Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Start of Fuji Crazy

1984 Fuji Touring Series IV

1977 Fuji Sports 10

1985 Fuji Bedford 3-speed

The ebay photo of the 2005 Fuji Royale

2005 Fuji Cross Comp

The ebay photo of the 1985 Fuji Opus III

While I'm having these memories of my bicycle past, I realized I've never talked about how this fuji craziness began for me.  I haven't really even thought about it until now.  I'm not sure if it began with the 1977 fuji sports 10 frame that I found September of 2006 in the Charlottesville Community Bike Shop and subsequently stripped bare to rebuild, or if it began with the 1985 fuji opus iii I found on ebay in December of 2007, which I consider a beautiful gift, and for which I had to rebuild the wheels.  I think when you put alot of work into anything it has a tendency to become a part of who you are. 

The Sports 10 was hanging from a hook like a piece of meat in the 'old space' of the community shop when I found it on my first visit there.  I took it down, stripped off all the parts, and took the frame home to paint it.  I really shouldn't have done that, but I didn't like the way the rust spots looked.  My paint job didn't make it look any better though!  Anyway, I built it back up so that I could learn the mechanics of a bicycle.  Then I proceeded to ride it, though I didn't realize it was way too small for me.  I actually went on a 30 mile ride with it that was torture on my neck and shoulders.  It was during the time that I was rebuilding the parts onto the bike that something about the name 'fuji' began to appeal to me.  I really liked the way it looked on the seat tube, and the way they painted the shadows of the letters behind them.  I guess I got curious enough about fuji bikes that I began looking for more information about them.  

That must be what led me to discover the Opus.  I didn't go out searching for another bike, but when I saw the picture of it on ebay something was speaking to me.  I decided to bid on it.  I forget the details of how much the bidding started and if anyone else bid on it or not, but I was the winner at $63.  Shipping however was a different story.  The person selling it did not want to mess with taking it apart or anything like that, so we discussed the best options for getting it to me.  She fed-ex'd it, and had them box it tri bars and all.  The shipping cost was $179.  Given the total cost it was still a steal (no pun intended, 'steel'... get it?).  It wasn't long after I received the bike that I attended a swap meet in Westminster, MD where I met a fellow who used to race the Opus back in the day.  I told him the story, and he agreed that I got a great deal.  The day in December 2007 that the bike arrived at my house was very exciting.  I saw the truck pull up, and knew it was here.  I met the driver in the street, and helped him unload this huge (but very light!) box from the back.  We put it on my front porch where I proceeded to break into it with the anticipation of Ralphie in A Christmas Story when he finally got his Red Ryder bb gun.  As piece by piece was revealed (there was ALOT of tape) I knew it was something even more special than I had realized.  The componentry was high quality (superbe pro stuff).  The condition was very good for its age.  I began wondering immediately who the person was who used to ride it.  Did they race?  Did they just ride for their own fitness?  Was a time trial their last ride?   When I finally got it completely out of the boxes, I took it for a little ride up the street.  Twang, twang!  The spokes of the rear wheel started breaking!  After a feeling of initial disappointment I realized that it was time for me to learn some new mechanical skills, and I decided to rebuild the wheels myself.  I had learned enough at that point to know that the hubs were quality and I could still use them.  With the help of my friend Ken, who at the time owned a great classic/vintage bike shop in town called Syklo, I learned how to lace my own wheels.  Then I started learning about other things regarding bicycles, like proper fitting.  I didn't realize it when I bid on the Opus, but it is actually the perfect size for me, 55cm.  It feels like an extension of my body when I'm on it.  It took a long time before it was ready to ride.  In fact, over a year.  I'm a full time Dad, and my first child had just been born when I got the Opus.  I stared at it for months as I found the time to build the wheels to make it rideable.  Then I had to wait through another winter during which time I had to search for and acquire larger suntour winner pro cogs to accomodate the hills of central Virginia.  It had initially come with a 13-18 straight block.  That would have killed me if I tried to ride with that high of a gearing.  The day finally came that it was ready to take out on the road.  It was in the spring of 2009.  Later that summer I volunteered again riding with the Boys and Girls Club cycling challenge team, and then got to finish out the challenge by actually being one of the main coaches for the team.  I had never had the feeling of a perfectly fitted bike before riding the Opus.  It bullets down hills.  It feels very sturdy and solid.  It feels light as a cloud when I'm climbing up hills.  It really is a gift.

Maybe that's why I'm so fuji crazy.  These fujis I have all feel like they have been gifts to me.  

It hasn't always been the vintage ones.  I guess that has become a choice of mine, to stay focused on them.  (I just like the aesthetics of them better.)  But when I bought my first expensive bike after getting into all of this cycling stuff, it happened to be a fuji as well.  It was a 2005 Fuji Cross Comp.  I bought it from my local Performance Bike Shop.  I went in one week and it stood out on the rack.  It wasn't in the shop previously because an out of town customer had it on layaway, but then changed his mind.  They put it back on the floor at a discounted price.  I rode it around the parking lot, and felt pretty good on it.  I had decided already that a cross bike would be for me due to its versatility.  I didn't really know what kind of riding I was going to be doing.  I was so excited about getting a new bike and really wanted to get riding so I bought it.  I sold it so that I could get my 1984 Fuji Touring Series IV.  It was a clean swap.

The touring fuji was at my friend Ken's shop Syklo.  I noticed it one day when he showed me the upstairs.  He had been trying to make it fit and work for him, but was running into issues here and there.  I expressed interest in buying it, and when the time came that he was ready to let go of it, he let me know.  Again, the way it all worked out, it felt like another fuji gift had been given to me.  It is the same size as the Opus.  Those bikes are like brothers.  

I got another Fuji bike from Syklo, the 1985 Fuji Bedford 3-speed.  However at that time Ken had sold the shop to our friend Charles, who also did a lot of work through the community shop.  He traded it to me for a couple of Motobecanes.  He's really into French bikes so it was a good deal for both of us.  One day I had the Bedford stolen off the back of my car in plain sight.  I didn't see it happen, but I did see the kid on my bike just after he took it.  I happened to know one of them involved though he didn't realize it was my bike that they stole.  After coercing the police to actually help me, I did get it back late that night, and in a year I had the opportunity to meet those boys and their parents to discuss how their actions had affected me.  I hope from following through with a course of action with them to make them accountable helps them to think again before stealing anymore.  

Another modern fuji I have is a 2005 Royale from their Sforza line of that year.  It was another ebay purchase.  The seller had put her phone number on the ad.  I knew I couldn't get it if it went higher than the starting bid ($200), so I called her and asked if I could pick it up at the starting bid price if no-one else bid on it.  (It was located 2 hours from me.)  She said yes.  I watched the ad for the next 4 days, and NOBODY bid!  I couldn't believe it.  As far as I could tell it looked like a sweet deal.  How could anyone miss it.  It was a sweet deal.  The bike was only two years old, and new it sold for $1000 (due to the carbon fork and seat stays).  I did go get it.  Right now it is on loan to a good friend.  

Maybe it is the experiences I've had with these fuji bikes, and the connections I've made to other people through them that makes me fuji crazy?

Well, I could go on and on with fuji stories.  I don't think there is a definitive answer to why I'm now so fuji crazy.  The word itself even appeals to me.  My favorite apple is the fuji apple.  It really isn't just because it is fuji.  It is because I like their flavor and crispness compared to other apples.  It is something that just happens to be.  It is part of who I am.  I think Mount Fuji is beautiful (along with millions of other people).   I love that something so majestic and beautiful was chosen as the logo for a bike.  These fuji bike experiences have just happened.  I didn't make them happen.  That is what makes them special.  They just are.  I guess I am fuji crazy because fuji bikes themselves have become just part of who I am.  It just is.


thomas said...

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Fuji.
What's Fuji? it is nor bell, nor bar,
Nor crank, nor wheel, nor any other part
Belonging to a bike. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Fuji would, were it not Fuji call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which it owes
Without that title. Fuji, doff thy head-badge,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Matteo said...


Stephen Bryne said...

Hey, I recently picked up an 1984 Opus III. I had one previously and really liked it. Can you tell me what the seatpost diameter is?

Matteo said...

Stephen, my wonderful Fuji Friends helped you out on this. The seat post diameter is 26.6. Have fun riding it!