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« Trackstand | Main | Let Down »
Tuesday
Feb072012

The Re-birth of Fuso

 

Russ Denny, who was my former apprentice, and who took over my business when I retired in 1993, is launching a new line of frames under the Fuso brand name.

The New Fuso will make its debut at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show (NAHBS) which takes place in Sacramento, California March 2 – 4.

The new Fuso frames will be built in steel, with the option of a steel or carbon fiber front fork.

The picture above shows three different models; all with oversize tubes.

The picture is of the frames in the raw state that have yet to be prepped and painted.

Note the built in stainless steel head badge.

Dave Lieberman, who is assisting Russ on the business and sales side of the project, told me the plan for this initial NAHBS showing is:

a.) That we are bringing back the original Fuso and geometry and keeping that to an affordable price, frame and steel fork

b.) Introduce a compact design, with one that uses lugs, and another that is tig welded.  Both using a more current design and oversized tubing, and a carbon fork, or optional steel if requested

c). Show some prototype version like the double down tube design

The bikes shown are as follows:

1.) Lugged oversize frameset (31.8x31.8x 35 down).  Lewellen lugs, Columbus life/spirit tubing, 6 degrees sloping top tube, stainless steel chainstays, English BB.

2.) Tig welded oversize frameset (35x35x38down , 38 headtube), Columbus zona tubes, 6 degree sloping top tube.

3.)  Tig welded oversize frameset with double downtube (35x35, 37 headtube), Nova tubes.

I am pleased that Russ (Picture right.) is sticking with the original geometry; this is a proven design.

The ride quality and the handling characteristics of the original Fuso is one of the reasons why it was so popular, and remains so amongst collectors today.

When I first introduced the Fuso name in 1984, I did so because I realized there were limitations to the extent my business could grow as an essentially one man operation, building one off custom frames.

By the same rule I could not plunge head first into a large scale production setup. I did not have the required capitol to make that happen, or money to launch the huge advertising campaign that it would take to generate the sales needed to support such a venture.

What I did was to make what I believe was a good compromise that proved to be successful for a number of years; I built the Fuso as a limited production frame. By having employees prepare and feed me materials, so I could devote my time to that which I did best, namely brazing the frame together.

Employees then did the finish work and painting. I built batches of five frames, (All the same size.) and for the most part managed to keep every size in stock for a quick delivery once an order was placed. At the height of production I had around six employees.

Many of these frames I built back in the 1980s, or perhaps I should say me and my team built, are still being ridden today; many are still owned by the original owners.

An even larger number still have the original paint intact; which speaks volumes for another American product, namely DuPont Imron paint.

Over the years I built up a network of bicycle dealers all over the US. This strategy was my success but in the end my downfall also.

When bike dealers switched to mountain bikes in the early 1990s the road bike market disappeared.

Today being in a small business is a whole different game. With the Internet and social media a framebuilder can have direct contact with his customers. A framebuilder can serve the individual customer better and still make a profit.

When Russ took over my business he had worked for me for eight years and could do anything I could. He survived during the hard times by building frames for other people.

It has been almost 19 years since I left, and in that time Russ has built a lot of frames. That is what it takes to become a world class framebuilder; you just need to build a lot of frames.

Although I am not directly involved in this latest venture, I am still excited for Russ. He has promised to build me one of the new frames and I look forward to riding it and writing about it here.

Watch this space, as they say

 

                         

Reader Comments (12)

More pics of the dual down tube bike! Please!

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Cool! Keep us informed as I haven't bought a new frame for decades.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I just read this post on a forum discussing Russ's new Fuso:

"A team i used to ride for was given FUSOs to race.. They rode and raced great. At that point in my life, when you were done racing a bike, you sold it to fund future adventures. I regret it.. I wish i still had it. A friend called me last year and said that he had seen my old bike in a second hand/hipster/fixie bike shop. I drove about 120 miles to get there, only to find out that it belonged to another guy on the team. I rescued it anyway, found him and then gave it to him. He was no longer riding. I scrounged up enough parts to piece it back together. I saw him about 6 months after that, he was riding. He said that it gave him the desire to ride again, and he was hammering... I still miss mine.. "

Stories like that bring home to me why I care about the old frames I built, and the new ones Russ is about to build. It is the reason why I write here on this blog. It leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling...

Read this comment and others here: http://www.velocipedesalon.com/forum/f2/rebirth-fuso-brand-25540.html

Dave

February 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I'd love to have one. New or old.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul S

I am just as excited to see Russ building steel as I am to see fuso making a comeback. I have a Denny and have been longing for another. Thank you Dave for... well... everything.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergf

Will a traditional horizontal top tube Fuso be offered? Sorry, I couldn't tell from the descriptions.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Bob.
Short answer, yes.
Dave

February 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Dave that is so awesome. You must be so incredibly proud...

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Graves

I've recently come to own a Recherche and love it! Seeing Fuso bikes back in production is very exciting. Now how do I convince my wife I need a new Fuso?

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan S

Hi. I still have my Fuso. Its a SS now. I raced it some but it had the worst shimmy of any bike I've ever ridden. I've seen Dave's blogs on how to engineer out shimmy, but that wasn't the case with mine. Over the yesrs it had different wheels and everything else was upgraded, but the shimmy never went away. At 40mph it is a fun house ride.
Any thought?
John

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Garnett

This is just an FYI as I know an good old Fuso is hard to find, I am listing a fine
50cm red lux on ebay. It will start tonight. Sun. 5-13-12 Frame # 1550
Thank

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRich

I just wona FUSO! I do storage auctions & inside my latest win was a FUSO - with 4 tires! 2 have flatten spokes & 2 are reg. spokes on Mav (?) rims.
I took the bike to my local Bell Bysysle to have tires & tubes replaced on the rims with flattened spokes and put on, gears & chain oiled & cleaned. While looking at it he said "78" which I thought he meant was the year, but from researching and reading these blogs, I'm now guessing it's the frame #.
It has Columbus under the seat & "Frame Designed by David (or Dave - took it immediately to my bike guy & don't remember exact name used) Moulton.

Can I get some info on this bike, please? I now ride a 70's Japanese Centurion, & usually sell the bikes I find (to support Joy's House; www.joyshouse.info - a sober house for girls I opened in my daughter's memory) but have never had a bike with such a pedigree, so noy sure what I will do.

One other thing - it had an unusual blue & pink(?) 2 tone paint job with a neon pink arm rest that the bike shop's owner told me to remove because it wasn't original to the bike.

Is this number 72 original FUSO?

Thanks!

March 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermiamibeachcg

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