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Monday
Oct242011

One of a kind

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.

 

 

                          

Reader Comments (15)

That's a beauty of a bike, with an exceptionally beautiful fork--I don't recall seeing one like that before, but they must be out there.

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterryan

Another beautiful DM masterpiece!

I recall the sloping forks popular in the 70's also had no "crown" per se.

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJW

BTW, what's behind the FUSO crest design?

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJW

A charming post, thanks!

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTimJ

JW,
Fuso is Italian for molten, like molten metal. It is a play on words of my name. The logo depicts the molten metal being poured into a mold.
Dave

October 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

very interesting article, i've always wanted to write my own blog but i don't have much time to do this,
regards from bhp

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbhp

Hi Dave, I have always heard that Reynolds 531 was very "comfortable" especially on long rides and didn't tend to "beat you up" as the so-called Columbus tubing was "said" to do. I have riden bikes with both brands and Tange Prestige tubes. But I think short of having bikes built of all the brands to exact specs for comparison rides, there may not be a way to tell. Also, as you probably know sometimes a builder / manufacturer will mix tubes to accomplish a certain effect.
An example I recall was to mix Columbus SL with SP on larger frames for some bikes to reduce bottom bracket flex? This might be just a "marketing ploy" too ! I am curious how the tube sets would perform on identically prepared bikes. Great post Dave ! Thanks.

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Brian,
I never heard the expression this or that frame “Beats you up on a long ride" until I came to the US. It is the hard physical exercise that beats you up; go dig ditches for 6 or 8 hours and see how beat up you feel, you don’t say this shovel is too stiff, it beats me up.

I ordered my Columbus tube sets with the heavier SP chainstays, you do not feel road shocks through the chainstays but it does make for a stiffer and more responsive rear triangle. I also put a SP down tube in frames 60 cm. and larger.
Dave

October 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Beautiful bike!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@Brian - Bear in mind that there are people who say that if a rock cost a lot of money it makes their stereo sound much better just by being in the same room. People say all sorts of goofy things.

The reason for mixing tubes is because various tubes have different butting and/or wall thicknesses. It's the wall thickness alone that makes the difference. SP and SL are the same steel. Differences between different steels themselves are so small that it takes a testing lab to detect them. Once built into a bike if you think you can feel a difference, well, I have this rock that will make you a faster cyclist if you sleep with it under your pillow.

Cheap price for you, mi amigo.

The principle difference between steels is the strength. Stronger steel allows thiner tube walls. Thiner tube walls make for lighter bikes, as, give or take a few sub atomic particles, steel weighs what steel weighs.

A Hi-Ten frame weighs more than a Reynolds frame because it's got more steel in it (to make up for the weakness). They're really quite the bargain in the normal way of looking at things, but then we live in a world where people have been convinced to pay more for "food" without calories and think they've come out ahead somehow.

People are funny critters.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkfg

I still ride my DM Fuso (love the logo-I worked at Homestead Steel Works) bought from Terry Shaw in 1987. It's now converted to a fixed gear for town use. I had Ed Litton repaint it 15 years ago and I still get a lot of nice comments on the frame.

November 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan G.

Dan G,
Is your Fuso on my bike registry?
Dave

November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Great post Dave, I remember asking you awhile back about the differences in tubing, especially the brands. Now I know there's not much difference between them, thanks for solving this for me. And another beautiful velo on display...

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Graves

David,

I purchased many years ago a Fuso frame that is number 2374. The stickers on it state that its Reynolds 753 tubing. The bottom bracket is stamped Reynolds.

Can you give me any information on this frame set?

Respectfully,

David
St. Paul, MN

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Lee Meisenburg

Bicycle Guide did an article where they had identical frames made using different steels and then all painted the same. They then had various riders test them and state their preferences.

The results were conclusively inconclusive

You can find the article here

http://www.habcycles.com/m7.html

PS - Maybe that's why Colnago liked the fluted Gilco tubing. At least it looked special

September 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteveP

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