Nishiki Bikes Brand Guide and Overview
The Nishiki bike brand has a huge supply of high quality mountain bikes however before we dive into that we felt it was appropriate to give our readers an in depth history on Nishiki bikes. This storied brand of bikes has been around since the 1960’s and it is only right that we pay our respects to one of the most influential figures in the biking industry, Howard S. Cohen, one of the most important people in the Nishiki bike company.
The History of the Nishiki Bike Brand
Howie’s career in bicycles began when he was just a child when his parents, Leo Cohen Sr. and RosaBelle Cohen founded West Coast Cycle and moved to Los Angeles in 1946. This venture lead to the passion for cycling that Howie possessed throughout his entire life, and what he spent every day working on. When Howie’s father passed on in 1963 leadership of West Coast Supply Company was transferred to Howie who began a long search throughout the Japanese countryside looking for a high-quality bike manufacturer that could compete with the powerful biking companies of the United States and Europe. Eventually Howie settled on the production company Kawamura Cycles which had previously operated in the United States as well as mainland Japan.
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Growth of Nishiki
After partnering with Kawamura, Howie placed his initial bike order from the company and began marketing his new brand, American Eagle bikes, in the US. Although American Eagle was successful, some of Howies customers complained that using such an Americanized name for a Japanese produced bike was misleading which began a new search: this time for a name that would embody the history of the bike manufacturer in Japan. Looking for an easy to pronounce, yet authentic Japanese name, Howie, after holding a naming contest with the production workers in Japan, settled on the name we all know today Nishiki. Nishiki bikes would go on to become West Coast Cycles number one brand of bicycles and has been one of the bestselling brands in the United States and throughout the world ever since.
Howie’s Personal Brand Builds
As Howie’s personal brand and image grew so too did the reach of his bicycle brand’s like Nishiki bikes and the professional grade BMX bike’s that were produced by his manufacturer Kuwahara. These BMX’s bike had grown so large that Howie was approached by Universal Studios to use these bike in their upcoming Steven Spielberg movie, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. After some debate Howie agreed to allow his bikes to be used and thus the legend of the bike lover Howie Cohen grew ever larger. On what will be remembered as one of the saddest days in biking history, Howard “Howie” Cohen passed away on July 11, 2013 at the age of 74. Although it has been over eight years since the passing of one of the most influential people in the world of biking, Howie Cohen’s memory lives on through his beloved family, friends, and biking fans that he made during a lifetime of dedication to the sport.
This Nishiki bike brand guide is dedicated to Mr. Cohen because without people like him our team here at Mountain Bikes Lab would not be able to do what we love, ride mountain bikes. So to the great Howie Cohen where ever you may be, we’d like to say thank you for all that you did for the world of biking, and now let’s dive into some of our favorite Nishiki mountain bikes and give you some top of the line Nishiki bike reviews.
Reviews of the Best Nishiki Mountain Bikes
As with all of the bikes that we review, we have personally purchased and ridden all of the bikes in these Nishiki bike reviews and will do our best to give the most unbiased and objective view on all of the Nishiki mountain bikes.
Our Number 1: Nishiki Men’s Pueblos 26” Mountain Bike Review
Available in a range of frame sizes from 14” to 22”, the Nishiki Men’s Pueblo 26” mountain bike is the clear cut number one Nishiki mountain bike in our opinion. Our team was very impressed with its reasonable price, durable frame, and especially its comfortable and smooth riding characteristics. As with the GT Aggressor Pro, the Nishiki men’s pueblo is a Dick’s Sporting Goods exclusive mountain bike and as such it is held to a higher standard than your average big box mountain bike.
Throughout our time reviewing bikes sold at Dicks we have noticed that their quality is just better than what you might get for the same price elsewhere. This certainly has something to do with the fact that their in house bike mechanic will assemble and adjust your newly bought bike, however we believe that something else is at play as well. Nishiki is a high quality brand and we believe that Dicks simply sets a higher bar for the companies that wish to sell their bike at Dicks. This is a great thing because it allows us, and you, to ride high quality, yet affordable mountain bikes like the Nishiki men’s Pueblo.
We took this bike out for a few different test rides, however only two were on mountain trials. Throughout the city the Nishiki Pueblo performed admirably and the riding experience on flat, even terrain was excellent. However, taking the bike onto the trails of Southern California was a different story. While not terrible, we did have a couple issues that we ran into with the Nishiki men’s Pueblo mountain bike, but thankfully we were able to get them resolved. Our main issue with this mountain bike was the derailleur. Although Nishiki provides you with Shimano derailleurs they were not adjusted properly when we first took our bike out for a test ride. When riding on flat roads this was not an issue as evidenced by our successful urban experience, but after a couple trail rides we clearly noticed a difference in performance. The poor shifting we were experiencing was due to a front derailleur that had not been properly adjusted and was causing serious issues. The good this is that this problem has nothing to do with the actual Nishiki mountain bike and after bringing it back it for a tune up our problems were solved.
The Nishiki mens Pueblo is a great, affordable option for someone who is looking to get into mountain biking. It has everything that a beginner should be looking for from a sturdy and durable frame, to decently high quality components such as the Shimano derailleurs. Additionally, on both city streets and bumpy dirt trails the Nishiki men’s Pueblo’s suspension fork provided great resistance and support over rugged terrain. Overall we would give this bike a solid 8 out of 10 and would have given it a 9 if not for the slightly uncomfortable seat that come with the bike. This saddle of the Nishiki men’s pueblo mountain bike is certainly its least favorable attribute however after follow some of our tips on how to make you bike seat more comfortable we were able to remedy the issue with a high quality gel bike seat cover. We would recommend this bike to anyone looking for a multipurpose, entry level bike that can also function as an everyday bike for things such as leisure rides, or commutes.
Best Women’s: Nishiki Women’s Pueblo 26” Mountain Bike Review
Essentially the same as the Nishiki Men’s Pueblo 26” mountain bike, the Nishiki Women’s Pueblo 26’ mountain bike maintains all of the great features of the men’s version of this bike while changing just enough to accommodate the difference in body types between women and men. Generally women are shorter, and have a shorter reach than men, and because of this, when bike brands like Nishiki mountain bikes produce products that are designed for men, sometimes women get left out to dry. Thankfully for Nishiki mountain bikes this is not the case as they have designed a women’s pueblo mountain bike that has all the great features of the Nishiki men’s pueblo but is purposefully build to better suit a women’s body type. Our female lead editor Jane has been mountain biking for over 10 years and will be giving you her opinion on the Nishiki women’s pueblo 26” mountain bike throughout the rest of this Nishiki mountain bike review.
In my ten years of riding mountain bikes things have changed dramatically, just as they have in almost every area of the world. Traditionally mountain biking has be a sport reserved for men but clearly this stigma is one of the past. However, up until recently there had not been a concerted effort to specifically accommodate women riders. There were mountain bikes for men, and for children, and unisex bike that were a sort of in between mountain bike. Thankfully though, companies like Nishiki mountain bikes are changing that and making two versions of their most popular and successful bikes.
The Nishiki women’s pueblo 26” mountain bike follows the same blueprint as the men’s version but is built on a smaller frame, with options coming in at 13”, 15”, and 17”, but this is not the only difference. While having a smaller frame is great, how that frame is designed is also very important. The frame on the Nishiki women’s pueblo mountain bike has a shorter stack height to accommodate women’s on average shorter height, and it has a shorter reach length to accommodate our shorter arms. If you would like to read more about the differences between men and women’s bike this article written by REI is very informative. All together this make for a much more comfortable riding experience. As with the Nishiki men’s pueblo mountain bike, the Nishiki women’s mountain bike came with a somewhat uncomfortable seat, however after adding a high quality gel bike seat cover I was much more comfortable.
Overall I would give this bike an 8 out of 10, the same score as the Nishiki men’s pueblo mountain bike. Both of these bikes are identical in nearly every aspect and so it would make sense that we would give them both the same good, but not excellent score. As with the Nishiki men’s pueblo mountain bike the Nishiki women’s Pueblo mountain bike’s score is brought down due to the uncomfortable seat which we needed to adjust ourselves. Some people prefer a more sturdy mountain bike saddle but here at mountain bikes lab, especially when we are riding a more entry level bike on less technical trails, prefer a very cushioned mountain bike saddle.
Best for Kids: Nishiki Boy’s Pueblo 24” Mountain Bike Review
Another Nishiki Pueblo, I think you guys are getting the picture here. The Nishiki Pueblo is the number one bike for every facet of Nishiki mountain bikes, whether it is for women, men, or kids, the Nishiki Pueblo is the best that they offer. While our normal business does not usually allow us to review kids bikes in depth, whenever we do a brand guide like this Nishiki Mountain bike guide, we try to review at least one kids bike so that you have a better sense of what you might be getting for you child.
I recently purchased the Nishiki boy’s Pueblo 24” mountain bike for my 11 year old son. He has recently outgrown his old 20” mountain bike as we thought, if we’re going to be doing a Nishiki mountain bike guide might as well get a child’s opinion of their kid bike. Obviously our team did a full overview of the technical side of the bike, including its drivetrain, brakes, and gears, but the rest of this review will come in part from my son’s experience riding the Nishiki boys pueblo mountain bike around our neighborhood, and on some very beginner off road trails. After our team and I talked with my son we get a good understanding of how he felt about the Nishiki Pueblo, and those feelings, written by me, are what you will read next.
This is my sons new favorite bike, he is 4’ 8.5” (he insisted I say 8.5”) tall, and 11 years old, and has just out grown his old 20” bike. This new 24” bike fits him perfectly and has been a great upgrade for him to grow into. His favorite part of the bike was that it felt easy to pedal. The Nishiki boy’s Pueblo has 7 speeds and for him this was the perfect amount. Not so many that he felt overwhelmed about what to choose and having to constantly change speeds, but also enough that he could change the pedal resistance and really learn how and when to change gears while riding. His least favorite part of the Nishiki Pueblo was the times when he could not ride it. Like most kids bikes the Nishiki Pueblo is not the most high quality bike in the world as children grow quickly and often outgrow their bikes, sometimes in less than six months. Because of this children’s bikes are not made to last a very long time and the same is true for the Nishiki Pueblo. There were a few times where I had to bring the bike into my shop to tighten the handlebars or adjust the pedals. These are not major issues, and something that you would almost certainly have to deal with on any kid’s bike but it should be noted that you will most likely have to make a few adjustments to the bike it you child rides it frequently.
Overall we would give this bike a 8.25 out of 10. It is a high quality children’s bike and for the price you are paying there are not many better options out there. Obviously you could go for an extremely high end kids bike but in our opinion, unless money is no object there is no real reason to spend more than $300 on a kids bike. They grow quickly and are far less picky when it comes to the quality of their bikes as opposed to adults. This bike is safe, durable, and performs well, which is all you can really ask for in a child’s bike.
The Runner Up: Nishiki Tamarack Comfort Bike Review
Our first and only non-Pueblo Nishiki mountain bike in our Nishiki mountain bike brand guide, the Nishiki Tamarack is, in our opinion, the only viable bike in Nishiki’s lineup outside of the Pueblo that you would want to invest in. Although they have a few other mountain bike you can find other brand that are better in terms of quality and price, however the Nishiki Tamarack is still better than a majority of bike that you can find in this price range. The Nishiki Tamarack comfort bike is not really a mountain bike and although that is not usually the type of bike that we review here, we figured it would be worthwhile to our readers to include this in our Nishiki bike overview.
Although the Nishiki Tamarack comfort bike does have suspension we would argue that this bike should only be ridden on gentle trails. Combined with the comfortable gel bike seat, the Nishiki Tamarack is clearly designed for more leisure riding as opposed to off road mountain bike trails. We took the Tamarack out to test ride through our city and as an urban commuter bike the Nishiki tamarack comfort bike performed admirably. Its seat was very plush and supportive unlike the Nishiki pueblo, and although the suspension was not as great as other mountain bikes it was more than sufficient to handle the small terrain that we encountered in our city ride. We did also take the Nishiki Tamarack comfort bike out onto a local beginner mountain bike trail however our experience was not great. The suspension is not enough to handle decent terrain and although the bike is durable the riding experience when on more rugged trails just doesn’t feel right. We felt a bit out of control while going downhill and it simply took too much effort to make it up hills. This is not the end of the world for the Nishiki Tamarack comfort bike however as it was not designed to be a high performance mountain bike.
Our team would give the Nishiki Tamarack comfort bike a solid 7.5 out of 10, which is a decent score for an entry level bike that costs less than $300. It has a sturdy frame, is comfortable to ride, and smooth while going across relatively flat surfaces. Additionally, although the brakes are pull brakes rather than disc brakes they do have decent stopping power and are more than enough for casual riding. We would recommend this bike to anyone looking for an entry level budget bike that still will last you a long time. The Nishiki tamarack comfort bikes can work well when used correctly, however it does not have the versatility that some other entry level bikes do.
Our Final Thoughts on Howie Cohen and Nishiki Mountain Bikes
As we were doing research on the history of Nishiki mountain bikes and Howie Cohen we learned a great deal about the man who inspired so many people in the world of mountain biking. Of course Howie Cohen was known to us long before we decided to do a review of his Nishiki mountain bike brand, however there was so much more to this great man than we could have ever imagined. A story of a family growing up during the Great Depression, moving to Los Angeles and making a living selling bikes is not often a story that ends with your bikes being included in one of the most famous movies of all time, but that was the power of Howie Cohen. He was a man obsessed with the thing he loved: biking; and because of that love and dedication he was able to grow a brand that has survived the test of time and has become one of the most well-known names in the world of mountain biking.
Although this article is titled Nishiki Bikes, brand guide and overview, it really is our way of saying thank you to Mr. Howard Cohen. You inspired multiple generations of mountain bikers and if this article, which was made possible by your dedication to your craft could inspire just one person to take up biking than we will be so thankful for what you and others in the world of biking have allowed us to do. We hope you enjoyed this overview of Nishiki mountain bikes and as always if there is something specific that you would like up to review next please leave a comment down below and we will get to it as soon as possible!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Nishiki a good mountain bike brand?
Nishiki has been a high quality, entry level mountain bike brand for many years and are known throughout the world for their affordable, yet high performing mountain bikes.
Are Nishiki mountain bikes made in the USA?
No, Nishiki mountain bikes were first marketed in the US in the 1960’s after Howie Cohen traveled to Japan in search of high quality, but affordable bike producers that could compete with European bike manufacturers. Nishiki mountain bikes have been sold in the US ever since but have never been made here.
What is the best Nishiki mountain bike?
In our professional opinion the absolute best Nishiki mountain bike is the Nishiki men’s Pueblo 26” mountain bike, which tied at the top with the Nishiki women’s Pueblo 26” mountain bike. Both these bikes are high quality entry level mountain bikes that are great for someone looking for a bike to get them into the world of mountain biking at a reasonable price point.
History of Nishiki mountain bikes: https://www.bicycleretailer.com/north-america/2013/07/12/beloved-industry-figure-howie-cohen-74-dies#.YRwhS9NKjGI
Difference between Men’s and Women’s Mountain Bikes: https://www.rei.com/blog/cycle/whats-the-difference-between-womens-and-mens-bikes
Nishiki mountain bikes, Howie Cohen, and E.T the Extra Terrestrial: https://narrativelyny.medium.com/the-bmx-boys-of-e-t-f4981e8debb3