Fuji Gran Fondo 2.1 – first ride review

Hi-mod carbon sportive bike

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £1,800.00 RRP | USD $1,949.00

Our review

Swift ride, good kit and wheels but bulky chainset and high front end
Skip to view product specifications

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.

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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:
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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.

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

Product Specifications

Product

Name Gran Fondo 2.1 (13)
Brand Fuji

Available Sizes XL 47 50 53 55 58 61 L M S M/S
Handlebar Oval 310 butted 6061 alloy, 31.8mm
Weight (kg) 8.52
Stem Oval 313 3D-forged 6061 alloy, 31.8mm, +/- 7 degrees
Shifters 105 STI shifter/brake combo, Flight Deck-compatible, 20-speed
Seatpost Oval 905, carbon 31.6mm x 350mm
Saddle Oval R500 w/ CrMo hollow rails
Rear Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro
Rear Hub 20/24H sealed bearing
Rear Derailleur 105, 10-speed
Headset Type Orbit C-40, 1 1/8" upper - 1 1/2" lower, integrated
Grips/Tape Oval 300 suede-padded tape
Bottom Bracket Press-fit BB86 sealed bearing
Front Tyre VITTORIA ZAFFIRO
Front Hub 20/24H sealed bearing
Front Derailleur 105, braze-on mount
Frame Material C5 high-modulus carbon, integrated head tube w/ 1 1/2" lower, internal cable routing, oversized PIIS BB86 shell, double water bottle mounts
Fork FC-440 carbon monocoque w/ tapered carbon steerer & carbon dropout
Cranks Oval 730 forged alloy, 50/34T
Chain X10, 10-speed
Cassette Shimano Tiagra, 12-30T, 10-speed
Brakes 105
Weight (lb) 18.78