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.