Fuji’s Roubaix ticks all the boxes for a state-of-the-art frame, and it’s a good looker too, but unfortunately it’s less compelling on the road. It’s off the pace, and not just in terms of specification value.
Highs: Good looking alternative to mainstream brands, with decent power transfer, stable steering, and reasonable frame and fork weight
Lows: Heavy wheels and low-grade kit, plus a firm, stretched-out frame feel create a relatively heavy and unresponsive ride. No rack or mudguard mounts either
Buy if: You’re happy with an ‘alright’ bike – if you can find it at a discounted price
While Specialized give the Roubaix name to their more upright, comfort-orientated bikes, the Fuji is more of a classic racer in shape. A relatively long top tube and stem mean you’re reaching a fair way to the bar from the saddle, resulting in a fairly flat position. The big press-fit bottom bracket shell adds a purposeful centre to your pedalling effort and the fork has a subtly tapered carbon steerer to keep it feeling sharp up front.
Rolling out into the country, this stable, generous length position synched well with our more experienced old-school testers and the handling is definitely on the steady, speed-focused side that prefers to be leaned rather than turned. Power is transferred well through the big bottom bracket and asymmetric chainstays, and once it’s on a roll it holds speed well.
The 11-25t cassette means a smaller, less rhythm-jolting jump between gears compared with the newly fashionable big sprocket blocks too. But there’s a definite reluctance from the Roubaix to pick up speed rapidly, particularly when you’re pointing uphill. The reason isn’t hard to find either: the Alex wheels are well built, but combined with the wire bead Hutchinson tyres they’re very heavy, which adds a lot of inertia.
While it works well enough, the Shimano Tiagra groupset is heavier than the 105 on other bikes at this price and the complete bike weight is fairly high at 9.69kg (21.4lb). The overall feel is relatively dead as a result of the weight and the performance-focused positioning. It’s not bone-jarringly harsh, but when swapping between bikes on group rides we were generally glad to jump onto something a little livelier and friendlier than the Fuji.
Switching wheels for part of the test made a noticeable improvement in ride quality, but the firm frame and details like the oversized alloy seatpost still leave it playing a muted rather than melodic tune on the tarmac. There are no mudguard or rack eyes anywhere either, so it’s clip-ons and backpacks if you want to keep your backside dry or take stuff to work.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.