Fuji Altamira SL £5100

Light race-ready ride that's great on climbs

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

They’re not the peloton’s biggest name, but Team NetApp-Endura aren’t going to be weighed down by their bikes. Their Altamira SL is the lightest bike Fuji has produced, and at 6.14kg it’s well under the UCI’s minimum weight limit – though add pedals, cages and a power meter and it’ll be around 6.8kg.

The Altamira also has a Grand Tour to its name, Juan José Cobo riding one to victory for Geox-TMC in the 2011 Vuelta.

  • Highs: Incredibly light, great climbing and a race-ready ride
  • Lows: The braking lacks feels and the saddle’s overly stiff
  • Buy if: You want the true Tour de France bike experience at a much lower price than the competition

The frame follows the ‘big is beautiful’ mantra with a 1 1/2in lower head tube diameter, a massive down tube and oversize bottom bracket junction housing a press-fit BB86. But although deep chainstays continue the oversizing, that’s only part of the story – the top tube slims rapidly to meet pencil-thin ‘SSSS’ (that's ‘Super-Skinny SeatStays’). The aim is that vaunted mix of stiffness and comfort.

SRAM delivers its top-end Red groupset. Despite an initial splash and impressive results it still hasn’t overhauled Shimano or Campagnolo in the pro peloton, supplying just three of the 18 WorldTour teams (Shimano has 10, Campag five). We think this seriously undervalues just how good the groupset is. It’s the lightest out there, has superb brakes and innovative technology such as the one-piece cassette and ‘yaw’ front mech that eliminates the need for trimming.

As Fuji and Oval are owned by the same company, it’s no surprise to find the latter’s name on the bar, stem, seatpost, saddle and wheels. Oval’s 932 Tubular wheels combine 32mm carbon rims with aero Sandvik spokes and quality hubs. They’re light, with a claimed weight (sans tubs) of 1330g.

The rim is stiff enough and the lack of mass impressive on climbs, but the braking isn’t quite up with the best. In the dry they require a little more force at the lever to come in, which reduces feel. This is compounded further in the wet with the rim taking a while to clear moisture before the pads grip sufficiently. But the Vittoria tubulars surrounding them are soft, supple and wonderfully grippy whatever the conditions. Being tubular rather than more convenient clinchers (for non-pros with no support vehicle) could be seen as a hassle, but when tubs are this good they’re worth considering.

On the road the Fuji offers a compelling mix of stiffness with ‘just’ enough comfort. The oversizing through the drivetrain points all your power to the back wheel, while slender dimensions elsewhere aim to provide a smooth ride – and to a certain extent they do. But it’s not the most comfortable bike, with some of the frame’s compliance negated by a 31.6mm seatpost and rigid-hulled carbon saddle. It’s a similar story with the stiff carbon handlebar – it’s great for aggressive riding but can feel under-evolved on coarser surfaces. The Altamira is smooth and swift, though, and makes climbing a joy.

The Fuji has something else going for it too: price. While we'd never describe a bike at this level as cheap, it’ll set you back a lot less than the next cheapest comparable pro-level bike – without any component compromises. That makes it a very smart buy if you’re looking for a bike with a genuine Tour de France pedigree.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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