Customization of Fuji Ace 24



Summer 2008

Not many of our adult customers are under five feet tall, but the ones who are really need extra help. It's just geometrically impossible to build a 700C wheel bike for such a rider and at the same time prohibitively expensive for a bike maker to produce a small run of bikes for such a limited market.

This woman has a really nice, 48cm Somec racing bike with Campy Nuovo Record parts, but it's too tall for her to stand over it comfortably. We plugged in the ol' Raleigh Custom Sizer and found that the "usual" 650C wheel bike setup had a reach a bit longer than she wanted. As luck would have it, Fuji had just begun producing 24" and 650C wheel road models like they did in the early 1980s and we got hold of one of the few they had.

Bikes intended for kids never have the kind of componentry that results in adult bike price tags (nor should they). If you had been waiting all your adult life for a really good-fitting bike, though, you'd have higher expectations like STI levers and light wheels and a nice saddle. A custom project began to take shape.

This woman actually had worked choosing colors for products—wow, she really sees colors! She went through the color chip book and settled on this unusual shade of metallic blue (there's a lot of stuff in that blue..) Turns out that's not one the painter keeps around, so a few extra dollars to mix up a can at the paint distributor and we're ready to build it up.

She has really small hands. Shimano's R600 levers with the fattest shims just about do it—not perfect, but better than anything she's ever had. That makes it possible to have a 50-36 compact Tiagra double with 165 mm arms and get a real Vermont gear range using a mountain bike cluster and rear derailleur. The 24x1 wheel size yields a 24.7 low gear, approximating a 30x32 combination on a 700C wheel.

All kid bike wheels use 36 spokes—way overkill. Knowing the rider capabilities and weight range and making a judgment call on rim design, we thought up a way to pull a dozen spokes out of each wheel. This saves about 40 grams per wheel. Kids, don't try this at home! Not all rims can take this without cracking!



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