Originally Japanese — hence the Mt Fuji logo — Fuji is now a Taiwanese-American company, and that international flavour is continued in the manufacturing of the Sportif, which is designed in the USA and made in China.
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The Sportif 2.3 is very much aimed at the rider with distance riding and comfort in mind. My 56cm model has a 19cm head tube, plus a headset top-cap and 3.5cm of spacers, while its short 9cm stem further adds to a very upright back-friendly ride.
Frame angles are all pretty standard 73 degrees, and though the chainstays are 42cm the wheelbase isn’t overly long, 100cm on my test model.
The double-butted aluminium frame is standard stuff for the price, which isn’t a negative. It has neat internal cabling, a standard threaded bottom bracket and a 1 1/8in carbon fork with an aluminium steerer. Why mess with tried-and-trusted technology?
I thought the gloss ‘anthracite’ frame looked a little understated, but others were impressed with one calling it "very pretty". Eye of the beholder and all that...
The Sportif’s most notable features are the tapered ‘Wave’ seatstays, which are designed to "disrupt and diffuse road vibration and provide a slight vertical flex, increasing your comfort and smoothing out your ride". Hmm, kinked, slim seatstays should certainly reduce vertical stiffness, but my reckoning is that the geometry and 28mm tyres contribute just as much as those swooshy stays.
The Vittoria Zaffiro tyres have a largely slick centre and lightly treaded sides that will give you a little grip off the tarmac, but the real treat is that they balloon out to a bump-numbing, bum-comforting 30mm width on the decent Vera Corsa wheels, while still having space for proper mudguards.
Claris is here in its compact chainset, 11-32 cassette incarnation while the unbranded non-cartridge brakes have all the hallmarks of coming from Tektro. They work well enough but I’d stick with our usual recommendation of up-speccing to cartridge brake blocks. The rest of the components are from Oval, Fuji’s in-house kit supplier, and all are fine for the price.
I was surprised by just how impressed I was with the Fuji’s ride. True, you’re not going to be zinging along at 25mph, sprinting like Mark Cavendish or setting Strava records, but that’s missing the point. Instead, you’ll be spinning along comfortably at nearer 15mph, but you can do it day after day.
Okay, it’s carrying a little extra weight, and it’s a little ponderous on hills, but when gravity is no longer on your side, that 32-tooth sprocket becomes your best friend.
Rear rack mounts mean you could easily load up to tour on it, the upright riding position being touring-friendly even if the wheelbase is a little shorter than a tourer’s.
It makes a very fine long-distance commuter too, which were the rides I used it on initially, the big tyres coping well with poor surfaces. If the position isn’t too upright for you it can double as a tough, year-round trainer.