Saturday, January 16, 2016

Welcome addition!

I've added derailleurs, switched to 700c wheels with studded tires, installed fenders
and a front rack and moved the handlebar set up from my old Fuji

I recently bought a "new" bike, somewhat furtively, while we were down on Cape Cod for the holiday. The bike in question was a somewhat neglected but fully serviceable Fuji S12-s. This bike is not unlike legions of other better-quality early '80's Japanese bicycles; it's magic lies in the fact that the bike is an excellent candidate to convert to a 650b wheel size. Making this conversion allows for a number of benefits: bigger low-pressure tires resulting in a gentler ride, more room for full coverage fenders, and maximizing the benefits of a low-trail "Frenchified" touring bike. 

Test fit of 42mm 650b wheel proves to be an excellent arrangement. The rear has a similarly ample fit

Nancy contends I got ripped off, but the $110 I spent to buy a bike I only really wanted for the frame and a few of the parts still feels like it was worth it. It wasn't until I had already made the deal and got it back to the house that I was able to fully test out it's suitability for fitting large diameter 650b tires. It passed with flying colors! In fact, now that I have it and I've had a chance to test out the proof of concept, I feel even better about having spent the money. Later I discovered that my pal Geoff in Boston has the same frame, although his is the slightly lighter "LTD" version. 

This is the bike as it was when I bought it: set up as a single speed

My current vision is to ride it in the short term as a 700c winter commuter with studded tires, which is how I currently have the bike set up.  (My winter commuter up til now has been Nancy's old Serrota mountain bike, which was fun, but not at all a bike that moves, at least the way I had it configured.) With temperatures in the upper 30's today I rode my first shakedown of the Fuji to feel it out and it was wonderful, despite the studded tires. 

Riding on icy ugly January roads

Mind you, this is not the first ancient Fuji I've invested myself in. My brother-in-law Randy long ago tipped me off about a Fuji Touring Series IV at a yard sale. I invested a lot in that bike and it saw me through years of touring, commuting, and my entry into the world of randonneuring. It was a great step forward from whatever bike I was riding before that. Although a great bike, it was limited by the fact that it was a cantilever set up with 27" wheels and that means limited choices on tires.

In retrospect, I spent to much mental energy wanting the Touring Series IV to be something it wasn't and that's why this new frame feels like such a revelation: with minimal effort I have a solid, adaptable frame to fit in where I want to leave the Stag for lighter duties.  I have visions of doing a few frame modifications (routing for lighting wires and mid-fork rack mounts) and then getting the frame cleaned up and powder coated for a new lease on life. I see it as a workhorse, touring rig, and winter commuter, leaving the Stag less encumbered for randonneuring and fair weather riding.  I'm also excited to talk to that Waxwing Bag Co. guy about a set of touring panniers for this rig ;)

I guess I should mention too that I really like it's color arrangement; a sort of deep metallic blue with silver details, including chromed "socks" at the bottom of the front fork. 

Its a keeper.