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Find This Frame Worthy Of New Components

Reviewing: Fuji Finest  |  Rating:
Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Outdoors & Recreation Expertise:
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This was a high-end road bicycle when it was new 30+ years ago. Although the exact bike is no longer made, if you find one of these frames it is definitely worth cleaning up and refitting.

Back in the day when we were doing a lot of bicycling, hubby bought this for my birthday one year. I think it was about $350 back in 1973ish. That was a lot of lettuce! The lower end Fuji bikes were pretty much junk, but the Fuji Finest, their top model, did everything right.

For starters they made a wider range of sizes than a lot of manufacturers did back then. I am short, and they made a 21 inch frame (center of the sprocket hole to the top of the seat post tube. So, for the first time I had a bike that wasn’t too tall for me! Of course, they went all the way up to a 27 inch frame for those tall guys! The bike, with all components, weighs a mere 23 pounds- really lightweight in the days of steel bicycles.

The frame is entirely made of chrome. Portions are painted over, but underneath is a metal that is very resistant to corrosion. You may see some rust spots in one of my pictures, but those are surface blemishes and could be easily removed. It is a fully lugged frame. That means that those fancy fittings you see where the front tube meets the top bar aren’t just for decoration. Those tubes aren’t just welded together where they meet. They fit into a separate piece called a lug (the fancy thing) and are brazed together with a filler metal. This makes the joint much stronger.

Let me say that this bike, after being ridden hard for about 25 years was put in the shed and left there for 10 years. The back axle broke and I just didn’t have the motivation to fix it, since I bought my Diamondback Sorrento mountain bike so that I could ride on dirt roads and trails.

But as a gift, this fall, hubby fixed my road bike up so that we could ride together more easily. If you find one that is only a frame or hasn’t been taken care of you will probably need to get it fitted with new components, but just in case you are wondering, I rode this bike Coast-to-Coast in 1986, and on several 500 -1000 mile rides in other years. I rode it to do errands near home. I rode it everywhere in Ann Arbor when I was in grad school (except when I had to carry some large object that required a car). And it still has its original crankshaft (3-piece), front cog, rear sprocket, chain and derailleurs! This just goes to show how well good components can last if you take care of them. I won’t cover the components in this review since it’s unlikely you’d find the bike with the same ones. It would be more important to be sure that the frame is not bent. There isn’t any help for a bent frame (that is worth the expense).

The only thing I didn’t like about this bike is that the distance from the seat to the handlebars is a little long for me, and this is surprising because my length is all in my body, not my legs. It wasn’t much of a problem except on trips where we rode a lot of miles in a day and then it could cause me a little bit of a backache.

This one had been fitted almost as a racing bike with a 13-24 rear sprocket (a real racing bike probably would have had 11 as the low number). But if you find one of these it could have any size sprocket on it since they could be ordered with any combination of gears. The gear levers mount on the drop tube, and to change gears you must learn to “feel” where the chain is. In other words, the lever doesn’t click into set positions for the gears. The kind that click almost always develop problems.

Fuji does still market a high end road bike under the name Fuji Finest, but it is almost a completely different bike- most of it isn’t even metal! I have no experience with the newer models. But I can assure you that the older one certainly lives up to the name.

Just for fun I included a picture of the bike and me at the Atlantic Ocean at the conclusion of that Coast-to-Coast ride!