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49cm. 1st Generation Fuso

I was recently able to buy a 49cm. 1st. Generation Fuso frame for my wife. Built in 1985 the frame has had very little use and is in near mint condition. 49cm. was the smallest standard size I made, although I did occasionally build a 48cm. special order, but these are extremely rare. The paint on this one is yellow and charcoal grey metallic. 

(Above.) This being an early model it has the metal enameled head badge which is a nice touch. I know the brakes are not period correct, but this bike is for riding and modern brakes actually stop, as opposed to the 1980s Campagnolo brakes that were more like speed modulators.

I found some Suntour Bar-End gear levers. Suntour was always looked on as a downgrade from Shimano. It was cheaper, but I never viewed it as inferior. Beautifully designed and well made these bar-end shifters are a good example.

If you are not familiar with these, when you pull back on the lever to shift down, it has a ratchet action that has very little resistance, just the resistance of the derailleur return spring. When you push forward to change up it is normal friction shift. But the friction now has the help of the return spring. This is a simple but ingenious idea that actually improved friction shifting. As far as I can remember the idea never made it to friction down tube shifters. 



Reader Comments (14)

Hi Dave. I enjoy the blog and look forward to updates. Actually, those micro-ratcheting shift levers did get made by Suntour as a down-tube lever set in the mid 80s, just prior to being bumped off in favor of indexed or "click" shifting. There are some nice reproductions being made with the name "Silver" from Rivendell Cycles, as well as a current set from Dia Compe. I have one of the reproduction sets, as well as one of the original Suntour sets -- they work wonderfully.

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Brooks

Yes, Suntour "Power Shifters" were available in bar-end, down-tube, AND stem-mount versions. They are wonderful shifters.
VeloOrange (velo-orange.com) sells a modern recreation of these shifters as built by Dia-Compe.

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Thurston

Hi Dave, Yes, Suntour made many great parts. Mid 80's XC pro pedals, hubs, seat posts, bottom brackets, bar end shifters etc... all great stuff. Shimano just made the index shifting / marketing move that sent Suntour and Campy running. Most people today have no clue about friction shifting. ( What are downtube shifters?) is a common question I'm asked. And when you explain it to "newby's" they can't believe how "difficult" it must be to actually take your hands off the "the hoods" to shift friction or indexed ( laughs!!! ). Funny how times have changed. Nice bike for your wife too !

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Nice bike, Dave.

I just re-built a 1970s Raleigh with Suntour throughout except for the hubs and brake levers (Dia-Compe). Suntour made some cracking gear and the power-shifters are fantastic. I've got a beautiful Superbe Pro rear mech which, unfortunately, doesn't fit my current set up because of the pathetically low gearing I now seem to need! One day, though - one day.......

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIzzy

Great looking bike like all the Fuso's! Thanks for sharing your aquisition! I have been looking for one in my size (59/60) but one hasnot come up yet.

SunTour was a great product. I have 3 1/2 sets of the BarCons and am happy with them except when standing to attack a hill. Sometimes the lower thigh hits the lever. I am using them with Campy NR derailuers and am surprised at the improvement over the down tube levers. My next experiment will be to replace the NR with a SuperBe Pro set.

I found that using Kool Stop brake pads make a significant difference and have a MTB version on my Universal 61 Center pulls. The bike stops, now!

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSJX426

I am currently putting together a set of brake handles that have been modified to take the Bar-Con shifter guts. Ratchet shifters on the brake hood. Not sure that I'll like them but they will look good on an old bike.
I do wish that any of my frames looked as sharp as this one of yours.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Superbe pro hubs were primo, the model that came with removable cups and 2 piece cones , so that you could covert to sealed cartridges if you messd up the cone . HAND

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlee

Nice bike for Mrs. M. made by Mr.M :-)

Gears look on the high side? No compact CS for the missus?

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I can't imagine selling a Dave Moulton, to Dave Moulton. Did the guy give you an original builder's discount?

[Ed]I am currently putting together a set of brake handles that have been modified to take the Bar-Con shifter guts. Ratchet shifters on the brake hood.
You mean like Retroshift levers?

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

That bike looks perfect!

Nice build, and nice find.

Suntour ... the first bike I got (as an adult, in the early 1980s) had Suntour shifters and (I think) derailleurs.

Worked fine.

I've always heard good things about Suntour, so ... what went wrong? They seem to have just disappeared.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheBigRider

Nice buy for M&M rides!

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Nice bike. Along the lines of the "power shifters" the first generation C Record (1986) down tube shifters on my Special Pro Road, used what Campy called "retro friction" which I believe used a cam and ball arrangement to the same effect. Again lost out to the indexed shifters of the mid to late 80s.

May 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHal Faulkner


That is a stunningly beautiful bike. Makes me wish I was your wife!


June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Another comment on retrofriction / power shifters.
My ca1984 Tom Board has the Mavic version of retro shifters mounted on the downtube. They are badge engineered versions of the Simplex retro shifter. Like the Suntour Power Shifters, they shift beautifully and were reputedly favourites of the pro peloton even in the SiS era, only losing favour with the introduction of STI.
My daughter's Mercian (same age as the Tom Board and much older than she is) has the down tube mounted Power Shifters, as did practically every bike in the touring club back in the mid-80s to early-90s.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkiwi_michael
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