Fuji Sportif 1.3 (2013)  £700.00

7/10

Well-specced first sportive bike, winter trainer or commuter. A good ride for the money

Weight 10200g   Contact  www.evanscycles.com

by Dave Atkinson   March 21, 2013  

Fuji's Sportif 1.3 does a good job of being a well-rounded all-round winter workhorse. The frame's good, new Sora is good, the wheels are good and the £700 all-in price (even cheaper online) is good. As a first sportive bike, a winter trainer or an all-year commuter it's definitely worth a look.

The Sportif frame is the geometry of Fuji's carbon fibre Gran Fondo frame re-imagined in Aluminium: A2-SL alloy with a hydroformed top and down tube. It's a tidily-built machine with chunky-but-even welds and a pearlescent white finish that's proven itself to be fairly hardy. That frame is mated with a colour-matched carbon fork with an alloy steerer, a thin-bladed affair with a mudguard-friendly long drop. They really do take a mudguard, too; we stuck a set of 28mm SKS Chromoplastics on the Fuji with no problems at all, so you're not restricted to raceblade-type protection.

Geometry-wise it's quite a tall bike, with a 225mm head tube in the L/XL size we tested (about a 59cm). Coupled with the long-drop fork that's a pretty high front end. Everything else about the geometry is pretty standard, 73/73 angles in the large size slackening at the front and steepening at the back as you go down the sizes. 420mm chainstays leave enough room for a mudguard and the wheelbase (1029mm on our bike) is a touch longer than a standard road bike as a result.

On paper that sounds like a bike that'll be nice and stable but a bit upright for the quicker stuff, and in the flesh that's exactly what you get. The Sportif is a great bike for just getting some miles in. Handling-wise it doesn't really have any major foibles, and the slightly more upright position is plenty comfy. I don't mind a high front but this would be about the limit of what I'd consider for a road bike; I found myself reaching for the drops and staying there for much longer than I normally would, even on climbs. With a shallow-drop bar and that long head tube and fork, the drops aren't far away from where the hoods would be on a race-spec bike, really. That makes them nice and comfy but it means in the wind you'll present more of a frontal area.

The Fuji isn't super-stiff, and stamping on the pedals in a sprint for the town sign or up a sharp climb can eke a bit of flex out of the frame. It's noticeable but it's not really an issue, and the flex seems to be confined to the rear. the tall head tube and narrow fork don't quite have the point-and-go feel of a stiff, oversized front end but the bike never felt vague and turns in pretty well at speed. At cruising velocity, or in traffic, the steering is nice and neutral.

Shifting is brought to you by the new Sora 3500 shifters, with Sora front and Tiagra rear mechs. New Sora is great. It's proper Dual Control (little lever behind the brake lever) rather than a thumbshift, and functionally and ergonomically a league apart from its predecessor. With Tiagra moving to 10-speed, the logical step was to use the old 9-speed internals for the next groupset down; Shimano won't confirm or deny whether they're the same but they certainly feel similar. The throw is much reduced on the upshift from the 3400 Sora lever, the shape of the hood is a bit nicer and the quality of finishing better. Sora now ranks, for me, as the cheapest Shimano groupset that's basically fit and forget. It's nowhere near as refined as their top-end stuff but there was never a point during testing when I was fighting with the levers and wishing I had something a bit dearer. It really does the job well. I piloted the Fuji though some frankly atrocious conditions on the Chippenham Flapjack audax and the gears clicked and whirred away with nary a single complaint.

A compact chainset (Fuji branded) on the front and a SRAM 11-32 cassette to the rear give a broad enough range of ratios for any unloaded riding. Stick a rack on (rack mounts are provided) and load up with touring gear or shopping and you'll be wishing for a triple in the hillier parts of the UK. The brakes are non-branded long-drop callipers and at first I was pleased to see cartridge pads on them, until I actually tried them. Most brake blocks are fashioned from some kind of rubber but these seem to be made of some hellish combination of blackboard shards and fingernail clippings. I've never heard such a racket, it was almost embarrassing in group rides. Thankfully the war of attrition that was the Flapjack destroyed them entirely, so I can slip something a bit quieter in.

The wheels (Vera Corsa double wall aero rims on alloy hubs, 20/24 spokes) are actually pretty good. The rim is a similar profile to the popular Velocity Deep V, and they were tightly built, mostly. Well, all except for one spoke that worked loose on the first ride. Once that was tightened up they stayed true and were reasonably stiff too, certainly more so than some budget wheels. The Vera Helios tyres find their limit fairly quickly when you're scrabbling up a steep, slimy back-road climb but they're fairly predictable so long as you don't throw yourself pell-mell into the corners.

Oval supply the finishing kit. The aforementioned shallow bars (Oval 300S) are 6061 alloy and a decent shape. The stem, seatpost, saddle and bar tape are also from Oval's 300 series, and it's all good budget stuff. No complaints there.

Overall this is a likeable bike, and one that'll eat up winter or commuting miles without complaint. Brake blocks aside the spec is solid and dependable, the new Sora STI levers are excellent, the wheels are pretty good for the money and as a package it's a good-looking decent performer, for not much cash. Get one on Cyclescheme and you could have a dependable everyday bike for about £40 a month; what's not to like?

Verdict

Well-specced first sportive bike, winter trainer or commuter. A good ride for the money.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Fuji Sportif 1.3 (2013)

Size tested: L/XL

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: A2-SL compact double-butted alloy w/ hydroformed top tube & down tube, integrated head tube, double water bottle mounts, Rear triangle: A2-SL alloy tapered seatstays/chainstays w/ rack mount, forged-road dropout w/ 1 eyelet and replaceable derailleur hanger

Fork: FC-770 carbon integrated w/ 1 1/8" alloy steerer

Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora, band-type 34.9mm

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra

Number of Gears: 27

Shifters: Shimano Sora shifter/brake, Flight Deck-compatible, 18-speed

Chainset: Fuji forged alloy

Chainrings: 50/34T

Bottom Bracket: FSA Sealed cartridge bearing

Cassette: SRAM PG-950, 11-32T, 9-speed

Chain: KMC X9, 9-speed

Pedals: mAero Road platform w/ clips and straps

Front Brake: Alloy dual pivot, 47mm reach

Rear Brake: Alloy dual pivot, 57mm reach

Brake Levers: Shimano Sora STI

Handlebars: Oval 300S 6061 alloy, 31.8mm

Stem: Oval 313 3D-forged 6061 alloy, 31.8mm, +/- 7 degrees

Headset: FSA Orbit CE 1 1/8" integrated w/ alloy top cover

Grips: Oval 300 suede-padded tape

Rims: Vera Corsa double-wall aero alloy clincher, 20/24H alloy road rims

Front Hub: Oval

Rear Hub: Oval

Spokes: Bladed spokes

Front Tyre: Vera Helios, 60 tpi, 700c x 25mm, wire bead

Rear Tyre: Vera Helios, 60 tpi, 700c x 25mm, wire bead

Saddle: Oval R300

Seatpost: Oval 300 double-bolt, alloy 27.2mm x 350mm

Weight: 22lbs/10kg

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

In designing the new Sportif series, we incorporated the endurance and comfort geometry of the carbon fiber Gran Fondo into an aluminium frame - with your adventures in mind. Whether you're trekking through the countryside or tackling a century charity ride, the Fuji Sportif 1.3 Compact 2013 Road Bike will be your best accessory.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
7/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Solidly built, neat welds, tidy finish.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Frame: A2-SL compact double-butted alloy w/ hydroformed top tube & down tube, integrated head tube, double water bottle mounts, Rear triangle: A2-SL alloy tapered seatstays/chainstays w/ rack mount, forged-road dropout w/ 1 eyelet and replaceable derailleur hanger

Fork: FC-770 carbon integrated w/ 1 1/8" alloy steerer

Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora, band-type 34.9mm

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

590mm effective top tube, 225mm head tube, 1029mm wheelbase.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Fine, though it's definitely at the upright end of the scale.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Comfortable for cruising and clipping along, not too racy but reassuringly planted.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

You can eke some flex out of the rear end if you really put the power down, but it's not really an issue.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Yes, especially at cruising speeds.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

None, even with mudguards.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Goes where you point it; it's not the stiffest at the front thanks to the small standard head tube and thin bladed fork, but it never felt nervous or vague.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Oval finishing kit was generally very good.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The frame is probably the limiting factor.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Power delivery was good for a £700 bike.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
5/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, with the exception of the awful brake blocks.

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, as a winter hack or commuter.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 190cm  Weight: 102kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

1 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I just can't get over that head tube.

The world's gone mad. My old audax bike with long drop brakes has a 128mm head tube on a 57cm frame.

posted by Chris James [184 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 11:24

23 Likes

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