Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Fuji Jari 1.5 gravel bike review

1 Oct 2020
Verdict:

Great for load-lugging, but there are better specced gravel bikes at this pricepoint

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Loads of mounting points • Good lower gear range
Against 
Weak mechanical disc brakes • Recessed bottom bracket bearings

Fuji is one of those brands that, at least in the UK, flies a bit under the radar. It’s a US bike maker, despite its Japanese-sounding name, and makes a wide range of bikes across all disciplines.

As you’d expect, with gravel so hot in the US at present, it’s got a decent range of gravel bikes in its stable, both carbon and alloy framed.

The Fuji Jari 1.5 gravel bike sits in the middle of the alloy frame gravel bike range and comes kitted out with a Shimano Tiagra 10-speed, two-ring groupset.

Buy the Fuji Jari from Wiggle now here

As you’d wish for a bike designed for off-road riding, this comes with plenty of lower ratios: a 46/30 FSA Tempo Adventure chainset is paired up with an 11-34t cassette, giving you all the range you could wish for to haul yourself up steep, now muddy, pitches.

 

Lashes of luggage mounts

The Jari’s off-road credentials don’t stop at the gearing though. It’s got all the mounting points you could possibly desire to lash luggage to the frame and fork and head off into the unknown.

That includes the usual three bottle cage mounts – although you’re unlikely to need a third bottle much in the UK. You also get top tube mounting points and full rack and mudguard bolts, including a permanent bridge between the seatstays.

 

The all-carbon fork offers yet more mounting points via the three bolts on each fork leg, so you can fix yet more bottles or luggage there. It’s a feature that you don’t often see, even on the best-specced gravel bikes, and suggests the Jari is geared up for serious bikepacking.

That’s borne out by closer inspection of the right hand fork leg, which has internal routing for a cable from a dynamo hub, so you could potentially kit the Jari out with lights and power up a GPS, freeing you of batteries and making you independent of external power supply.

Buy the Fuji Jari from Wiggle now here

It’s the same fork as used on Fuji’s higher spec alloy and carbon Jari models and a nice extra.

 

Some spec pluses and minuses

The fork also has massive clearance – significantly more than the frame, although that too is ample for the 38mm wide Panaracer GravelKing SK Sport tyres.

As usual, no tyre is good for all conditions and although the GravelKings, with their small block tread, are fine for dry off-road, they clog and lose traction fast once the going gets damp, making them not best suited for most UK riding most of the time.

I found myself slipping around even on quite gentle uphills while seated and turning a low gear.

 

On the plus side, the tyres along with the WTB rims are tubeless-ready. That’s more-or-less essential on a gravel bike where the combination of rough surfaces and relatively thin tyres means you’re going to puncture sooner or later.

If you’re lucky, tubeless should sort it out without a stop, although I got one flat that didn’t quite seal, leading to a squishy ride home.

Along with the tyres, the other item that limits progress off road is the Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes. They’re a definite step down from hydraulics and, even once bedded in, significantly less effective.

Although they will stop you eventually, the lack of bite made me a cautious descender.

 

At the Fuji’s £1,250 price, you begin to be a bit constrained on spec. It would be nice to see Shimano’s GRX clutched 10-speed mechanicals in place of Tiagra though, not just for its hydraulic braking, but for crisper shifting when riding off road than I found with Tiagra. When bumped around, it started to feel a bit woolly.

Another item that might cause problems down the line is the bottom bracket. A tick for the threaded shell, so adjustment and replacement should be easy and they should be creak-free. But the inboard bearings leave a shelf that looks destined to collect mud and dirt once it’s proper muddy out.

 

That will find its way into their interstices leading to quicker wear and the need for replacement. I’d have preferred to see external bearing placement to avoid this and widen the supported width of the spindle.

Other finishing kit comes from Fuji’s in-house Oval Concepts brand. That includes the saddle and alloy seatpost and stem, as well as the bars. These are really wide, starting out at 42cm at the tops on the medium sized bike, but with their 25° flare heading out to 53cm in the drops, centre-to-centre.

There’s a slight backward sweep too, coupled to a bulge to the tops and thick bar tape, and providing a really comfortable hold over uneven surfaces.

The bars are size-specific, with their width starting at 40cm and going up to 46cm on the largest 61cm XXL frame – one of seven sizes offered starting at 46cm, offering the range to suit most riders.

 

A mixed scorecard

So overall, the Fuji Jari 1.5 has some really good points for the gravel rider, particularly if you want to use it for extended bikepacking trips, where the multiple mounts and option to fit a dynamo will up your self-sufficiency.

Fuji has included a plastic insert on the underside of the top tube to make carrying more comfortable too.

Buy the Fuji Jari from Wiggle now here

But it’s let down by some poor component choices, like the brakes and bottom bracket. There are bikes at a similar price that are better specced and I would expect to be better performers.

The Tiagra spec of the Cannondale Topstone (which we reviewed a couple of months ago in Ultegra guise), for example, has comparable components but uses Shimano’s Tiagra hydraulic disc brakes. Its quoted weight undercuts the Jari’s 10.7kg too.

Spec

Frame A6-SL Super-Butted Aluminum, carbon fork
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Brakes Tektro Lyra mechanical disc
Chainset FSA Tempo Adventure 46/30
Cassette Shimano Tiagra 11-34
Bars Oval Concepts alloy, 25 degree flare
Stem Oval Concepts alloy
Saddle Oval Concepts
Seatpost Oval Concepts alloy
Wheels WTB ST i23 rims on thru-axle hubs
Tyres Panaracer GravelKing SK Sport 38mm
Weight 10.7kg
Contact hotlines-uk.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£1249.99