We tested the range topping Transonic 1.1 Di2 a few months back and were hugely impressed with the way it rode. That bike featured deep section carbon wheels and Dura-Ace Di2, not to mention a superbike price tag. Now most framesets can be flattered when kitted out with the best of the best – the true test is when a bike’s equipped with components we can afford and it still impresses.
Highs: Fast riding, nippy handling and packed with value
Lows: Weirdly uncomfortable saddle
Buy if: You want a bike that’s all about speed and not about price
For a bike that’s all about aero, the designers at Fuji are fairly modest about the Transonic. They make no huge claims about it being faster than others, just that it’s faster in the US’s A2 wind tunnel than either the brand’s own Altimira or SST race bikes.
The front end features an aero contoured head tube that flows into the fork crown, where you’ll find an Ultegra direct-mount front brake. At the rear the bladed seat tube contours around the rear wheel and, unlike most aero machines the rear brake is seatstay mounted. The reason for this is ease of maintenance in race situations (under-BB brakes are difficult to adjust on the road).
As with the top-end Transonic, it’s good to find that the aero-bladed seat mast (using an inbuilt wedge binder) has been grip-taped on the leading edge where the clamp hits, providing a rock solid fixing without any slipping – something lots of aero bikes fall down on.
The ride feel is overall very smooth, the back end especially doing an impressive job of keeping buzz to a minimum, Up front the bladed fork and huge oversized head tube keep it tracking well, but tell-tale buzz does make it through to your hands through the alloy bars more quickly than it does through the rear.
The transonic’s sleek but solid front end is well specced with impressive 310 alloy bars from fuji’s in-house brand oval:
The Transonic’s sleek but solid front end is well specced with impressive 310 alloy bars from Fuji’s in-house brand Oval
On flat ground the Transonic reaches TT bike levels of swiftness; on more rolling terrain it dismisses short inclines with disdain. Parallel 73-degree angles and a wheelbase just over 1m make for an appealing combo of reactive steering and stability, and when you hit longer ascents the frame’s inherent rigidity makes for a strong performer. We mostly had no issue with the 52/36 and 11-28 gearing, though once we hit the last climb of the bike of the year test loop we did start secretly hoping a 34 would magically appear.
Component wise it’s all Oval, Fuji’s in-house supplier. At the business end the alloy 310 has a great ovalised top, which extends forward from the stem before gently sweeping back to the corner before dropping into a compact hook. The shape effectively lengthens the reach by a few mm and gives the 2.3 a long, low riding position. The 720 chainset is all-alloy, hollow-forged but with an industrial looking design that gives the impression of CNCing. Non-drivetrain cranks can mean an exercise in cost cutting, but the 320s are plenty stiff enough and are fitted with Praxis rings that are easily the equal of Ultegra in the shifting stakes.
The only Oval part we had issue with was the 500 saddle – the central section’s padding was just too soft and squishy, so the overall sensation when riding normally was the hard hull underneath and a feeling of floating around. We never felt we could get a truly comfortable and stable seated position – and it’s something we’d want to change as soon as possible.
We believe an aero bike should have aero wheels to make the most of the potential speed; the 2.3’s modest price means that’s not the case. The Oval 527 wheels fitted are surprisingly good though, the wide rim profile enabling the usually slim 23c Vittoria rubber to be shaped with a much rounder profile, helping the bike roll serenely over rougher surfaces. But we did have the occasional rim hit, as the shallow tubulars compressed on edge of potholes enough to give the alloy beneath an almighty whack. Ideally we’d fit 25c – and surprisingly for an aero bike the Transonic will take up to a 28!
Overall we’re impressed with the Transonic – it’s a true next-gen aero bike that gives the likes of Giant’s Propel a good run for its money. For considerably less outlay than the Propel you get a great frame, good components and Shimano Ultegra. If you want your next bike to be fast above all, and you fancy the occasional TT or trying a multisport event, we’d suggest you give the Transonic a try as its mix of fine handling, speedy ability and great value are all compelling reasons to own one.