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How do I determine the year model of my Nishiki Sport road bike? I have had it since the 1990s when I bought it at a garage sale. I finally started riding it in 2008/9. I rode it in a 40-mile charity ride in 2013 (I think). I am trying to figure out what year it is, and whether it is aluminum, steel or something else altogether. Is there a website where the serial number ranges are listed? Or is the year model like a car's VIN, and coded into the serial number? This one indicates that it was made in Taiwan.

Also, I want to do some updates/upgrades on it, and wonder if there are any unique limitations of what I can do. Here are upgrades I was considering:

Phase 1:

Upgrade wheels to 700c from 27". I already have them. Upgrade brakes to accommodate different size wheels. Modify to 7-speed cassette (replacement wheels are spline). Phase 2:

Considering upgrade to 11-speed cassette.

My Nishiki Sport - LeonJr

My Nishiki Sport - LeonJr

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  • Hi, welcome to bicycles. There is no standard for bicycle serial numbers, but some manufacturers do (or at least used to) encode the year in their numbers. The odds are against it, though. What would help more is close-ups of all the badges and logos, and any original components.
    – DavidW
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:20
  • There is no VIN on a bicycle. It might be possible if Nishiki had a system, and that system is publicaly known, or if they had records which have been made public. More info on serial numbers at bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/32872
    – Criggie
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:23
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    You may also like to browse Why shouldn't I care what year my bike is?
    – Criggie
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:24

2 Answers 2

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That appears to be a lugged steel frame likely dating from the 1980s.

The crankset is newer and appears to be late 90s. If you find a model/part number that can date it more accurately.

The tyres appear to be knobby gravel-style, and will be wider than what the bike came with new. The wheels/rims may be original - the rear dork disk being metal suggests they're 80's wheels.

You can confirm the metal by using a magnet on the frame and on the rims. Aluminium won't have any attraction to a magnet. Steel will.


Observations: What are the red anodised blobs on the valve stems? They look similar to Lezyne valve adapters for a floor pump, and shouldn't be left on the wheel for weight-balance reasons and they're expensive to replace.

You appear to have a red and a white light on the seat post. Please don't ride with a white light pointing rearward.

Not sure if its the camera lying, but the front fork appears to be slightly bend backward. This bike may have been in a frontal collision.

Lastly - your handlebars are drooping. If you find that comfortable then all is well, but to my eye they look saggy. Normally the sides would be horizontal, and teh brake hoods would be higher up the bars. This looks like you ride solely on the drops ?

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  • Thanks for your response. On the metal ID I feel so DUMB! Of COURSE the magnet test would tell me. Dagnabbit! You are correct. I do ride on the drops - at least when I think access to the brakes is important. I have thought about replacing the brake handles with duals. This is how I received the bike. I have had no problems with the ride or handling. Maybe it was a bad camera angle/posing/optical illusion issue. There is no white light on the back I have to look again to see what that was. The blobs are lights. :-) The tires are new(ish) my modification for road conditons.
    – LeonJr
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:39
  • The "red and white light on the seat post" is neither a light nor mounted on the seat post. It is a red plastic ball bat left by one of my granddaughters. I was curious, too!
    – LeonJr
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:46
  • Interesting that you would say the crankset is post-production. The only significant modifications I made are the tires, seat tube and seat. Everything else is as I received it (besides lights and any other visible non-OEM accessories).
    – LeonJr
    Nov 26, 2023 at 3:06
  • @LeonJr I think the crankset is newer because it has a smooth flow from the crankarm into the five legs of the spider. 80's bikes tended to be more abrupt there. If you can spot a model number embossed into the metal somewhere, that will give us clues,
    – Criggie
    Nov 26, 2023 at 4:41
  • @LeonJr the rear facing white light I see is on the seatpost, with blue plasticky rubber. Straight above the identical red one, which I presume is a red light and okay to face backward.
    – Criggie
    Nov 26, 2023 at 4:43
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Coming from a different angle than the other answers...

You obviously have a long relationship to your bike.

I assume, the main aim behind new/modern wheels and even fitting 11-speed components on an 80s bike is to ride it more (seriously), but keep in mind that especially "phase 2" fitting an 11-speed group set will be relatively expensive upgrade in relation to the age and value of the bike, even though bike parts are mostly interchangeable between generations of bike frames and it is probably doable with enough resource and effort put into the project.

This means, you invest serious money in a bike that doesn't have much more than sentimental value (for you, personally). 11-speed will increase your gear range but depending on your mechanical abilities and the chances of sourcing a cheap used group set for no money, your project might get into the cost realms of a new entry-level bike but you stick with some limitations such as geometry, compliance and the weight of an old steel frame, ...

I'm don't know where you are based, but chains like Decathlon are selling decent entry-level bikes for ~400 $/€/pounds and they are probably a better platform, not necessarily for later upgrades but for getting more into riding. I personally would go for something more advanced for my second or a "serious riding" bike, just as an example to put things into perspective.

There are some concerns raised about the frame's condition in another post and given your odd handlebar position, I'm not sure if the frame is even a good fit for you. In my opinion, drop bar bikes should be set up in a way that you can ride all hand positions on the bars, even though you might prefer one over the other, depending on your riding style. However, constantly riding in the drops still seems a bit odd to me, especially if you can't even use the hood position because you'd fall off your bike^^.

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    To complete this answer, there's an interesting GCN Video: youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=4C6vuSvVkN4 (Summary: in many ways, modern good entry-level bikes are easier to live with than 80's super bikes - in good condition). If you are attached to the bike, you can still maintain it and ride it, of course, but the cost of your project can potentially as high as a good modern entry-level bike, and having both seems better than trying to make an vintage bike to modern standards.
    – Rеnаud
    Nov 27, 2023 at 11:32
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    @Renaud Yeah, it's perfectly fine to keep, ride and maintain an old bike but an 80s bike is just too much of a bridge to gap when trying to upgrade. It's probably hard enough to find a used R5800/6800 for the 11-speed-conversion, assuming that the brakes will fit with 700C wheels, etc...
    – DoNuT
    Nov 27, 2023 at 12:03
  • My problem is the Rip Van Winkle effect. I awake to new bike prices soaring past the four-digit mark, with the four-digit bikes being considered "entry level". What the heck did I miss since I bought my Sears Free Spirit for $125 in the early 1970s!?! Based on your responses, it seems like the consensus is that the Phase 1 mods are sensible, while the Phase 2 mods are ill-advised. So, I will start looking at used bikes from, say, the 2000s for about $500 max.? Also, what is the concensus on 7-8 speed cassette brands? I have heard that VGSports is iffy. Of course I know Shimano.
    – LeonJr
    Nov 27, 2023 at 18:01
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    @LeonJr The entry-level bike featured in the video I mentioned earlier is a Decathlon Triban RC120, that retails for 550€/$500, perfectly advisable. Nothing fancy, but proven components that works, and it will give you the same kind of ratios that you get on any modern road bike, clearance for wider tires, disc brakes, integrated brake/shift levers (2x8), and built with modern standards. Decathlon is probably not known in US as well as in Europe, but it is considered here one of the best value brands.
    – Rеnаud
    Nov 27, 2023 at 20:11
  • @LeonJr 2000s bikes are at least a better base to work with because you have indexed shifting, integrated levers and some comfort (23 mm wheels, maybe clearance for 25mm) - but you're locked in with upgrades if you want to get closer to the convenience of a modern road bike, mainly comfort and gearing ratios because a 2000s 10-speed groupset just doesn't have 32/34t cassettes available. If I was looking in the used market, I would look for a current-generation bike, there sure are some pandemic cyclist quitter sales going on and something 4-digit might become more accessible.
    – DoNuT
    Nov 28, 2023 at 7:03

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