Dave Moulton

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« My West Coast Tour | Main | The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest »

It does my heart good

It does my heart good to see a frame I built thirty years ago still being ridden and enjoyed.  Ken Avchen who owns this bike said:

“I did consider building this one up with period correct components, but I thought this is the bike I want to ride, not just admire it, so I went with a modern group.”

So let’s look at exactly what we have here. This hand built lugged steel Fuso frame built in 1985 will give a ride quality and precise handling that is hard to replicate in a modern frame.

The modern Campagnolo components offer a far wider range of gearing than was ever imagined possible back when this frame was built. Add to this shifting between gears at your fingertips, and the far superior stopping power that modern brakes offer, and you truly have the best of both worlds.

Another important factor, Ken did not have to take out a second mortgage to pay for this. It is still a buyers’ market for vintage frames and ones like this can be had for $300 - $400 on eBay.

Sure some sellers ask a lot more, but I built over 2,400 Fuso frames between 1984 and 1993 and I recently counted only 277 on my Bike Registry.

This means there are a lot of my frames sitting in people’s garages and basements waiting to be found. I good supply for many years to come.

This particular frame is what I call the 1st. Generation Fuso. At the time it was simply a ‘Fuso.’

There was only one model. The two tone paint with the white decal panels does not date the frame.

It was unique, and never really in style, and for that reason it never went out of style. In my opinion it does not look out of place decked out with modern components.

At the time I wanted to do a paint job that was different. It wasn’t widely copied because it called for some pretty complex masking work that took time to execute. There were a little over 1,000 painted like this from 1984 to 1987.

Then as customers demanded more and more colors, and in order to cut costs, I simplified the decals, reduced the amount of masking, and offered the frame in one, two or three colors. (Picture below.)

The 1st. Generation Fuso also had the metal head badge, which was a nice touch. (See above left.)

This too was replaced with a decal on later models. When in business there comes a point where one has to either raise prices or cut costs. It is often wisest to cut costs, people don’t like to pay more.

Paint jobs were simplified to make them easier to apply, but the quality of the paint was never compromised. Neither were the materials used or the build quality. The charcoal grey and red 1st. Generation Fuso, like the one featured here, has always been my favorite.

Unless you are an absolute weight fanatic and you are looking for a nice riding bike that won’t bankrupt you, this might be the way to go. Let’s face it, unless you are going man to man on a mountain stage of the Tour de France the slight weight difference doesn’t really matter.

If you still want a new frame, you might consider one of the new Fuso frames built by my ex apprentice Russ Denny. Feast your eyes on this beauty below. He started to work for me in 1985, the same year the featured frame was built. So that is thirty years of framebuilding experience under his belt. Russ’s email is rdbikes[AT]yahoo.com


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Reader Comments (13)

2x Drool!

August 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSJX426

126 mm or 130 mm rear spacing?

August 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterayjaydee

It was originally 126 mm. rear spacing, and Ken would have had it spread to 130 mm. which can be safely done with a steel frame.

August 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Dang it ! this makes me want to go out and buy a newer gruppo for my Fuso !

Isn't it funny that a gorgeous hand made steel bike is also a budget bike? I still race on a Marinoni track bike, a Serotta Colorado road bike, and a Waterford built cyclocross bike. They are wonderful and don't hold me back at all from a performance standpoint. If I had to buy a carbon bike and replace it on a regular basis I couldn't afford to race.

August 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConrad
August 21, 2015 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Out of curiosity Dave, how many frames did you build that were larger (61-62 cm)?
I look for older steel frames and tall ones are very rare.

August 21, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

I don't have exact numbers, but the most popular sizes, and therefore the most built and sold, were mid sizes 56, 57, and 58. Next most popular would be 59, 60 and 61 plus equally the smaller 55, 54, 53 and so on through the whole range of sizes.
The very big ones, 64 and above, and the very small frames 51 and below are harder to find. But then again there are less people looking for those sizes, just as it was when they were new.
Look through my Bike Registry The last time I counted there were 277 Fusos listed. Count the ones in the sizes you are looking for and it will give an idea of the percentage. There were over 1,400 Fuso frames built, so with only 277 listed it means there are still a lot out there in all sizes including the very big and small.

August 21, 2015 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Russ's Black Beauty must be near the top of any top 10 of fine bicycles.
Thanks for the picture Dave.

August 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony C.

Great article as always. When it comes to fitting modern components on an older frame, what BB and headsets work best?

August 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Just order the BB with the group, ask for English or Italian treading for whatever frame you have. The bearings are outboard but they screw in the BB just like the old cups did. You will need the proper wrench, Park Tool has them.
If the frame has a front derailleur braze-on it will work with a compact 50/34 chainrings. If you have a clamp-on front derailleur make sure the clamp is 1 1/8 inch (28.6mm)
Cris King makes a wide variety of headsets make sure it is 1 inch threaded. You will also need to spread the rear end to 130mm, a good bike shop can do this.

August 21, 2015 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Thanks Dave.

August 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJW

quality article .worth of reading

August 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrobert william
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