----- Original Message -----
From: P.C. Kohler
Sent: Saturday, June 05, 2004 10:57 PM
Subject: Re: [CR]Peter Kohler's remarks on American bike
> where are the postings on
> great Chinese lightweights
> or I love my Fuji?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
and from Raoul Delmare in Marysville Kansas U.S.A. :
I love my Fuji .
I admit to having had a prejudice against the very-late-1970's Raleigh bicycles , with their Made-In-England frames , and their completely-Made-In-Asia component parts . Yes , the ones with the parts from Asia ( entirely Nippon ? somewhat Taiwan ? ) were lighter , and worked better . But I was sorry to see the European parts disappear .
Later , I was prejudiced against the "Raleigh" bicycles which were made in Asia for "Raleigh U.S.A." ( Huffy - Diamond Back - etc. ) .
Those were very good bicycles at very good prices . Yet , part of me always felt that real Raleigh bicycles should be made in Nottingham , preferably by Robin Hood's merry men ( and women ) .
The fact that the huge , vast , industrial , pollution-causing , Raleigh bicycle factory occupied space which must have once been trees and small cottages ( think Sherwood Forest ) . . . Well , I tried not to confuse my little fantasies by thinking too much about the facts . . .
I'm proud to own a 1950's Rudge Superbe Sports 3-Speed , & a 1960's Raleigh Superbe Sports 3-Speed , & an early 1970's Raleigh Super Course , & an early-middle 1970's Raleigh Grand Prix ( or two ) .
But if I find a good deal on an early 1990's Made-In-Asia for Raleigh U.S.A. "Grand Prix" or "Super Course" , I'm going to grab it !! I now have plans for a special little project . . .
And to get to the point , I love my Fuji .
In late 1972 , when I was a really lucky kid , who was being allowed to spend more money than he EVER thought he'd get to spend , and I was shopping for a REAL road-racing bicycle . . . I thought long and hard about Fuji .
I knew that a Fuji Finest was almost , but not quite , as nice as what I thought I was looking for . But the Fuji Finest was written about as being such a nice bargain , and I wanted one !! The early 1970's Fuji Finest was just so beautiful !! The chrome plated center panels on the frame . The dark royal blue , "Rainbow Blue" , paint . The deep pearl anodizing on the Sugino and Nitto parts . Oh my goodness . I wanted one !!
While the Fuji Finest seemed perhaps too much of a bargain , the Fuji Newest was another matter . I knew that the Fuji Newest was just too good for the likes of me . It was just TOO much . My feelings about the 1972 Fuji Newest , would prepare me in some ways for my feelings about the 1974 Raleigh TEAM Professional . These exotic things which existed somewhere beyond the best , were not for people like me . The bicycle had an aluminum freewheel for heaven's sake !! ( was this the first bicycle from a major manufacturer to be sold with an aluminum freewheel ?? ) I knew I would never earn the right to such things . Never be worthy . But I could justify ( and somehow had the money for ) a more "normal production" fine road-racing bicycle .
Although I dearly loved the color of the Fuji Finest ( dark royal blue ) I didn't much care for the color of the Fuji Newest ( metallic silver ) .
And , the frame sizes made things awkward for me . I knew my frame size was somewhere in the 23 1/2 inch to 24 inch range . The Fuji Finest was made in 21 inch , 23 inch , and 25 inch sizes . That two inch jump from 23 to 25 was awkward for me .
The Fuji Newest was made in 22 1/2 inch & 24 inch sizes . The 24 inch would have been terrific for me ! But a 1972 Fuji Newest was too exotic for someone like me .
Finally , I knew I was going to buy from the closest bicycle shop I could . And who knew where the closest Fuji dealer might be ? The only one I'd happened to find was several hundreds of miles away !
So , I shopped for a Schwinn Paramount . The nice sales-person at the nearest Schwinn shop told me that I could have one , if I waited approximately one year after ordering one .
The Raleigh dealer had no Professionals ( not really what I was looking for ) , and no Internationals . He sent me out for a test ride on a Competition . Those still had plain-high-carbon-steel non-Reynolds seat stays and chain stays , at that time . I knew that was not a good thing . And the test ride turned scary when the excess slack in the derailleur cable caused it to come out of the guide . For a moment I was afraid the loose flopping cable would get caught in the chain , and I'd crash the brand new bicycle ! So , no Raleigh .
Then I found the shop that had my Frejus-Legnano Professional Record Super Corsa . Components consisted of , Universal center pull brakes , otherwise the full Campagnolo Nuovo Record Group , with Brooks Professional Saddle , and TTT handlebar and stem ( Gaslo tape and plugs !! ) .
I still have that fine Italiano bici .
And thanks to the kindness of Mr. Eric Elman , I now also have a Fuji Finest , in the 24-inch size !!
It's probably a 1972 , although it might be a year or two younger I suppose .
It's in wonderfully fine original condition , except for the few parts which have been substituted ( the aluminum freewheel is long gone , substituted brakes and front wheel ) .
I love my Fuji . I waited a long time to own it .
And back to the idea of bicycles from Nippon being so smoothly well-made that they somehow seem less romantic , or less soulful . . .
I picked up a lovely Nishiki , probably made in the early 1980's , probably just barely within the C.R. List guidelines . I paid $25 U.S. for it . It's in good solid working condition . It's a tiny bit small-ish for me . That's fine , I kind of wanted to switch it over to an upright handlebar anyway . The craftsmanship on the frame-set of this factory-made bicycle , is WONDERFUL .
There , thanks for letting me share .