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Fuji Transonic 2.1 review

15 Jul 2020
Verdict:

A fast and versatile reinvention of Fuji's flagship aero road bike, but it does struggle to stand out

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Fast yet comfortable • Impressive 32mm tyre clearance • Integration offers practicality
Against 
Struggles to stand out amongst similarly priced aero frames • Slightly heavy • Less rigid than some competitors

There aren’t many bike brands that can trace their ancestry back to the 19th century. Fuji is one of them, having been born in 1899. By the 1920s it was Japan’s biggest bike brand, and nearly a century later (and now Taiwanese-US-owned) it produced its first aero road bike, the Transonic. That was in 2014, and six years further on we have our hands on the new model, which promises to be faster and more versatile.

Compared to the 2014 version, the update is undeniably neater – more angular and pared back. Gone are the curves and teardrop tube profiles, replaced by truncated kamm-tail tube shapes that theoretically offer structural strength advantages alongside more pure speed and better stability in crosswinds.

Integration has moved to the next stage too, with cables concealed at the front and disc brakes and callipers carefully shielded from the wind.

‘We’ve used an integrated carbon “shroud” on the front brake to help smooth airflow over the disc calliper,’ says Mar Vanek, Fuji’s director of product and branding.

The shroud is effectively a section of carbon over the calliper. ‘Similarly, the rear chainstay has a semi-integrated shroud to aid airflow over the rear brake.’

Add in reshaped areas around the bottom bracket and chainrings to smooth the airflow under the rider and the manufacturer believes the resulting aero gains have been sizeable.

Fuji claims a 28.7% reduction in drag compared to the 2014 version of the bike when the wind is at a 10° angle to the driveside. Admittedly that’s a pretty specific angle, but the company still reckons the bike saves 6.2% in drag overall.

It’s not just a purebred speed-hunting Strava machine, though. One of the most interesting updates has been tyre clearance, which has increased to accept up to 32mm tyres.

That’s wide even by modern aero road bike standards, and makes the Transonic a very versatile beast. This is supported by a slightly higher stack height than before, making it a far cry from the 23mm-tyred, slammed-stem aero bikes of yesteryear.

Lookin’ good

The Transonic looks and feels like a world-class aero bike. Most of the time I spent with it was during the Covid-19 lockdown, and so most of my rides were much shorter than usual.

That was fitting, as the bike lends itself well to short blasts and I enjoyed skipping along at speed on long, flat stretches. What surprised me most, though, was how well it performed when riding over cracked tarmac and rough ground, where it didn’t feel like an aero bike at all.

It was always so smooth it just seemed to cruise. Usually I would put that down to a bike having wide, tubeless tyres, for example, but this bike came specced with 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pros, so the lack of harshness must also be credited to the frame.

The ride felt so assured that I even found myself veering onto gravel tracks, and I could see how this bike would be able to tackle some very challenging trails if fitted with a set of 32mm tyres. It was only when comparing the Fuji to the absolute best bikes out there that I could find flaws.

Buy the Fuji Transonic 2.1 from Wiggle here

During my time with the Transonic I was also testing the new 2021 Giant TCR Advanced SL0, which did highlight some limitations of the Fuji. It lacked the immediate stiffness of the Giant, and the Oval wheelset didn’t quite deliver the quick accelerations of the TCR’s Cadex carbon wheels.

While the Transonic delivered more flat-out speed, it couldn’t match the ultra-sharp descending confidence of top race bikes such as the TCR, Cannondale SuperSix or Specialized Venge.

Similarly, while the Transonic doesn’t feel heavy, its 8kg weight is higher than many competitors and does create a tiny bit of extra drag when climbing and accelerating.

However, those comparisons are perhaps unfair, as the TCR I tested costs £9,499. By contrast, I have seen this version of the Transonic 2.1 retail in some places for £4,800.

That makes it around half the price of the TCR and also about £400 cheaper than the Trek Madone SL 7, which has an almost identical spec, and considerably cheaper than an equivalently specced Specialized Venge.

With that in mind, as an overall build and package, I think the Transonic holds its own against the best aero bikes at this price range. If I had to pay the full RRP of £5,999, however, I might think twice.

Buy the Fuji Transonic 2.1 from Wiggle here

Ultimately, the most critical thing I can say about the Fuji is that it struggles to stand out in a very competitive market. It fulfils all the requirements of a modern aero bike, but I’m not sure that I could recommend it above the best of its rivals.

Nevertheless, the bike showcases impressive integration and engineering, and some really intelligent approaches to marrying practicality and performance. It’s fast, fun and far more than just an aero bike.

Pick of the kit

dhb Aeron Lab All Winter Polartec jacket, £180


As spring edges into summer, there are few pieces of kit that can navigate the challenges of our unpredictable weather as well as the Aeron Lab All Winter jacket. It’s a technical marvel – incredibly warm in the cold, yet cool when it’s mild – and able to quickly expel body heat during the hardest of efforts, all while offering great breathability and fluffy comfort.

Alternatively…

The top spec


At £7,999 the Fuji Transonic 1.1 comes at an extra cost, but as well as being a better build (it includes Sram Red eTap AXS) it uses higher grade ‘C15’ carbon, meaning the frame comes in under 900g.

Buy the Fuji Transonic 1.1 from Wiggle now

Half the price


The Transonic 2.5, priced at £2,899, will likely prove the most popular in the range. It has the same frame as the 2.1, but the spec compromises with a Shimano 105 groupset and fairly basic alloy wheels.

Buy the Fuji Transonic 2.5 from Wiggle now

Spec

Frame Fuji Transonic 2.1
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Brakes Shimano Ultegra Di2
Chainset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Cassette Shimano Ultegra Di2
Bars Oval Concepts 990 Aero
Stem Oval Concepts 790 Aero
Seatpost Oval ConceptsTransonic Aero
Saddle Oval ConceptsX38
Wheels Oval Concepts 950 Disc, Vittoria Rubino Pro 25mm tyres
Weight 8.06kg
Contact hotlines-uk.com
Price: 
£5,999

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