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Mt. Fuji Meets Mt. Rainier? 27" / 68.5cm 1985 Fuji del Rey

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Mt. Fuji Meets Mt. Rainier? 27" / 68.5cm 1985 Fuji del Rey

Old 11-21-21, 01:39 AM
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RiddleOfSteel
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Mt. Fuji Meets Mt. Rainier? 27" / 68.5cm 1985 Fuji del Rey

Or in other words: Tall Bike Meets Tall Man.

I had my eye on this extremely lofty-tubed machine for many months, finally speaking to the seller and making an offer. Why does a self-avowed 65-67cm frame rider go Full Scaffolding and pick up a 27-incher? Well, I had a 1983 Nishiki Olympic 12 in the same size, but with a 24" (61cm, if not a hair more) top tube with requisite short stem, and in part, wanted another shot at these large creations, just with a more favorable top tube length (and resulting overall proportion). I had built that Nishiki up as a winter rider, and thus, quite heavily. Tires were 900g each. Holy moly. Not that this Fuji is a flyweight; as bought, it weighed 27.5 lbs (12.5 kg). And with reflectors and other unnecessary items removed, plus SPD-SL pedals installed, it came in at 26.75 lbs (12.16 kg). Another part of me wanted to not have to run Rick Dorkulous levels of stem height (aka Technomics)--bring the top tube to me. And finally, curiosity. What would it be like out of the saddle? Too heavy? Too sluggish? Too awkward looking for my tastes? Better or worse than my memory of the Nishiki? The new winter/rain bike? Who knows???

For the future and the curious, more numbers from your local Steel friend:

Frame size: 27" / 68.59mm CTT (seat tube runs another 1/8" of an inch above that intersection, FYI).
Top tube length: 23.5" / 59.7cm (longer than the stated 23" stated by the seller on ebay, but that's not surprising as we know)
Seat post diameter: 25.8mm (wish me luck in finding a non-fluted and engraved replacement!)
Chain stay length: 44.0cm @50% (aka midway) dropout
HT and ST angle are officially 73.0°/73.0° and I am getting essentially that via iPhone angle finder.
Front center: 638mm
Fork offset: 56mm
Trail (with 27" wheels and these tires): 46mm

Quad-butted Valite tubing, 52/42 chainring gearing (on a 110 BCD crankset, mind you!), 14-30T 6-speed rear gearing. Suntour LePree shifters, derailleurs, and hubs. Sugino RT crankset, Dia-Compe brake levers and calipers (standard reach). 27" Ukai rims (gloss black spoke bed, unpainted/silver brake tracks). 37cm (CTC) handlebars at the brake levers (with disintegrating hoods). I do appreciate the amount of LePree--almost groupset level uniformity, or at least more so than pretty much any other mid-level build.

So, let's get some photos of this thing, assembled from it's shipped state:

Saddle height is close, but angle and height needs adjustment downward. Handlebars need slight rotation.


Hoods were/are literally falling apart. Left hoods is being held on by petrified form and gravity.


Missing the conical lock nut on the front. Bummer! I should have an extra rolling around somewhere, or know someone who has one.


Just in case you didn't know what the down tube decal said...


Suntour LePree....L? Very brief research reveals something about avoiding copyright in other places? Whatever it is, these components are in great shape, as is the frame's paint. Just needs some waxing.


Smart-looking derailleurs, I must say.


Not some all-black painted rims that relied on brake wear to turn the sides silver, this look was intentional, like many modern rims of today. I think it really looks slick on this bike.


I appreciate a ruler, but not on my seatpost. Likewise the oddball 25.8mm diameter.


Aside from the missing seat tube "FUJI" decals (between the bands), the decals were in great shape.

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Old 11-21-21, 02:10 AM
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I should mention that another big reason(s) for the 1985 del Rey was that it was not only the highest-ranking bike to come in a 27" size, but also with downtube shifter and twin bottle cage mount braze-ons, especially in comparison to the (beautiful) 1984 del Reys. No, recessed nut brake caliper mounting was not available yet, nor, per research, did it ever become available as Fuji moved away from 27" offerings (the few they did), let alone 27" offerings in any sort of decent rank. True to 1985 as a model year for bikes, it was very good for the del Rey, in my book.

So, what are my goals for the bike? I'd like to keep it original minus some new bar tape, brake levers and calipers (better power, ergonomics), and perhaps some sly indexed shifting that allows use of the great-sounding freewheel. Yes, I'd like to keep the 27" wheels! But not the hardened, decaying 27" x 1 1/8" tires (that measure 24-25mm instead of 28mm....).

But first a test ride:

How is it? Not a noodle, that's for sure. This bike I feel 100% natural and comfortable on. Yes, the frame's top tube is giving a warm welcome to my own frame (or the softer portions of it), but once in the saddle, this is of course not an issue. Steering is beautiful and steady, even with the super narrow bars. I actually like them a lot! Now, the 42cm bars that I normally run, plus 175mm-length cranks (up from 170mm here) enable a good bit of rocking back and forth when out of the saddle--in notable contrast to this current setup, which prefers an upright, low-histrionic sprint style. The bike is smooth over good pavement, and its small tires dislike rough patches, like anything else. Very stable, essentially no shimmy when pedaling at nearly 20 mph without hands--something that can't be said for my smaller Trek 720. The LePree shifters are tired, in spite of them and the rest of the bike being in excellent visual condition. As such, nearly 40 year-old vintage shifting is crummy--dry and chunky chain, rough-cut gear teeth, friction shifting that won't hold its position despite tightening. The brakes are very kind--something easily fixed with a closer pad-to-rim position. And new pads, of course.


This French Fit to the Moon setup looks better in person, though plenty fine here in photos. At least to me.


This evening, I went to a local bike shop to pick up some Shimano indexed 6-speed shifters, working off an encouraging scenario where a few years ago, I got Shimano indexed 7-speed shifters to work a 7-speed cassette via a Suntour Superbe Tech rear derailleur. I was not so lucky this time. So I tried some 7-speed shifters I had lying around. Better, but still far off. I looked at shifter pull ratios (thanks, Art's Cyclery!) and tried a 9-speed shifter setup, this time being Dura-Ace 7700 STIs hooked directly to the derailleur (not downtube shifters). BINGO.

Why bother, eh? Well, my initial goal here has been "enhanced stock" more or less. At 9-speeds (Shimano-wise) to run a 6-speed freewheel, that ROI is a bit lacking. I'm trying not to just Dura-Ace all the things right away, but apart from trying Suntour indexed shifters (more research needed there), it's likely prudent to change to 700C wheels and move things to higher cog-count indexed shifting. And yes, I do have rims that are black/silver (Mavic Open Pro blacks) that would look great with this. I have considerable tire clearance, and I am very confident this Fuji can hold my 620's 39mm-actual 42mm tires (not that I'd run them, but just to show capability/capacity), much like my '81 Fuji S12-S LTD did.

More to come.
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Old 11-21-21, 09:33 PM
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Looks like a nice example, we'll taken care of. One of my first bike rehabs was a small Del Rey(maybe a dozen or so years ago. Seemed like a nice mid-range bike with pretty good parts.

It'll be interesting to read your take on this after some miles, and comparison to your Treks. It's kinda funny how back in the day folks were running 170 cranks on bikes this big. I understand that multiple sizes in various cranksets weren't the norm 40-50 years ago.

My 67cm Lyon has 200mm Zinn cranks. I'm actually looking forward to some 175-180s in the future( mostly so I can raise the saddle an inch...
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Old 11-22-21, 12:12 AM
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It really does look well taken care of. It still surprises me that it's a midrange bike that hasn't been beat to death. I'm going to do some very basic wheel setup testing to see how I like a larger 700C tire (let alone 27" tire) and what it does to the steering and handling. Maybe it's me learning a lesson from my 620, or just really liking my 420 in stock and 32mm tire form as far as steering and handling goes). This, to the point of leaving the narrow bars on and just enjoying the bike as originally built, with just select upgrades.
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Old 11-22-21, 12:24 AM
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Part of my wheel/tire experimentation is seeing if it would take the 620's almightily huge Soma tires. I was confident of it, and was not disappointed. Any more now, the bike looks better and more proportional in person than is portrayed in photos, which means you all are missing out!

The 42s were cleared with a little room to spare, which bodes well if I wanted to run Soma 38s (measuring 35mm as opposed to the 42s that measure 39mm) with fenders. Thanks to their size, they in some ways "correct" the proportion of the 27" frame. They also add 1/2" to 3/4" of stand over height (over the 27" wheels/tires) to an already very tall bike.

Fuji had fun with the del Rey models in that they had some really intriguing aesthetic compositions. Not many played with black painted/anodized components on lesser bikes in the mid-'80s it seemed. But Fuji did with the 1985+ del Reys. To my modern design mind all these years later, the aesthetic precedent it set allows me to either carry the original black/silver proportioning, move further silver, or move to gloss black. It wears the 620's wheels decently well, but I'll be putting Open Pro blacks with silver spokes and hubs on it, keeping the original wheels' color theme. No matte black spokes or any of that--must be classy!


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Old 11-22-21, 02:09 PM
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Quick coasting-only test ride down a slight incline with some low speed turning told me what I needed to know with the 42mm Somas. They are very comfortable over crummy pavement, but they make the steering (predictably) sluggish. The stand over height increase of over half an inch also is not preferred. Since my 33mm Somas end up with essentially the same outer diameter as the 27" tires on the bike, I will very likely use those to maintain the same feel and character while increasing comfort and dropping weight. I'll have acres of room for fender mounting as well, which I am looking forward to.

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Old 11-22-21, 04:00 PM
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Official frame/fork/headset weight: 3,974g

This is heavier than my initial wild guess of 3,800g but at least lighter than my "I hope it's not more than this" guess of 4,000g. At this rate, if I run the same parts that I have on my 720, but leave out the Brooks B17, I'll just duck 26 lbs, which actually isn't that bad for a fendered bike, and certainly not bad for a mountain of a frame such as this. Perfect.

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Old 11-23-21, 05:11 PM
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If you're looking for brake reach requirements for a 700C conversion, the rear brake will require more reach than the front. I had picked up some numberless but otherwise new "used" Tektro calipers that I thought were of the 47-57mm standard reach variety. Tested them on the Fuji and they were short. Well, that's not good, even if I wasn't going to use them anyway. Time to see if the R539s, currently mounted on my 420 (that I'm selling), would reach as they're stated reach range is 47-59mm. Not wanting to disconnect the lines from the 420, I had to get clever with getting the Fuji's mockup 700C rear wheel up on a shoebox.

Funny setup, but it works!


Pads at their lowest point in their slots. Plenty of reach on this side.


This side will swing and rotate up slightly due to pivot location, but it's no contest. Good to go on this side.


I have ordered a recessed nut to nutted mounting kit from Tektro and will be swapping the calipers from the 420 to the Fuji. I'll keep the adjustable-angle cartridge pads on the 420 because I believe in good brake pads, not sad ones. The new calipers, still dual pivot, will have less reach but still plenty for the 420, with that reduced reach not looking as silly due to the pads not being far up in their slots (especially in the front).
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Old 11-24-21, 07:51 AM
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I love this shade of mid-80s Fuji Gray.
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Old 11-24-21, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by OutnBack View Post
I love this shade of mid-80s Fuji Gray.
Me, too. Fuji did a really good job with colors during this era.
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Old 11-29-21, 02:50 PM
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Sometimes I can't believe I got a used vintage bike/frameset that essentially needed no paint work, even if I pay decent money for it. Too many rescues I guess? Regardless, even I thought that Fuji cheaped out on their mid-'80s paint vs my former '81 S12-S LTD. Not to fear, some rubbing compound and carnuba wax put those concerns to bed. Mild metallic actually, and a tone that nearly matches my long ago sold '89 Schwinn Tempo, which I have very fond memories of as it was one of my early road bike purchases when I was just starting out in this whole adult bike/vintage bike thing. The paint on this Fuji is in much better shape, though, and now it is ready for building!!

It still needs the seat tube "FUJI" decals, but they are in the mail and will thus be with me soon.


All that head tube. Nice lug lining on this one. Subtle and clean.


The decals have cracking in them, but otherwise present very well.


Better lug lining detail. I cleaned the headset cups and fully overhauled the headset. Spins nicely.


More gloss.


Even the bottom bracket area turned out well!
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Old 12-03-21, 04:21 PM
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While I wait for decals to come (today?) and for myself to do some wheel work (700Cs going on this), I have some fun number nerdery to share, specifically with regard to total wheel system weight (minus QR skewers): Wheelset, FW/cassette, innertubes, and tires.

As we know, these are the OEM 40-spoke 27" wheels with very vintage, if nearly original 27 x 1 1/8" tires (that measure 24mm, not 28mm/1 1/8"). The freewheel is a 14-30, 6-speed unit.

Wheels F/R: 1003g / 1096g

Tires F/R: 328g / 316g

Innertubes F/R: 126g / 283g

Freewheel: 507g (chunky!)

That rear innertube was THICK, and gave me a bit of resistance as I worked to extricate it from the tire and wheel. Very likely one of those anti-flat tubes. The front innertube was right in line with what one that diameter should weigh. Actually felt a bit thin. Regardless, super thick innertubes, old and disintegrating tires of smaller diameter all contributed to a lesser ride quality.

What am I putting on the Fuji? A personally hand-built pair of 7403 Dura-Ace hubs laced with DT Swiss spokes (Competition, Revolution) to Mavic Open Pro black rims. 32H. Lets see what the new-to-the-bike wheel components weigh.

Wheels F/R: 760g / 1020g

Tires F/R: 275g / 275g (Soma Supple Vitesse EX 33s--weighing lighter than their claimed 290g)

Innertubes F/R: 105g / 105g (Vittoria 30-38mm Latex, though I think one of the three I bought came in at about 82g, but I'm using claimed weight here since I can't find my actual recordings)

Freewheel / Cassette: 281g (Shimano XT 11-32T 10-speed)

So we have a total original system weight of 3,659g, versus a new system weight of 2,821g, which is a whopping 838g drop (nearly 1.9 lbs). Now, this is a nearly 4,000g frameset that is without racing pretentions, so counting grams does seem a little silly until it's where the savings are, which in the case of the wheels, is of the more or less "unsprung weight" variety. The much lighter wheels spin up easier and in the case of the Open Pros, are beautifully responsive and comfortable at the same time. Add in a larger tire diameter, a much better and newer tire, with a latex tube inside, and I think we are greatly upping the ride quality quotient. There will likely be no further weight improvements worth noting, but the wheel system change is good to get the bike into a sorta-predicted-and-hoped sub-25 lb range (we're talking 24.9 lbs here, let's be honest). I am happy with that, even as I'll be adding another pound back on via fenders. 24-25 lbs on a bike in, well, this size, but really any bike in the 64cm+ range, with longer stays etc, usually feels good and solid. I'll run the narrow bars and original stem for now, but with updated and much more comfortable Tektro R200 levers and more capable R539 brake calipers (converted to "nutted" mounting style).
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Old 12-04-21, 11:00 AM
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Did you have to perform any paint touch-up? Wondering what you may have used for a color match.
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Old 12-04-21, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by OutnBack View Post
Did you have to perform any paint touch-up? Wondering what you may have used for a color match.
Thankfully I didn't. I technically could have on the underside of the drive-side chain stay, but the imperfections, many as they were, were very minor in severity. For touching up paint, my first trip is always to O'Reilly's (or an auto parts store) for automotive paint touch-up pen/kits (one end paint, the other end clear coat). I'll find what looks to be a match or very close and then do an image search on my phone for that color as shown on a car in real life. With this Fuji, I'm just really really happy all I had to do was clean it and wax it.

The decals for it came in the mail yesterday, but there was a mix-up and the colors were inverted. I double checked when I ordered, but the order confirmation, looking back on it, said differently, so I couldn't determine if it was a website glitch, my mistake, or my fancy computer mouse (used, given to me by a friend) whose scroll wheel betrayed me (it's in freewheeling mode vs the heavily detent'ed mode). It's getting sorted, and I'm more than happy to pay for another set if needed. Right now it just means more waiting, which is what I didn't and don't want to do as I'm building it into a winter bike. Oh well!
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Old 12-05-21, 02:46 AM
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I need to get you all some more build progress photos as it is now sitting on its spec'd wheels and tires. I was excited to have found a polished 25.8mm seatpost new, but when I opened the package today, it was painted silver and very textured. Not as advertised. Two days in a row of setbacks on this build is discouraging. I can still ride the bike (when it's built), but just...dang it.
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Old 12-13-21, 04:58 PM
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Well, this build goes from bare frame to complete bike in just a few posts, and in just one photo. I'm still waiting on the new decals, but that didn't stop me from (finally) saying "let's just ride it" and getting it out on the road for at least a photo, if not a short test ride. It's been raining or really wet every day for a while now--rare to get two days in a row of dry, which sort of hampers the test riding of a bike as I like to keep them clean (if a dry weather bike) or save the mess for after the bike build has been vetted. Road was damp and the rain had taken a break. There was even direct sunlight! Time to get out there, looming dark rain clouds to the north notwithstanding.

The bike still has blue painter's tape with marks for lining up decals on it, and it will need water bottle cages as well. Overall, this is the fendered effect. Original saddle, seatpost, stem, and bars. Tektro R200 levers in all gloss black along with R539 calipers in gloss black--both reference the original gloss black Fuji-spec'ed brake levers and calipers. Chorus crankset and BB, 7400 Dura-Ace front derailleur, 7700 Dura-Ace rear derailleur, and an XT 11-32T 10-speed cassette. Wheels are the aforementioned Mavic Open Pro black / Dura-Ace examples. Latex tubes and Soma tires. PDW fenders. The result is pretty incredible from a weight perspective: 11.63 kg / 25.6 lb! For a huge and heavy frameset plus fenders, to have a bike in that weight range (25.x lb) is a feat, especially considering a much lighter Trek 720 frameset with the same fenders, nearly the same weight wheels, essentially the same components, and an obviously heavier B17 saddle, came in at less than a pound lighter.

As for the test ride, it went from cloudy, to sprinkling, to mild rain, then to a total downpour within a few minutes. That downpour happened to be on my test loop's "high speed" section, and whoa'ing up that big bike and me from 20-25 mph with brand new Shimano 105 pads working brand new Open Pro brake tracks meant I may as well have had steel rims and single pivot calipers with hard pads. It was pretty appalling. Looking back, squeezing the brake levers and pushing the bike forward and backward (inside my apartment testing, standing beside the bike) and checking for braking 'eagerness', the rim/pad combo was not grippy at all--much less so than in most of my other builds. That forewarning was played out in reality on that test ride. I've had plenty of decent performance in the wet with any of my past rain bikes with decent caliper/pad/lever setups, so this was ultimately an anomaly, and one easily explained, thankfully. And as of yesterday, Kool Stop pads have been installed. I did the same in-home brake 'eagerness' test afterward and we're right where we should be. Dry and wet weather braking should be vastly improved.

The big Fuji is a strong frame, and climbs well in and out of the saddle. With the super fancy wheels and tires helping it, it actually has some good zip when sprinting out of the saddle. Crummy roads make any bike uncomfortable, and a 4000g frameset is not going to shy away from communicating road roughness, but even then it was still "in range" for comfort over troubled pavement. The narrow bars feel great and don't hinder out of saddle efforts much at all. The high-elevation top tube does that more readily, hitting one's inner thighs quickly when rocking back and forth. Steering is lovely and solid, not assumptive--no dive or float. A good rain bike so far and one that I'm hoping decals arrive soon so as to complete it. I am really liking the way it looks thus far!



Look at that lovely paint and lug lining! Quick note: the extra bow and length of the front brake cable (rear as well) is for potential future 42cm bar use where they'll "take" more cable and housing. Since these photos were taken, I've capped the cable ends.

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Old 12-13-21, 08:47 PM
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lonesomesteve
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Beautiful bike despite the fact that the head tube is almost as long as the top tube on my bikes.
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Old 12-14-21, 11:55 PM
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RiddleOfSteel
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Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
Beautiful bike despite the fact that the head tube is almost as long as the top tube on my bikes.
Thanks! Yeah, that head tube is a good 26.7cm. Throwing a leg over the bike, it's definitely not a 65cm frame, and that's something I'll have to get used to again. And if this Fuji doesn't work, I'll 650B that yellow 420. Or go disc.
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Old 12-18-21, 01:27 AM
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Finally got this bike out for a proper test ride on the way to a fairly local bike shop to test ride a new Cannondale Topstone 1 (aluminum--the carbon Topstones are ugly) gravel bike. The Topstone had many manners of my Trek 620, and I rode the same roads on the Fuji after the test ride. It was good to be affirmed in my ability to build quality bikes that behave quite closely to their modern counterparts in a number of ways. Taking vintage steel to or close to its "apex" (of performance and capability) yields good results.

The big Fuji did well, with the fast hubs/rims/tires/wheel system in combination with the strong frame providing a very efficient ride on the flats. Great speed. Comfort was decent as well. The narrow bars had their effect, but nothing that wasn't too much of a bother or that couldn't be easily rectified with a wider set. The Kool Stop salmon pads provided as sure a braking as you'd find. This is a happy and very capable and durable bike and build. More than enough to satisfy many, honestly. The Topstone's test ride was an intentional comparison test to yesterday's impromptu test ride of a same year (2021) Cannondale CAADX (both thru-axle hydraulic disc brake bikes with Shimano GRX groupsets and FSA cranksets). The CAADX is a touch smaller (both are XL size) and is of course a CX bike as opposed to the gravel intentions of the Topstone. Both have the same 71° HT angle and fork rake.

I came away smitten with the CAADX in a number of important ways, ways that challenge my Trek 620. So now I have a bit of a conundrum on my hands. Ignorance is bliss with a 620 and a del Rey, with a Trek 1.5 in its very early stages. Every bike has their role and every bike does their job very well. Nary a problem exists. That is, until a 2021 Cannondale comes along and broadsides the whole operation, threatening to take the job of both the 620 and the del Rey while also conquering some of the 1.5's territory potentially. This was not part of the plan, but here I am wrestling with reality!

The del Rey is still a phenomenal bike, and whatever its fate, it is in no way lessened by the accomplishments of a bike 36 years its junior. I'm still waiting on decals, and those will be done. Hopefully that will be the next update, along with "I have a functioning front light now!"
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