Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stained Glass Bicycle Wheel #2

Last summer I took my Nono (Grandfather) another wheel.  It is a coveted 40 hole Ukai touring rim from the 80's.  I really wanted to be able to keep using it on my bicycle, but the sidewalls are pretty worn, and it really needed to be replaced.  Again, like the other gold Ukai, I didn't want to just trash it.

I didn't specify any design this time.  My Nono designed this one himself.  I really like how he did the solder circles, and I like the colors and shapes he made with the glass.

The other one is hanging in the kitchen window, and I'm not sure where to put this one yet.  I can interchange them, but I really want to have them both displayed at the same time.  Maybe I'll be able to come up with some kind of stand or mount for it.

Now that I have two stained glass bicycle wheels, I suppose I'll have to make a stained glass bicycle frame to go with it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Night Rider

No, my bicycle isn't named Kitt, and it doesn't talk to me and drive itself.  I had to ride home in the dark tonight, about 12 miles.  First, let me be honest.  I'm not such a hard core cyclist that you might think I am.  I don't really enjoy riding in the dark.  I've heard that statistically most cyclists are hit by motor vehicles at night.  That scares me.  But at least I had a good companion during my whole ride home.  Can you guess what it might have been?

But there are steps we can take to try and lessen the chances of being in an accident.  I have reflective stickers on the back of my helmet.  I have reflective materialNathan Tri Color Vest (Google Affiliate Ad) on my jacket, including the arms so that it will reflect if I want to show that I'm making a turn.  I have a white lighT on my handle bars as well as on my helmet so I can see and be seen.  I have rear red lights, multiple ones which are very bright.  One will not suffice most likely, and some are not bright enough.  Then I have my Road ID little blinky light, which I put on my helmet, hanging next to my left ear.  I am happy to report that tonight drivers passed me giving me plenty of room.  They would slow down as they approached me, and take their time as they passed.  I was definitely seen.

There are otHer potential problems that I consider and try to prepare for as well.  Like dogs.  I hate dogs.  I mean, I'll pet them if I'm at a friends house, or see one in the neighborhood.  But when I'm on a bike, dogs will never be my friend.  I'm always on the lookout, and listening for the charge.  So I carry dog mace with me just in case there is an extra crazy one out there waiting for me.  The darkness would make a dog encountEr worse.  I don't want to be fumbling through a dark bag looking for the mace if I really needed it.

The fact that it is night time makes everything seem a little more trepidacious.  The air feels different, more threatening.  The trees look different, more scary.  The land is more Mysterious.  Strangers seem stranger. I guess another thing for me that adds to that trepidacious feeling is the fact that we are out in the open.  Our bOdies I mean.  There is no protection between us and everything around us.  If we're hit, we're going down hard.  Somebody could chase us in the car, try to kidnap us, shoot us, beat us up.  We're more vulnerable that way.  One thing I did to help alleviate some of these feelings for myself was sing one of the songs I was just singing in the Music Together class I had just finished leading.  Shenendoah.  What a beautiful song.  I sang as loudly as I wanted.  It didn't matter if anyone heard me.  They would never have any idea who I am.  It doesn't matter if they didn't like my voice. They would never hear it again.  That sOng was comforting, to hear it, to feel it in my chest and head.  It took away the darkness of the night.

I did ask friends if they could pick me up, but they couldn't.  Our car is in the shop, and I can't get it until tomorrow.  I HAD to go teach the Music Together class.  Thankfully, the weather was good.  Better than good in fact.  It really was a gorgeous day and evening.  The sky was bright and clear, and the evening air was comfortable, even going dowNhill.  The route I chose was a good one, and that was confirmed when I saw the road paint markings put there by the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia.  I was on one of their routes.  That's a good sign.

It turns out I'm glad I did the ride instead of being driven home in a car.  It turns out my fears of the unknown were all for naught.... this time.  I still don't recommend riding at night if you don't have to, and I'm not going to start going out doing it on purpose.  Did you guess my companion that was with me for the whole ride?  It is a full moon this Monday, so it is over half full now.  It was clear and in full view the whole way home.  Thank you moon for staying with me, and good night moon.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How Far for Fuji?

70 miles.  That is how far I drove today to pick up my latest Fuji acquisition.  I found it on craigslist the other day, for $30.  That is how much the seller paid for it, but he has too many other bike projects going that he is  letting this one go.  He bought it from a woman, the original owner, who bought it about 30 years ago, rode it a few times, then put it away in the garage or basement.  As you can see, it is the Cambridge III model.  A very worthy 3 speed that is good for getting around town, doing grocery shopping, pretty much anything you want to do.  Although, our town is kind of hilly, so the 3 speed may be an issue and have to be changed at some point to acquire lower gears.

Why did I drive so far just for an old fuji bike, especially with my two young children in tow?  I don't know.  That is part of the reason I named this blog Fuji CRAZY.  Something compelled me to go ahead and get this, to take the drive even though it was far away.  I could have gotten a flat tire, gotten into an accident in an unfamiliar town, with two young kids.  Who would I have called for help?  What would we have done?  But I didn't care.  I HAD to go get this crazy fuji.  It's just a bike, right!?  Why do I need it!?  What's going to happen to it now that I have it?  Am I going to give it away to a friend, like I've done with many fujis before?  Will I actually keep it for years like I think I might, for my daughters to ride when they are tall enough?  Will my wife actually ever ride it sometimes, instead of her Schwinn (which she loves because of its burnt orange color) and condone even more this crazy fujiness, Fuji craziness of mine?

Only time will tell, and now that this fuji is safe and sound in my possession (and we are safe and sound back home) I don't regret the trip at all.  I think it will prove to be well worth the effort.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fighting for Bicyclists Rights in Hong Kong

Hey!  Check out this brief news story about cycling in Hong Kong.  Two of the friends I met when I was there in March 2011 are featured, Will Soo and Martin Turner!  They're working hard to promote a better cycling life in Hong Kong....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fujita Racket Holder

I was recently in Madison, Wisconsin, and I had the opportunity to visit in person a bike shop that has been useful to me in the past.  Yellow Jersey has been around since 1971, and they are the kind of shop that has that special obscure thing you didn't know you've been looking for.  They are conveniently located in the 400 block of State Street, the hotspot of 'Mad City.'  What they helped me with in the past was to understand better how my Suntour Winner Pro freewheels work.  With a useful Suntour brochure from Yellow Jersey, I was able to remove and redo my cogs to get a better set up for my style of riding.

I was hoping to find something more specific to vintage Fuji while I was there, but I didn't.  1971 was in fact the year that Fuji began importing their bikes into the U.S. market (I think).  But I don't know if  Yellow Jersey was a Fuji dealer or not.

I walked into the shop slowly, and began perusing from the front corner.  I went through at least twice to be sure that I didn't miss something tucked away in a corner (although I probably did).  That is how I found the Fujita Racket Holder.  It was behind the checkout desk tucked back by the wall among lighting gear.  I didn't know something like this existed.  I probably won't be using it for my tennis racket very often, but I look forward to finding other items with which to utilize it.  One friend suggested using it for my rocket launcher!  I guess this would be called the Fujita 'Rocket' Holder then.  Well, I don't own a rocket launcher, but maybe I will soon.  It has run through your mind now too, right?  James Bond?  Riding his custom Fuji Bicycle with a custom rocket launcher.  Where would the button be to launch it?  On the handlebars?  Maybe it would be voice activated.  Mr. Bond would just have to casually say, "Fuji Away" or something profound like that, and the bad guy wouldn't know what hit him.

The picture above of the bicycle sporting the racket holder is in fact a Fuji.  It is a mixtie frame, a S-12-S it looks like.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What Would it be Like for Bicyclists... in 'Opposite World?'

  • People would be surprised if you drove your car to work.
  • The average speed of vehicles on the road would be 10-12mph.
  • The League of American Car Drivers would lobby every year for more car lanes and car specific infrastructure.
  • The annual death toll of cyclists would probably be zero.
  • There would always be a secure place to park your bike.
  • Talk about gear ratios would just be simple chit chat.
  • Not only could we ride two abreast, but we could ride three or even four abreast.
  • Everyone would have a true sense of how far one mile really is.
  • Instead of smelling gas fumes on our morning commute, we would be smelling fresh air, the flowers, bread baking, each others cologne or perfume....
  • We would never be run off the road or relegated to riding in the gutter.
  • People would wonder if it was legal to drive a car in the road.
  • Some would drive their cars on the sidewalk for fear of being in the road with bikes.
  • Instead of hearing blaring horns and cussing, we would just hear the delightful dings of bicycle bells and gracious 'hellos' as we pass each other.
Do you have any thoughts about what it might be like for bicyclists in 'Opposite World?'

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fuji Bedford Makeover

I acquired this bike for free a few years ago from my friend Charles when we lived in Virginia.  My Fuji Bedford 3-speed is now a 5-speed.  I've had this plan in mind for a while now, and it has finally come to pass.  I wanted to change the steel wheels that this bike came with for aluminum ones to help with braking in wet weather, and to lessen some of the weight.  I also wanted more gear options to help with the hills around my local area.  This bike is supposed to be a joy to ride, but with the limited gearing, it was not fun!

I learned something new by going through this process.  Bikes are always teaching me something!  I learned that just because two wheels say they are 26" does not mean they are actually the same size.  The width given makes a difference in their diameter.  The steel wheels that were on it originally were size 26 x 1 1/4.  The beautiful gold ukais you see on it now are 26 x 2.125.  Well, the ukais have a bit of a smaller diameter.  That changed everything!  Again, Alan of Alan's Bicycles in Phoenixville, Pa helped me solve these issues.

 One, it lowered my brake reach, so I could not simply re-use the original calipers.  My brake reach measurement became 82mm!  We had to find and purchase the Odyssey BMX brakes with a super long reach.  Thankfully they weren't too expensive.  

Two, it also lowered the bottom bracket.  Thankfully this did not pose a real problem.  It originally had 165mm steel cottered cranks, but I changed them to a 170mm cotterless aluminum crank.  Even though the bottom bracket is lower and the crank is a bit longer, the pedals are still high enough off the ground to work.  

Three, the chainline changed due to using a different bottom bracket.  Thankfully I was able to use some adjustable bottom bracket cups from a different fuji frame with a 109mm suntour sprint spindle I bought a while back.  I was pleasantly surprised that it worked.  

I put a 42 tooth chainring on the front with a 14-32 cog on the back.  This gives me a nice low gear to work with, and a little bit of umph on the top end range.  I don't need to be going super fast on this bike.  It is not for distance riding.  It is just for riding around town a bit and having fun, the kind of riding we do when we're kids!  

I was disappointed to learn that this Fuji was made in Taiwan in the mid-80's,  a time when the factories in Japan were still running.  You can see that the quality of build is not quite the same as those made in Japan at the time.  Maybe at some point I will get a better quality Fuji cruiser type bike, but in the meantime this will have to suffice.  I'll probably end up loving it.  Replacing all of the steel parts has made it much lighter.  I now have a cruiser with bmx brakes and mountain bike wheels.  Although I will not be using it to race or ride single track, I am looking forward to riding it often, and enjoying it!

Hsin Lung stem
V.C. nylon saddle (made in taiwan)
Suntour ratchet thumb shifter
Suntour Cyclone crank
Ukai gold clincher rims 26 x 2.125
SR gold hubs
Shimano freewheel 14-32
Dia compe brake levers
Odyssey 1999 bmx brake calipers
Fuji vx rear derailleur (made by Suntour)
Seagull Bell

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why do People Like Vintage Fuji?

The title of this post was in my blog stats under the google searches that lead someone to my page.  I thought that was an interesting phrase to search, and I thought I might try to answer the question.

First and foremost (to take a phrase that Fuji used in their advertisements back in the day), vintage Fuji bicycles are quality.  Simply put, they were made well.  The frames were not too heavy.  The componentry they put on the bikes was quality too, and reliable.   Along with their quality, they were affordable.  By the way, Vintage Fuji refers to those that were made in Japan, when it was still a Japanese Company.  This changed in the mid-90's.

They have a nice aesthetic.  They look good!  The logos and design put into them is very appealing to the eye.  Strangers have noticed my vintage Fuji bikes when I've been out and about.

They ride well.  They absorb road vibration.  It just feels good to be on them.

They're fun.  Hey, it's a bike!  Bikes are fun (whether they say Fuji or not).   But the fact that they do say Fuji makes it a bit more fun and interesting, knowing that you are riding a quality piece of craftsmanship that began its life halfway across the globe.

With that in mind, the bikes themselves are 'worldly.'  The marketing gurus gave them names such as 'Bedford,' 'Cambridge III (and VI),' 'Touring Series IV,' 'Opus III,' 'Sagres,' 'Ecco,' 'Palisades,' 'Odessa,' 'Monterey,' 'Del Rey,' and I can go on and on and on.....  You'll just have to take a look at to see the rest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fuji Bikes in the Bikecentennial Ride?

How many of these Fuji (now vintage) bikes rode in the Bikecentennial ride across this great country of ours?  I know of at least one.  

Do you know anyone who rode their bike in this special event?  Did YOU ride your bike in it?  Was it a fuji?  Let me know!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Letter to Car Drivers #1

When I have signaled that I will be turning right at an upcoming road, and the road is pretty close, please DO NOT pass me and then make the turn in front of me; especially when I am pulling my children behind me in the trailer.  

If you do that, and the timing of our speed is off, or you misjudge distance, or unwittingly push me into a ditch or some bad part of the roadway that you did not notice, we could get hurt.  
Also, if you take the turn a bit wider to accomodate me, thinking you are helping to keep me safe, you may find yourself in an accident with another car coming toward you that you didn't notice.

All you have to do is, WAIT A FEW SECONDS for me to make the turn, take the turn in line behind me, then when it is safe to pass, do so.