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Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 review

17 Nov 2015
Verdict:

Thanks to exclusivity, the Fuji Gran Fondo is excellent value but does it offer a volcanic ride?

Cyclist Rating: 

UK-wide retailer Evans Cycles has exclusive deals on a handful of brands, including BMC and Fuji. You can buy the bikes in store or online, and because the retailer is also the distributor, prices tend to be extremely competitive. The bike tested here, for instance, is currently on sale at £980, down from its RRP of £1,400 – an absolute steal. We tested Fuji’s Transonic 2.5 previously (Fuji Transonic 2.5 review) and were hugely impressed. If the Gran Fondo is anywhere near as good as that model, we could have a test winner on our hands.

The frame

Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 frame

We chose to get the Fuji Gran Fondo in the medium/large size (55cm) to fit our testers. With its tall head tube and long wheelbase it creates the illusion of being a bigger bike than it is. That 190mm head tube is a full 55mm taller than the similarly sized Fuji Transonic, which hints that this is a very different beast, built for comfort and long days in the saddle rather than uncompromising speed. That’s not to say that there are no concessions to speed on the Gran Fondo – a quick glance at the beefed-up bottom bracket, oversized down tube and asymmetric seatstays lets you know this frame is made for efficient power transfer too.

The material is Fuji’s C5 high modulus carbon fibre – the higher-specced Gran Fondos are built from the more expensive C10 to save weight. The seatstays are slender for vertical compliance, and the top tube is bowed slightly and has a T-shaped profile to boost lateral stiffness while isolating the rider from the road surface. The fork is Fuji’s F440, a carbon monocoque model with a tapered steerer tube. Tyre clearance is impressive – you’d easily squeeze in 28mm, ideal for sportives and training on rough British roads. On a bike like this, we’d run fat tyres – they’re grippier on descents and they roll nice and fast. On the downside, they can be heavier, which compromises acceleration.

Components 

Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 groupset

Shimano’s 11-speed 105 is without question the best value groupset on the market – it’s the perfect blend of performance and price, feeling similar to Shimano’s more expensive Ultegra out on the road. The gear shift is excellent and the brakes are as good as it gets in terms of consistent power in all conditions. The fact that you can pick up a complete 105 groupset for less than £300 is frankly amazing, and it’s one of the reasons Fuji is able to spec quality components from Oval elsewhere on the bike: the seatpost, stem, handlebars, saddle and chainset, which comes with chainrings from Praxis Works. The big ring has 50 teeth, the small 34, which when combined with an 11-28 cassette provides a huge, usable range of gears that will get you up an Alpine pass or the steepest of British climbs.

Wheels 

Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 Shimano 105

Having supplied so much of the finishing kit, it’s no surprise to see that the wheels are from Oval too. A fashionably wide and ostensibly aerodynamic U-shaped rim is mated to neat-looking Oval hubs via 20 spokes up front and 24 in the rear. During our test period the hubs didn’t skip a beat and, thanks to the wide rim, the 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres measured a whopping 26.5mm using a vernier calliper. We’ve had a good experience with Vittoria tyres recently and the Zaffiro Pros proved more than adequate – we’d happily run them all summer. And what’s great is that the Zaffiro Pro is also available in 28mm, which we’d plump for when the time came to replace the originals. 

The ride

Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 review

Having really enjoyed our time on the comparably priced Fuji Transonic 2.5 a couple of months ago, we went into this test hoping that the Gran Fondo would provide a similarly impressive ride. With a taller head tube and more emphasis on comfort over speed, we knew things would be different, but we kept our minds open. Bike companies often boost comfort by increasing the height of the handlebars, meaning there’s less drop from saddle to bar and the rider is therefore less hunched over, easing lower-back pressure.

There is a potential issue, however: unless you definitely need to keep more upright, this kind of position can actually be less comfortable. With a flatter back, less weight is distributed over the rear wheel and less vibration passes up into your back because we believe it’s being dissipated through the hips. In the case of the Fuji Gran Fondo, not only is the front end tall, but the seat angle is also quite shallow at 72.5° (compared with 73.5° on the Transonic) which means your whole body is rotated backwards around the bottom bracket – so you’re still somewhat hunched over, you’re just less aerodynamic and probably suffering more road buzz. On comfort road bikes, we’d prefer to see a seat angle of at least 73°. The comfort tag doesn’t feel apt up front either, where the fork fails to absorb much vibration, despite the large 25mm tyres. Because we tested with high expectations, we possibly judged the Gran Fondo more harshly than it deserves. The bike is nicely specced and rides well. It’s just that the Transonic rides even better and, for us, is no less comfortable.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 560mm 557mm
Seat Tube (ST) 520mm 523mm
Down Tube (DT) 600mm
Fork Length (FL) 375mm
Head Tube (HT) 190mm 190mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 72.6
Seat Angle (SA) 73 72.5
Wheelbase (WB) 993mm 995mm
BB drop (BB) 69mm 72mm

Spec

Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5
Frame C5 high-modulus carbon w/ RIB tech
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105
Chainset Oval Concepts 520, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Oval Concepts 310
Stem Oval Concepts 313
Seatpost Oval Concepts 905
Wheels Oval 327 aero
Tyres Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick, 25c
Saddle Oval Concepts 905
Contact evanscycles.com
Price: 
£1400

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