Recently picked up a 1981 Fuji Gran Tourer SE. The original owner claimed to have only ridden it once, then laid it up in the attic. It is 100% original. The original chrome spoke protector isn't installed in this picture, but is in a box nearby. That is an early Blackburn rack, marked "Jim Blackburn".
This is exactly the sort of bike I wouldn't have been caught dead riding back when it was new and I was a young Europhilic snob. Safety levers, stem shifters, it has many appalling features. But time is a rider that breaks us all, and something in this bike spoke to me
This Gran Tourer is constructed of chromoly steel. The earlier ones in the 70's were hi-ten steel, this is a significant upgrade. Several years later, Fuji moved to Valite tubing for their midlevel bikes. Opinions vary on the merits of this versus chromoly. Valite is denser than chromoly, but most of the Valite tubesets are butted, whereas the chromoly tubesets on early 80's midlevel Fujis are typically straight gauge. So, its a wash, perhaps.
An easy way to identify hi-ten or cromoly Gran Tourers at a glance is the model name "Gran Tourer" on the downtube. If it is in large, white block letters, as is this one, it is cromoly. If it is in dark, finer cursive script, then it is hi-ten. That's been true of all the examples I've seen.
While you're at it, check out the vaguely French headset and the lug pinstriping - very classic elements.
Vintage Fujis are unashamedly Japanese. While many other Japanese marques adopted western names or others meaningless to Americans - what is a "Nishiki" - Fuji was pretty out front with a name that is the national symbol of Japan and a Rising Sun logo on the headstock. This, in the early 80's, when Americans were being laid off across the nation and the Japanese economic juggernaut seemed unstoppable.
Componentry is sourced from Suntour, Dia Compe, Sanshin, Sugino axis, not a bit of Shimano to be found. This is common on nearly all Fujis at least through the early 80's, and is something that increases their appeal to many. Resistance ultimately proved futile - Shimano began cropping up on Fujis and we all know what happened to Suntour.
This Gran Tourer has a Suntour Compe V front derailleur, which is top normal. This is the first bike I've owned with such a feature and makes one wonder why all bikes don't have such a thing.
Ultimately, I couldn't leave the bike bone stock. In a future post, I'll detail the (reversible) mods to this bike - the pictures above are all as found, but here is a preview of what this Gran Tourer is looking like these days. This is an in process pic, it isn't finished yet.
I'm keeping all the stock bits, carefully wrapped, so this bike can be returned to a factory original condition should I or a future owner so desire. I also have the original receipt ($289 in 1981 dollars) and owners manual.
Yes, your eyes did not deceive you, it now has a touch of harlequin wrap. Some people think harlequin wraps are an unspeakably vile abomination. While I obviously don't agree, I will concede that it adds a lot of "drama" to the bike.
This is before applying shellac, which did tone down the red a lot. Even still, I'm not sure I'm going to keep this wrap. But I will keep the Suntour Cyclone brake levers, MKS touring pedals, VO fenders, Brooks B17 saddle, Suntour Superbe downtube shifters, plus some other additions yet to come. Stay tuned