Suteki, Japanese for beautiful
Frame - Steel, horizontal top tube, 33" stand over height
Steel fork, chromed
Sakae road style handlebars, foam covered
Cateye Mity 3 computer
Body Geometry Milano Comfort Max seat
Shimano road brake levers with "safety" levers
Shimano retro-friction shifters on stem
Shimano Tourney center pull brakes
Shimano 600 front derailleur
Shimano 600 rear derailleur
Shimano 14-28, 5 speed freewheel
Shimano 170 cranks
Stronglight chainrings 52, 42
Shimano Adamas platform pedals
Araya 27x1 1/4" double wall wheels, 36 spoke
Nashbar Road Tires, Kevlar belted 27x 1 1/8
Schwinn aluminum rear rack
Bell seat bag
Shipped from factory weight: 28.5 lbs.
MSRP: $449.00 (1982)
Retro-friction Shifters, "Safety" levers
Cute little cable tensioner. Suteki?
Yup, five whole sprockets, count 'em!
Stronglight crank and derailleur
I was driving down a street in south Stockton when I saw an old bike in the middle of the street at an intersection. I stopped my truck to move the bike out of the way and took a quick look at it as I did so. It was old, it was dirty, it appeared in very poor shape. The handlebars were cocked to the front wheel, the right brake lever was bent and scraped up, the sidewalls of the tires were almost powder from age and, of course, flat. It had a very old bent up aluminum rack that had weathered outside for a long time and was covered with corrosion. All of the chrome was yellowed and showing signs of starting the rust process. The seat was ripped and falling apart. Yuk, a total wreck.
It was a sure thing that no one had ridden the bike to this location and abandoned it. My guess was that it had fallen off a truck on the way to the dump. I looked at it hard and then decided to throw it up on the bike rack and take it home, why I wasn't sure. I think the name, "Suteki" intrigued me, a brand I had never heard of. That and the fact that enough of the bike worked to make it worthwhile to strip it for parts if nothing else.
Once home I took a closer look. Hmm, it was a 27 inch "10 speed," and looked at least 10 to 15 years old, maybe older. It was the right height for me when I stepped over the top tube. It weighed about 25 pounds, not too bad. I took a wet rag and wiped down the frame. The dirt came off easily and revealed a still rich colored maroon frame, with the paint in good condition. The seat was trash. I tried shifting. The rear derailleur moved but the front was either frozen or the cable was frozen. I spun the wheels as best I could given that the tires were falling apart. Wow, as true as new! The bearings on the wheels, headset, and bottom bracket seemed OK, what would it take to fix the bike up? I changed my early opinion, a good cleaning and lube job, one of my spare saddles, new tires, tubes and cables would get the bike going. I could add a Mity 3 computer if I thought the bike was worth riding after fixing it up.
I put in an order with Nashbar for tires, tubes and cables and a Mity 3. In the mean time I took the bike apart, cleaned and greased the bearings, washed off all the grime, scoured the chrome with a kitchen scrub pad and oiled the derailleurs and brake mechanisms. The parts came and the bike was reassembled, ready for the test ride. I jumped on and at the third pedal stroke, the chain broke. It was too late to go for another chain so I waited until the morning, headed to Wal-Mart and bought their $6.95 Bell brand, universal 112 link chain. A short time later I was up on the bike, cruising along, enjoying the sweet satisfaction of riding a restored bike with a total outlay of less than $70.00.
The bike shifts beautifully, is very stable and has the classic very comfortable "steel" dampened ride, . While it lacks some really low gears, it's a great ride to the store, around town and cruises in the country. A lot more than I expected when I fetched it out of the street. I can only imagine at one time this bike was bright shiny new. Someone was excited to take it on its first ride, probably wiped it down often, remembered the rides they'd finished and dreamed about the rides planned. Then it slowly fell into disuse, why, who knows, maybe a flat, loss of interest, or a lack of time. It finally ended up in a back yard somewhere, sitting out in the weather until the tires rotted and the cables rusted. It was on its way to its final resting place when it fortuitously fell off the truck. For this bike, it was a lucky fall, a new life, new memories and new plans.
I asked the folks on the Touring List to help me with some details about the bike and have included the information they provided. Their help is much appreciated. One of the members referred me to a site where a mirror image of this bike was listed as a "Sears" Suteki with an original price of $450. Several people reported that they bought a similar bike from Sears from 1982 through 1984 with prices from a discounted price of $199 to a little over $240. If that's so, there's still gold in the streets in California.
8/19/2007: I received an e-mail from Mark M. giving more details on Sears and
Suteki. According to Mark, Sutekis retailed at Sears in 1981 for $499 but the
bikes were discounted to $199 to move them out. The bikes were made by
Panasonic, a Japanese manufacturing giant but the high asking price was a dismal
failure. The bikes came equipped with:
Sakae Custom aluminum handle bars and seat post
Panaracer 27x1 1/8 Kevlar tires on Araya aluminum rims.
Shimano Adamas clip aluminum pedals
Bronzed chain and gear clusters
Shimano 600 component group, (top of the line in 1981)
Quick release front wheel, quick release brake pulls, center pull brakes
Chromed lower fork
Mark's had his and his wife's bike in service for the last 25 years and has logged over 15,000 miles. The only things replaced to date are tires and seat.
Thanks for filling in the blanks Mark!
July 21, 2009- Maki in Buffalo, New York sent me these neat scans from the Sears Catalogue. One is from the 1982 Christmas Catalogue and the other from the 1983 Christmas Catalogue.
If you know anything more, please write.
If you have an older Japanese 27" machine and want to know more about it, take a look at Sheldon Brown's Japanese Bicycles in the U.S. Market page. You can also get all the parts needed to bring your bike back to operating condition at Harris Cyclery.
Since I've posted this page I've been contacted by a number of Suteki owners. I've decided to list the locations where Sutekis have been sighted. (Sorry, I'm missing the first five or six contacts)
July 22, 2005 Jeff in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada purchased a 1984 Suteki 15 speed in mint condition with chrome fenders for $80 Canadian. Reports it's, "a very speedy bike."
August 8, 2005 Tyler, Bellingham, WA
August 16, 2005 Jason in Manchester, Iowa has a Suteki that was used for 1985 RAGBRAI and cost around $250 from Sears that year.
August 19, 2005 A blue mixte Suteki in Callahan, FL was listed for sale on E-Bay @ $9.99.
August 22, 2005 Philippe in Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada bought a Suteki at a garage sale last spring for $2.50.
August 31, 2005 A maroon Suteki in Fort Lauderdale, FL was rescued from the trash. Depending on the costs, it may roll again!
Sept. 4, 2005 Mark at Fenwick Island, DEL reports that he bought a his and hers pair of maroon Sutekies from Sears in 1981 at a close out price of $199. He and his wife still ride them when at their beach house. When purchased they were equipped with bronze chains to match the paint jobs.
Sept. 11, 2005 John in Indianapolis, IN reports that he bought a his and hers Suteki from Sears, Long Island, NY.
Oct. 11, 2005 Scott from Chicago, Ill. reports that he bought a Suteki in good condition, identical to mine at a garage sale for $25. He's going to turn it into a fixtie.
Oct. 13, 2005 John in Preston CT obtained a his and hers from a yard sale a few years ago at $100 for both. He's switched out the freewheel on his bike to a megarange 11-34 which the 600 Shimano handles just fine. According to John, "it shifts perfectly, and rides very gently," and "they still look great all cleaned up."
Oct. 14, 2005 Wes from Tolar TX bought a Suteki at a garage sale for $7.50. He's repainted the bike, leather wrapped the bars, added a Brooks saddle, rack and fenders. "It turned out great and rides great. All the components look original and work very well."
Oct. 24, 2005 Lynn from Lincoln NE, found a maroon Suteki at a garage sale and bought it for $5.00. He converted it to an immaculate fixtie.
Nov. 5, 2005 Edwin from Tyler TX, bought a mixte Suteki at a garage sale for $10 in nearly perfect condition with everything working. Shimano 600 components.
Jan. 13, 2006 Dieter in Costa Blanca, Spain bought a pair of Sutekies from a Thrift Shop in Virginia for $20 each five years ago. The bikes are now in Spain and Dieter uses one for Marathon cross-training. "I had the bike... in a wonderful little bike shop... for some small "updates" ... The mechanic thinks its a pretty good bike."
Mar. 26, 2006 Gabor in Chicago found an electric cobalt blue Suteki in the basement of an antique shop. The bike's in good shape and rides perfectly.
April 12, 2006 Tony Mac bought a Suteki at the Salvation Army in Chicago. The bike was ready to roll with the exception of a new front tube. It's Tony Mac's first road bike.
May 26, 2006 n4zou in Weaver Alabama, bought a maroon Suteki for $5 at a local thrift store. After cleaning, new parts and new 700 wheels the bike is now an 18 speed touring bike, complete with racks at a minimal cost.
July 3, 2006 Shari in Laurel MD, Just was given a Suteki through Freecycle. It is 27", 10 speed, and has back and front fenders, rear rack, and has standard handle bars. However, it does not have a seat post or seat. I checked the site you mentioned and it lists a 25.4 seat post, but says the Suteki needs a 26.
July 10, 2006 Mike in Littleton MA, purchased a Suteki used for $125, 15 years ago and still rides it today. The frame is a little small so he uses a longer seat post.
July 12, 2006 Blake in Burlington, Ontario. Canada traded a compact Bianchi Alaska mountain bike ( which was a $10.00 yard sale rescue 3 years ago) for a Maroon coloured Suteki 12, completely original , bronze chain & it seems to have a bronze cassette in place. The original Swallow 27 X 1 1/4 yellow sidewalls still carried air. Shimano Skylark derailleur. Front end is Sugino N0. 6 , Shimano equipped.
July 13, 2006 Vijay in Nova Scotia, found a Suteki mountain/street bike in his barn 6 years ago. Did some minimal repairs and it worked great. Then let it rust for seven more years, and fixed it up again (new tires, etc., but same cables and brakes and gears) and it still works great.
July 13, 2006 Mick from Milwaukee, WI came across a Suteki at a garage sale. $2.00. Didn't know anything about the bike, but I couldn't pass up the price. I had to do very little as it was very ride worthy. Mine is an almost duplicate to the one pictured on your site.
July 30, 2006 Dave in Cincinnati, Ohio, "bought a Suteki 10 speed 27" in 1982 or 1983 for about $250 at a Sears in Terre Haute Indiana. It is Model No. 502.474151. It looks almost identical to the one pictured on your site. I still have the Owners Manual. I purchased it to do a Triathlon in 1983 after which I used it for a year or so. It has hung in the garage till recently when I decided to start riding again."
August 28, 2006 Jane in Paoli, Pennsylvania bought a Suteki in 1983 for $199. She still has the manual and sales receipt. She's ridden the bike continuously since then and is just now replacing the wheels for a set with sealed bearings after bending her rear rim on a curb. Her friends have thousand dollar bikes but she's satisfied with her Suteki.
September 9, 2006 Steven in Little Rock, Ark. traded a pair of Taiwan bikes purchased at Sears in 1985 or 1986 for a pair of Sutekies after they found the Chinese bikes to be unsatisfactory. The store traded them straight across! The bikes are still in the family!
September 10, 2006 Gail in Gap, Pa. bought a new Suteki from Sears 22 years ago for about $150 on an employee discount. She's putting it back into service after a six year gap. Her chain is slipping so she'll have to replace chain and possibly rear freewheel.
October 9, 2006 John in Butler New Jersey bought a maroon Suteki from Sears in the early 1980's. Instead of foam, his has wrapped handlebars. He still has the bike and has replaced very few parts. He still tries to put on 15 miles every few days.
October 17, 2006. John from Mora, Montana acquired a Suteki that had been stored in a garage for 15 years. It looks just like the one in the photo with the exception of having taped handlebars rather than foam pads. John reports it has a very nice ride.
October 23, 2006. Maresnith from Decatur Ill. bought a blue Suteki with fenders from a bike shop. Bike's equipment is original with the exception of the seat. Another Suteki owner proud of their vintage bike.
December 16, 2006. Rodney in St. Louis Mo. bought a Suteki for $100 that appeared to have been stored since purchase in the 80's. The bike was in mint condition including tires and even had the original owner's manual.
March 26, 2007. Dennis in Denver, Co. bought his Suteki Track 10 at a garage sale eight years ago. It's still in great condition including the Panaracer tires.
July 19, 2007. Paul in Williamsburg, Va. Started riding his Suteki in San Jose, 22 years ago. He's ridden the bike through three moves, Davis, Ca, Richland Wa, and Williamsburg, Va. He plans to give the bike to a friend who needs a road bike.
July 23, 2007. Dennis in Albuquerque, NM. bought his and hers Sutekies from a Georgia Sears store in 1984. His wife's bike was stolen but he still rides his bike to work two or three times a week. The bike recently needed some chain ring repairs but should be back in service soon. Dennis tracks his riding using an Excel spreadsheet.
August 5, 2008. Thomas from Columbus Ohio turned 14 today. His dad gave him his 23 year old Suteki Track 10 to ride back and forth to school. The bike had sat unused for ten years. Thomas cleaned it up and is thrilled to put it back into service. Happy Birthday Thomas.
Sept. 17, 2007 Dan from Kansas City found a Suteki identical to the one pictured on Craig's list for $15. He's fixing it up and plans to keep it as stock as possible.
Oct. 10, 2007 Joseph in Litchfield, Conn. bought a Suteki similar to the one on this page at a church sale for $25. The bike was ready to ride but needs a little TLC. Joseph commented on the bike's great ride.
Oct. 25, 2007 Charlie in Columbus Ohio was given a Suteki from Columbus Freecycle. The bike needs a tune up and is a little rusty in places but was rideable. Charlie says he can already tell it will be a great ride.
February 2, 2008 Chris in Rome, GA bought a maroon Suteki from a friend for $50. The friend had bought the bike from Sears back in the 80's. The bike was delivered to the store without enough information to retail and was sold in-house.
March 3, 2008 Andrew in Tom's River, NJ bought a Suteki from Sears in the 1980's. The bike was in storage for 22 years and then Andrew took it down from the rafters in 2005. The bike is all still original equipment including the tires. Tom has put on only a few miles since that time. As he says, "Life gets in the way."
March 21, 2008, Tom in Durango Co. inherited a Suteki from his father while in Columbia Station OH. He hauled the bike with him to Durango, and with a small investment, got the bike rolling. Since that time he's added a computer, new grips, a new saddle and rear panniers.
May 1, 2008. Philippe in Montreal, Canada reports that he found a Suteki in the garbage. He's turned it into a fixed gear with 700 wheels. Very nice looking bike.
May 18, 2008. Rich from Van Nuys, CA found a Suteki in great condition on Denver Craigslist, and purchased it sight unseen. A vintage bike buff, he looks forward to picking up the bike to ride during a week long work trip coming up in June.
May 25, 2008. Isobel in Littleton Colorado was given a Suteki Grade 10 woman's bike. Cost will determine if she repairs it or trades it off.
May 27, 2008. Steven in Columbus Mississippi was given a Suteki three years ago by a neighbor who had planned to throw it away. Steven has been using the bike as a commuter with plans to upgrade to a high end touring/commuting bike when his budget allows.
June 15, 2008. Mark in Palatine, Ill. was given a Suteki purchased in a police auction. The bikes wheels and crank set were garbage but Mark hopes to restore the bike as a tourer, possibly with 700 wheels.
June 22, 2008 Danny in Birmingham, Al bought a Suteki Track 10 bike from someone who had moved to Birmingham from Michigan. After a year of riding, Danny's attempting to sell the bike on E-Bay. His asking price is $99.
June 23, 2008. Peter in Cambridge, Canada inherited a Suteki similar to mine from his great uncle who had escaped Hungary in the 1956 Revolution. The bike was in mint condition when he took possession. The bike sat unused for several seasons, however, Peter has become interested in Triathlons and the Suteki will most likely be his first ride.
June 24, 2008. Steve in Overland Park, KS has a Suteki that he bought in 1983 at Sears while he worked there. He still have the owners manual and receipt. Everything down to the tires on his bike is completely original and in perfect working condition. Steve sent a picture of his bike. It's in showroom mint condition.
June 25, 2008. Nathan in Moretown, VT came into possession of a Suteki, manual and all, that had its seat swapped to a massive gel seat and handlebars changed to a hybrid type. Nathan plans to remove those components, repair some of the cables and turn the bike back into a road warrior.
July 8, 2008. Scot in Wellsville, NY bought two Suteki bikes, a his and hers, for his wife and himself from the original owners for $100 for both. Both bikes were in mint condition and had been serviced two years ago. Scott said the bikes have a nice ride.
July 26, 2008. Andrew in Scotts Valley CA works at a bike shop. He turned a Suteki into, "A skidding all over town. The steel frame really helps me keep the wheels on the ground. It is so smooth and fast. The bike still has a number of stock parts. Ride it like you own it Andrew!
July 26, 2008. Portteus bought a Suteki new in 1981 for $249 less his employee discount. The bike was converted to a 12 speed with 700 wheels in '87 and ridden for another ten years then hung up in the barn. The bike has recently been cleaned up and is going back in service as a commuter in Hillsdale Michigan where Portteus's son will be riding five miles back and forth to the office.
August 30, 2008 Bryan in Jacksonville FL bought a Suteki off Craigslist to set up as a fixed gear. "I took it to Cycledelic Fixity, a fixed specialty shop here in Jacksonville. He customized a wheel set with white hubs and white Weinmann dp18s. He added yellow bar tape and a yellow chain. I was able to use the original crank and the Adamas pedals. Brooklyn even hit it with a coat of flat black paint and saved the Suteki head badge."
September 18, 2008 Stephen in Ridgecrest CA was given a Suteki by a friend of his son. The bike is similar to the one on the website but has a different handle bar style. The bike is equipped with fenders and a rear rack and is painted blue with red lettering with the Suteki badge on the steering post. The bike is still stock with the exception of the seat.
September 29, 2008 Mark in Bethel Park PA pulled his old Suteki out from under the steps to recondition because his stepdaughter wanted a bike. "When I told my new family about this bike they looked at me like I had some piece of junk from Japan. So I looked in the internet to prove them wrong and found your site. Other than the tires being flat, the bike is in perfect condition with all original parts. I purchased the bike around 1981 or 1982 from Sears and rode it quite a bit – until I started driving in college. It has followed me through 4 moves and 27 years and runs great!"
October 1, 2008 Paul in Austin TX bought a Suteki Track 10 for $60 on the Austin Craigslist. The bike needed new wheels and Paul's fitting some 700's on it. "Like you I'm kind of excited by this project. The old Japanese steel bikes are just so much fun to work with, and have such a great feel when you're riding. I haven't ridden this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it."
October 7, 2008 Justin in Dallas TX purchased, "a Suteki off of Craigslist for $120, spent a weekend cleaning the 30 years of grime off of it, put new cables on it, and have since put about 50 miles on it. It’s a great bike, and rides just awesome."
January 10, 2009 Joey bought a Suteki in Colorado Springs for $160. The bike has new handlebars but otherwise seems original. Joey has named the bile, "Suki."
February 7, 2009 Peter in Santa Cruz, CA bought his Suteki from the Bike Church, a local bike co-op in the summer of 2006. He's put about $65 in it and says it's fantastic.
February 22, 2009 Robert picked up a Suteki in St. Louis in the early 90's and has since moved to Corvallis, Oregon. The handle bars on the bike have been changed to cruiser style but otherwise the bike is similar to the one pictured.
March 15, 2009 Nathaniel in Biloxi Mississippi bought a Suteki Track 10 from someone that had just moved in from Seattle. The bike had been converted to a fixed gear. Nate's put on a hundred miles since purchasing.
May 27, 2009 Tommy bought his Suteki for $150 in 1985 from a friend in Milledgeville Georgia. He retired the bike years ago but was recently told by his doctor that cycling would be a good exercise for his knee rehabilitation. He checked out the prices of new bikes and then remembered the old, stashed away Suteki. It's at the bike shop in Warner Robins Georgia where he now lives, and will be road ready in a week.
May 30, 2009 Emmanuel in Montreal, Canada just purchased a Suteki hybrid for $140 Canadian. He states the bike is, "in really good shape, almost no rust on the frame. It's a beautiful green bike. The Shimano Skylark works like a charm, and I can go pretty fast with it. Seems rock solid."
June 15, 2009 Daniel in San Jose, CA bought a Suteki for $17 at a thrift store. Says he, "loves the bike." He also met another Suteki owner in San Jose.
June 29, 2009 Chuck in Kent Washington bought his Suteki new in 1981 from the Sears store in Colorado Springs for $150. The bike's traveled all over the world with him and he estimates from 1,000 to 3,000 miles riding per year. That's between 40 and 60,000 miles! Tires, seat, handlebar tape and pedals are new. The rest still original!
July 12, 2009 Carl in Neptune Beach Florida was given a maroon Suteki by a friend. He gets it out once a year about Tour De France time. This year he may keep it out a little longer, change the pedals and add some toe straps. Carl's contemplating the Neptune Beach to St. Augustine Charity Ride this year.
July 21, 2009 - Maki in Buffalo found a Suteki Mixte on E-Bay and is awaiting its delivery. He supplied me with the great Sears Catalogue scans above.
July 30, 2009 Matt in Detroit was given a frame for conversion to a single speed. When cleaning it up he discovered it to be a Suteki. The bike is now mango colored with lime green wheels.
August 26, 2009 Joey in Madawaska, New Brunswick found a Suteki mountain bike in a junk yard. Except for a few scratches and a rusted chain the bike works fine. Joey's fixing it up to ride the trails again.
September 5, 2009 Nathan in Vancover found a Suteki abandoned in a lot in back of his work. He's rebuilding it.
'September 22, 2009 Jon in Chelmsford MA. found a Suteki Track 10 in a scrap yard. Except for a few scratches the bike is in great shape.
October 5, 2009 Dave in Orlando bought a Suteki from Craigslist for $55. The bike just needed some normal maintenance. Dave likes the ride.
October 5, 2009 Abby in Raleigh NC just sold her Suteki after riding it for over 10 years. She and her husband bought the bike, used, as part of a pair in 1992 for $150.
November 13, 2009 Dan in Modesto California bought a Suteki mixte from Craig's List for $65. It was almost like new and the same brick color as the one on this page. He's fixing it up for his daughter.
December 12, 2009 Bill, a shop owner in Peekskill, NY just tuned up a Suteki mixte for a customer that bought it for $5 at a police auction. Bill states the bike looks like it was ridden less than 40 miles since purchased new. A few tiny scratches the only apparent nicks since off the showroom floor.
December 15, 2009 Kent in Brevard County, Fl. just bought his wife a Suteki mixte in for $40. Condition appears to be 7.5 out of 10. It will clean up to about an 8.5 when he gets done.
December 22, Les in Toronto, Ontario recently came into possession of a red Suteki 15 speed. He found her listed in an online classified ad for the low low price of $20. So far, he's upgraded the brakes to the more modern aero design and added a rack and some panniers. Awesome bike, rides like new.
December 23, 2009 Andy in Johnson City, Tennessee bought a Suteki bike at a garage sale for $10. He's going to go to repaint and replace some small components, and give it to his dad. It looked just like the original in the picture, a little cleaning up needed.
April 6, 2010 Debbie in Reading, MA is checking into reviving a Suteki her ex-husband gave her 15 years ago. The local bike shop quoted $90 to get it back on the road.