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I've found a Miyata 912 going for $300 on Craigslist. From what I've read, it should be a 1970-80s road bike on the high end but supposedly built quite strongly.

I'm looking for a bike to commute to class and work so I definitely want:

  • wider road tires (I'm assuming that this handles bumps better than skinner road tires)
  • fenders (mud/sand/gravel/dirt/etc)
  • bicycle racks (if I want to carry more stuff)

Will the Miyata 912 be able to take that and how will those changes affect its handling? Does it make sense to use it as a commuter bike even?

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Relevant post regarding upgrades to a Miyata 912: bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-746361.html –  WTHarper Sep 16 '12 at 4:25
    
What is your goal with the fenders? Fenders that pass inside the forks and prevent water from being driven towards your chain & bottom bracket take up space and so limit the size of tires that you can run. Half fenders like race blades don't take away clearance from tires. –  Mike Samuel Sep 16 '12 at 16:15
    
The bike in the picture looks a bit tight for regular fenders, though there are splash guards that would work (and, interestingly, there are fender lugs on the front fork). It obviously can take a rack of sorts. You can go a size larger on tires, but much more and you'd probably need new brakes. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 16 '12 at 16:31
    
(It looks remarkably similar to my old Nishiki touring bike.) –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 16 '12 at 16:33
    
@MikeSamuel Fenders are just in case of mud/water/dirt splashing up while cycling. I'm not sure how necessary that'll be but I figured hey, it'd be good to know if the bike would be able to take it. –  Alex Sep 16 '12 at 20:15

2 Answers 2

You're right on the money in terms of commuting upgrades. Buying used bikes is a great way to go about acquiring a ride, but sometimes bikes need a bit of refitting for commuting.

I took a look at the 1981 Miyata Catalog. Models from year to year are generally similar, so this should be accurate for most late 70s early 80s 912s. This bike is described as a "fast sport rider for racing-oriented cyclists," meaning that it isn't going to fit fat tires, fenders, or racks too easily. What is important is the distance between the tire and the frame.

You may be able to get away with a 700c x32 tire and narrow, metal fenders. Metal fenders are a bit more expensive than plastic, but can be bent to fit into tight places. Note that most fender manufacturers specify 10mm clearance between the tire and the fender, so as to prevent a pebble or twig from tearing your fenders off. There may or may not be braze-ons for fenders or racks, but that is easy to get around. Lots of bike shops sell metal clamps that secure everything to the stays quite well.

If you're comfortable with the largest possible tire being ~32mm, go for it! Understand, however, that bikes designed for skinny tires and no fenders may be difficult to fit. If you decide not to, look for Touring or Sports-Touring models which always have clearance and braze-ons (In this catalog, the 1000 and 610 are both touring models).

One alternative option that will require more work is to convert the wheel size from 700c to 650b. This will involve new wheels and long-reach brakes, but it will allow you to run fatter tires and fenders with no issues.

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Another 650b conversion article: sheldonbrown.com/650b.html –  WTHarper Sep 16 '12 at 14:43

If the bike was originally fitted with 27" wheels,(which most 70's to early 80's bikes were) you will be limited to only one or two sizes,1 1/4" and 1 3/8" and tread patterns are also limited. I currently have two bikes running 27" wheels. The 1 1/4" tire is 32mm wide inflated,the 1 3/8" is 29mm inflated. So two tires from two makers and the smaller is the widest. As has been stated there were no standards. My Mafacs calipers are at the bottom of the slot just to reach the brake surface on a 27" wheel. Long reach brakes may not have enough adjustment to position the brake pads correctly if you change to a 650 or 700c wheel. I would say that your best option is to borrow or buy returnable parts to work out all the variables you are going to encounter.

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