Of all the fads and trends in the cycling industry, the touring era that accompanied the 1976 BikeCentennial in the U.S. was probably the most positive. While not everyone wants or needs a touring bike – a touring bike is a bike that can work well for all kinds of riding. And, due to economic conditions during this era – favorable exchange rates for the Japanese yen and the oil crisis of the early 70’s – the U.S. market was flooded with low cost, high quality touring bikes in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s. These bikes often survive intact, as they were quite well made to begin with, and were usually equipped with top of the line components.
Japanese brands like Centurion, Nishiki, Bridgestone, Fuji, Miyata, Panasonic, and Univega were among the most well known manufacturers to build high quality touring bicycles. Raleigh, Peugeot, Trek, Specialized, Austro-Daimler, Gitane, Motobecane, Mercier, and others also joined in to build some of the nicest touring bikes ever mass produced.
These touring bikes of the late 70’s and early 80’s hold a special place in my heart. Their excellent build quality and beautiful design represent freedom, exploration, and adventure.
This lovely 1985 Nashbar Toure MT is a great example of the quality that could be had for a reasonable price. The frame was built for Nashbar by Maruishi – a Japanese builder not as well known as others, but still producing a beautifully brazed machine of double butted cro-mo steel. The gorgeous blue sparkle paint and well brazed seat cluster show off its quality.
All the finish work is top notch. This is a bike I would keep for myself if it were my size.
There are so many nice features on this amazing bike that it’s hard to list them all. One reason that the bike is so pristine, however, is because long ago the SunTour Mountech rear derailleur had failed, and the bike was put away, thankfully in a dry, clean space.
So, I replaced the rear derailleur with a Shimano 600 long cage mechanism from the same era. It works perfectly with the original 100% SunTour drivetrain.
This bike was built in the days of gear shifting pattern obsession. Half step gearing was a way to have a routine shifting pattern that would maintain cadence as the terrain changed. In practice, at least for me, I prefer not having to constantly double shift, so I am not enamored with half step gearing and have, when confronted with it, replaced the large middle chain ring with something smaller, such as a 40 or 42. But, some riders love half-step gearing and more power to them (pun intended).
It would be tough to find a similarly engineered touring bike with these quality components, for a price that even remotely comes close to what you can buy this bike for now. One problem is that most cyclists associate Nashbar with low end liquidation components, rather than any kind of quality. But, back in the 1980’s, the arrival of the Nashbar mail order catalog was an exciting event. I ordered many wonderful and interesting components for my old 1976 Centurion from Nashbar back then. Today, however, the company is known for its discounted and discontinued parts, rather than for quality bicycles, for better or for worse.
This wonderful old touring machine is going to a friend’s stable in Southern Oregon, where I know it will be ridden and appreciated. I hope to join him and his spouse on some wonderful rides through Southern Oregon wine country, and I will be a bit jealous his bike.