Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fuji Del Rey vs. Gran Tourer Smackdown

As part of pondering what bike makes the cut for accompanying me to Japan, I've been formalizing what I like and don't like about my current daily ride, a 1980 Fuji Gran Tourer.

  • Stable, Cadillacesque ride
  • Strength, durability
  • Classic good looks/styling
  • Can run 700 x 35 tires with fenders with no TCO
  • Lack of derailleur mount brazeon
  • Lack of water bottle brazeon(s)
  • A little heavy
Far and away, my likes override my dislikes, which are more of minor irritants. And among the likes, the stable, comfortable ride is what distinguishes this bike for me, with the ability to run fat tires/fender with no toe clip interference a strong second.

This makes this bike very good for my usage - commuting, errands, trailer pulling, family outings. None of these really have a paramount need for speed, but do involve hopping on the bike at any time w/a lot of stop and go. So something that is stable, i.e, doesn't require much concentration, is really appreciated. The absolute lack of TCO really gets valuable there when threading through busy parking lots, etc.

The most significant dislike is the need for a derailleur claw due to a lack of derailleur mount brazeon. Initially, some of that was due to my youthful prejudice against these things, but I've gotten over that. What I haven't gotten over, though, is that it prevents using the full range of the horizontal dropouts. I am running 35s on the bike now, and they just barely fit - there isn't much room for error in the event of a broken spoke, etc, so there is some reliability degradation there. If I could just get the wheel back another 1/8" even, the whole rear wheel/fender situation would be perfect. I've struggled with this, and it is just about as good as it can get now without some sort of custom derailleur claw or mounting new rear dropouts.

I got a little curious about the stable ride situation, so I measured wheelbases on the bikes we have around here. Most of them are 23" inch frames with a smattering of 21"/22".


Fuji Gran Tourer 105 cm
Fuji Del Rey 104 cm
Trek 720 104 cm
Fuji Finest 103 cm
Fuji S-12-S Mixte 103 cm
Mondia Special 101 cm
Fuji America 100.5 cm
Fuji Opus III 98 cm

The Gran Tourer, unsurprisingly, tops the list. The Trek 720, my wife's 21" bike, is a close runner up at 104 cm. However, the 720 has super long chainstays to ensure pannier clearance and suffers from TCO. In any event, it isn't my bike.

The Del Rey is the next standout at 104 cm and tends to support my theory that the the Del Rey was a replacement for the Gran Tourer in the Fuji lineup. The last year for the Gran Tourer was 1981, the first for the Del Rey was 1982. The 1982 Del Rey is very similar to the 1981 Gran Tourer in construction and marketing ("for the serious cyclist on a budget"). The lugs on the Del Rey definitely look like they came out of the Gran Tourer parts bin.

The Del Rey is lighter than the Gran Tourer due to its "quad-butted valite" tubing vs. the straight gauge cro-moly on the Gran Tourer. Plus, it has a derailleur mount brazeon and the rear dropouts look a little beefier than the those on the Gran Tourer.

My examples of these model are identically sized bikes (23") - some more measurements indicate that the major difference in geometry is top tube length. The Del Rey is 56 cm, the Gran Tourer 57 cm, which accounts for the 1 cm wheelbase difference.

Hmm, maybe I should get the Del Rey on the road for some daily usage testing, see if it could knock the Gran Tourer out of the running for one of the limited Japan slots? If I can get some fatties and fenders on the Del Rey w/no TCO, it could be a close run of things, although the Gran Tourer still has forks with a more classic bend and chrome lowers going for it.


Matteo said...

I have the 1983 Del Rey, and I have to say it is a pretty comfortable ride. It is my workhorse bike, doing errands, pulling my daughter, etc... I do experience TCO with it though. It looks like you have the 1984 model. I wasn't into the color of mine at first, but it has grown on me. Thankfully it has the chrome fork. That helps aesthetically.

robatsu said...


What size frame is your 1983 and what is the crank arm size?

Right now, my 1984, a 23" frame w/171mm cranks and 27 x 1-1/8 tires, large toe clips, is ok, but looks like it will be close once fenders go on.


Matteo said...

Mine is also 23" with 170mm cranks and 27 x 1-1/8 tires.

dave said...

I'm currently looking at a 57 cm 86 del ray on Craigslist, I am 5'11'' with a 32 inch inseam. Is this bike a good fit for me? Any info would be sweet. Onelove.twopedals

robatsu said...


86 Del Reys in black and gray are very sweet, send some pics if you get this.

First, fair warning is that bike fit is an intensely personal issue, so take the following as my opinion rather than the gospel truth.

By 57cm, I'm assuming you mean the 23" model. If so, this should work fine. Grant Petersen/Rivendell might size you up a notch or two, but by everyone else's calculations, this should be in your range.

FWIW, I'm 5'9, 30" inseam. I own/ride bikes in 23" size and it is the upper bound for me of a size that is easily useful. Depending on what tires I'm on, my standover clearance on a 23" frame w/27" or 700c wheels can be a bit snug. So this should be perfectly ok for you.