It ain’t news that older 26″ MTBs make for great commuters and Matt is the latest to submit a tasty conversion to our Readers’ Rides email. Let’s check out his USA-made Nishiki Backroads commuter conversion below!
Hello, my name is Matt, and I’m a magazine editor based in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I grew up riding cheap bikes up and down neighborhoods and mountain roads in my home state of Montana. I didn’t move to the Twin Cities for bikes, but it is a blessing that my new home has an excellent cycling community.
This is a mid-’90s Nishiki Backroads, and it has been an absolute blast for a few years. Its paint job can be described as “spider veins.” It’s the bike I can hop onto any time of the year and have a fun, rambling, carefree ride. Right now, it’s my sloppy-weather ride. I’m also fond of this bike because I’ve learned maintenance and parts swaps on it, so that the stakes aren’t so high when I eventually break something or need to take it to the shop.
At first, the 1-1/8-inch steerer tube was a nuisance because there wasn’t a large quill stem selection available. Eventually, I realized it could be a neat threadless swap, and I found this Surly Troll fork on the used marketplace. That’s when the customization took off, and I threw a bunch of parts at it simply for the joy and experience of working on the bike. I’d also like to shout out Angry Catfish in Minneapolis for taking over the replacement of some drivetrain components when my tooling and experience (and maybe patience) wasn’t ready. I brought it in with a crankset that stripped threads from my unsuccessful attempts to separate it from the square taper.
While the build is a bit expensive for a 25-year-old Nishiki, each component is intended to be more reliable and sturdy than flashy. And the bike’s usefulness has repaid me many times over. I love the feel of the shifters, and the Shimano Exage components continue to do their jobs in some nasty road conditions. There’s never a time when all of the fork and rack barnacles are in use, but it’s fun to try out different combinations and mounts from time to time.
I love the look of retro steel mountain bikes, with their thin tubing, level top tubes, and big triangles. I love seeing old Ritcheys and Stump Jumpers, but it’s also possible to take any old bike that’s about the right size and have a super fun and reliable form of transportation. That low barrier of entry is what makes bicycles awesome. Baskets rule!
Frame: USA-made Nishiki Backroads
Fork: Surly Troll 26
Tires: Surly Extraterrestrial
Bars: Velo Orang Klunker
Stem: Dimension threadless 25.4
Shifters: Shimano integrated 7-speed for the rear, friction thumby for the front
Headset: Ritchey Logic
Fenders: Planet Bike Hardcore
Saddle: Specialized Targa
Crank: Shimano Altus
Derailleurs: Shimano Exage 400LX
Brakes: Tektro CR 710
Pedals: Race Face Ride
Rack: Tumbleweed T Rack
Basket: Wald 137
We’d like to thank all of you who have submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared over here. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!