Sawyer’s Dirt Drop Miyata Sportrunner – Morgan Taylor

Sawyer’s Dirt Drop Miyata Sportrunner
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Bicycles need not be complicated. They need not be expensive. Yet it sure is nice when they have character. Sawyer’s Miyata is a simple reminder that a Craigslist find and a few easy mods can revive the joy of having a rad bike on a shoestring.

We ran into Sawyer Brown and his brother Spencer while climbing a remote mountain pass in western Montana. Whitney pointed us toward Skalkaho Pass when we left Missoula, hearts full of goodness from the Bikecentennial, looking forward to meeting Sklar and Colin and the crew in Bozeman, and then toward Yellowstone.

When Sawyer’s Landcruiser rolled up with his fishing boat in tow and the dirt drop Miyata on top, we were intrigued. When Spencer hopped out of the passenger seat wearing a Team Dream shirt, we knew we’d found friends. The Brown family hails from Austin, where John shone his spotlight for a couple years, and Spencer was one of the people I came out of that being internet friends with.

It’s always cool when your internet friends become real friends, but you just don’t expect that moment to come in the middle of nowhere, over camp coffee and snacks, checking out a sweet waterfall in the wilderness. Turns out the Browns also have a house at the foot of the Skalkaho, and the pass is the dirt alternate when approaching from the east.

Sawyer’s Miyata is pretty close to bone stock. That includes the 3×7 drivetrain, the Ritchey Z-Max tires, and the pink bottle cages. But add a big ol’ Wald basket, some cheap dirt drops, bar end shifters, classy brake levers, and a meticulous bar tape job, and it’s automatic cool. It isn’t meant for riding super long distances or carrying heavy loads, nor does it need to.

When I was a kid, my bikes were a lot like Sawyer’s: scavenged from friends, cobbled together, and loved. I blasted the neighborhood and didn’t worry about how many gears my bike had. And after spending some time with him, I can guarantee you that’s exactly what Sawyer does with his Miyata.


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  • fuckin’ look how many any/manything cage tm mounts them wald struts have! FUCK.

    • Never thought about that before, Pubey!

      • Every idea I have is so insanely good.

        • I was all ready to tell you that the spacing is all wrong, but it might actually work using the outer two holes of a 3-hole cage.

          Spacing between the Wald strut holes is 1″, so 6 holes apart is 127mm. That’s fudgingly close to 128mm.

          I was sure people were going to comment that the big basket on Saw’s bike looks flimsy. Yet here we are adding more stuff to it!

          • Chris Valente

            This is the nerdiest post in the history of this site. Kudos!

          • Michael Lopez

            Seen it on Insta so I know it fits, but I wonder how those wald struts would flex with a swaying load.

          • Oh, they sure would.

  • Nicholas Petersen

    Steel seat guts. That’s something I haven’t seen on here before.

  • Sam Scavo

    Ritchey Z Max! the first nice mtb tire I ever bought.

  • AdamBike99

    You could just lean forward and eat yer sandwich straight outta that basket!
    Look ma’! No hands!

  • Peter Chesworth

    For all the innovation, the one-by’s, the press fits, the one and one eighth flares, the through axles, those bouncy spring things, the carbon, I never had as much sheer fun on a bike as on an early 90s cromo rig like this with cantis and biopace. Then again, as our good friend Marcel Proust said, remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were. Or is it?

  • Sweet, finally get some insight into that slick innovative basket mount setup! Awesome build and great photos as usual @disqus_g2KMtHTS0V:disqus!

  • Kevin Ehman

    now that’s a gangster lean. sick rig!

  • Chris

    Any better shot on how the basket is mounted to the stem? Trying to figure out how that works.

    • Sam Scavo

      Same. Looks like he drilled a hole through both sides of a pipe but larger on the top so the quill stem bolt head could fit through.

      • Yeah, he took some stock pipe / tubing, drilled out a hole, clamped it to the stem’s quill and then affixed the Wald brackets to that.

  • I didn’t think I could like a bike with that old type of seat post clamp and cantilever brake pads with smooth studs instead of threads, but I do – maybe it’s the pink bottle cages and the way front brake cable just clears the basket that make me change my mind.

  • Javí M

    Damnit I sold one of these bikes for $100 last year.

  • ScrappleEater

    Love the bike, and I love Wald baskets on bikes, but the height and angle of that! The center of gravity is way too high, and I bet those rack stays are about as stiff as a greasy black banana once you put a few pounds in the basket. Mount a front rack and zip-tie the Wald to it and call it better!

    • You’re late! Where have you been?

      Of course you’re right, it’s not suited to heavy loads – but it’s affordable. An $85 rack on a $200 bike sure would make the basket more stable.

      • ScrappleEater

        Ok, if we’re gonna be sarcastic, I’ll ask- have you ever heard of Craigslist? Right now, I see a Sunlight for $10, a Blackburn that can be mounted front or rear for $25 and a no-name that also looks like you can mount it up front for $20. Seems like the $$ v. increased utility is worth it to me.

        • Maybe you didn’t read the other comments before posting, but we were already talking about this, and having some fun doing it. Nobody is denying that a rack would help this bike.

  • floody

    Holy heck look at the size of those cable loops!