Friday, January 2, 2009

Personal Rides: Miyata Ridge Runner





In the early ‘80s, I worked at Whippany Cycle, a bike shop located in Northern New Jersey. Even though I spent plenty of time as a kid riding around on Sting-Ray copies and department store “10 Speeds”, during my era at the bike shop I actually never owned a bike. Strange but true. I did borrow one occasionally for rides, but had nothing I called my own. Between attending community college, dating my girlfriend (and later wife) Lori, keeping my collection of ratty Fiats running, as well as my ‘73 Yamaha RD350 – there was no motivation or extra money to spring for a new bike. Sure, there were bikes hanging in the shop I lusted after – they would have to wait.

In 1984 the wait ended. Having a dirt motorcycle background, I really wanted a mountain bike. We carried Miyata at the time and I had my eye on the top of the line Ridge Runner model. I just scored my first job in computer operations and the pay increase over a bike shop wage was like hitting the lottery. I pulled in with my new Volkswagen GTI, popped for the Miyata Ridge Runner, plus a Miyata 110 road bike for Lori. All that with sick days and benefits included. What a concept. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast working at the shop – but having some extra was dough was a really nice change of pace.

This was the Cro-Magnon era of mountain bikes and the Miyata was a prime example. No suspension, SunTour Mountech derailleurs, 6 speed freewheel, friction shifting, bull moose handlebars, round bear trap pedals and bolt on hubs. I loved the thing. I rode it a fair amount for two years - on the road, exploring nearby woods, playing Observed Trials rider and just general cruising around. Besides cutting the handlebars down a bit and changing the grips, it remained stock and felt great.

At the time, mountain bikes were fairly rare. I remember riding it to watch the Tour of Nutley, a local crit race that I used to check out. People were asking me questions and one guy photographed it leaning against a wall. Another time I was cruising through Branch Brook Park in Newark, when some messenger looking dude rode by and asked me how many gears it had. When I replied 18, he just shook his head and cruised past. Anytime I ran into someone in the woods, hiking or on a dirt bike - they were amazed you could ride the same trails on a bicycle. This was years before land access hassles hit the scene.

This was also before helmets or specific mountain bike clothes. All I needed was a pair of OP shorts, sneakers and tube socks. Winter kit was jeans and hiking boots. Didn’t even use toe straps yet – that was for road bikes.

Near my house in Morris County, hit the woods in Mount Arlington and nearby Allamuchy. Trails I used to ride on with dirt motorcycles, replaced by human power. I never looked back. Hot humid summer rides, changing leaves in the fall, snow rides in the winter. Lori and I also rode the NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour on our Miyatas. Good memories.

I sold the Ridge Runner in 1986 after picking up a new Fat Chance. My old bike shop pal, John Passacantando bought it off me. He later gave it to his dad and from what I hear, still rides it today. As an interesting side note, John later went on to run Greenpeace USA – not bad for a bike mechanic from New Jersey.

Even though I already dug bikes, this Miyata really launched me into being a full on bike nut.

Thanks Miyata.

8 comments:

  1. Miyata makes great bikes!

    I rode a Miyata Ridge Runner mountain 84 and Miyata Ninety road 83 they are all nice ride.

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  2. Thanks for the posting; you may see more Miyata at:

    http://www.google.com/cse?cx=014803183142690772557%3Az0kcd42c2gg&q=+miyata&sa=Search&cof=FORID%3A0

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  3. I have fond memories of Miyata from my bike shop days in the '80s. Yeah, they made nice bikes. I really liked my Ridge Runner back then.

    During that era I really wanted a Miyata Pro road bike as well. The blue one with gold decals and Shimano 600. 1982 or 1983 era.

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  4. Nice form and love the tube socks. That VW in the background of that first photo looks oddly familiar. Cool stuff! -J

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  5. I know this is an old post, but I have been riding aMiyata Ridge Runner for about the last 12 years. I believe it is a 1984 model. I bought it at a police auction. I keep looking to get a new bike, but I just keep coming back to the old Miyata. There is nothing wrong with it. I am curious what the original msrp was on the bike and how much you got it for.

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  6. @Anonymous - just discovered your comment in my spam folder - almost a year later. Whoops!

    If I remember correctly, paid around $500 for the Ridge Runner way back in '84. That was new, from the shop I worked at - owner not giving much of discount...

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  7. Found an '83.....all original down to tires and brake pads. Pulled tires and pads for safe keeping just in case ever want to restore back to original for interested collector. Wish I could attach a pic....the bike is like came out of a time capsule.

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  8. @Anonymous - cool, a clean '83 example. Hang on to it!

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