Japanese bike brand Fuji have been going for 111 years, and the Gran Fondo is designed with the distance rider in mind. On paper the geometry looks more race bike than cruiser, combining parallel 73-degree angles with a standard offset fork and a 1,013mm wheelbase that’s only a tad longer than a race bike’s. But its tall 210mm head tube is much less racy.
All of this sounds promising for a bike built with comfort in mind, and by using a longer head tube to raise the bar but not shorten reach, its position is easy to get used to.
Comfort is aided by Vittoria’s 25mm Zaffiro Pro tyres, their extra volume adding smoothness over rough surfaces. And by choosing a carbon post Fuji have also added some vibration-smoothing action to the rear too.
But the ride isn’t as smooth as we’d expected, and there’s no getting away from the fact that the frameset is seriously rigid. At the rear, this is countered by the post and plush saddle, but up front the oversized Oval aluminium bar transmits a fair amount of vibration through to you. We’ve ridden much less comfortable bikes but we did expect a little more smoothness from the 2.1.
Oval provide all the kit aside from the Shimano 105 brakes, mechs and shifters. The Oval chainset is paired with Praxis’ slick-shifting and classy 50/34 rings. The slick shifts and the climber-friendly 11-30 cassette show plenty of consideration from the designers.
The same can’t be said of the chainset. It’s stiff enough and performs fine, but the spider is very deep – this one harks back to the early 90s and we constantly caught our heel when pedalling.
The comfort-friendly 210mm head tube is at odds with otherwise more racy geometry
The wheels are classier than we’d expect at the price and feature a 27mm deep aero profile rim which, at 22mm, is wider than standard. The wheels also feature bladed spokes and cartridge bearing hubs. At a claimed 1,720g a pair they are pretty light too. They roll well and are a good companion to the 25mm tyres.
The handling is swift enough, but we did want to get the front end lower to take advantage of this. Even when taking out spacers we couldn’t get low enough – the tapered headset bearing cap is 20mm deep. Add that to the 20mm of frame standing proud of the top tube and you are perched a fair way up. Fuji aren’t alone in speccing tapered top race caps, but we wish they’d stop.
At its RRP/MSRP the Gran Fondo represents decent value – but with Evans currently offering it at £1,440 UK readers might nab themselves a bit of a bargain.