- Highs: Invigoratingly responsive lightweight cyclo-cross race bike that'll tackle most things a mountain bike or road bike will. Great value too
- Lows: No mudguard eyelets or rear rack mounts, so only limited appeal for commuters. Not the most comfortable option either
- Buy if: You want a high performance 'cross racer, or you want a versatile velocity bike and don't mind getting a wet bum or using a backpack
The front end is relatively subtle but the tapered head tube and broad-shouldered carbon fork make for extremely accurate front wheel placement. The press-fit BB86 bottom bracket is bang up to date and does the job of putting a proper joist behind pedalling stiffness.
While frame and fork weight are average, overall bike weight is good (9.23kg). With its impressive torque management and plenty of breathing space to the bar, it feels as though you’ve got an extra gear in hand.
Accurate feedback means you can wring the most out of the low tread, high volume tyres, and this is a bike you can really enjoy off-road. Agile handling meant we managed to pull off some remarkable split-second saves when we inevitably overstepped the mark on technical singletrack.
As well as great gearing for the price, you get some nice detailing: 'cross top brake levers and paint protectors on the cables to keep the bike looking fresh, and a nicely shaped saddle. The rectangular top tube means a flattened underside for comfortable shouldering.
This is spot-on if you find yourself goaded into cyclo-cross racing by the obvious performance potential. With a pair of road tyres, the Fuji is more than keen enough to sprint for signs, and with mudguards fitted (clip-on rear, standard front), it’s an encouraging winter training bike.
All these competitive urges inevitably come at the expense of some sharp shocks through the feet and hands when you’re clattering about off-road or can’t avoid potholes. There’s enough float in the tyres to mean gravel paths or farm tracks are still definitely on the route menu as long as you don’t plan on riding them all day.
While it’s understandable for a bike that’s definitely designed as a ’cross racer first and foremost, the lack of rear rack and mudguard fixtures definitely limits its day-to-day utility appeal. If you’re happy with a clip-on rear ’guard and a bag on your back though, it’s a good choice.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.