Fuji Suncrest, 1987 – 2008

Fuji Suncrest, 21, Beaverton, died Oct. 28 of acute frame fracture.

A remembrance will be held tonight, after dinner, over a few beers.

The Fuji was first in the possession of a bicycle shop owner in Watsonville, Calif., where he used it as a high-end mountain bike.

In 1989 the shop owner sold it to a college student, who used it as a mountain bike and as an all-purpose commuter. The student added a Blackburn rack to the bike, and rode it continually from 1989 until 1992, in place of a car. Much of this commuting was on the UC Santa Cruz campus, and some of it consisted of, arguably, one of the best 3-mile commutes in the world: down West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, Calif.

ATIS547, via Flickr

West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, Calif. Credit: ATIS547, via Flickr

The bike was a stalwart companion, despite impressive misuse including mountain bike crashes such as one at 25 mph, and a spectacular one off a bridge into a river.  On more than one occasion, the bike carried the student and his friend home on the rear rack, when his friend was too drunk to see straight.

In 1992 the Fuji moved to San Francisco and then to Palo Alto, where it served as a light-duty commuter and weekend mountain bike.

From 1996 until 2000, also known as The Dark Years, the Fuji sat mostly dormant in a garage in Oklahoma City, an inhospitable city for bicycling.

In 2000 the bike moved back to Santa Rosa, Calif., where it was fitted with slicks and served as a short-duty commuter.

In 2004 the bike moved to Beaverton, Ore., and in 2006 began a second era of bike commuting. The commuting started out as relatively short-hop: a 3-mile ride to the train station, then a 1.6 mile ride in downtown Portland. For close to two years the bike humbly and safely conveyed the same owner on commutes and trips around town, even as he added clipped pedals and fenders (a necessity in a city as rainy as Portland), and the seat post clamp wore out, the rear axle failed, and the bottom bracket broke.

By this time the bicycle was older than some of the mechanics that worked on it. Yet these mechanics never looked contemptuously at the bike. Instead, they typically nodded, impressed at the durability of the grizzled old warrior.

In the summer of 2008, when gas prices rose and Johnny-come-lately bike commuters flooded the trains, the owner began riding the Fuji the entire trip between home and work. Once again, despite being heavy and old, the Fuji performed without complaint, even as more of its components started to fail.

On October 27 in the evening, the bike conveyed the owner the entire 13 miles from work to home, carrying him along a rough path buckled by tree roots that runs down the Willamette River, across the carved-up pavement in the Corbett-Terwilliger area, up steep hills west of the river, and out through West Portland and Beaverton, a trip that includes two wooden bridges and numerous speed bumps.

The next morning, after a ride into work on a cool autumn morning, a fracture was discovered in the chain stay, near the rear derailleur.

The bike will be donated to the Community Cycling Center, for parts.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you take good care of your own bicycle.

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10 thoughts on “Fuji Suncrest, 1987 – 2008

  1. Some would like know why the Suncrest cracked, I preferred to hear about how it rolled thru it’s life…a fitting tribute JohnO, may your legs be worthy of it’s successor.

  2. I would guess it was old age, accumulated pounding and metal fatigue. It certainly looked fatigued. I was trying to think about how many miles I put on the bike over the years. Considering I did 140 in September alone, it had to be thousands.

  3. As an original owner still riding an ’87 Suncrest, I was stunned to read of your loss. You motivated me to replace everything but the wheels, seat and shifters. I hope it is not too late.

  4. My 1987 Suncrest is still commuting 15.7 miles a day in eastern PA! New chain and rear hub a few cables in 24 years – not too shabby!

  5. I have to bring mine into the shop for a total make over, chain, brakes, new wheels. Even though I have seriously tried to kill it, it just seems to keep going. The last person to work on it was born two years after it was made and she could not believe how well it road. GOOOO Fuji!!

  6. This is a delightful story about your bike, and it pleases me to know how so many stories just one bike can tell. Today I bought a 1989 Fuji Suncrest from a man retiring and moving up to the U.P. It’s immaculate, all with original parts. The funny thing is, it’s only a year younger than I am. Here’s to hoping it will create as many stories as yours did for you.

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