“American Made in England” is how Greg Fuquay styled his creations back in the day. Which was, basically, most of the ’90s before he packed up and went back to Alabama to work on military aircraft, which was what he did before building bike frames.
Serotta-trained, Fuquay favoured steel for his frames, which were mostly built for the dirt. They featured what was known as “the fabled Fuquay ride” and were built using a variety of tubes including Ritchey Logic and using TIG and MIG welding alongside fillet brazed and lugged construction according, perhaps, to how Greg felt at any particular moment.
Anyway, by the late 90’s he had built a considerable reputation and, when I managed to get hold of a Shimano XTR 8-speed mtb groupset to test for the old MTB Weekly, he agreed to build me a frame to house it. Typical Fuquay features include the wishbone seat stays, bridgeless chainstays, delightfully neat TIG welding, correct gusseting under the down tube and a shiny label.
The fork is a resprayed Trek steel job with 1 1/8″ steerer, straight non-tapered blades and mudguard eyes on the dropouts, which have had their lawyers’ lips filed down.
And what is it doing on RCUK? I’ve been riding it into the Smoke during the recent Artic conditions, so it’s a road bike. Actually, someone did observe that it’s exactly the sort of mtb an old “roadie” would have, which is fair enough. We tend to like to ride suspension-free. My first bike review, written for Winning magazine back in 1988 was of a Marin Palisades. Fully rigid, with thumb shifters, rubbish cantilever brakes and plastic toeclips, it was fun until the bearings wore out, which wasn’t very long.
Back to the Fuquay, which is still running the same XTR bottom bracket 13 years on. The bike has done its share of off-road riding including the Schwinn 100, but with the rigid fork is, frankly, pretty limited in what it can do in the dirt at a decent lick.
On the road, however, the boot is on the other foot. With an all-up weight of about 10.5kg, it feels quick and responds well to sprints for traffic lights. That rigid fork ensures quick, accurate steering and an absence of suspension “bob” while the mudguards, which seem to offend mtb purists, have done a fine job of keeping slush and road grime at bay.
It is, basically, a road bike with knobblies, which can be swapped for 26″ slicks anytime I want it to be even quicker. The only thing separating it conceptually from the Aardvark is the flat handlebar setup and even that is not too far removed. Using my position replicating method, I have the ‘bars set up to match exactly the reach to the flats of the drop bars on my road bikes. Grab the bar ends and it feels almost racy. Almost.