Friday, August 15, 2008

1972 Fuji Finest Project

I've blathered on about my 1972 Fuji Finest several times, so although it is partially dissassembled, it seemed worthwhile to get a few pictures of this up. After it is finished, I'm planning a more in depth article that will include readers bikes and more in-depth discussion of this storied model. But for now, just some bare bones.

1972 was the second year of issue of the Finest, and this one was obtained from the original owner. It had been well used, in that it was far from pristine, but had not been treated roughly nor suffered excessive corrosion.

Here is a rather bad picture of what it looked like upon receipt, although the top tube brake cable housing clips had already been removed:


Nice original configuration for the most part, obviously the saddle is a later addition. The plan for this bike is to strip it down to the frame, freshen things up a bit, and rebuild with the original components. Here is what it looks like today, still in the disassembly phase:


Tres 70's, no? One thing the observant reader will notice is that there is no "Finest" decal on the top tube. This was a rather odd point on this bike, as there is no evidence whatsoever that there ever had been a decal (scratches, paint fade lines, etc.). This was of some concern until Scott Ryder, the eminent Fuji scholar, noted that the very early Finests had no model indication as such.

The earlier Finests, for the first 3 or 4 years, also had fully chromed frames. Hence all the chrome panels, stays, forks, and, of course, the sexy lugwork:



Many fully chromed frames from various manufacturers are only polished in the areas intended to be exposed. However, this one appears to be fully polished, as everywhere the paint is chipped, it looks nice and shiny underneath.


So one of these with unsalvageable paint is a reasonable candidate for stripping the paint and building up as a fully chromed bike. The paint on this one has lots of "patina", but is nice enough that not keeping it would be sort of a crime. It has yellowed quite a bit, as one can tell from where the downtube shifter clamp was located:


The Finest was intended to compete against the high end European bikes, so frame material reflects this:


Just in case anyone still isn't getting the message, Fuji helpfully points out:


These "Racing" decals, also located on the top tube and forks, are highly reflective. The above picture also displays the worst corrosion on this bike, which for the most part is pretty minor.

At this point, as I'm going on and on about the originality of this bike, the observant reader is waving his hand, ready to explode with, "What's up with those wheels?". Yes, they include a set of high flange hubs:


And not just any old high flangers, but (p.s., note the nice dropouts with adjuster screws):


Paired with these rims:


Yes, Campagnolo Record high flange hubs with flat QR levers on Mavic clincher rims constitute the wheelset. As we all know, this bike was spec'ed with Sansin hubs on Ukai tubulars. However, the original owner at the time of purchase didn't want tubulars, never took possession of them, and bought the bike with this wheelset made specifically for him. So it would seem, in this man's Fuji, Campy Record high flange paired with Mavics are original. Tell it to the Marines, I guess.

There is going to be a lot more on Finests around here, so stay tuned. For now, a last parting shot of the Grand Dame of the Fuji Otaku fleet.

1 comment:

Don said...

I have a 1971 fuji finest, all original except for the saddle. You are looking for sansin '8 trapezoid' hubs and ukai tubulars (maybe the plastic-filled ones) to complete your bike.

some other oddities about my bike : suntour-7 rear steel mech, spirt steel front mech but it's not a 1980 spirt, there are small differences.

mks unique chromed pedals with serrated rat-trap tops, like campagnolo con denti road pedals.

the downtube ratcheting suntour shifters have silver barrels on my bike, not black barrels like most ratcheting shifters.

the dia compe brakes just say DIA COMPE in especially big letters compared to later instantiations of dia compe centerpulls.

The sugino mighty crank has the weirdest thing, the inner 42T chainring says sugino and is a solid ring of aluminum, like today's ZEN rings. No holes. I know you're not happy to hear about this !!

During chroming all tubes tend to look good, because they are manufactured pretty smooth and the nickel fills small scratches, but if you scratch paint from your lugs or BB you'd see that they were NOT polished. so your frame actually is NOT polished, the paint happened to fall off of a place that would not need much polishing.

I am told that my 1971 bike originally came with a black plastic fujita saddle. I have purchased a blue person's majestic brooks-pro clone saddle (www.permaco.com), rather than fujita plastic or fujita brooks-pro-clone saddle, just because my bike is all-blue.