Friday, August 03, 2007

Still bargains to be found out there

I recently heard from two people; each had a story of how they came across a Fuso bike under unusual circumstances and how they purchased those bikes at a bargain price.

Ed Arlt who lives in Northern California was telling a friend he was thinking of upgrading from his hybrid to a road bike. His friend told him of a neighbor of his, an older gentleman in his eighties, who wanted to give away his Fuso because he could no longer ride it.

Ed had never heard of a Fuso, but did an online search and within minutes knew he was on to something special.

He jumped in his truck, drove over and introduced himself to his friend’s neighbor. He was taken to the garage and there behind the lawnmower was a red Fuso in nearly new condition.

The owner told Ed he bought the frame from a Bay Area bike shop in the early 1990s and he hand picked all the other parts and had it built. He then rode it for a couple years until poor health caused it to sit for the last 10 years.

He wanted to give it to someone who would use it. Ed, to his credit, did not feel comfortable accepting such an offer, and paid the old gentleman $200 for it. Still a tremendous bargain.

The serial number on the frame is #100 which makes it even more interesting. It would have been built in 1984 the first year of production, but must have hung in the bike store until the early 1990s. The bike is pictured above.

The second story I received from Mark Worden who told me he came across a 30th Anniversary Fuso (1987) at a garage sale in Encinitas, CA. The owner told him it had been sitting in his garage for the past 18 years.

The frame was near pristine, but the components were slightly pitted, and the front derailleur clamp was broken. It had a $300 price tag on it, but after some wheeling and dealing, Mark came away with the bike for $75. The owner’s wife told her husband “Just get rid of it.”

Unfortunately, the frame was too small for Mark, but he passed his good fortune on to a friend of his who loves the bike. He wasn’t able to send me a picture, but told me he is now looking for a 58 – 59 Fuso and hopes he can repeat his good fortune. You never know he might just do that.

I built close to 3,000 Fuso frames from 1984 to 1993. Most were sold in Southern California. San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, and Los Angeles. A fair number also went to the San Francisco Bay Area. The rest in smaller numbers went to various parts of the US.

Where are these bikes now? I believe a lot of them, like these two examples, are sitting in garages unused. They are just waiting to be liberated, and I’m sure I will be hearing more stories like these in the years to come.


John Natiw said...

Beautiful looking frame Dave. After reading your blog for some time now, I'm officially on the lookout for a Fuso.

Thanks for the great articles.

Unknown said...

Just saw a well-loved FUSO behind the repair counter at Bicycle Odyssey in Sausalito. Was getting spruced up a bit, and looked like it had some wonderful stories to tell!

...the one time I left the house without my little camera...oh well!

Anonymous said...

I'll try and post this story in a million words or less.

A good friend of mine had introduced me to the Fuso brand (and you, Dave) about 3 years ago. He basically said that if I ever had a chance to purchase one, that I should as it was the best riding frame he had ever been on. Truth is, I didn't put too much stock into that because we all seem to have our favorite bike frame/maker and would say the same about our favorite. However, one weekend, while in the middle of fairly long ride, I stopped for coffee. As I was removing my helmet, gloves, glasses, a gent pulled up on a bike and dismounted. I managed a peek at his frame and yep, it was a Fuso. I asked him about it and he told me that if I ever had the opportunity to purchase a Fuso frame, I should because it was the best riding frame he had ever been on. Well, after hearing that exact comment from someone I didn't know, I knew I had to get one.

After a few unsuccesful bids on Ebay, I managed to find one on my local Craigslist. It was a 61cm, but knowing how they were sized, I knew I was going to look at a 59cm frame. Never mind that I ride a 57cm frame, I was going to purchase this bad boy no matter what.

The gent was the original owner and had purchased the bike in the Los Angeles area while he was living there. He had moved to the SF Bay Area years ago and had used the bike to ride back to SF from his summer home in Canada every summer following his vacation. He said he had lots of miles on the bike, but was not sure of how many. Needless to say, the decals and paint showed years of much riding, but it was still a Fuso and it was going to be my Fuso. I didn't ride it, didn't sit on it, didn't test anything....just bought it for his asking price.

When it got home with me, even thought it was past 9pm, I couldn't wait to tear it apart, so I spent a few hours removing all of the components. Once the frame was bare, it received a thorough look over. Structurally, it was in perfect condition, but cosmetically, it looked worse than me. I called Mr. Denny to check into a respray and new decals and while I'm sure it was a very fair price, it was much more than I wanted to pay at that time.

I chose to have the frame powdercoated and while that may appear to be a mortal sin, the frame was absolutely gorgeous when it was returned to me. It was built with NOS Campy Athena equipment (sorry, I'm a Campy guy)and was very stunning. Unfortunately, the height was a problem for me and I never felt very comfortable on it. I had thought that in frames, as in love, how much difference can 2cm make? After a few rides, I felt like a woman scorned and couldn't help but think of my ex-wife! But that's another story better left for another day.

And so, my Fuso is now someone else's Fuso. Before I sold it, I made sure the buyer had been to your website to read about the Fuso's heritage. That done, he was eager to buy.

I have pictures of the Fuso when I purchased it and when it was changed over. If I can ever figure out how to post on here, I can send before and after pics.

Still on the lookout for either a 56 or 57.

Anonymous said...

Very cool to have a legacy like this and a fresh crop of new stories coming along all the time. My curiosity is peaked...

Ed Arlt said...

Hi Dave, thanks for posting a story about my bike. Just a bit of an update. The origional owner was Jacob M. He purchased the bike new at The Peddler in El Sobrante Ca. He lived in San Francisco at the time and talked fondly about bike riding days around the bay area. From our talks, I believed his memory had faded and he actually bought the bike earlier and had sat for many more years. Jacob was fully aware that he owned something special. He had refused to give it to my friend, as he had made it known he would just sell it.

I plan on riding the heck out of it until the day I pass it to someone who will enjoy it as much as I. Ed

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a bargain indeed. I felt lucky to have picked up my vintage Fuso frame (#216, 54cm) from an Ebayer up in Monterey for $325. Still worth every penny!