I've decided to make a page about my Fuji. I have two main reasons for this: 1) It's a hobby. 2) Perhaps others can benefit from my experiences. Note: Updates appear at the bottom of the page.

How and why I came to own this bike.

Prior to this past summer ('09), I had not really ridden a bike regularly since before I could drive. Two realities convinced me that it might be a good thing to take it up again: First, it really hit me this summer that I am getting old, and am horribly out of shape. I want to fix the out-of-shape part of that. Secondly, my old (and perhaps genetically inferior) legs balked heavily at my first choice of exercise - running.

I really did want running to work for me. Back in my youth, I could run just like any other kid on the playground, but twenty years later, despite trying to gently ease myself into motion (walk-run-walk-run-walk-run), my shins protested.

Fuji Palisade
1986 Fuji Palisade,
as purchased in 2009

Having failed at my first choice, I decided to try the cycling thing. In my garage, I had the choice of my old Huffy Stalker mountain bike (complete with a baby seat), or my wife's little Jamis Dakota mountain bike. Neither was a good choice for my tall self on paved roads, but at least I discovered that I could enjoy biking without complaints from my body.

Once I had proven that, I decided that perhaps an actual road bike would be in order. New models were hard to justify, starting near $500, so late in the summer I headed over to the local Christian charity thrift store. They had some Schwinns, a Panasonic, and this Fuji. The Fuji felt the lightest, and had brand new tires. Sold, for $65. I realize that I could have probably found a better deal, but hey, it's a charity and my time is worth something too.

Since buying this bike, I have learned a lot about bikes in general and the Fuji Palisade in specific. As best I can tell from old catalog scans and the serial number, mine is an '86. The SN indicates late 1985, but the 1985 catalog does not include a Palisade. The 1986 catalog does, and the pictures look right. Based on the same catalog, the Palisade of that era was one of Fuji's better entry-level bikes. It features a "single butted" frame of Valite tubing. Valite is apparently a vanadium steel alloy. I'm not sure exactly how that compares to chromoly tubing, but it seems to be a definite step up from high tension steel. The fork is just high tension steel however. All shifters and derailleurs are Suntour. Crank is Sugino. Stem and handlebar are Nitto. The rear hub is a Japanese Sansin, while the front is a French Maillard (pronounced "My yard", as best I can tell). The front rim is also French, a Rigida. The rear rim is Japanese. Looks like the front wheel was swapped in from a French bike at some point. The tires are Kenda, and still have the nubbies on them. Both wheels have quick-releases. The brake system is Dia-Compe.

I'd never ridden a road bike before. The two things that I really had to get used to were the narrow drop handlebars and shifters on the stem. The handlebars I have grown to appreciate. The stem shifters still freak me out just a bit. No other bike I've ridden has required me to remove my hand from the handlebar to shift. I am doing it, but I am not yet comfortable doing it. The shifters are friction (no indexing), which I am used to, but indexing would have been nice to help minimize time spent riding one-handed. Perhaps those are something worth looking at upgrading in the future.

Front hub rebuild

Having never owned a bike with quick-release wheels before, I decided to pull off the front wheel and see how that deal worked. Quick releases are great, but the bearings sounded a little crunchy as I turned the axle. The wheel spun well on the bike, but things are far more noticeable when turning an axle with your fingers.

I had greased the front hub on my old Huffy many years ago, so I just refreshed my memory with some online tutorials and went to work. Rather than spending money on a set of cone wrenches, I adapted some flat stamped steel wrenches that I already had. Everything came apart and cleaned up nicely. Unfortunately, one of the cones was somewhat pitted. The cups were fine, however.

Maillard hub
Cleaned Maillard hub

It was at this point that I first noted that I was dealing with a French Maillard hub. It's a neat design, with a two-piece dust-shield system. Part of it is pressed into the hub (as is common), and part of it is pressed onto the cone (not so common), and the two interlock somewhat when assembled. Pretty slick. Turns out that it's also pretty hard to find parts for anymore. I tried three of the local bike shops. The third shop had two suggestions: Just run the bearing loose, or re-assemble the hub with some polishing compound on that side, ride a few miles, and see how things look then.

It hadn't crossed my mind that I could use the hub as it was, or that I could try to resurface the cone myself. After some pondering, I decided to stop driving around searching, and start grinding. I carefully chucked the axle (with cone firmly attached) into my 3/8" drill. I took some emery cloth and wrapped it around a screwdriver shaft to form an abrasive rod. Then I ran the drill with one hand, and carefully held the emery cloth to the cone with the other. I followed that up with a cloth and some polishing compound. I did not take off so much material that I actually got rid of all pitting, because I did not want to risk making the cone at all oblong, or misshapen. My goal was just to improve the surface somewhat. Then I went ahead and assembled the bearing with some of the same polishing compound on that side, and spun the assembly with the drill (using an old ball-point pen chucked into the drill, and poked into the hollow axle). I would have ridden the bike, but this was late fall, and there was snow on the roads. Once I took everything back apart, I was more-or-less satisfied with the finish. Pits remained visible, but diminished, and there was a nice polished wear pattern from the polishing compound. Good enough for what it is. Hopefully.

axle and cones
Maillard cones and axle (both
cones were black, but one turned
silver when resurfaced)

Since an abrasive compound had been used, I cleaned everything up again thoroughly. Once that was done, I reassembled everything using new ball bearings and water-proof marine wheel bearing grease. The old bearings looked fine, but I didn't trust them after running them through the polishing compound. The marine wheel bearing grease seems like an odd choice, but it is rumored to be remarkably similar to the real (and far more expensive) bike grease. I used Citgo grease, and found it very nice to work with. It's blue/green, tacky (holds bearings in place nicely while assembling), and not overly slimy or difficult to remove from skin. I whittled a chopstick down into a flat-ended tool for applying grease to the cups, and that worked well.

Since I had the wheel off anyway, I went ahead and wiped down the rim, and spent far too long polishing surface corrosion off of spokes. It did clean up pretty well.

Once assembled and clean, I put it back in the fork for adjustment. One thing that I was unaware of until recently is that a quick-release axle will actually compress slightly when installed. This affects the tightness of the bearings, and so adjustments must be made either with the wheel on the bike, or on a fixture to simulate being clamped in a bike. Everyone seems to have a method of their own, but generally it's as simple as making it so that there is a little bit of play in the axle while not under pressure, but such a small amount that it goes away when installed. And, of course, it should spin very freely. Considering the parts I had to work with, I think I got it pretty close. I will be sure to check it after I ride it a few miles, as I expect it to loosen up just a little bit.

Rear hub rebuild

Since the front hub was in somewhat poor condition, I figured it was probably a good time to check out the condition of the rear wheel assembly as well.

So, off came the wheel. That is a little more of a challenge than the front, because you have to deal with the chain and derailer, but not too bad with the quick release. Being an old bike, it has the old style freewheel, and not a modern cassette. Both look the same and do roughly the same job. A freewheel consists of both the ratchet mechanism and sprockets and screws directly onto the hub. A cassette is just the series of sprockets, and is held on to the ratcheting mechanism on the hub with a locking clip or something similar. This is only relevant to rebuilding the hub because of how much easier it would be if the freewheel was off. Unfortunately, that takes some special tools. Fortunately, it can be done with the freewheel intact. It just involves some serious reaching to clean out the bearing cup on that side, to fill it with grease, and to ever-so-carefully stick the bearings in place.

First things first though. With the wheel off, I had to create another cone wrench to fit this hub. Fortunately I had yet another old thin wrench that I could adapt. Then I pulled it apart. This hub looked to be slightly more worn overall than the front, but not at all pitted, thankfully. The whole assembly of the Sansin rear seems to be of slightly lower quality than the Maillard in the front. As best I could tell, the grease was 20+ years old. It had to be scraped away, even after soaking things with WD-40 for a day. Rags wrapped around a chopstick worked well for the hard-to-reach side.

While the wheel was off anyway, I took the time to straighten the stamped steel chain/wheel guard where it had been severely bent at some point in time. The freewheel was also feeling a bit gummed up and noisy. The approved method for lubing that bearing is to drip oil into it while spinning the wheel (or freewheel) to distribute the oil. When the oil gets inside as far as the ratchet pawl, you notice a change in the sound of the clicking. That's enough oil. Spin it a little more for good measure, and that's done. Oil seems like under-kill for a bearing like that, but from what I read, they aren't worth disassembling, which would be necessary for grease. If I was thinking, I might have used gear lube instead of motor oil. Maybe next time. Even with just the motor oil, the freewheel bearing is freed up and spins very well now, while the ratchet mechanism is a bit quieter.

As with the front wheel, I spent some time cleaning up the rim and spokes, though not as much time as I spent on the front.

Back to the hub itself, I gave it one final cleaning with some alcohol, applied grease, and assembled. The chopstick was vital for the rear, as was the really tacky grease. With the freewheel in place, I had to stick each ball bearing onto the end of the chopstick with a dab of grease, lower it in place, and stick it in the cup. I reused the old ball bearings after inspecting them closely.

I got the adjustment close, and then put the wheel on the bike. The adjustment should be done with the chain off, so that you can more easily gauge how freely the hub turns, without the added drag of the freewheel internals. Once I got that all set and tightened, the wheel came back off and was reinstalled with the chain in place. And, that's that. Once I get to ride a few miles, I will have to recheck the adjustment.

Bottom-bracket rebuild

The bottom-bracket bearing had some play in it since I bought it. That's never a good thing, so I rebuilt it. Coming from working on cheap bikes with one-piece cranks, the three-piece crank/bottom-bracket assembly concept was somewhat foreign to me. Once you know how it works though, it's simple enough.

First, the cranks had to come off. The dust-covers come off easily with a screwdriver to reveal a retaining nut or bolt, which also comes off easily. The cranks, however, do not come off easily without a special tool - the crank puller. A crank puller just screws into the internal threads of the crank (where that dust cover had been), and then an internal screw on the puller pushes against the axle the crank is stuck on. There is no non-destructive way to remove cranks without that tool, so I bought one and used it.

spanner
Home-made spanner
and locking ring

Once the cranks were off, that left the bottom-bracket itself. Disassembly requires one to loosen a locking ring on the non-drive side, and then unscrew the adjustable bearing cup (bottom-brackets are opposite of wheel hubs, in that the cups are on the outside, and cones inside). Unfortunately, again, removal of this locking ring without making a mess of it (not to mention tightening it with any measure of precision) requires a special spanner wrench. Fortunately, using a Dremel tool and a file, I was able to make one for free out of an old table-saw blade wrench. See photo.

bottom bracket axle
The axle

Using the home-made spanner, I removed the locking ring and adjustable cup. With the locking ring no longer tight, the adjustable cup just spins out without much force. I think I used my fingers, and maybe an occasional tap with a screwdriver. Then I was able to pull out the axle. The axle has integrated "cones", where the ball bearings ride. Naturally, when all of this comes apart, the ball bearings fall out. Sometimes, these bearings are caged, but mine were loose (which is better, since you can fit in one more ball without a cage). In my case, the grease was crusty enough that they had to be pried or pushed out. This completed the disassembly, as the opposite (drive-side) cup can stay in the frame.

cup and ring
Cup and ring, inside
cup and ring
Cup and ring, outside

Next, I cleaned everything up using rags, WD-40, chopsticks, and the like. Everything cleaned up well, and nothing was too worn to re-use. I also took the opportunity to clean up the cranks and chain-rings, and the lower area of the frame, since it's much easier while everything is apart.

bottom bracket
New bearings inside
the bottom-bracket

Reassembly was reverse of disassembly. I used new ball-bearings, because the old ones did show some wear, and because they are cheap. The final adjustment, much like the wheel hubs, is an attempt to get it to that perfect point where there is neither play, nor friction. Unlike the wheel hubs though, the locking ring pulls the adjustable cup away from the bearing, making it looser. You have to over-tighten the cup slightly, tighten the locking ring, and hope that the end result is perfection. With the old parts I was working with, perfection wasn't possible. I decided to err on the tight side, since then at least all of the ball-bearings are supporting the (slightly increased) load.

All finished then! I can now ride as much as I like, without feeling guilty about riding on a loose bottom-bracket.

Derailer-Bracket Straightening

The derailer on this bike (which I am intentionally spelling in the less common, less French, but perfectly acceptable way) has always been bent inward toward the rear wheel. It worked that way, more or less. It was noticeably less than smooth. The additional angles and twists that the chain had to negotiate made it very difficult to get the friction shifters in just the right spot for quiet operation. In some gears, it was actually impossible.

On one of my recent trips to a local bike shop, I asked what the charge might be to straighten a bent derailer-hanger. Unlike a cheap Wal*Mart bike, the hanger is an integral part of the frame. It can't just be replaced, it must be un-bent. The price to have that done would be about $25-30. The professional tool, if I wanted to buy it for myself, runs around $60. Neither of those seemed like great options for my relatively inexpensive bike and tight budget.

Some research on the internet yielded a few other options that have worked for other cheapskates. One was to use a fine-threaded 10mm bolt, threaded into the frame in place of the derailer, as a lever to push/pull things back into place. I don't have a 10mm fine-threaded bolt. The other method was to remove the derailer and use a simple adjustable wrench to crudely apply force in the general direction that it needs to bend. I have one of those, so I did just that.

The results are probably not perfect, but a definite and obvious improvement. The resulting, more correct, position of the derailer necessitated some serious adjustments to the end-of-travel screws. This tells me that it had been bent long enough before I bought it, that someone had actually made adjustments to compensate for it.

I am still quite amazed at how much nicer the bike shifts and how much smoother the drivetrain is. For the amount of time spent on it, this is probably the biggest single improvement I've made.

Spring 2013 update

Since the initial flurry of necessary work to get the bike road-worthy, there has been a gradual progression of minor repairs and upgrades.

Decluttering

It couldn't have been long after the initial bearing work that I removed some unnecessary items from the bike. The front reflector, rear reflector, and kickstand were all removed and set aside for the unlikely event that I might need them someday.

Storage and Hydration

As my rides got longer, it became more important that I could carry some small items and some liquid refreshment. Beka gifted me an under-seat bag, and I also added a water bottle cage; first a yellow plastic one that I had removed from my Triplecross, and now an aluminum unit that looks more appropriate for the bike. Now I typically carry several hex keys, some electrical tape, a tube patch kit, and in the bottle, some water.

Remove "safety" levers, add rubber hoods

I decided that for improved hand comfort, the top "safety" brake levers had to go, allowing me to install rubber brake lever hoods. Unfortunately, this change is not reversible without buying replacement parts, which may or may not be available, but I don't see myself ever wanting those awful things back on anyway. I like my rubber hoods.

Add lights

Much of my riding, being a 2nd shifter, is in the early morning hours after I get home from work, when it is decidedly dark outside. In place of my old front and rear reflectors, I now have a headlight and red blinkie light, respectively. I'm easy to see from the front and back, though cars don't seem to notice me very well from the side, despite the reflectors still on my wheels.

Better brakes

The braking power on this bike was always awful. To improve matters, I upgraded to a set of orange Kool Stop brake pads for the front. I don't really use the rear brake for much, so I didn't bother with those. The difference is noticeable, but I believe that there is still some excessive friction in the cables and housings. I plan to address that at some future point in time, front and rear.

Fourteen speeds, and a new chain

In the course of riding several hundred miles in July of 2012, my chain began to squeak. I measured it, and discovered it to be terribly elongated from wear. After my bad experience with wear differences between chain and cassette/freewheel on my Triplecross, I decided to replace both at once, and avoid trouble this time.

Sensing an upgrade opportunity, I replaced my 6-speed freewheel with a 7-speed. The 7-speed that I chose has a similar range from large to small, but closer ratios, smaller jumps, in between. Unfortunately, despite reading an article which indicated that some older 6-speed cassettes and modern 7-speed cassettes are the same thickness, mine were not.

Faced with the choice of sending it back or making it work, I made it work. This involved widening the frame at the rear to accommodate the extra width at the axle, re-spacing the rear axle to provide clearance, and re-dishing the rear wheel to re-center the rim on the axle. Dishing a wheel is basically truing a wheel with a sideways agenda, so it was effectively trued in the process, which it did stand in need of anyway.

To effectively measure the dish, I threw together a quick and dirty dish gauge, which consists of two wood blocks nailed to a wood beam, the assembly of which is spaced properly to span the diameter of the rim and provide a point of reference to measure the distance from axle to beam. The idea is to get the same measurement on both sides, centering the wheel within the frame.

The chain does rub just slightly while running in the smallest cog, which I could remedy with another thin spacer, however I never use that cog anyway. I simply enjoy having a closer-spaced set of midrange cogs, and could honestly do entirely without the largest and smallest.

I should also mention that even an inexpensive new cassette, like the Shimano Tourney that I purchased, shifts far better than the old designs ever did. This can be attributed to shorter teeth, ramps on the cogs, and the modern chain probably doesn't hurt either. With the old setup, I spent some time moving the shift lever around trying to find a quiet happy place. Now, it doesn't make much of a racket at all, even while going to shift. Suddenly it's just in the next cog, and quiet there too.

In the course of replacing the freewheel, I also removed the spoke protector from the rear wheel. I've never liked the things, and am capable on my own of not shifting my chain into the rear wheel.

True front wheel

While hanging up in the garage for a few days, the front tire inexplicably went flat, and would hold no air when I attempted re-inflation. The tube had simply worn thin in a spot, and so I replaced it. As it was conveniently off the bike and stripped of its tire anyway, I trued the wheel. I cobbled together a truing stand out of some spare wood I had around. It's flexy, but works well enough for my purposes.

Bar tape

Like most entry level bikes of the 1980's, mine came with foam rubber grips for the handlebars, rather than a wrap of tape as seen on pricier models, and vitrually all modern bikes. For years now, I'd wondered if I should upgrade to tape, and indeed, whether or not it's truly an upgrade at all, in comfort or in grip. Finally this year, I took the plunge, cut off the old foam, and carefully wrapped it with inexpensive black foam bar tape.

I can say for certain that it looks much better. Visually, it's a definite upgrade. I think that it also provides a greater level of grip and control. It feels more sporty. However, two 15.7 mile rides in, I am not sure the comfort is any better than my old, compressed foam. Perhaps I should have wrapped it thicker. Alternately, I may need to look at getting some padded cycling gloves. Then again, maybe I've just gotten soft over the long winter offseason.

Clipless pedals

1986 Fuji Palisade
Current condition
as of Spring 2013

On one memorable occasion last season, I was pedaling hard and a foot slipped off a pedal and into the rear spokes, nearly causing me to lose control. Not that veering several feet into a neighboring yard, though staying on two wheels, really qualifies as being in control. It got me to thinking over the winter that maybe there was something beneficial to being more firmly attached to the pedals. Thinking became researching, and pricing, and eventually resulted in the purchase of clipless pedals and cycling shoes. A purchase which, disturbingly, far exceeded the original price of the entire bike.

For pedals, I decided on Shimano R540. Entry level, but well liked by reviewers. Then, I splurged on some Bontrager Race DLX Road shoes. They fit oh-so-nice, and were on sale. I even bought some real cycling socks to compliment them.

After a couple 15.7 mile rides with them, I really like the feeling of being firmly attached to the bike. Despite my body's poor offseason condition, I already find myself pulling and pushing the pedals in directions either impossible or inadvisable with street shoes. Clipping in quickly and without looking down is still a challenge, but getting out hasn't been troublesome. Despite the horror stories I read while researching, I've not yet come to a stop and simply fallen over with my feet still locked in place.

As an additional benefit, it is possible to pedal with only one foot clipped in. Handy in cases where one might lose a foot or leg while on a long ride.

Winter 2016 Update

Several thousand miles have now passed since I initially purchased the bike, and subsequently went through the bearings. The past summer of 2015 was the first in which I used any kind of app to track each ride, and the tally was approximately 1000 miles. Prior years varied, but suffice to say that my trusty Palisade was now due for a thorough servicing again.

Being winter, it's cold out, and that includes the all-but-detatched garage which normally stores my bikes and tools. Perhaps it's a sign that I'm becoming old and fussy, but I decided to build a makeshift work stand in the basement, so that I could work on my bikes in relative confort. With age comes wisdom, they say. Rather than waste perfectly good trees building up from the floor, I simply cut hooks into the end of two lengths of 2x4 lumber, which I then attached to the floor joists. I even made them removeable by pulling metal rods out, so that they aren't hanging precariously in the way when not being used. It works.

Front Hub Triage

With my bike hanging in the basement, warm and at a comfortable working height, I removed the front wheel. If you scroll up, you'll see that the first time I had this hub apart, it wasn't pretty. One of the cones was significantly pitted, and I did my best to limp it along. On the perfectly sound advice of a bike shop mechanic, I had smoothed out the pitting slightly, assembled it a little on the loose side, and ridden on it. I do think that his advice was prefaced with a question of how much riding I planned to do however, and I'm quite sure that the miles I've put on this hub since then might have been more than I'd anticipated at the time.

Several thousand miles later, the former "good" cone was pitted worse than the "bad" one was before, and the former "bad" one was worse than before. The grease remaining contained a distinct and unhealthy metalic sheen to it. Toast.

There were a few options available. New 27" wheel assemblies can be purchased for around $40. While well-reviewed, these are clearly not superb components. Option #2 was to consider purchasing a comparable or slight upgrade of a used bike. This wasn't very appealing for two reasons. The first is that I'm attached to this bike now, and the second is that similarly upgraded bikes are pricey. It may be the devil at times, but at least it's the devil I know. The third option was to buy a used wheel. I put out feelers online, but no luck. Option 3b (as it's closely related to 3) was to find a serviceable hub, and lace that into my wheel. I was able to find an old Suzue hub at the bargain price of $2, with a flange size and offset that was... well, close enough. Lacking this, I would have resorted to purchasing a new hub for around $20.

Front Wheel Build (see "list of things I never thought I'd try")

Suzue front hub
The "new" Suzue
hub laced in place

I'll preface this by saying that it's not usually advised to re-use spokes, or to first attempt wheel building on used components. I can only imagine how much easier the process must be when a new rim is actually round, when threads are clean, etc. Since spokes and nipples would have increased the cost of the job by at least 1000% however, I decided to do my best with what I had.

The new Suzue hub is very close to the outgoing Maillard, however they are spaced a little wider from the center. The difference in required spoke length, for what amounts to an angle change of just a few degrees, is minor enough that the old spokes should be slightly short, but close enough. Still, there was enough uncertainty involved that I might have hesitated to try this if it involved spending money on a new hub, or taking apart one with life left in it. With little on the line though, I removed the tire, tube, and rim strip, and took tension off the spokes in half turn increments until it was slack, then completely disassembled the wheel. The spokes were dirty and dull, so I cleaned them up with some metal polish I had on hand, followed by a coat of automotive wax. Not only do they look better, but they also slid past each other smoothly and silently while lacing, tensioning, and truing the wheel.

Countless online guides exist to instruct in the lacing of a wheel, so I won't duplicate the steps here. I will say that once the mystery of spoke length is calculated, it's really not rocket science. In fact, there's something relaxing and methodical to watching a wheel come together and slowly become tight and true. For me, at least. I did use the same 3-cross pattern that was used in the original wheel. Changing to 2-cross would have given me more spoke length, but they likely would have been too long that way. Despite a one very small pit in one of the cones, the resulting wheel spins straighter and more smoothly than the orignal ever did. Time will tell how it holds up to a few thousand miles.

Rear Hub rebuild

Considering the condition of the front hub, and recalling the rear to be a little worn in the first place as well, it was with some apprehension that I disassembled the rear. The shaft still turned quite smoothly, but one side wobbled just slightly in my fingers. Taking it apart, I discovered that the axle was slightly bent on the drive side at edge of that cone, with that cone also being cracked right at the wear pattern. I'd read about this being possible but didn't imagine that my weight or power would be enough to cause such a failure. Since the edge of the cone came apart as I took it off of the shaft, I have to conclude that the damage happened since my last rebuild. Fortunately, my LBS of choice had a complete set of cones, spacers and axle, in stock. I'm told that they should be of higher quality steel than the originals, which gives me hope that such a failure might be avoided in the future. If parts has not been available, I might have been faced with another wheel job, or any of the other options considered for the front wheel. As luck would have it though, I was able to put it back together in a few minutes with fresh grease and the fresh axle assembly. It spins considerably better than it did before. While it was off, I cleaned up the freewheel, and trued it up. I added a little tension as I trued it, since I was always a little wary of how little tension was on the non-drive-side spokes due to the dishing. I also un-dished it ever-so-slightly, just to bias toward strength over perfect alignment. The new axle is a little long, so I removed the (completely useless, as far as I can tell) springs from the quick release, for added clearance.

Bottom Bracket Service

The bottom bracket is part of what originally prompted me to perform a full service on the bike this winter. I could feel some roughness in the crank as I turned it. With the cranks removed, it was particularly obvious. Using the same hand-crafted tools as I did the last time, I disassembled the bearing. There was some grit inside, and I suspect that some sand and water managed to enter the housing when I managed to get caught in a downpour once or twice this summer. The spindle appears to be in approximately the same condition as it was to begin with. Not spectacular, but serviceable. I reassembled it with fresh grease, for now, but this might be its last tour of service before being replaced.

Rear Derailer Service

The drivetrain of the bike seemed to be excessively draggy. Some of this could be traced to the bottom bracket, but a lot also seemed to be due to the derailer. I considered purchasing a new unit, but decided to see what could be done with the old one first. The cage and sprocket assemblies are held together with only two short bolts, one through each of the sprockets. Removing those revealed the bearings to be in good shape, but very gunked up. The plastic sprockets rotate on a simple metal bearing surface, the assembly being sandwiched between two metal caps which serve to keep dust out, that entire assembly then being sandwiched between the two plates of the cage. I cleaned all of the parts, assembled them with some light oil on the bearings, and then oiled all accessible pivot points for good measure. Everything turns quite freely now, so this old derailer will live to see another season.

Upgrades

Since the last update, I have crossed a few items off of my wish list.

I upgraded the brake levers to something more modern and ergonomic for the beginning of the 2015 season. I chose the Cane Creek SCR-5 levers, and I love them. The added length of the hoods has made me wonder about trying a shorter stem, but since that's a lot of work, I haven't yet. At the same time, I installed new brake cables and housings. I even took the time to solder the ends of the wire.

Mid summer of 2015, I finally upgraded the sadle to something kinder. I chose the Origin8 Pro Uno. It's quite firm, and took a little getting used to, but I think I like it. Within two weeks, I also upgraded the seat post to the modern style. The old post, the top of which was obscured by the old sadle, looked very wrong with the new sadle.

On the recommendation of a avid cyclist friend, I upgraded my front light to a Cygolite Metro 550. The pattern is a wide beam with soft transitions. It's easy to forget that the road is artificially lit, as you can simply see the road without struggling. On the high setting, it's excessive. With good road conditions, I usually run it on the lowest setting and save the batteries. USB charging means that I can stop buying AA batteries in bulk. It's fantastic.

What's next?

There was once a paragraph here listing several possible future upgrades, but each and every one of them has since been completed. Little remains to be done on the bike, but to replace things as they break. The headset is worn out, but it's not slowing things down at all, and it's expensive to replace.

Beyond that, if I feel that I outgrow the performance of this bike, I think that I would have to upgrade to a more upscale bike, with a better frame and components. Even if that happens though, I don't believe I could ever bring myself to part with my Fuji.

To be Continued...