2015 Fuji SL1.3
Disclaimer - I confess that I am a huge fan of Fuji bikes. I think they offer amazing quality and value at a very good price point. In fact, the first Fui I I bought was a scandium Fuji Team Issue road bike in 1999 and I rode the snot out of it until 2004. It's still being ridden by a friend's 14 year old who is using it for triathlons. In 2010, when I worked at Yahoo!, the Yahoo! cycling team was issued the SL-1 Pro which was a great bike; in fact, team members continued to ride it even years after the team was disbanded. I also bought a 2012 D6 triathlon bike; it took me to a PR on the Wildflower 1/2 ironman bike course -- shaving 2 minutes off my previous PR!
Needless to say, I was looking forward to testing this new lightweight offering from Fuji.
The SL 1.3 has a claimed sub700 gram frame weight and is equipped with Dura Ace 9000 Di-2, Oval 724 alloy clinchers, Oval seatpost, Oval saddle, and Oval cockpit. The Dura Ace Di-2 gruppo is state of the art and the Oval wheelset is remarkably lightweight yet offers confident braking performance from the alloy rims. The house-brand cockpit was easy to adjust and, for the most part, comfortable. There is pretty much nothing to upgrade except, perhaps, the seat -- I found it a bit uncomfortable after rides longer than 2 hours. The frame has a massive down tube, top tube, and chain stays. But the seat stays are truly "pencil thin" which likely gives it an amazingly compliant and comfortable ride.
So how did it ride?
This is a bike that you can put miles and smiles in to. It's stable, accelerates quickly, climbs great, and descends confidently. With each pedal stroke, the bike shoots forward; I assume because of the frame's stiffness, light weight and excellent wheelset. I could not detect any flex in the frame on steep uphills. I took this bike on a local hillclimb race and despite it being just the third ride on it, it felt like an old friend. In fact I set my PR for the year on it. Downhill it didn't disappoint, either. The handling is responsive and the ride is exceptionally comfortable; the frame isolates road feedback a lot. Also, unlike super-light bikes, it didn't feel fragile, either. Rermarkably, this bike also "felt aero" -- I was able to descend in a tuck passing a group of guys with no problem. And it didn't seem like it was holding me back at 28+ mph on the flats.
This said, while this is great for long rides, aggressive riders may find it a bit muted for hard-core riding. The head tube is pretty tall and, as a result, I positioned the stem in it's lowest postiion; racers may want to try a negative rise stem to get a bit lower. And if you want to feel every pebble in the road and enjoy hyper-responsive handling, this may not be the bike for you. Personally, that isn't my style so I was plenty happy.
Quibbles? The seat was tolerable but on rides over 50 miles, I found it a bit uncomfortble. Also, while wearing gloves and descending in the drops my hands started to cramp a bit. The handlebars felt much better on the hoods vs. riding in the drops. Graphics are a personal preference but the shiny red on black was a bit "bright" for my tastes.
This is a great bike that will provide years of comfort and climbing PRs. It's got a stiff yet comfortable frame, excellent gruppo and wheeset should make any owner plenty happy for many many miles to come. As a side note - for those looking for the ultimate weight weenie bike, Fuji also offers the SL 1.1. It has the same frame with even ligher wheelset and components bringing the weight down to a mere 10.91 lbs (4.96kg) for $9999.