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1986 Fuji Sagres - Opinions please

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1986 Fuji Sagres - Opinions please

Old 10-24-22, 06:13 AM
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Jeff Neese
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1986 Fuji Sagres - Opinions please

First, a story and a couple of pictures, and then a call for opinions on a problem with this bike.

I responded to a Craigslist ad for an '86 Fuji Sagres. The guy was asking too much but I knew this was Fuji's highest-level Valite frame (quad-butted 1769), and I also knew from past experience that these are very nice riding and handling bikes. The Sagres and the more upscale Del Rey were "sport touring" bikes and in 1986 only, they shared the same frame. Since it was only a few miles from me, I decided to go look at it even though the last thing I needed was another bike. It was in pretty rough shape and I was going to pass without even making an offer, but I got to talking to the guy who also had an appreciation for vintage steel although he no longer rode. In the end he just gave me the bike for free. It wasn't his, he ended up with it and just wanted it gone, and he saw in me someone that just might bring it back to life. He was right.

The first picture is "As found" and the second picture is after I took it down to bare frame and rebuilt it. I still need a proper road stem and I have since put on a different saddle (Charge Spoon). Even though the frame has a lot of little scrapes and nicks, it gives it kind of a cool battle-scarred look. This old girl has definitely seen some action, but everything works like new again. Or so I thought.

The wheel bearings and cones looked good, and seemed to spin smoothly on the stand. During the maiden ride and under load, the rear hub developed a vibration and noise. The guy said the previous owner (his sister) was "heavy" so maybe the axle is bent and I didn't notice. In any event, after looking at it I decided I'm going to just replace the wheels since they were old and beat up anyway. The first question is, am I nuts to think about buying another set of 27" wheels, even though this bike should easily accommodate 700c? I haven't tested yet by taking the wheels off my Trek Elance, but it looks like I have more than enough adjustment on my brake calipers. I already bought the 27" tires (Paselas) and those are just fine. If I go to 700c I have to buy new tires as well. The argument for 700c is that the wheelset would be swappable with my Trek.

The other question is what my options are, aside from obviously having wheels built. I like what Wheelmaster sells but not so keen on cartridge bearings. The Origin8 RD-2100 hub that is so common in prebuilt wheels has cartridge bearings which would be fine if you could buy replacement bearings. Wheelmaster also sells some wheels with their own cup-and-cone hubs and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with those. Are there other sources of prebuilt wheels that I should consider? The challenge seems to be high quality 126mm hubs. If I had wheels built, I might start with old Shimano hubs, NOS if possible.

So I'm interested in hearing what others would do in this situation.


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Old 10-24-22, 06:45 AM
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You could buy a donor bike for the wheels. Swap the wheels, sell the donor bike, you got free wheels.
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Old 10-24-22, 06:59 AM
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I've made the change from 27" to 700 on two bikes. One of them it really helped the handling, the other I quickly returned to 27" as it didn't work at all. My best recollection is the one that didn't work was a Fuji and the one it worked on was a Mirella, but that was quite a few years ago so my memory may not be correct. Of course going to 700C is desirable, but be sure it works before parting with the 27" wheels.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Neese View Post
The wheel bearings and cones looked good, and seemed to spin smoothly on the stand. During the maiden ride and under load, the rear hub developed a vibration and noise. The guy said the previous owner (his sister) was "heavy" so maybe the axle is bent and I didn't notice. In any event, after looking at it I decided I'm going to just replace the wheels since they were old and beat up anyway. The first question is, am I nuts to think about buying another set of 27" wheels, even though this bike should easily accommodate 700c? I haven't tested yet by taking the wheels off my Trek Elance, but it looks like I have more than enough adjustment on my brake calipers. I already bought the 27" tires (Paselas) and those are just fine. If I go to 700c I have to buy new tires as well. The argument for 700c is that the wheelset would be swappable with my Trek.

The other question is what my options are, aside from obviously having wheels built.
One option might be to examine the existing rear axle and replace it if necessary. Probably less expensive than a new wheelset and/or tires unless the rear hub is quire rare. Might be all that's needed if the rest of the current wheelset is good.

That said, going to 700c would offer several benefits - albeit at the cost of a substantial up-front outlay that would include new tires. But as noted above, I'd try it out with your Trek's wheelset first to see if the swap to 700c worked well before going in that direction.

Your bike, so your call.

Last edited by Hondo6; 10-24-22 at 07:15 AM.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Neese View Post
...The Origin8 RD-2100 hub that is so common in prebuilt wheels has cartridge bearings which would be fine if you could buy replacement bearings....

Why do think that you can't buy replacement bearings? I have yet to come across across a hub designed for custom/proprietary cartridge bearings. Everything I've owned has used standard cartridge bearings and I've been able to buy buy replacements at my local industrial supply store.


Looking at some ebay listings for this hubset, I found some photos that show the front hub using a 6000 cartridge bearing, which is a common size that has been used in in bicycle hubs for over 3 decades. The rear hub was oriented so that the bearing number wasn't visible but it's almost certainly another common size. We probably have some others members who own these hubs and can confirm the bearing numbers and their availability.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:13 AM
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On the cartridge bearing thing, I used to use bearing supply companies all the time to cross reference part numbers or match up replacement bearings using measurements taken from a bearing in hand. I never had a supplier fail to find an exact match. Not once. I'm pretty confident my local supplier could easily find those cartridge bearings.

I have a set of those cartridge hubs on my Super Course, and have had several other wheelsets with the same.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Neese View Post
The other question is what my options are, aside from obviously having wheels built. I like what Wheelmaster sells but not so keen on cartridge bearings. The Origin8 RD-2100 hub that is so common in prebuilt wheels has cartridge bearings which would be fine if you could buy replacement bearings. Wheelmaster also sells some wheels with their own cup-and-cone hubs and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with those. Are there other sources of prebuilt wheels that I should consider? The challenge seems to be high quality 126mm hubs. If I had wheels built, I might start with old Shimano hubs, NOS if possible.
I was going to suggest Velomine because they have a handful of 27" and 700c 126mm wheelsets, but all are sealed cartridge bearing. Figured I would respond so others who may suggest Velomine can skip it.


What is your aversion to cartridge bearings?...they roll smoothly and work for years without issue. Between cup and cone vs cartridge hubs, its 100-0 for how many times I have had to adjust each type. Cup and cone hubs are constantly too tight or too loose when I get older bikes. Not really sure what the inherent appeal is.
If serviceability is the appeal, cool, but one isnt serviceable because it largely doesnt need to be. Its a bit goofy to complain about the serviceability of a well running machine...that doesnt need to be serviced.

Picking up a used wheelset would probably be the route, at least for me.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:47 AM
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OK - several replies now questioning my aversion to cartridge bearings. I admit my ignorance of such things. I had been searching for "RD-2100 replacement bearings" and variations, and came up empty. I didn't realize they were so standard. There isn't much information on these hubs, which I understand are made by Formula. If I know I can service these hubs by just swapping bearings, that changes my calculus a lot. I couldn't find a manual for these hubs online.
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Old 10-24-22, 06:27 PM
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Iím probably full ofÖsomethingÖbut unless the bike will be used often, 27Ē would be fine. They use the same tubes as 700c so that is covered.

100% certain something in the rear wheel is bad? Red herrings do not taste good.
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Old 10-25-22, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames View Post
...

100% certain something in the rear wheel is bad? Red herrings do not taste good.
I am a little bit stumped on this rear wheel. I disassembled it again last night and I can't see what's wrong. The cones are not pitted, the bearings look fine even under magnification, and the cups seem fine too. Yet when I reassemble everything the hub still runs rough. If I loosen things up enough to eliminate the roughness, the wheel ends up with significant side-to-side play (wobble). If I eliminate the wobble, or even leave just a little play, the hub is rough. If I spin the wheel on the stand, I can feel the vibration anywhere I put my hand on the rest of the bike, all the way up through the handlebars. And on the road it's even more noticeable.

The rear hub does have 9 larger bearings (each side) compared to the 10 smaller ones in the front. That's pretty common though. It did cross my mind that someone may have put the wrong size bearings in there. Otherwise I just can't see the problem.
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Old 10-25-22, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Neese View Post
I am a little bit stumped on this rear wheel. I disassembled it again last night and I can't see what's wrong. The cones are not pitted, the bearings look fine even under magnification, and the cups seem fine too. Yet when I reassemble everything the hub still runs rough. If I loosen things up enough to eliminate the roughness, the wheel ends up with significant side-to-side play (wobble). If I eliminate the wobble, or even leave just a little play, the hub is rough. If I spin the wheel on the stand, I can feel the vibration anywhere I put my hand on the rest of the bike, all the way up through the handlebars. And on the road it's even more noticeable.

The rear hub does have 9 larger bearings (each side) compared to the 10 smaller ones in the front. That's pretty common though. It did cross my mind that someone may have put the wrong size bearings in there. Otherwise I just can't see the problem.
Assuming the right number of bearings, Iíd check for a crack in the axle or a cup collapsing or pulling into the hub.
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Old 10-25-22, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by bboy314 View Post
Assuming the right number of bearings, Iíd check for a crack in the axle or a cup collapsing or pulling into the hub.
I did also examine the axle, and rolled it on a piece of glass. That looks perfect. It did occur to me that something is bent and out of whack with the cups, such as you're describing.
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Old 10-25-22, 05:45 AM
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The hubs on that Fuji are probably one-piece aluminum, but lower models of some bike brands from that era sometimes had hubs that were constructed of three pieces, with the flanges pressed onto the central portion. Over time, the flanges were known to begin migrating inward, with the result that the bearings would begin grinding against the ends of the center section of the hub.

Not very likely with your bike, but it's work checking if you haven't already done so.
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Old 10-25-22, 06:19 AM
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Hmm. Odd stuff going on. Wrong size bearings seems entirely plausible. Iím assuming the hub has had any caked on grease 100% removed? (Been there. I thought it was the lighting in the room hitting it funny.)

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Old 10-25-22, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Neese View Post
I am a little bit stumped on this rear wheel. I disassembled it again last night and I can't see what's wrong. The cones are not pitted, the bearings look fine even under magnification, and the cups seem fine too. Yet when I reassemble everything the hub still runs rough. If I loosen things up enough to eliminate the roughness, the wheel ends up with significant side-to-side play (wobble). If I eliminate the wobble, or even leave just a little play, the hub is rough. If I spin the wheel on the stand, I can feel the vibration anywhere I put my hand on the rest of the bike, all the way up through the handlebars. And on the road it's even more noticeable.

The rear hub does have 9 larger bearings (each side) compared to the 10 smaller ones in the front. That's pretty common though. It did cross my mind that someone may have put the wrong size bearings in there. Otherwise I just can't see the problem.
So it's not a cartridge? The cartridge reference is a little confusing. But AFAIK, 9 rear and 10 smaller front was the most common arrangement BITD.

If you're sure, by magnified inspection, that the balls and cups and cones are okay, what that leaves, in my mind, is a bent axle. Do you have another axle you could try on it, even temporarily?

When you "spin the wheel on the stand", do you mean it's installed on the bike on the stand? If so, that introduces another variable, namely, dropout alignment. What happens when you eliminate the play and spin the wheel on a truing stand, or even just in your hand? Do you have another frame that accomodates 27"-ers you could test it on?

As for the replacement option, the new wheelset option seems extravagent, regardless of size. Myself, I would choose based on availability. You'll of course find a lot more servicealbe used 700C wheelsets than 27s, but if a set of 27s comes along, why not? They are out there. 'Course, have you confirmed that your brake calipers have the reach? The pads appear to be close to the bottom of the range.

BTW, I have its younger cousin, the above-mentioned Del Rey in an '89. Not the lightest of my roadies, or even close, but for what it is, it's nimble and puts a smile on my face. Just a little :yawn: to look at.

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Old 10-25-22, 07:26 AM
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I agree with the suggestion by @madpogue to check the wheel off the bike. That would eliminate one or more possible sources of the issue.

The original hubs on that bike, per the Fuji 1986 catalog, appear to have been Sansins. I'd guess the rear hub likely was a freewheel hub.

If so, and if it still spins rough out of the frame, I guess it's possible something in the freewheel could be causing the roughness. In that case, if the cups/cones/bearing balls/axle are all good, seems to me by process of elimination it's either that or the hub shell itself being misaligned as described by @Trakhak above..
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Old 10-25-22, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames View Post
Hmm. Odd stuff going on. Wrong size bearings seems entirely plausible. Iím assuming the hub has had any caked on grease 100% removed? (Been there. I thought it was the lighting in the room hitting it funny.)
Absolutely clean, and plenty of fresh Phil Wood grease. Twice.
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Old 10-25-22, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
So it's not a cartridge? The cartridge reference is a little confusing. But AFAIK, 9 rear and 10 smaller front was the most common arrangement BITD.

If you're sure, by magnified inspection, that the balls and cups and cones are okay, what that leaves, in my mind, is a bent axle. Do you have another axle you could try on it, even temporarily?

When you "spin the wheel on the stand", do you mean it's installed on the bike on the stand? If so, that introduces another variable, namely, dropout alignment. What happens when you eliminate the play and spin the wheel on a truing stand, or even just in your hand? Do you have another frame that accomodates 27"-ers you could test it on?

As for the replacement option, the new wheelset option seems extravagent, regardless of size. Myself, I would choose based on availability. You'll of course find a lot more servicealbe used 700C wheelsets than 27s, but if a set of 27s comes along, why not? They are out there. 'Course, have you confirmed that your brake calipers have the reach? The pads appear to be close to the bottom of the range.

BTW, I have its younger cousin, the above-mentioned Del Rey in an '89. Not the lightest of my roadies, or even close, but for what it is, it's nimble and puts a smile on my face. Just a little :yawn: to look at.
The cartridge reference was about the fact that many (not all) prebuilt wheels these days come with cartridge bearings. I have no experience with cartridge bearings but people are saying there's nothing wrong with that and that replacement bearings are fairly standard.

I don't have another axle but I checked it on a piece of glass and it is definitely not bent. Yes, I'm talking about the wheel in the frame, on my work stand. With or without the freewheel, when I spin the wheel I can feel the vibration in the frame. Also, if the bike is on the ground and I lift up the rear wheel and give it a spin, I feel the vibrations. The dropouts seem fine - the wheel lines up and it shifts smoothly. It feels rough off the bike as well, spinning the wheel while holding the axle in my hands. I can get rid of the roughness but then I've got serious side-to-side play. Something ain't right, but I'm just not seeing it.

I'm not opposed to waiting for a decent set of used wheels to pop up, 27" or 700c, but Velomine is selling CR18 rims with Origin8 hubs and DT spokes for under $200 delivered. That seems hard to beat.
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Old 10-25-22, 08:19 AM
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Re-reading, it seems the only thing it could be are somewhere in the bearing interface - hubs, cones and the bearings. If new bearings didnít solve it, I would throw my hands up and start looking for wheels even though I hate defeat. Save these wheels to investigate at a later date if youíre so inclined.
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Old 10-25-22, 08:39 AM
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Have you tried to rotate each cone individually against the bearings and cup on each side, light pressure vs heavy? I suggest this only because you mentioned the "vibration" independent of being on the bike.
When does the vibration occur, slow rotation or fast? I would definitely replace the ball bearings. If that doesn't solve the problem, then at least you have extras.

No opinion on 27 vs 700 other than the wide selection of tires for 700. I have been converting to sew-ups.
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Old 10-25-22, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Pompiere View Post
You could buy a donor bike for the wheels. Swap the wheels, sell the donor bike, you got free wheels.
This........I have had good luck getting donor wheels from Centurion Ironman bikes that were rode hard and put away wet. Service bearings and true. In my experience the tri color wheelsets have held up well. I have sets on my Shogun 1000, '78 Super Course and as a place holder on my Fuji Opus III. All from Centurion IMs, not to mention my brothers old Ironman with the original tri color group. But, as someone else mentioned, try the 700s you currently have for fit before investing the time, energy and money.
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Old 10-26-22, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by r0ckh0und View Post
This........I have had good luck getting donor wheels from Centurion Ironman bikes that were rode hard and put away wet. Service bearings and true. In my experience the tri color wheelsets have held up well. I have sets on my Shogun 1000, '78 Super Course and as a place holder on my Fuji Opus III. All from Centurion IMs, not to mention my brothers old Ironman with the original tri color group. But, as someone else mentioned, try the 700s you currently have for fit before investing the time, energy and money.
I think that's where I'm at - looking for a set of donor wheels. If I can 't find something decent before spring, I guess I'll just buy a set of Wheel Master or Velomine.
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