Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Petit Tour on a Gran Tourer

Went out spinning around the 'hood on my 1981 Fuji Gran Tourer SE today, returning videos, picking up brake cables at Silver Cycles. While the Gran Tourer is still an unfinished project, this is how it looks today.

It gets noticed a lot, even by non-cycling people. Still on the to-do list are CLB wire wrap brake cable casings and Velo Orange's blingy constructeur straddle wire roller hangars. I'm also still considering a 700c wheelset of CR18 rims and a NOS set of Suntour VX high flange hubs.

In the classic good looks department, the headset shows the influence of the French on the post WWII Japanese bicycle industry. A bike of this vintage is about the end of the line for these sort of touches in a Fuji. Look at the upper cup on the headset (the lug pinstriping is a nice detail as well).

But beyond the appearance, this Gran Tourer is a blast to ride. Of all my bikes, it is the nicest upon which to just go loafing around. Just grab the bike, no waterbottles, pumps, tools or any of that noise, and go meandering around Silver Spring neighborhoods, which can be quite picturesque.

Something about the frame geometry reassures the rider that it is ok to not be at 100% exertion while not feeling sluggish. It also has terrific hands off directional stability, but can be fairly agile.

Beyond that, the Suntour Compe-V hi-normal front derailleur is a charmer. Hi normal means that it shifts to the high ring when the lever is pushed forward. Suntour (and others) pushed this idea, but it never became a standard. I'm sold, however.

One of the attractions of old Fujis was their close relationship for many years with Suntour. They were a big enough customer to warrant getting many of their Suntour (and Sugino) components engraved with their marque, as is evidenced on the Compe-V derailleur.

I upgraded the original stem shifters on the Gran Tourer to a period correct set of NOS Suntour Superbe (not Pro) downtube clamp-ons. These are buttery smooth, and good looking with their gum covers.

All in all, a bike that looks and rides wonderfully and that will be perfectly fetching with a few more details.

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