Fuji Bikes can trace its history back a century or so, with the firm entering bicycle manufacturing as the Nichibei Fuji Cycle Company in 1919, in its homeland of Japan. Since then, the brand has sailed the choppy seas of boom and bust with varying degrees of success, and in the late 90s, the Fuji Bikes we know today emerged, headquartered in the USA.
The Roubaix 1.3 is Fuji's entry level alloy model, and while its frame doesn't look overly elaborate, it has some neat design features. The down tube tapers from a vertical oval cross-section to a horizontal one, maximising the size of the joints at the head tube and bottom bracket shell, presumably in aid of torsional stiffness. The seatstays are pretty conventional straight tubes, but the chainstays are noticeably asymmetrical to account for pedalling forces.
We’re big fans of Shimano 105
All cabling is internal forward of the bottom bracket, and there's also a port on the seat tube that we assume is intended to allow for the use of electronic groupsets – although Fuji doesn't offer the bike with one. Most pleasing of all are the mudguard eyelets at the rear dropouts, though we're not sure why there isn't a matching pair up front on the tapered full carbon fork – a missed opportunity.
All of this would be moot if it didn't translate into a pleasant riding experience, but gratifyingly, it does. We need to get one thing straight: despite the Roubaix moniker, this is no cobble-calmer. In fact, the ride quality errs towards the firm side, and the stout fork does give a bit of feedback from the road surface. It isn't harsh though, instead giving a pleasant sense that you're in touch with the tarmac beneath your wheels. The frame geometry is standard race fare, and Fuji has judged the tradeoffs between comfort and performance well. Power transfer is exemplary, imparting a rewarding sense of liveliness.
The Roubaix's ride is firm, but in a pleasingly in-touch way
The Roubaix's pleasant performance is backed up with a decent selection of components. Shifters, derailleurs and cassette are from Shimano's outstanding 11-speed 105 groupset, while the brakes are non-series Shimano and the cranks are Oval branded, with Praxis chainrings. The Oval name is all over the finishing kit too, which is modest but decent stuff. The bars deserve a special mention for their slightly swept tops, a great place to put your hands while you spin up a climb.
The Vittoria tyres are labelled as 23s, but thanks to the wide ( 24mm) Oval-branded rims, they measure up at about 25mm. It's a sign of the times that a bike in this class is specced with such progressive parts, and we can only applaud. We'd be inclined to try bigger rubber all the same, to maximise the benefits of the extra tyre volume on offer. 25s should be no problem, and it's possible you'd get 28s in there too.
The Fuji looks somewhat run-of-the mill from its spec sheet, but it's a surprisingly well-rounded machine in the real world, and certainly one worthy of consideration.