There aren’t many 29ers below the Fuji Tahoe’s £1100 price point. With a couple of exceptions, this is pretty much the big-wheel entry level. Fuji’s 29er offering is in many ways a decent performer. It’s on the heavy side, (13kg for our medium), giving away a pound and a half to only slightly costlier bikes. Once it's up to speed though, it rolls along nicely. The lively steering feels compromised by the long back end, although dedicated wheels-on-ground riders won’t mind that at all.
Ride & handling: Rolls along nicely
Take care when sizing a Fuji29er – the test bike was called a Medium, but with a 19in seat tube and 23.8in top tube it’d pass for a Large in many ranges, while the low-slung top tube makes it feel smaller than it actually is. On the trail the Tahoe is a curious mix, with eager turn-in thanks to steep front-end geometry but a marked reluctance to loft the front wheel.
We put that down to the back end, which is long even by 29er standards. Popping the front up is somewhat redundant thanks to the trail-levelling properties of the big wheels, although if you like to loft off roots and rocks for fun the Fuji probably won’t be your ﬁrst choice.
Frame & equipment: Up-to-the-minute frame details and okay spec for the money
Underneath the Fuji’s stealth paint job is a frame with plenty of up-to-the-minute details. Most obvious is the tapered head tube to accommodate a 1.5-1.125in steerer, giving plenty of weld area with the substantial squared-off down tube. Standover height is always an issue with 29ers – the big front wheel forces the front end of the frame upwards – but Fuji has countered with a heavily-sloped top tube, with a small gusset adding support to the extended seat tube. Behind that you’ll ﬁnd slender wishbone seatstays snaking their way to the drop-outs.
Unusually, the Tahoe’s Shimano Deore front mech is a direct-mount bolt-on unit, dispensing with the traditional wrap around clamp. That improves tyre clearance, although the Fuji has quite long stays so the tyre doesn’t run quite as close to the seat tube as on many 29ers. The bolt-on mech also guarantees good alignment for easier set up. The rest of the transmission is from Shimano too, mostly Deore with an XT rear mech.
Up front is a 100mm RockShox Recon TK fork, pretty much a de facto standard for bikes around this price. It’s a competent performer, if occasionally a bit breathless on repeated hits. Big wheels ﬂatter the fork though, doing some of the small-bump work for it. Finishing kit is from the Oval stable, including a ﬂat bar to keep the front-end height manageable. Tektro Auriga brakes do the stopping. They’re not the most powerful in the world and lever feel is a bit wooden, but they’re reasonably controlled.