8 January 2008

Over the bars, Part 2: The demise of the Fuji S-10-S

Posted by todd under: Crashes; My bikes .

Fuji S-10-S overall

It was NOT a dark and stormy night, which meant I had no excuses when I rolled through the stop sign at a pretty good clip, smacked the car’s front fender, catapulted over the handlebars, rolled across the hood, and landed in the street …


I found the Fuji S-10-S at a yard sale. The owner wanted $20. I already had a couple of bikes, and it was just a bit small for me, so I left it there.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Later that Saturday, I returned to the sale. I think I got the bike for $12. It still had the original Primus frame pump. “I guess it was just waiting for someone who would appreciate it,” the former owner told me as I wheeled the Fuji to the minivan.

Fuji S-10-S head badgeI did appreciate it. Later I would find out that this was a historically significant bike — one of the first mass-marketed by the Japanese in the United States during the bike boom of the 1970s. It had a six-speed freewheel. I e-mailed Internet bike guru Sheldon Brown to ask his opinion about whether it was worth fixing up. He thought it was.

I lovingly worked on the bike over the next couple of years, replacing the bottom bracket, trying out new tires, buying a high-rise stem to get the handlebars up to a comfortable height, finding some bar-end shifters in the old-parts bin at a local bike shop, adding a new freewheel and chain, adjusting some brand-new-yet-old-fashioned Dia Compe brake levers … I learned a lot by working on that bike. (The pictures are before the stem and bar-enders.)

After finding three shiny cable guides at a shop in Lincoln, Nebraska, during a fun outing with my dad, the S-10-S finally looked and rode like I wanted it to. And it was a sweet ride. The frame, light and flexible, seemed to work with me as I pedaled.

One Saturday not long after the Fuji was finally dialed in, I took off for work on it. It was a partly cloudy, cool day, a great day for a ride. Then again, they all are.

Fuji S-10-S handlebarsSince traffic is normally pretty light in my neighborhood in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, I didn’t bother to stop at the stop sign less than two blocks from my house. I picked up speed around a corner and started rolling through the sign to make a left turn. I looked left and looked right.

I looked left again … just in time to see a red sports car that might as well have risen straight up out of the pavement.


My front tire hit the fender. The driver had braked when she saw me, but I had no chance.

Over the bars, and over the car’s hood, I went. I rolled, landing on my left shoulder and smacking my helmet in the middle of the street.

Because traffic was light, I had time to get up and stumble out of the way.

The driver, a woman, was shaken. I tried to calm her down a little. I gave her my name and phone number, in case the car needed to be fixed. (Providentially, I barely scratched it, and she never called.)

Fuji S-10-S fork endsThen, ugh, I examined the bike. The front wheel bent like a taco shell. The front fork ends pointed in divergent directions. (As you can see at right, they used to be so pretty!) The killer was, I could see the paint flaking off the top tube and downtube right behind the head tube.

The frame was done for.

I carried the bike home in dismay. The frame hung in the garage for more than a year before I could bear to part with it.

I was sorry to see that Fuji go, but I would have been more sorry if I had not been wearing a helmet.

The helmet cracked when it hit the pavement. That would have been my head.

I dinged my shoulder a little. That was it.

It could have been so much worse, in so many ways.

I’m glad it was the bike, and not me. But I did love that bike. Many of its parts now live on my Bridgestone XO-1.

Fuji S-10-S frame pumpWhat did I do wrong?

I rolled through the stop sign when I should have stopped, or at least slowed down.

I was not careful. It was just that simple. I am now.

And while I checked the street to either side of me, I did not check the driveway across the street. That’s where the car came from. I just completely missed it.

Sometimes looking both ways is not enough. I needed to look three ways, and then look again.

Now, I try to do that.

What did I do right? I wore a helmet. This wreck could have resulted in a serious head injury.

Also, I took responsibility for the crash. It was my fault, and I deserved to pay.

I am glad I didn’t have to.


It might seem strange to write about crashes on a site promoting bicycle commuting, but let’s face it, crashes can happen. We riders can do a lot to prevent them. We don’t always do all we can. Here’s how I see it: I have learned a couple of things the hard way. If I tell you about it, maybe you won’t have to. Read about my other crash.

5 Comments so far...

Da vid Says:

6 June 2008 at 8:04 am.

I have a 1976 S-10-S that I built when I worked a bike shop back in 1976. It has less than 100 mile on it. I have it posted on craigslist for $300. What do you think it is worth?

It’s been awhile since your question so it’s probably sold. Let us know what you got for it. That’s the answer (not one that helps you) — a used bike is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Writing off the top of my head, and depending on the condition of the bike, 300 bucks sounds like a lot on a Craigslist listing, and on the high side but not impossible for an EBay listing. -6-

KHatfull Says:

24 December 2010 at 12:08 am.

Hi Todd. Sorry to hear about the S-10S. I’m a fan of the Fuji brand and it’s always sad to hear of one ending this way. Question, are you using the Primus frame pump? I’m restoring a 72 Fuji Newest and that pump was original equipment. If you’re not using it, might consider selling it, and would like help a guy out let me know.

As an aside, although I hail from Minnesota now I spent 24 years in KY….both Versailles and Danville.

John Mohan Says:

19 January 2012 at 9:31 am.

Hi Todd,

After I crashed my Schwinn Continental in about 1975 (similar chipped paint from bent top and down tubes as your bike and the fork was “reshaped” as well) I got a brand new White S10S with a 25″ frame. I earned the money working as a bike mechanic at the shop I bought it at. Bit by bit I customized it with Crome-Moly fork, sew-up tires and wheels and finally a real road racing frame (’82 Team Fuji). It’s probably no help to you, but I still have the original front fork, brakes, crankset, derailleurs and front wheel from the S10S. Can’t remember what I did with the rest of the frame! Sadly, my Team Fuji bike was stolen in ’87 or ’88.

Markkidd Says:

28 May 2013 at 5:13 pm.

I have that pump. In perfect con.

andylax Says:

4 September 2014 at 9:20 am.

I have a primo condition Fuji S10-S…..I am looking for a new or used rear gear set with the smallest gear possible for the highest gear…it’s a 6 gear cluster….anybody have one for sale or know where to look?

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.



Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!




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