My favorite quote from James' Sagres page is, "We are all rich who live in a society where bicycles like these have such low market value". That is essentially the motto of vintage Fuji (and other brands) enthusiasts.
Today I worked on my new 1981 Fuji America some more. First, I disassembled, cleaned, and detailed a set of very good condition Superbe brake calipers. I considered deanodizing and polishing the arms, but the anodizing was in such good shape I passed for now. These are real classics and a little stiffer, I find, than the stock Dia Compe G brakes. Plus, unlike the G brakes, the actuation is on the normal side of the brake which allows for standard configuration of levers and cables on the bars. With the G brakes, to get a nice cable cross over the stem, one must run the front/rear levers reversed from normal.
Here is the rear brake installed:
Turning my attention to the rear wheel, I removed the dork disk and installed a mid-cage to see how this would work out with the compact double arrangement. I had a pretty nice Fuji-branded Suntour Vx mid-cage sitting around, so I gave it a few dabs of paint - even prototypes gotta look good - and installed:
Apropos of nothing, here is a crank detail. I like the no-dustcap look with shiny cranks and chromed crankarm bolts:
I then headed out for a test ride to exercise the brakes and the compact double configuration. I did the Capital Crescent Trail/Rock Creek Park loop, which from my house works out to about 25 miles. Here is the bike atop the Rock Creek Trestle:
Things are beginning to take shape. I proceeded down the Capital Crescent Trail, which connects to K Street (yes, that K Street). Lo and behold, parked along K Street was the Batmobile.
There was a small crowd taking pictures, but when I arrived, the crowd lost interest in the Batmobile and started taking pictures of the most pristine Fuji America any of them had ever seen. This made it easy for me to get a few clear shots of the Batmobile:
Batman and Robin were nowhere in sight, presumably off saving the Republic from the depradations of some of the lobbyists with which this street teems. They did, however, leave the keys in it. One of the onlookers was completely amazed by this, kept repeating to anyone who would listen,"I can't believe they left the keys in it". Me, I'm wondering why the Batmobile even has keys? Who would be stupid enough to steal the car of the world's premiere crime fighters? And even if Batman was having an off day tracking down the Batmobile-jackers, it isn't like every cop in the world wouldn't recognize the vehicle.
Well, after the crowd got their fill of the Fuji America, which does need to be locked up, I proceeded onward, stopped for a couple of shots outside the National Zoo:
The compact double concept seems like it has promise. The chain is still a little long, so I could only use the first three freewheel cogs when on the small chainring without the chain going slack. The mid-cage did seem to shift more crisply than the long cage, although I won't know for sure until I get some proper downtube shifters installed. This could happen as early as tomorrow.
Currently, I had a 13-32 freewheel, I think I could go to a 13-28 easily, which would also help keep the mid-cage in play. There is clearly going to be a period of experimentation with this.
This bike is beginning to shape up as a nice sport rider. I love the 25c Pasela Panaracers on this bike - they are big enough to ride rough pavement and gravel so long as the gravel isn't too large. Pumped up to 115 psi, you can keep up a pretty brisk pace. The rims are about 23mm, pretty wide, so that keeps the sidewall flex to a minimum.
The shifting between the 34 & 52 tooth chainrings in front was precise and smooth. At first, I was worried about dropping the chain off the 34t chainring on downshifts, but by the end of the ride I was downshifting with abandon. Upshifts proceeded without complaint. And the compact double still gives me all the range of the triple but with a little more simplicity. However, I'm thinking I could use a tighter rear cluster with this, around a 13-28, that may refine the setup a little for some tighter gears without having to shift the front derailleur and still have a low enough gear for lightly loaded riding.
There is more to come on this bike, so stay tuned...