When I built frames in England I built almost exclusively in the English Reynolds 531 tubing; the Reynolds factory was only 25 miles from my frameshop in Worcester, and I worked closely with the company.
When I moved to the US in 1979 and later in 1982 started building my own frames again, I switched to the Italian Columbus tubes, much to the chagrin of Reynolds, who tried for years to get me to switch back to their product.
My reason was simple; Columbus was the most popular brand in the US at the time.
I had a hard enough time selling myself as an unknown builder (In the US.) in the early 1980s, without handicapping myself by using anything but what US bicycle consumers perceived at that time to be the best.
I say perceived because I always maintained that there was little or no difference between Columbus, Reynolds, and the Japanese brand Tange.
I don’t know if anyone ever did a blind test of all three, but I could never tell the difference in the ride quality, all three felt the same to me.
I did build a few high end frames in Reynolds 753 tubing which in my opinion was a superior material, but it was expensive to manufacture, difficult to work with, and could only be used by a skilled framebuilder.
This made 753 impractical for large scale production, and large quantities of a material sold to the mass producers of the bicycle industry is the bread and butter of the tubing manufacturer. They can’t survive on the piddling amounts of product sold to small artisan builders.
I believe 751 was more a prestige thing than a money maker for Reynolds and they eventually had to drop the product as unprofitable.
I always remained good friends with the people at Reynolds even though they wished I had used more of their product. I would also get calls or a visit from a rep from the Tange Company; I would also get the occasional free sample of Tange Prestige tubing.
So it was in 1991 I got a call from Scott McPherson of Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica, California; (I recently learned Scott is still the manager at Helen’s.) He was looking for something different for a customer, and I thought why not use one of these sample sets of Tange Prestige to build a custom Fuso.
The tube set came with a special set of lugs, the bottom bracket shell had a reinforcing web cast into it so it didn’t require a chainstay bridge. The rear brake bridge is an upside down “V” shape, and the front fork was made without a crown; the fork blades were filet-brazed to the steering column with a flat steel plate on the top to finish it off.
Also unusual either the customer or Scott requested I build the frame to measure 55cm. from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube.
I stamped it as 55 CTC on the Bottom bracket shell to avoid any confusion in the future, as I usually measured all my frames from center to top.
As far as I remember, this is the only Fuso built in Tange Prestige, making it one of a kind. The bike is still owned by the original owner, Andrew Rosen, who has kept it in pristine condition.