Sunday, April 5, 2009

1973 Fuji 3sp conversion

My name's Matt and I live in Worcester, Massachusetts. I have a couple three speed bikes, including an old Raleigh I restored and then loaned to my father. This bike is something I had been thinking about for a while, after I saw some pictures of British club racers from the 1940s and 50s.



The frame is a 1973 Fuji S10S, the first successful Japanese road bike sold in the US. I stripped it completely, installed a sealed bottom bracket and headset, picked up a micro-adjust seatpost, and used parts out of my bin for the rest. The rear wheel is built up around a 1969 Sturmey Archer AW three speed. I put an additional spacer on both sides of the axle to fill out the 120mm spacing and laced it to a Sun rim. I used a high flange track hub up front. At first I used a Suntour barcon to shift, but the shifting wasn't great. I switched to flat bars for a while with a SA trigger shifter, but found the ride uncomfortable.

Finally, I removed the plastic face plate from the shifter and was able to mount it on the drop bar below the brake lever. It's not perfect, but it's the best solution I've tried. I spent a lot of time cleaning up this set up Dia Comp center pull brakes, but after putting the bike together, I realized the fork was bent (and the rear triange, but not as bad). I tried to straighten the fork but was unhappy with the results. Instead, I now have a Tange chro-mo fork with a modern Dia Comp side pull. The fork doesn't look as nice, and I can't run my original brake, but it feels a lot more like a modern road bike. So far, it's the lightest, fastest, best handling three speed I've ever ridden. I might upgrade to a lighter frame some day.

7 comments:

Doohickie said...

Very cool bike. That would be an interesting project, and probably cool to ride.

Charlotte said...

This is something I've been considering for some time now! I have heard mixed reviews on going with old SA hubs, which is part of why I haven't done it yet.
Still, I'm inspired by seeing your "clubman".
Good work.

Jim Thill said...

Charlotte: Internal Gear Hub geeks - that is, the type who deeply contemplate mechanical efficiencies of each gear, and argue about it on the internet - may disparage old SA hubs. But the truth is that the old hubs usually have plenty of life in them, and their internal sloppiness makes for a high degree of reliability. The best part of the old hubs is that parts are widely available, compared to the various proprietary systems of newer versions that get changed every few years.

bobert said...

Matt-That is a super nice project. I'm planning something very similar based on a Fuji with cantilever brakes and a Sears branded, Austrian made SA knockoff hub. Hope to have it done this summer.

hapyhippie420 said...

Hi Matt,

I have a 73 Fuji Finest 10sp with the same type of brake system as your Fuji (cantilever u-brakes). I had to buy new wheels for my bike and after installing the new front wheel my brakes now rub on the rim. I have no idea how to adjust this old style system as it doesn't have the newer screws that aid in brake adjustment. If you have any information that might help me it would be greatly appreciated. I have referenced Sheldon Brown's web page as well as Bicycletutor.com and neither were of any help. Please Help Me!!!

Thanks,
Scot

Jim Thill said...

Scot, my guess is that you could adjust the brake cable to achieve the desired result.

Or, if you are not mechanical, I highly advise that you take it to your friendly local bicycle shop, and pay a professional $10-15 to do it.

Kenneth Buttercup said...

I made a nice 3-speed from a Bob Jackson frame and some good 700c touring rims. LOVE IT!
A bigger cog and a 39-tooth chainring and it's good on steep hills, good enough for the D2R2 with some cyclocross tires for climbing.
High is a comfortable flat cruising gear. Neutral is good for slight uphills or loaded cruising.