Road bikes: Fuji has recently released the Gran Fondo endurance bike, a model that focuses on providing improved comfort through specialised frame material technology. According to the manufacturer, the new design is aimed at optimising the balance between comfort and performance, while simultaneously maintaining swift handling and stability.
The idea behind the new design is primarily to reduce the vibrations travelling from the road surface to the rider. Fuji’s Road Product Manger, Steven Fairchild, has stated that “the Gran Fondo is our answer to a cyclist’s nemesis: road vibration. It causes fatigue, compromises comfort, and diminishes performance.” To this end, Fuji has brought Vibration Reduction Technology (VRTech) to the 2016 model. VRTech is essentially a polyurethane-treated natural fibre that has been placed within the design’s high-modulus carbon layup to dampen high-frequency vibrations.
Fuji’s design team extensively studied every element of the chassis to make these improvements. Their research revealed that the fork, seatstays and chainstays, which provide the greatest balance of damping, road feel and stiffness, are the premium points for the location of VRTech. Applying this technology to these key areas does add extra weight (albeit only slightly) to the frameset, however, it seems to be a weight worth carrying, considering the results of tests conducted on its effectiveness. Compared to frames without VRTech, Fuji claims that the Gran Fondo frame reduces the amount of high-frequency vibrations transmitted to the rider by 24.6%.
A further improvement to rider comfort lies in the new wave design of the seatstays, which are kinked at the brake bridge position, in an attempt to disrupt and dampen vibrations from the rear wheel.
In the 2016 design, Fuji has also opted for a taller head tube, to put the rider in a more upright position, with the idea of combating lower back fatigue during longer rides. It also features longer chainstays, and therefore a longer wheelbase, than Fuji’s other road race bike models. Its 700c x 28mm tires are aimed at providing increased traction and stability, with clearance to accept tires of up to 30mm with mudguards, and even some 32mm models.
The Gran Fondo is also fitted with flat mount disc brakes and a front and rear 12mm thru-axle system, which increases rigidity and optimises steering. The rear dropouts can also be switched to run 135mm quick releases. Fuji’s road Product Manager indicated that the designers went for the 12mm front axle as it is lighter than the more common 15mm size found on mountain bikes.
The new line is comprised of five models. The Gran Fondo 1.1 and 1.3 models feature Fuji’s C10 ultra high-modulus carbon, and weigh 7.43kg and 7.95kg respectively, while the Gran Fondo 2.1, 2.3 and 2.5 models feature C5 high-modulus carbon and weigh between 8.87kg and 8.96kg. Prices range from $1,940 for the Gran Fondo 2.5 to $4,110 for the Gran Fondo 1.1. The lineup is scheduled to be released in April.