Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 first ride review

A 27.5 plus size update to an XC 29er

For 2017 Fuji takes its cross country 29er bike and adds some plus size fun to the lineup. The 29er Rakan is still present, with four models ranging from US$2,099 to US$4,949, but the big news is the more capable, more trail-oriented Rakan 27.5+. Coming from an industry that's been chasing the pointy end of hyper niche race bikes with little to no commonality to an average rider's bike, these fun, everyman types of plus bikes are truly remarkable. 

More Kashima gold goodness is found on the shock and dropper post
More Kashima gold goodness is found on the shock and dropper post

Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 spec overview

  • Fuji custom butted alloy
  • Fox Factory 34 fork and Float Factory Evol shock
  • 120mm travel both ends
  • SRAM X1 11-speed build kit
  • DT Swiss XM551 rims, 370 hubs
  • Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5 x 3.8in tires
  • Fox Transfer Stealth dropper post
  • Boost front and rear
  • Small, Medium, Large, X-Large sizes
  • Complete weight: 30.85lb / 14kg

Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 frame and equipment

27.5in plus wheels and 120mm of travel front and rear place the Rakan in a popular, do-it-all category. While 120mm may seem like an XC or Trail amount of squish, when combined with plus-size tires a bike's capability and speed potential really open up. 

Rear suspension comes from an MLink rear end
Rear suspension comes from an MLink rear end

Rear end suspension action is handled by an MLink rear end. The "M" in MLink likely stands for "mid" or "middle," as the chainstay pivot resides interestingly in the middle rather than the more common Horst Link near the rear dropout, or in tight by the bottom bracket as with most dual-link set ups. 

The alloy frame does feature internal cable routing and is aiming to be future-proof with additional ports neatly covered with black plugs. It's nice of Fuji to build this in as technology updates become more and more frequent.

It's good to be prepared, extra internal routings were present on the down tube
It's good to be prepared, extra internal routings were present on the down tube

There's plenty of Fox's gold Kashima present with the slick coating found on the dropper post, Evol rear shock and 34 Float fork. Interestingly, the fork features a remote lockout. When asked why, Fuji marketing manager Brian McKinney said it was "simply a holdover from the Rakan's previous XC-focused roots." It's an interesting spec, but one that's super simple to remove.

Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 ride impression

I was able to spin the Rakan on the dry, jagged, and quick-to-punish trails of Bootleg Canyon in Nevada. Pedaling up the trails, the Rakan was immediately quick with no delay in putting down the speed. Even with the bigger tires, things were moving right along.

Desert riding is more fun on plus size tires
Desert riding is more fun on plus size tires

Once on the singletrack, it was a bit more intriguing. The bike definitely sat high in its travel and almost preferred to skim the bumps than have the rear move up and over them. But thankfully that didn't deter me from opening it up, and by doing so, that same hesitant rear action became much more alive, willing and eager to track the ground and devour the hits. 

But I did find the limits. I sent it off a little drop, to an admittedly ugly flat landing, which did see it ding the fun meter of full travel. With that in mind, adding a spacer or two to the rear shock may do wonders as the suspension has a significant ramp in the middle but then loses some of that progressivity deeper in the stroke.

Wide DT Swiss XM551 rims help spread the Schwalbe Nobby Nic rubber
Wide DT Swiss XM551 rims help spread the Schwalbe Nobby Nic rubber

Whatever speed or whether torquing up a climb or twisting it through a corner, the Rakan felt stiff with no errant wiggle and no rear wheel rubbing. I did have issue with the fork lockout that sits under the bar. With so many dropper posts now putting that under bar spot to good use, I found myself locking the fork out numerous times when I was trying to hit the dropper lever. As mentioned, it's simple enough to remove. 

Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 pricing

  • Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 £TBC / US$4,999 / AU$TBC
  • Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.3 £TBC / US$3,749 / AU$TBC
  • Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.5 £TBC / US$3,249 / AU$TBC

Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 vs. the competition

Bikes with plus-size wheels and tires are a fast growing segment. Most alloy models are hardtails, while full suspension plus bikes have leaned towards carbon. With that in mind, it's nice to see Fuji offering three models.

The MLink suspension isn't as plush as some, but it's also quite a bit more efficient than most, it's up to how you ride to determine if that's awesome or not so much. 

More Kashima gold goodness is found on the shock and dropper post
More Kashima gold goodness is found on the shock and dropper post

Fuji Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 early verdict

The Rakan 27.5+ 3.1 is unique in that its 120mm MLink rear suspension provides an efficient ride that sits high in its travel. Yet, on the other hand, big 2.8in plus rubber tramples the trail for loads of traction and capability. Together, those traits just might make it a long-distance plus bike, which is pretty interesting. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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