Friday, April 9, 2010

1981 Fuji America Progress

I managed to get in some quality wrenching time on my new 1981 Fuji America.  Regular readers will recall in an earlier installment that I polished and detailed a set of 165mm Sugino Mighty Tour crankarms.

Today I got around to installing them:

The blue in the crank flute looks a little light in the bright sunlight.  Next time I remove the crank I may try a darker shade.

While I had the crank off, I installed a NOS Suntour Superbe bottom bracket.  The existing Hatta bottom bracket was in good shape, but I'm really gilding the lily on this bike.  As with any takeoff parts, I am carefully packing them away should there be a reason to return the bike to stock configuration.  However, there is a statute of limitations on this, after a couple of years such parts are fair game for other bikes or Ebay.

Observant readers may note that the crank is now a double.  I decided to try the compact double sort of setup.  My thinking is that I want to further develop the bike's original theme as a combination of luxury and sport, a hot rod Lincoln so to speak.

When switch to a double, I fortunately had a 114mm Sugino MT spindle - this is a 110 symmetric spindle with a 4mm drive side extension.  The stock spindle was a 118 mm version of the same - it had a 8mm drive side extension.  The chain line is pretty good, the big ring is centered on the 4th cog of the 6 speed freewheel and more or less measures out to the Shimano road standard for chainlines.  Just looking at clearances, I could probably use the Superbe spindle, which is a 110 mm symmetric, bringing the drive crank inward another 4mm.  This also reduces the tread (or "Q-factor", the term Rivendell has popularized), which to me gives the bike a sportier feel.

But before I do that, I want to put on a 13-32 7 speed IRD freewheel I have around here somewhere, then tweak the chainline.

The chainrings I've got on there now are also interim.  These are 52/36.  If I like the concept, I have some new 48/34 Sugino rings that I'll install, after a right proper polishing.

There is more Suntour Superbe to come on this bike.  I like that group both because it is primo Suntour and represents period correct upgrades that a sport-minded owner of one of these conceivably would have done back in the day.

More Superbe to come on this bike includes pedals, DT shifters, brake calipers/levers, and possible a wheelset with Superbe hubs.  I'd really like to have an early alloy Superbe/Sprint headset, the kind with no labelling on the cups, but even in the rare cases where you can find these, they are terrifically expensive.

This isn't to say that the current headset isn't fine, although it is a rather mundane Tange Falcon model that is a little munged up on the lock nut.  Again, I'm gilding the lily here, the idea being that at a minimum this is going to be my Japan bike if I can only take one.

So after hunting around for a while, I'm thinking about installing a current production Tange Vantage DL.  It meets my criteria for appearance, the quality and country of origin (Japan).  Actually, back in the day, Tange used to make headsets (and bottom brackets) for the Suntour brand, just as Dia Compe made brakes, MKS made pedals, Sunshine/Sansin made hubs, etc.  To some extent, Suntour was a virtual company that represented an alliance of Kansai based manufacturers teaming up to provide a full spectrum brand that was an alternative to Shimano.

That is not to say that Suntour was just a reseller of white labelled products like many of the vendors in the USA today who simply laser etch their logo on what are, with a few minor differences, essentially the same parts everyone else is selling.  The crowning Suntour jewels, their derailleurs, were designed and produced in-house and are what drove the company's success.  As an aside, they had a factory near my wife's hometown in Shiga prefecture.  From what I've read, at their peak, they only had around 300 employees, which is pretty amazing given the impact they've had on cycling.

Fuji, of course, was also closely associated with Suntour - other than the 70's Fuji Ace, which shows up in catalogs but has not yet been documented in the field, Fujis were pretty much Shimano-exclusion zones until the latter part of the 80's when the sun had passed over the yardarm for Suntour.

In any event, there will be a whole bunch of Superbe on this bike when it is done.  That gets me to thinking that maybe it deserves a downtube decal.  Normally I'm not crazy about these things, but this bike may warrant an exception.  I have several Superbe decals, I don't know which one is best yet:

And finally, about the dork disk on the rear wheel - every time I post a pic of this bike on, I get a bit of grief about it. Normally, I take these things off, but now I'm getting a little bit of a contrarian impulse. Maybe I'll deanodize it and polish it to a high gleam. But more likely, I'll leave it off when I swap freewheels.

1 comment:

tomasino said...

Greetings. I realize this blog/post is quite old…but I have a question re 1981 Fuji America front derailleur…I found a frame from a Utah farmer which he kept in his pig stye for storage…caked with mud but with the original Sugino triple crank, headset and handlebars…no rear derailleur but the original rims. It has camagnolo brake levers, I put in the did compe brakes, and a sun tour vx rear derailieur which works with precision. My problem is the front derailur which had a Campagnolo Nuovo Record which isn't kicking it into the large from crank as it is a triple…the original per fuji is a Cyclone … but I am not sure how to replace it. Will any Suntour Cyclone front derailleur work? I don't see any specified as "double" or " triple"…if you have any info or comment I would much appreciate your take on this. Thank you much, Tom