving out forest road descents, it also requires special shoes and leaves a lot to be desired as a “let’s go explore that path, get a beer, and ride slow” bike.
It is my firm belief that every cyclist needs a party bike.
What’s a Party bike? I’m so glad you asked.
A party bike is a bike that you can ride in flip-flops… or fancy bike shoes… It’s up to you. It should have a relatively upright and comfortable riding position, but should still be capable of getting rad when you want to. Preferably, it should be able to get a little bit off road, and it should be just as at home doing wheelies on the way for beers with friends as it is on a late summer ride around the neighborhood at kid speed. It should be relatively inexpensive, rack and fender mounts are a plus, and the rest is really up to you. It’s a bike that does a little bit of everything and inspires you to slow down a little bit and just enjoy yourself.
Basically, you need a bike that allows you to ride comfortably at #partypace.
I sold my last party bike (a 1994 Bridgestone XO-3) this past summer so I could buy my new TCR, and while owning a rocket ship of a road bike is cool, I’ve really been missing that Bridgestone.
90’s rigid mountain bikes tend to make the best party bikes. They have massive tire clearance, they can be built with basically any components you want, and they’re pretty much indestructible. Plus, they’re cheap, easy to find, and usually come in some fun color schemes (sure, you may come across some guy who wants $400+ dollars for his old Rockhopper, but you can usually find an old Fuji or Giant for under $100).
*If you need some inspiration, 26 Inch Lifestyle will get you in the mood to party and go slow. Or fast. Either way, you’ll be partying.
I scooped up this old Nishiki for free, I just had to drive about thirty minutes to get it. It’s a 1991 Pueblo and it was manufactured in Taiwan by Giant. It had been hanging in a garage for the last 12 years and aside from needing new tubes, it was fully functional.
I could have ridden it as it was, but the old 7 speed Suntour XCT stuff on it doesn’t party that hard (plus, I had a bunch of old stuff in the garage that needed a new home). So, I stripped the bike, treated the internals to some framesaver, and cleaned up the exterior of the frame. A wash and fresh coat of wax really showed how nice this bike had been kept (the black has a slight silver metallic sparkle in the sunlight).
The rad thing about most of these old mountain bikes is that they are essentially blank canvasses that can be built into anything you desire. 1x commuter with albatross bars? all original vintage MTB stuff? Dirt drops and barends? Anything is possible.
I happened to have an old 6700 series 3 x 10 speed Ultegra group that needed a frame, and this Nishiki happens to take a 68mm threaded bottom bracket. After a test fit, I was thrilled to realize that this old mountain bike will clear full size road chainrings (it’s amazing how much mountain bikes have changed).
The limiting factor here would be the wheels. I needed a rim brake, 26 inch wheel that would take a 10 speed cassette, and that’s not as easy as it sounds given the current state of 26 inch wheels, and the shortage of bike parts due to the pandemic.
I decided to just go all out with this bike and I ended up building my own wheels. I used 32 hole Velocity Dyad rims, Sapim spokes, a Velo Orange front hub, and a SunXCD rear hub. The really nice thing with the rear hub is that it’s 10 speed but it’s only 130mm wide, so there’s no need to spread the rear triangle (the freehub has a really nice pawl sound as well).
The only thing I found lacking on this frame was the fact that there was only one bottle cage mount, so I added a second cage onto the seat tube. I aligned my marks, drilled the holes, and used rivnuts to get a second cage mount in place.
After sourcing a few extra things I needed, I put it all together, creating my new party bike. It’s a go-anywhere, monstercross, gravel-crushing, slow-going, curb-hopping, pothole eating machine, and it’s an absolute blast to ride (it rides better than my old Surly).
The final build (as pictured) comes in at 26.4 lbs, which isn’t bad at all considering it’s a no frills steel frame with 2.3″ tires.
Eventually, this bike will take me to meet friends for Coffee Outside, evening beers, and other fun things (when we can), but for now, it’ll keep pace with my kids, tear up some single track, and leave really long and satisfying skid marks on gravel paths.👍