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Fuji Supreme 2.1 review

Fuji Supreme 2.1 Review Side View
28 May 2015
Verdict:

Look beyond the butterflies, and Fuji Supreme 2.1 is a bike for women who want to do more than cruise.

Price: 
£1,800

If there is one thing that will force me to let slip an exasperated sigh it’s the sight of a purple butterfly on a women-specific bike. It is, after all, 2015 and this is a bike that is aimed at women who want to race, not my six-year-old daughter (who, incidentally, I steer away from pinkified toys and whose bike is black).Butterfly motifs aside, it’s worth looking past the paintjob of this bike because once you peel back the girly aesthetic, the Fuji Supreme definitely belongs to the racing scene.

Fuji, an American-owned Japanese manufacturer, has been making bikes since 1899 and has supported women’s cycling for over three decades – the brand sponsored the first US women’s road racing team, Fuji-Suntour, in the late 1970s. A dip in popularity during the 1980s and a brush with hard times saw Fuji practically disappear, but for the past decade it has been increasing in popularity, offering value-for-money, performance-oriented bikes.

The Fuji Supreme series of bikes brings together elements of the unisex Altamira, on which Juan José Cobo won the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, and the SST (super stiff team), a crit bike with aero features. The Supreme 2.1 is the middle of three bikes in this race-ready range. Its sister, the Supreme 1.1, has been campaigned by Giorgia Bronzini, a two-time World Road Race champion, who is known for her sprinting prowess.

Fuji Supreme 2.1 Seat Stay Review

The race is on

This is a women’s bike aimed at women who want to race, which makes a refreshing change from the plethora of made-for-comfort and endurance-focused bikes that are the only women’s models offered by some manufacturers (the ‘Finest’ range – not to be confused with fancy products from a well-known supermarket – is Fuji’s entry-level, sportive-focused range for women). ‘With our sponsorship of the top-level teams [including the female Team TIBCO-SVB], we wanted a platform that would serve our sponsored athletes best,’ says Steven Fairchild, global product manager for Fuji road bikes. 

As an offspring of the Altamira and the SST, the Supreme is reasonably lightweight and suitably stiff, but those attributes are not what are emphasised in Fuji’s marketing spiel. For the company, the main selling point is the fit. The Supreme comes with a shorter top tube than its male siblings, as well as narrower bars and short-reach brake levers to create, in Fuji’s words, ‘ultimately a bike that fits a woman much better’. 

For me, however, what really sets this bike apart is its impressive handling. If Cyclist magazine allowed cycling clichés, I’d say it corners on a sixpence, but that kind of thing is frowned upon, so I’ll simply say the steering is incredibly purposeful and the bike seems to hug the tarmac in tight turns. Much of this is down to the stiffness in the fork blades and the down tube. Cut these tubes horizontally and you’ll see a brace across the centre of the tube, which runs down its length. This is Fuji’s RIB technology and is a feature borrowed from the brand’s track frames, where precise steering and power transfer reign supreme. 

Fuji Supreme 2.1 Rear Derailleur

‘RIB Technology is a patented manufacturing method that moulds a reinforcing rib into the fork blades and down tube of the Supreme,’ says Fairchild. ‘This improves the stiffness of the down tube for power transfer and also in the fork blades for steering precision.’ 

Another nod to improved stiffness comes from the asymmetrical ‘Energy Transfer Chainstays’. The non-driveside chainstay is thicker and more bowed than the driveside one, and this is to ‘offset drivetrain induced torque’, according to Fuji. It’s a fancy-pants way of saying that it stops the rear end flexing more to one side than the other as a result of the additional forces created by the chainset. So, despite its ‘feminine’ paintjob (and those butterflies), this is in no way a softly-softly bike. Moreover, it grips the road. Dig deep and get the bike up to speed and the Supreme 2.1 will dance along with the nimbleness of a ballerina; point it downhill on a steep descent and it has the rugged sure-footedness of a rugby player.

A lighter life

Stiffness aside, one of the biggest talking points with a race bike is always going to be weight. We live in a world where frames weighing over a kilo are considered practically prehistoric, and the UCI limit of 6.8kg for the whole bike is seen as unnecessarily heavy, so the Supreme 2.1’s total weight of around 8kg is just a touch on the hefty side. Given that my usual ride is around the 7kg mark, that’s the weight of a bag of sugar that I could do without on the Supreme, especially in the hills. 

Fuji Supreme 2.1 Bottom Bracket

Chris Snook of Evans Cycles, UK stockist of Fuji bikes, tells me, ‘The frameset isn’t too far off that of the Altamira, but it’s the spec that adds weight.’ And so we return to that old chestnut of women’s bikes being given cheaper, heavier components than their male counterparts.Oval Components is the in-house components brand of Advanced Sports International, part owner of Fuji. The Oval 527 aero alloys wheelset supplied with the bike (which despite the name are thankfully round) have a combined weight of 1,720g without tyres, which is bulky but pretty typical for a wheelset on a mid-range bike. However, to get the most of out this performance bike, the wheels are the first thing that I’d upgrade. 

Another potential upgrade is the tyres. Given the industry-wide move to 25c tyres, the use of 23c Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres is disappointing and a tad last season; Specialized is running 25c or 24c tyres on all its women’s 2015 Amira bikes. As well as the wheelset, most of the finishing kit is supplied by Oval Concepts and this includes the R700 saddle and the 40cm wide bars (38cm on XS and XS/S and 42cm on the M model). I changed the saddle out for a Specialized Power Pro saddle, which I found far more comfortable (although it’s around four times the price of the Oval R700 supplied), but as ever it’s a personal thing depending on the shape of your posterior.

Overall this is an impressive bike that, with a few obvious upgrades, will certainly cut it on the racing scene alongside the usual big names on the start line. Fuji’s commitment to women’s cycling is clear through its product development and its performance on the road, so the moral of the story here is don’t judge a bike by its looks, unless you’re a fan of butterflies. But please someone, have a word…

Spec

Fuji Supreme 2.1
Frame Fuji Supreme 2.1
Groupset Shimano Ultegra 6800
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 6800
Chainset Oval Concepts 720 Chainset
Cassette Shimano 105 cassettw 
Bars Oval 310 alloy bars
Stem Oval 313 stem
Seatpost Oval 905 Carbon Wrapped seatpost
Wheels Oval 527 alloy clinchers
Tyres Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick
Saddle Oval R700 Saddle
Contact evanscycles.com

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