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The Fuji del Rey

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The Fuji del Rey

Old 02-21-20, 09:45 AM
  #1  
eeuuugh
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The Fuji del Rey

Last month my Aerotek M4000 was stolen outside the local library. I had leaned it against the bike rack while I went inside to grab a book, figuring it would be fine... within two minutes a teenager grabbed it and rode off with it. My fault, which only makes it worse.

Until it was gone I didn't realize how important that bike was to me. Besides being my main form of transportation, I've been replacing and upgrading parts on it for five years with things scrounged from co-ops and flipped bikes all over the country, and many of the components were essentially irreplaceable even if I had an unlimited budget (SunTour command shifters, XTR rapid-rise rear mech, anodized purple chainring bolts and brake bits, out of production Daija stainless touring rack, the list goes on.) I spent a very depressed week riding my cruiser to work, and the next weekend began working on a new bike to ease my pain.

A year or two ago a friend found a Fuji del Rey in a thrift store for $15. They'd been looking for something lighter and faster than their current bike, but the del Rey ended up being too short. Just my size though, and I had issued them an IOU for a light, fast, tall build someday, and called dibs on the del Rey. Since then it had sat in their shed collecting cobwebs.

Maybe the members of this forum can relate--I form attachments to certain frame models. Generally not the high end. I love Schwinn Impacts and Preludes, the Giant ATB 760 and 740, Ross "Signature" frames, and the Gitane Tour de France. The Fuji del Rey was one of the bikes I'd admired for years. Solidly mid-level, decent tubing, reliable components, made for everyday riding. Towards the end of its production it became a hybrid/light touring model with unicrown fork. Now I finally had a compelling reason to build one up.

Apologies, I didn't take any before pictures or build pictures. After three full days of wrenching here's what I had.


I spared my parts bin no expense the technomic stem and albatross bars had been waiting for an appropriate build for years. Shimano 600 shifters on Silver bar-end pods. The Nitto front rack came off a craigslist purchase I posted about in Catch of the Day in December. Wheelset is early 90s Matrix aero rims on 105 hubs. The freehub was uniglide compatible with 8/9 speed spacing, which I'd never seen before. I was surprised at the tight frame clearances. Wearing 35mm Gravel Kings, I have to deflate the rear tire to remove the wheel.

The fender line took a lot of finessing. I had to modify a seatstay clip from a different set of fenders, and grind a millimeter or two off the bottom of one of the front brake arms. Also, due to the arm positioning of the Dia-Compe AC 400 brakes, I couldn't mount the front rack strut behind the brake. It has to sit on the brake bolt in front of the brake arms, which means I had to replace the original adjustment nuts with a nylock nut. This is the dangerous part of the bike and something I'd only do on my own ride. Nylock nut reversed for better friction engagement.

I was considering a new drivetrain but decided to keep the original cranks and derailleurs until I was definitely 100% keeping the bike.

And I'm glad I did, because three days later an LBS called me and had recovered my Aerotek! I had given them a description of it, and eventually the kid who stole it brought it in. He had crosschained it and the drivetrain locked up I knew the rear mech couldn't handle the 40t rear cog with the 46t chainring in front, but figured it would never come up. Never realized it would work as an anti-theft mechanism. The bike shop kept it for me and I had an extra Fuji de Rey on my hands.

I rebuilt the del Rey again, this time as a singlespeed, with some absurd fixie wheels I didn't know what else to do with. Here's what it looked like the other evening:

And this morning in front of the coffeeshop with a gold chain and higher gear, no further modifications planned:

I'm not certain it fills a niche for me. It just can't carry enough junk. It's a joy to ride though!
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Old 02-21-20, 12:30 PM
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Hmm, seems like the bike had more "soul" in its first configuration. Maybe that's just me.

So was the LBS pretty sure it ws the thief himself who brought the bike in? What did they do?

Love that NOLA architecture. I was only there once, and for a conference, so I was pretty-much leashed to the hotel. Wish I could've caught more of the local flavor of the place.
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Old 02-21-20, 12:52 PM
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Cool story! I am glad you got your bike back and now you have a second beater to either keep or sell off.
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Old 02-22-20, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Hmm, seems like the bike had more "soul" in its first configuration. Maybe that's just me.

So was the LBS pretty sure it ws the thief himself who brought the bike in? What did they do?

Love that NOLA architecture. I was only there once, and for a conference, so I was pretty-much leashed to the hotel. Wish I could've caught more of the local flavor of the place.
I agree with you about the first configuration, the blue rims and pink hubs with white spokes are extremely cheesy. I'm leaning into the cheese though. I don't think I would ride it as a multi-speed with my Aerotek available, but maybe I'll begin to appreciate having a zippy singlespeed around.

It was definitely the thief who brought it in. When I called the LBS to describe my bike--purple frame, black fork--the guy on the phone was like "fenders? I think I just saw a teenager riding it down the street..." Turns out the owner of the shop regularly helps the neighborhood kids with their bikes and knew him. When the kid brought it in he told him that he couldn't help him out anymore if he was stealing bikes, and the kid gave it up. He's 14 or 15 years old.

I've been in New Orleans ten years and love it here, we're hip-deep in local flavor at the moment since Mardi Gras is this Tuesday! Big parades every evening until then and crowds of costumed people following brass bands down the street throughout the city. I'm off work til Thursday, trying to take advantage of the break to work on a couple bikes and still enjoy myself
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Old 02-22-20, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
Cool story! I am glad you got your bike back and now you have a second beater to either keep or sell off.
i should probably sell it off, I'm not attached to the bike, but I'm strangely attached to some of the parts on it I've been holding on to the stem and bars for so long looking for an appropriate build. If I don't begin to ride the bike regularly it will be time to say goodbye though.
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Old 02-22-20, 01:23 PM
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I picked one of these up some time ago and rebuilt it to trade someone needing a replacement for his dad's inherited (and very beat to hell) Zeus. I loved the overall styling, the decals, colors and overall layout, it was quite striking to me. Super tasteful.

I would say though, for a 'feather' light frame, it was pretty heavy. I posted about it over here. Here's a pic (and more pics here):

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