The name of Dave Moulton and the Fuso marque may not be the most instantly recognized name amongst younger fans of the handmade or custom bicycle, but I’ll wager there’s a nary a few elder frame builders in the community who will list Dave as a mentor, or an influence.
A Dave Moulton frame was a popular choice among highly accomplished and proficient riders in England during the 70s and, after selling a few frames on American soil, was offered a chance to export himself and his skills there in 1979. He started building frames for Paris Sport before moving to Masi Bicycles a year later. In 1983 he opened his own business in San Marcos, CA.
Apart from proprietary Dave Moulton frames, he also built them under the name of former US Olympic Team Member John Howard, Recherché and Fuso. The Fuso started out as a brand name without any model designation, but a Lux model, with custom paint and chrome plating was introduced in 1986. The Fuso seen here, built in 1984, is a ‘first generation’ frame.
Fuso means ‘molten’ in Italian — a play on Dave Moulton’s surname — hence the crucible with the molten metal on the head badge. This specimen was discovered by Louis An, a photographer based in Boulder, CO. in the front yard of his relocating neighbors. It looked worse for wear but a quick inspecttion proved it to be mechanically sound.
The Columbus-tubed frame was given a good clean, after which Louis replaced the tires, tubes and rim tape, repacked the jockey wheels and re-wrapped the bars in Cinelli tape. A small amount of Tri-Flow in the housing got the cables moving and, for a cost of under $40, a piece of American cycling history was rolling again.
Interestingly, the Fuso brand has undergone quite an alchemical process — as though the cauldron of ‘Moulten metal’ has given birth to another form: At the 2012 NAHBS in March, it was announced that Fuso frames will again be available to the public, assembled by Dave’s former apprentice, Russ Denny. It’s now possible to purchase an ‘original’ frame, carrying the pedigree of the original, and three new models. Check them out on the Fuso Bicycles website.
Dave himself has retired from the frame building business, and is now a freelance writer with a novel to his name — see what else he’s been up to on his website. Special thanks to Louis An for the fine photography, you can see more shots of his Fuso, and of his work, on his flickr page.