2006 Fuji Absolute 4.2 is a hit
The Beloved and I enjoy riding the Trek T200 with Baby Two on the back, but Baby One has been less enthusiastic about fambly cycling because she is prone to being dropped on her single, even on the uphills. So we decided to get another tandem a few months back, one on which Baby One (now nearly 11 years old) would easily fit, so that she could be a part of the action all the time. Our plan was for Baby Two to come on the baby seat on my Thorn Club Tour, while The Beloved captains the new tandem with Baby One as tail-gunner.
We got a terrific deal on an ebay Fuji Absolute 4.2 in Brisbane. I wanted a 700c wheel bike, while the short rear cockpit of the Fuji is great for kids. My friend Roq collected the bike from the vendor and packaged it up for the trip to Albany WA after a couple of rides with his kids. Organising the freight was a bit tricky but with the help of a local courier company we managed to get a good price and they agreed to hold the box at the depot for a few days until we came back from holidays.
I assembled the bike at the freight depot and rode it home. The bike is in excellent condition and only took 20 minutes to put together. There are a few scratches but only if you look closely. At home I installed SKS mudguards and Schwalbe cyclo-cross tyres, new stoker bars, a bunch of bells, a pump, new stoker pedals and swapped out the dodgy Fuji suspension stoker seatpost for a lighter rigid post. The brakes and gears needed some adjustments, only minor, although changing the rear gears remains a bit hit and miss, probably a combination of dry cables and cheap shifters.
The bike, ready to ride but without waterbottles, weighs 17.7kg which is appreciably lighter than the T200.
The ride is very neutral and predictible, especially with the 30c cross tyres. I am no fan of the flat bars but The Beloved, who captains this beast, is happy. The V-brakes are effective and simple to adjust and maintain.
Overall, we have been very impressed by the build quality, ride-ability and practicality of this tandem. Baby One is now happier about riding with us, she has a good burst of power when it's required and hops off with a smile on her dial. She has sometimes been spied with her feet up on the toptube while The Beloved does the work.
There are some limitations however. Only three bottle cage mounts, and one of these is quite impractical because it's on the stoker's lateral and there's not enough space for a full-sized bottle. There are no mounts for a rear disk or drum brake. There are no bosses for a low-rider rack on the fork. All this makes the bike good for day rides but not so hot for tours.
Baby Two is happy on the back of the Thorn and when he turns three in six months we aim to get him on the back of the Trek with kiddy-cranks.
Pictures of the new bike later today - we are off for a ride around the harbour now! It's 21c here in Albany and only light breezes, a very perfect winter's day in The Great Southern.
Now with proper handlebars
Baby One and I did a 20km TT in November 2013 on the Fuji and I really suffered on the flat bars and tall stem to get a comfortable, let alone powerful, position. I resolved to change the bike to drop bars. It took a couple of months to assemble the bits:
- Giant drop bars used for cheap from a mate
- Tiagra triple left-hand brifter used for cheap off fleabay
- Ultegra 9sp right hand shifter very used for free from TRH (originally off my old C'dale T2000 road bike)
- new stem/s to handle the 31.8mm bars
- new 9sp cassette and chain from CRC (on sale)
- Travel Agents to ensure the v-brakes work properly with the road brake levers - from the USA via fleabay because these are more-or-less unavailable in Australia
- cables inner and outer.
Doing the change-over was complicated by the fact that the new gear inner cable I purchased from CRC was really too short (at 2.5m) to reach the rear derailleur. Bear in mind that the Fuji is not a long bike compared to some other tandems. I got it to fit only by cutting 2-3cm out of the outer casings at both the shifter end and the RD end. Of course I had to shorten the outer for the FD by the same amount. I later acquired a longer inner cable and replaced the outers with longer sections so that I can change the captain's stem (longer, taller, etc) depending who is riding the bike on the day.
Depite using such old and battered shifters, the gear changes on this bike are very good, and it's always nice to have an extra cog at the back. The brakes work fine with the Travel Agents but I would change them to modern cantis if a nice set drifted my way for minimal cash outlay, just to reduce complexity. The pictures show a shortish stem set high for Mrs WPH. I used the adjustable pilot's stem that came with the bike for the stoker bars (lighter and not as long as the original).
Next TT I might even take off the mudguards and the 30c cross tires (and use 25c HP road tires) too!
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