Tuesday, June 9, 2009


One thing I enjoy when riding is the greater engagement one has with the world than in a car. The richer sights and smells often allows me to make observations about a locale than I would whilst motoring.

Today, I set out on my Fuji America to run some errands. As I proceeded down a neighborhood lane, I noticed a set of keys in the roadway. I stopped and picked them up. Evidently, they had been run over by several automobiles. Were I driving, I would probably would have been included in that number.

Using my incisive deductive skills, I walked up the steps to the nearest house. The owner was home and thanked me for finding his wife's keys. How she managed to either get into the house or drive off in her car without her keys will remain one of life's little mysteries.

Just a little feel good story on a bright summer day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Run What You Brung

Following the wisdom of readers of this blog, I went with their choice, my 1980 Fuji Gran Tourer, to enter in the 2009 Le Cirque du Cyclisme.

The morning, very early morning, of the event, my son and I saddled up on the Gran Tourer and trailer and headed out for Leesburg, about a 42 mile journey. Mrs. Otaku declined to join us, but did prepare some of her special cycling onigiri and other treats for the boys.

We headed down the Capital Crescent Trail and crossed the Potomac at Chain Bridge:

The Potomac is still a pretty untamed river, one is always surprised by scenes like these well inside the Capital Beltway:

We eventually hooked up with the W&OD Trail and started a 30 mile slog out to Leesburg. A lot of folks rave about this trail, but I find it pretty charmless. Most of the way it is accompanied by a lot of power lines. Admittedly, in Fairfax County, it goes through a few quaint town centers, but the banlieues of Loudoun County are a dreary progression of indistinguishable townhouses and McMansions that are much more "mc" than "mansion".

A bit after 10 a.m., we pulled into the parking lot of the Leesburg Best Western, the purported location of the event. This parking lot was suspiciously empty and after querying somebody with a bike rack, I discovered that this day's events were being held at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds, another six miles or so down the W&OD Trail. This had the effect of putting the day's total mileage just a smidge over 100 miles, which is a pretty good workout with a trailer full of 5 year old boy, onigiri, and other sundries.

We finally arrived at the Fairgrounds and chatted a bit with the lady selling tickets. She seemed amazed that I had ridden all that way (her words..) in unremarkable shorts, tee shirt, boat shoes. For those interested in such things, boxers, not briefs. She then posed with our rig:

We then rode up and into the large structure housing the show and swap meet and right up to the administration desk. I asked the woman in attendance if I could enter my bike. She appeared a little suprised at a ride in wanting to show, but after inquiring as to the year of manufacture said it was fine. After some discussion, we entered the bike in the "open" category, 1974 to 1980.
We unhooked the trailer, which the admin folks graciously stowed behind their desk and put the bike on display.

So here it is, my Fuji Gran Tourer on show:

We didn't win or place on anything, but I had a number of discussions with interested parties and some quite generous comments.

I ran into Sam Day and his s.o. Rak (sp?). Sam is now the owner of what used to be my Trek 620 and is keenly interested in vintage bikes/parts:

Sam helpfully pointed out a set of Suntour Cyclone track pedals on sale. I've been after a set of these for a while, so even though they were a little rough, I picked them up.

As one would expect, there were gobs of beautiful bikes. One that I particularly liked was this Bilenky mixte:

This is a Colnago sheathed in leather with snakeskin embossing.

There was a booth where this sort of leather was on sale should one want to give one their own bikes a similar treatment.

I handed the camera off to my son to take some pictures. He showed a distinct interest in the back of saddles:

And flashy wheels/components:

Around 3 pm, we called it a day and started the trek back. We stopped for some soft serve ice cream at the Herndon DQ and made it home in time for dinner, Mrs. Otaku's shabu-shabu.

Overall, a very fine event, well worth attending if one is afforded the opportunity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some Help From My Friends

Earlier today, I put up a post about the upcoming Le Cirque Du Cyclisme this coming weekend in Leesburg. I described how I intend to ride over for the show/swap meet on Sunday and shared some of my agonizing about whether it would be appropriate to even enter a Fuji into a show that is lousy with the most coveted vintage French, Italian, and other euro bikes.

Later in the day, while riding my Gran Tourer, pulling the trailer carrying my little boy home from a hard day at kindergarten, I continued to ponder this, and finally decided that I couldn't decide.

But I did decide to rely upon the wisdom of the readers of this blog, so I've put up a little poll to the right asking which bike, if any, I should enter in the show, or if the whole thing is just plain wrong.

To recap, my America and my Gran Tourer are the only two that are in a condition to ride the 40 miles each way to the show, so those are the only options. In principle, I could get the Del Rey up and running by this weekend, but it really isn't a special enough model to warrant this. In a heroic effort, I may be able to get the Finest going, but I'm still debating some aspects of that build.

So it is the America, the Gran Tourer, or just leave well enough alone.

Here is the Gran Tourer:

Here is the America:

Thanks in advance for any input.

The Circus Is Coming To Town

So who is going to Le Cirque Du Cyclisme?

Formerly held in North Carolina, the event was moved last year to Leesburg, Virginia, a short 40 mile ride each way from my home. Indeed, it is mere feet from the Leesburg Loop, a quite nice ride I take whenever I am able to trick Mrs. Otaku into doing some miles on the C&O towpath (she despises this...).

For informational purposes, this event is an outgrowth of the Classic Rendezvous mailing list, the venerable and rarified gathering place for the most discriminating vintage bike connoisseurs. I used to keep tabs on this back when I was still a campy-phile, but since moving downscale a little, I pay less attention to it.

Nonetheless, it is so close to home and so chock-full of the finest european drool-ware.

Unfortunately, I missed the event this year, but I'm pretty determined to make it out Sunday for the bike show. The weather currently seems promising for a ride out there (and back..) and my schedule seems clear, no birthday parties for any of Otaku Junior's friends. I'll probably ride either the Gran Tourer or the America. The Mondia is much more to the style of the event, but this bike isn't shaken out yet.

Plus, I like the idea of adding a little vintage Fuji to the stew should I decide to enter my ride in the show. The high end America is a little more congruent with Le Cirque than the distinctly working class Gran Tourer, which would probably be one of the few entries with a derailleur claw. On the other hand, I'm quite enchanted with the Gran Tourer's ride and the customizations I've done on it.

But I don't want to be a spectacle or the object of derision. Maybe I could enter it as a "Fucci".

Anyone else going? If you want to meet on Sunday, look for the guy with some sort of Fuji and possibly a trailer, small boy, and Mrs. Otaku in tow.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Living With 35s

Followers of this blog will recall that I recently built a new set of wheels to which I mounted 35mm Specialized Armadillo Nimbus tires. These are the widest tires I've ever had on a road bike. As I age, it seems that my tire size and waistline are slowly increasing....

Over the past several days, I've had the opportunity ride on the new wheels a number of times, including a trip out to Tyson's Corner from my home in Silver Spring, which is about 40 miles round trip. I've been keeping these inflated to about 75 psi.

Overall, about what I expected. The ride is markedly more comfortable than higher pressure and narrower tires. The gravel path that forms the beginning of many of my rides is much more comfortable. Rolling resistance is noticeably higher - I can easily detect this coasting down familiar downhills. The bike does not accelerate as sprightly. However, none of this is objectionable for the trade off in comfort in short to medium length rides.

Bottom line - this seems to work for what I intended, a comfortable set of wheels for daily use. Given the higher rolling resistance, were I going on a longer trip on good pavement, maybe more than 50 miles, I'd probably take the time to swap the wheels to a set with a narrower tire.

Or maybe just pump these up to their max pressure of 100 psi. Perhaps that is my next experiment.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Wheels

Just got done building and installing some new wheels on my 1981 Fuji Gran Tourer SE, the bike that has been the serious object of my attention in recent months.

The hubs are a really nice set of 36 hole Campy Nuovo Tipo high flangers. Although they hardly needed it, for good measure I replaced the bearings (grade 25, natch, 1/4" in the rear, 3/16" in the front) and repacked. The rims are the ever classic 700c Sun CR-18's, spokes are DT 14/15 stainless.

Here are some closeups of the front hub. You can see the retro straight quick release levers.

You may have also noticed the slightly fatter tires. These are Specialized Armadillo Nimbus 700 x 35. One of my motivations for going with 700c rims rather than the original 27" was to be able to run something slightly larger than a 32. With 27" rims and fenders, this bike was running out of clearance, even were there much of a selection of tires larger than 32mm in 27" (there isn't...).

I don't build many wheels, since I only do it for myself. But I always enjoy it and always have gotten good results having faithfully internalized the Sheldon Brown instructions on the topic some years ago. I don't have a truing stand, just use a bike frame with brake calipers installed. If you are careful with this rudimentary approach, you can easily get results that are well within 1mm true on radial, lateral, and dish.

I also always use the Spocalc spreadsheet on the Harris Cyclery website, it has always given good results.

This is the last wheel I will build inserting the spokes through the hub one at a time as they are laced. I managed to scratch up the front a bit, plus it is a bit of struggle getting the leading spokes into position without bending them too much. I found this to be especially true with a high-flange hub, as the spokes and clearances end up a bit bit shorter.

The Specialized Armadillos have a fearsome reputation for difficult installation, their wire bead being very tight. This is my second set, and I was determined not to have the two pinch flats I suffered when installing my first set. But I didn't want to spend an hour wrestling the tire onto the rim.

Normally, when installing the tube, I'll get the valve in place and give the tube a bit of air to give it some shape. This makes it easy to fit into the tire, just pops right in, but does leave the tube rather close to the bead even if all the air is let out. With this set, I figured I would have to use tire irons to get the second bead into place, so I just put the tube in with no air whatsoever, being very careful about the orientation around the wheel. I then levered the bead on with tire irons, even using these required significant grunt - these are very stout tires, at least the bead tightness is.

Following this, I inspected the bead looking for pinches. I did find one potential one and rectified it, then partially inflated, deflated, broke the bead, looked for problems, then took up to full pressure.

Voila, no pinch flats, I'm quite proud of myself.

This morning, I took a spin on the bike. The wheels are holding true. The 35mm Armadillos are my compromise between cush and convenience. I loved not having flats on my previous set of 32mm, but this required keeping them pumped above 100 psi for full protection. That sort of pressure defeats the purpose of having thick tires and is bone jarring/teeth shaking on the gravel paths I frequent.

These tires have a minimum pressure of 75 psi, which, while still a bit high, definitely smooths things over a lot. I could probably cheat a little and run them down around 60 psi. The word on the street is that this reduces the flat protection, but I'm willing to gamble a little. My previous daily rider, my now-sold Trek 620, had sprung Brooks Conquest saddle, this one does not, so I need to compensate elsewhere for a little comfort.

The front brake threatened to be a big issue. A Dia Compe 610 centerpull, its pads were near the bottom of the slot with the 27" rim and really didn't have enough reach for 700c rims, with the pads ending up at the very tippy-top of the rims. Technically, this could have barely worked, but I'd have to be very vigilant about pad wear creating a situation where the tire sidewall could be rubbed. Plus, for almost any part on a daily rider bike, I avoid setups that require parts to be at the absolute limit of an adjustment for the bike to work - this limits options for field repairs, in general makes for a less reliable, serviceable machine.

I considered, then abandoned, the notion of filing some more clearance into the slots. Then, I started thinking about getting a Dia Compe 750 caliper for the front until I remembered that I had some tektro canti pads with threaded posts and elliptical spacers. This worked excellently, leaving much adjustment options.

Well, I'm delighted with the results and the slightly fatter tire look. I have a few fender line issues to address on the by and by, but these are now in service.

Given the high flange hubs, I suppose it is ok to violate the taboo against non-drive side pictures:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I received the following mail a couple of weeks ago and it slipped my mind until I received a gentle reminder from the original author:

"Fuji Otaku,

I have been reading your blog since I bought my 1981 Fuji America last November. It is finally nice enough outside here in Minneapolis to take some pictures of it to send to you.

I found it on craigslist being sold by a guy who lived 6 blocks from me. I believe I am the 3rd and final owner of this fine piece of Japanese steel. I kind of have a crush on my own bike, and that is the first time I can say that.

Thanks for all the insight and information.



Sorry for the late posting, it slipped my mind. But sometimes I get distracted other non-Fuji things like family activities and making a living.

In my book, the two tone blue Americas are one of the grail Fujis. If I had to own only one, it would be one of these. The recent reader poll on favorite models indicates that I'm not alone in this sentiment.

Why this model is so covetable is a result of a number of factors. The first is that in the early 80's, friction shifting was soon to be supplanted by indexing, so models from that era represent the best of friction shifting bikes, whether Japanese, European, or American.

Second, the Japanese spent the 70's understanding and mastering the U.S. bicycle market. By the early 80's, their best models had all the fine points worked out.

Third, the great yen revaluation of 1985/1986 had not yet happened, so Japanese products were still very cheap in dollar terms. During that era it was easy for Japanese exporters to gild the lily on many of their products.

Fourth, and this is subjective, but later 80's styling, with pastels and vivid color schemes, was still in the future. The Japanese bikes of the early 80's era were produced with classic European style cues.

The two tone Americas, being the high-end Fuji sport-tourer incorporate all these elements. The Cyclone derailleurs and Sugino Mighty Tour cranks have become collector's items. The chrome stays/forks are very flashy classic eye candy, along with the Sunshine "medium flange" hubs. On the bang for the buck element, if you look closely at the lugwork, you will find nicely filed, long-point lugs with cutouts.

And beyond that, the America offers a sporty yet comfortable geometry. It is a bike that I have fun just whipping around on or going on an all day trek. It has enough clearance for fenders should one choose to mount them. And in a nice touch, it was one of the first mass-marketed bikes in the U.S. to sport 700c wheels. So one has a much wider range of modern tire options with this bike compared to other bikes, whether European, Japanese, or American, from that era.

Just a great all-around bike. Like you, I'm pretty certain I'm the last owner of mine before it goes to my estate.

Although you weren't looking for advice, I'll still offer a suggestion. From your pictures, it looks like there is a non-stock rear derailleur. Me, I'd get on ebay or somewhere else and buy a 1st generation Suntour Cyclone rear derailleur (looks like the front one is stock) and return this to its originally equipped state. These are still pretty cheap and available now, shift fine, and it is a lot of fun to have the bike as originally kitted out or period correct.

The saddle isn't stock also, the original being a Fujita Professional, but I'm ambivalent about vintage leather saddles. Vintage leather gets dried, cracked, it can be a long-term and expensive prospect tracking down one that is cosmetically ok and ready for daily use without fear of failure. Sadly, leather saddles are essentially disposable wear items like chains. Actually, they are even worse, more like tires in that they can "wear out" from non-use environmental factors, much like vintage tires can become cracked and dried out even though they have not been ridden.

In any event, a lovely bike and hope you enjoy it.


Fuji Otaku

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Addition To Our Ranks

We get mail:

"After my father-in-law and brother-in-law both got road bikes I decided it looked like a lot of fun and wanted to be able to bike with them. So I did some basic research and discovered...

I couldnt afford anything I liked! So luckily on a Sunday afternoon after attending my nephews birthday party, my wife and I spotted some bikes for sale along the side of the road. So we stopped to look to see what they had. And right there, all shiney and sleek looking, was this Fuji Flair. I knew about the Fuji name but didnt know anything about their older bikes. I hopped on it and immediatly fell in love. It doesn't ride as nice as my brother-in-laws carbon fiber Trek 2.1...but it rides as nice or nicer than any other bike I've ridden anywhere near what I paid for this bike. I ended up paying $100.00. I have no idea if the Flair is a desirable model as far as collecting goes, but I bought it to ride and that it does well!

While trying to find information on the bike once I got it home, I found www.classicfuji.com and by extention this blog! I was excited to see that these vintage Fuji bikes have a loyal following. (I didnt want to feel silly for falling in love with a road bike from the 80's and being the only one.) As far as I can tell all the components are orignal except for the seat. I would love to find an original seat to this model so if anyone knows where I could find one, please let me know.

I've looked over most of this blog and hadn't seen anyone with the Flair yet, so I thought I'd share mine with the rest of you. Any insights into this bike would be great. Anyone with previous experiences or have ridden one before. My bike knowledge is fairly limited as I've only ridden a handful of different models. Any suggestions as to what some of you might change on the bike? Some of my family think it was silly buying a 20 year old bike for $100.00 but I don't feel that I've really overpaid at all, and from what I've seen as far as some other vintage fuji bikes I think I was right in the ballpark. Certainly not an amazing garage sale dollar bargain, but still worth every penny.

Fuji Fan and Loving It,


Hi Matthew,

First, welcome aboard the Fuji bandwagon! I really like the blue with white headtube on the Flairs. It is a super sharp color scheme and yours looks like an excellent example, even having the original water bottle cage.

Looking at the catalog entry, I see that this did have an unusual saddle. All I can suggest is keeping an eye on ebay or perhaps posting a "looking for" entry on the the ISO thread in the Classic & Vintage forum on bikeforums.net. If you are persistent, one will probably eventually show up.

As for the $100 and comparison to carbon bikes - forget about it. Compare it to current production "modern classics", which are high quality lugged steel, do it all sorts of bikes with rugged components, fender clearance, and so forth - sound like your bike? As a point of reference, Grant Petersen at Rivendell is bottling and selling this for north of $2000 per bike.

Me, I'll take the fine old excellent condition Fuji for less than a tenth of the price. Currently Fujis do not have much snob value, but the interest seems to be growing as people realize what a good deal these bikes represent. As another point of reference, that bike would probably go for $200 currently on Washington D.C. Craigslist. So you didn't throw your money away or get taken by any means.

And with a modicum of care, your Flair will be around long after those carbon Treks have degenerated into greenhouse gasses, and still giving fine service. Keeping this thought in mind may even make the ride a little more enjoyable.


Fuji Otaku

p.s. You may want to lose the kickstand - this style of mounting is pretty notorious for at best scratching up the paint and at worst causing damage to the chain stay tubes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Well, it looks like facing the bottom bracket shell has done the trick, so we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming around here.

Almost all the time, a noise, click, clang that seems to be with the bottom bracket has some other cause - crankarm torque, pedals, seatpost, saddle, etc. But once in a while, the bottom bracket is the true culprit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More BB

Took my Gran Tourer down to City Bikes today and got the bottom bracket shell faced. I haven't reinstalled the bottom bracket and crank yet, but I am hoping the shiny happy faces I'm now seeing down there indicate that all the troubles are past.

In the meantime, I've been riding my Fuji America. IMO, this is one of the all time greatest Fujis and the recent poll on this blog supports that notion.

Here is shot from today when my son and I went up to the playground:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Between A Click And A Clunk


I have been doing endless detective work tracking down a problem in my Gran Tourer. When I ride it for more than about 5 miles, the bottom bracket would start to click and/or make some audible clunks. This gets worse the more miles ridden. However, after letting the bike rest for several hours, it would be smooth as silk again.

However, ostensible bottom bracket issues are notorious for being due to other causes, from seat creaks to hub issues to pedal issues to headset issues to ... And I've run them all down, greasing, swapping cranks and bottom brackets, lubing the saddle, rebuilding the headset, repacking pedal bearings, installing different pedals, and endlessly fiddling with bottom brackets, from teflon taping the cups, caged/uncaged bearings, tight adjustments, loose adjustments. I've probably left a few things out, but you get the picture.

The worst part of this ordeal is that each test ride begins anew with an increasingly smooth and quiet ride - all this debugging work is really smoothing out the ride. But then after a few miles, the exact same behavior arises. And one must go on a ride of reasonable length, not just a quick run around the block once or twice. This stretches out the turnaround time for new avenues of investigation.

But I think by simple process of elimination, I've run down the cause, or causes, I should say. This evening, I spent more time and care installing and adjusting a loose bearing bottom bracket and crankset than I ever have before. Following this, I didn't have time for yet another five mile loop, so I sat and turned the crank, listening to it with my fingertips on the arm and the frame.

It seems to display a tight/loose pattern per revolution. This indicates that the bottom bracket cups are misaligned, which can have two causes. The first is that the bottom bracket shell needs facing. The second is that the right and left hand side bottom bracket threads are misaligned.

Facing a bottom bracket is a routine chore. The shell appears to have been faced once, but there is no way for me to tell if it was done adequately. Misalignment of threads is a far more serious issue, which could entail having to rethread the bottom bracket for Italian threading.

If I had a spare cartridge bottom bracket around, I could easily diagnose this. Misaligned threads would make installation difficult or impossible. But if it did install easily and then the creaking and clunking disappeared, the facing is then the issue.

But while I can't even begin to count how many Suntour V series derailleurs are cluttering the shelves, getting underfoot, like a population of cats in an eccentric's home, I don't even have one cartridge bottom bracket around. That says something, although I'm not sure what.

I also don't have the conventional tools to diagnose and remediate facing and threading issues, so it is time for one a very infrequent cry for help to a LBS. I really hate to do this, it is like admitting defeat, but even the DIY obsessed have their limits.

Like buying a four hundred dollar facing tool to do a job that the LBS charges thirty bucks.

So I'll be tearing down the crank and bottom bracket yet again and outsourcing this job.

I sure wish I had figured this out before I got done building this bike, but I was only taking it for relatively short spins during this period. I had noticed a little fritziness in the bottom bracket, but I assumed that the usual repack or even replacement would quickly sort that out when I got around to it.

Lesson learned....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Molly Mail

This just in:

"I was wondering if you could actually help me. I need some advice or anything really. See I saw this ad for a Fuji absolute, the one I sent a picture of, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I've wanted a bike for over 3 years now and don't have a lot of money to put into it, so you can imagine my excitement when i found this one. Anyway, turns out the seller was just a horrible guy and sold it to someone else the day before I was going to see it, which was yesterday. Broke my heart.

Anyway I was wondering if you knew of any place that sells them, consistently and that are in really good shape. I realize this is a very random email and that you may think I'm crazy, but I just thought I'd ask. From one bikeless bike lover to an owner, any help will be appreciated. Thanks for your time, loved the blog.



First, thank you for your kind words about the blog.

About the bad seller, my guess is Craigslist? Craigslist can be a good source of used bikes, but there are all sorts of scam artists and bad actors there since sellers can be completely anonymous if they choose.

Ebay is a little better in keeping sellers on the straight and narrow. I've bought several bikes there and have had good experiences. Plus, there is usually a pretty good stock of bikes at any time, or at least over the course of a month if you check it pretty regularly.

The downside of Ebay is that usually shipping is involved, which in the case of bikes can be fairly expensive and shipping a bike requires careful packaging that is specific to bicycles to avoid damage.

On the expense issue, you have to decide if the shipping cost is worth the convenience of shopping from your computer and having access to the large supply of bikes offered on ebay. I think it is, personally.

As for packaging, check to see if the seller has shipped bicycles before, preferably many times. If it is a reputable seller who specializes in bicycles and bicycle parts, they probably know what they are doing. However, if it is a seller who offers all sorts of things and maybe just is selling a bicycle once, you may want to find another.

Beyond that, I wrote about how to find vintage Fujis in this post. You may want to review that for some hints about finding the Fuji of your dreams. Another reader read it and quickly scored a nice Fuji America, so that advice has been worthwhile.

Well, I'm sorry for your heartbreak, but I'm certain if you keep your chin up and move on, you'll find another Fuji. And no, you're not crazy, at least not any crazier than the rest of us Fuji fans.

Best of luck in your hunting and let us know how it turns out,

Fuji Otaku

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blood On My Shifters

Here is how not to have a happy cycling day trip.

To start, when prepping for departure, get irritated when Mrs. Otaku asks you to go to the store now for snacks rather than swinging by later with the whole caravan, as I had assumed. Sort of hang onto this irritation and allow it to inform further events.

Like when after you return from the store and continuing preps by topping off the air in the front tire, remove the pump head and the stem blows out of the tube. Stupidly decide to replace the wheelset rather than the tube in the interest of time efficiency. For some strange reason, decide to replace the rear wheel to keep things consistent.

While you are doing this, chastise your son when, for the thousandth time, he tries getting into the trailer while you are working on the bike. Then snipe at Mrs. Otaku a little for filling all the water bottles with gatorade instead of at least one with water even though when she asked previously, you had said you didn't care.

After you finally get going, ride about a half mile and shift to your lowest gear. This sends the chain directly into the spokes because in your irritated haste in changing the wheelset you didn't take 5 seconds to adjust the derailleur limit. This locks the wheel, fortunately you don't go down, but after you skid to a stop, you dismount and not quite silently beseech the gods to just take you now.

Mrs. Otaku is ready to throw in the towel at this point because you are being such a bear. But you mulishly decide that you will not surrender to fate and the show must go on. You clear the jammed chain, getting your hands all greasy and somehow jabbing your right hand. It doesn't hurt, but it is dripping lots of blood which adds to the general aura you've created. You now belatedly take the time to adjust the derailleur limits.

Things continue in this vein all day, with unsuccessful attempts to keep your general vexation at bay. Mrs. Otaku tends to bear the brunt of this. By the time you reach Gravelly Point to watch the planes and enjoy some onigiri, there is considerable doubt whether another cycling outing would ever be contemplated by other members of your party.

At least with you.

You nap a bit at Gravelly Point, which soothes the angry beast a little and on the ride back things are marginally better, although you still manage to unfairly snap at Mrs. Otaku when she bumps into you when you unexpectedly stop. But it is getting better, and in a conciliatory gesture you offer to make a few shopping stops along the way back. This significantly increases the trailer load, but simplifies life for Mrs. Otaku. She appreciates this, but is still wary...

By the time you get home, you are fully repentant. The reason Mrs. Otaku wanted you to go to the store before you left was to pick up some chicken so she could allow it to marinate all day, a prerequisite for her special yakitori.

While she is puttering around the kitchen, you ask your son to sit by you for a talk. You explain that even grownups get fussy sometimes and you are sorry for being so crabby. Apologizing to your kids once in a while is a good thing, but it is also good to keep it short and sweet.

You and your son then go outside to build the fire. Mrs. Otaku brings out the yakitori and you grill this while your son blows bubbles in the fading evening light. Mrs. Otaku allows that she really appreciates me apologizing to our son while gently reminding me that it has been many years since I was a submarine officer and even if it weren't, the family isn't my crew.

We sip some wine, mending a bit. The post-ride yakitori is delicious, as always, and my son's bubble blowing skills have become prodigious. I reflect a bit on the chain of events and my poor deportment. Mrs. Otaku hints that she wasn't serious about never going on rides again. Our family has survived this day.

All's well that ends well.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Outing

Here at Fuji Otaku, we write a lot about the assembly and style of bikes, which could lead some to believe that we never ride the things.

Nothing could be further from the truth - the only hangar queen around here is my Mondia and that is simply because Mrs. Otaku says that I'm still a bit too heavy to be seen on such a gorgeous machine.

So in the hopes of burning off some of that lard, we went out on a family spin today. I was riding my recently worked upon Fuji Gran Tourer pulling my son in a trailer.

Most of the riding was roads and pavement, although we got a bit of offroad at Lake Needwood. Here you can see my rig:

And here is a lovely Trek 720 with an even lovelier Mrs. Otaku.

If you can tear your eyes away from Mrs. Otaku and look closely at the front fender stay, you can see that it is bent from some forgotten mishap with a stick. If you ride long enough with fenders, this will happen. Pristine front fender stays are one indicator of a bike that isn't getting ridden enough or has an exceptionally careful rider.

And shortly after these pics were taken, the Fuji Gran Tourer had its first tangle with a stick, bending the front fender stay a little, so I guess it is broken in now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back In The Black

I was talked off the ledge about the white brake hoods on my 1981 Fuji Gran Tourer SE. I also decided that the red lacing on the Toshi leather bar covers, while attractive in isolation, wasn't cutting it on the bike. It was really too fancy and colorful for this bike, which is sort of puritanical in black and plain silver components.

So I dyed the lacing black, slipped on some black brake hoods. I took this as an opportunity to install some silver braided steel brake cable housings, keeping with the black and metallic look of this bike.

Here is it:

I kept the chromed plastic bar plugs.

This Toshi leather wrap makes your bars look like a supermodel in a wetsuit. The right side (the drive side) went on a little tighter, and is almost completely wrinkle free.

Here is a detail shot of the new brake cable housing.

Adieu for now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

White Brake Hoods

I'm still undecided on these white brake hoods with the Toshi leather bar wrap. So I went outside at took some pictures in the noonday sunshine.

I'm thinking that this may not be working. The handlebar assembly looked ok on the workbench, but on the bike, those hoods seem a little out there. Opinions?

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Toshi Leather Stitch On Handlebar Wrap

In the spirit of continuing the product research on the Toshi stitch-on leather handlebar wrap, I decided to install the handlebars with the damaged right cover. While I finally came up with what seems to be a suitable installation protocol, it is yet to be determined how well this will work once the item is in the field. Hence, I'm going to wait until I see if any further issues arise from daily use before installing the replacement covers that Ben's Cycle is shipping me free of charge.

I'm also considering attempting to repair the damage, which is several torn eyelets, to understand if this is possible on this not inexpensive product. This would be good to know for future reference.

These bars are slated for my 1981 Fuji Gran Tourer. Currently, it has black brake hoods, but I thought it may be interesting to try these off-white, sort of ivory hoods. This matches the decals on the Gran Tourer and the white Campagnolo laminated toe clip straps.

Here is how the bars look built up.

A view from the rider's side.

I think the contrast is nice rather than using black hoods.

Those are NOS drilled Dia-Compe brake levers, period correct and all.

I had some chromed plastic bar plugs rattling around (never throw away anything...).

Here are a couple of night-time shots on the bike in the gloom of my garage. The flash makes the hoods look a lot brighter than they really are.

I'm thinking of using this Jagwire brake cable housing for a bit of sparkle but keeping with the black/silver aesthetic of the bike.