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Video from an informal bike store meeting

Dave Moulton from Phil Strong on Vimeo.

The problem with being on a tour like this, so much time is spent traveling that there is little time to do anything else. Also I have not always been in a place with a good Internet connection. There are my hosts to consider, one cannot ignore them to work on the laptop. So forgive me if my reports here have been a little sparse,

Someone asked me, “What has been the best event so far.” All the events have been different, but all have been great. Take last evening at Wally’s Bike Store for example. A small group, but we had a wonderful collection of special bikes so we just stood around and discussed each one.

What made the evening special, was that Kyle Radford showed up, a complete surprise to me. Kyle and his brother Kent were the ones who commissioned the Recherché frame, I hadn't seen him since the late 1980s. I also got to see an old friend Phil Strong who owns the Fuso MAX frame pictured at the top of this blog.   

Phil also video taped the whole proceedings. Initialy there is a lot of traffic noise, but it gets better as we move towards the back of the shop.

Sunday morning early ( Oct 11th.) I will be leaving San Luis Obispo to drive down to the Greater LA area for a meeting at the Fireman's Union Meeting Room, 2026 N Riverside Ave #H Rialto, CA. (Easy access off the 210 Freeway. Behind Carl''s Jr.) 2 pm. Sunday afternoon.

On Monday 12th, Oct. 5:00 pm. I will be at Empire Bikes, in Chino Hills.


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Day 1: Portland

My flight arrived on time in Portland around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, but after collecting our baggage, then the rental car, driving the wrong direction on the freeway, getting stuck in rush hour traffic, it was almost 5:00 pm, the time I was supposed to be at “Bike Commuter.”

I made a phone call to Maria Schur the event coordinator explaining I was going to be late, I checked into our hotel room, but didn’t even unload our bags, and got back on the road again.

Then after getting lost again, thanks to false information from Google maps, I arrived at the venue an hour late. There was a small group of people, many had apparently wandered off and left, which I understand. After all it was a work  day, and how long are people going to wait for an old guy who used to build bike frames, and one who may or may not show up?

What made the whole thing worthwhile for me was meeting Henry VonJouanne, original owner of #262 John Howard I built in 1983, Henry and his wife drove all the way from Seattle, Washington just to meet me. We went to a restaurant across the street for dinner and had a wonderful evening.

I realized this trip is going to be about meeting with individual owners like Henry, more than anything else. Henry was 24 when he bought the frame, and has ridden it for 32 years.

This bicycle, an inanimate object has helped define who this man is. It has had a profound effect on his life. Meeting him last evening had a profound effect on me.

Top Pictue: Typical shot of me (Left.) talking bike stuff. Henry Von Juanne is center. 


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West Coast Tour: Itinerary 

Here is my itinerary so far for my upcoming West Coast Tour. I fly into Portland, Oregon on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 29th. September. I will hit the ground running with an appearance that evening.

Tuesday 29th September. 5 pm. the  Bike Commuter, 8524 SE 17th Ave, Portland Oregon.

Thursday 1st. October. 7 pm. Greater Eugene Area Riders (G.E.A.Rs.) Washington Park Cottage, 2025, Washington Street, Eugene, Oregon.

Sunday 4th. October, 3 pm US Bicycling Hall of Fame, 303, 3rd. Street, Davis, California.

Wednesday 7th October, 6:30 pm the Sports Basement, 1177 Kern Ave, Sunnyvale. CA.

Saturday 10th. October, Time TBA Wally’s Bicycle Works, 306 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA

Update: New event added, thanks to Nick Delia, at the Fireman's Union Meeting Room, 2026 N Riverside Ave #H Rialto, CA. (Easy access off the 210 Freeway. Behind Carl''s Jr.) 2 pm. Sunday afternoon on the 11th October. Bring your DM bikes along fo a mini bike show. Let me know if you plan to attend so we can get a head count for refreshments.

Monday 12th October, 5 pm. Empire Bikes, 4200 Chino Hills Pkwy, Chino Hills, CA

I was also hoping to meet people in San Diego, and/or Long Beach area. I could possibly squeeze in a couple more meet ups. I need suggestions for a meeting place. Any local bike stores interested?


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The Story of a Thousand Crowns

A Fuso owner emailed me recently and asked, “Why does my frame not have the FUSO name on the top of the fork crown? Did someone switch out the front fork?”

The answer is no one switched the fork, not all Fuso frames have this feature, in fact out of somewhere over 2,400 Fuso frames built, just 1,000 have the name cast into the fork crown. Yes, it was in the mold during the casting process, not engraved, which would have been cost prohibitive.

In the late 1970s early 1980s bicycle frame lugs, bottom bracket shells, and fork crowns became available made by an engineering process called “Investment Casting,” A way of making precision castings that come out of a mold practically ready to use with a minimum of machining or further preparation needed.

Also known as, “Lost Wax Casting.” The method had actually been around for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the ‘70s and ‘80s the technology became available to make the process economical and cost effective.

There is a video at the bottom of this piece that explains the process so I won’t go into it further here, but these cast frame lugs and other parts were a vast improvement over anything that had been available before. Although these cast parts were more expensive, there was a huge saving on labor and it enabled the framebuilder to build a far superior frame.

The first Fuso frames were built in 1984, I started the serial numbers at 001 and went on from there in sequence. The early frames had investment cast lugs and bottom bracket shell made by the Japanese Hitachi company. I used an Italian Cinelli fork crown. Later I used lugs and BB shells also made by Cinelli.

Sometime in 1985 a rep from the Cinelli Company told me that if I ordered a minimum of 1,000 fork crowns, I could have my own name or logo cast into the crown at no extra cost. So I went ahead and ordered 1,000 crowns with the FUSO name on either side of the crown top. (See top picture.)

When the crowns arrived and I started using them I was up to frame number five hundred and something, somewhere under #600. After that the next 1,000 frames had the FUSO fork crown, until frame number 1,500 and something.

When the crowns ran out, I can’t remember if the offer was no longer available, or it the price had gone up, but I never re-ordered and went back to the plain crown. So that is the story of the 1,000 Fuso crowns and the reason why all the frames don’t have it.

If you go to the Picture Gallery on my Bike Registry, and scroll down to the Fuso pictures, you will see Fuso #591 has the FUSO crown, and so does #1511, so presumably do the ones in between those numbers.

I would be interested to hear from Fuso owners with frames numbered just outside that numerical range with the FUSO crown. This will establish when the Fuso crown started and ended.

Update: After writing this, seaching through my archives I found this picture (Left.) of Fuso #439 with the named crown. So earlier than I initialy thought.


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My West Coast Tour: Update 1


This is how this three week tour came about. My Bike registry now has some 400 members who live on the West Coast.

For some time now I have felt that I would like to meet some of these owners of bikes I built.

I also realized the possibility some of these owners might like to meet me. So the idea was born.

I emailed the 400 members to see if there was an interest, and there was. Now to decide how long and when.

Every year I attend and take part in a private mini-music festival held the last weekend of September. The event takes place on St. Helina Island, South Carolina. We call it “Frogstock” because it is held at a place called Frogmore.

So that pretty much decided when. My wife Kathy has three weeks’ vacation, so that meant we could leave on the Tuesday 29th September, right after Frogstock.

It became apparent we couldn’t cover the entire west coast in three weeks, it either had to be from Washington to hallway down California. Or starting out in Oregon and going all the way through Southern California.

I chose the latter because there was far more response to my initial email from people in Southern California than from Washington. This was not surprising. My business was in SoCal, so that is where most of my frames were sold and where most of them still are to this day.

So our flight was booked to Portland, Oregon on the 29th September. From there I will rent a car and drive South to later fly out of Ontario, CA back home, on the 17thh October.

There was an almost immediate interest from a group known as the ‘Greater Eugene Area Riders,’ or G.E.A.Rs. for short. They a arranging a group meeting that will take place on the evening of Thursday October 1st. I will announce the venue and time when I have that information.

The word got out from G.E.A.Rs. and reached Maria Schur an event planner from  Portland. She contacted me and as a result I will be speaking at the Bike Commuter in Portland on the evening of the 29th September.

I will be at the US Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, CA on Sunday afternoon 4th of October. Empire Bikes in Chino Hills on Monday 12th October. 5 -7 pm.  

Obviously a lot of dates to be filled in, more to be announced later.


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