Sensible pruning of spec doesn’t have to be a compromise, as the Fuji Roubaix 1.1 shows.
Fuji’s long-running Roubaix series has seen several design and cosmetic changes over the years, culminating in the 2015 model which features a smoothly sculpted alloy frameset.
The 1.1 is the top of the three-model Roubaix range that all share the same frame, and it includes some of Shimano’s latest Ultegra drivetrain components to provide 22 gears, all for £1,100.
Though it may share its ‘Roubaix’ name with a series of carbon-fibre bikes from Specialized (which, incidentally, licenses the name from Fuji), it couldn’t be more different. Fuji places its Roubaix in its ‘road race’ series, and so the bike has a slightly more aggressive stance than more relaxed leisure-bound bikes.
Fuji has used its own A6-SL custom-butted tubes to piece together the frame, which you’ll note has a relatively level top tube rather than the almost ubiquitous sloping top tubes of the majority of current models.
The frame’s clean lines are assisted by the internal cable routing in the top and down tubes for the gears and rear brake. It’s neatly done, as are the smoothed welds at the frame junctions. Also noteworthy are the asymmetrical chainstays — flattened on the non-drive side, and rounded on the drive side.
To hit the £1,100 price point Fuji has had to be discerning with its choice of components. The backbone of the drivetrain is Shimano’s Ultegra 6800 levers and rear derailleur. We’ve said it before, and doubtless we’ll say it again — this groupset is one of the best we’ve ever tried, with quiet, rapid shifts that require the minimum of effort and provide accurate gear selection every time.
Matching the Ultegra levers and rear mech to Shimano’s next-rung-down 105 front derailleur and cassette has done little to spoil the feel. Same also goes for the Oval Concepts chainset, which is a solid unit that doesn’t look out of place alongside the Shimano bits. Although Fuji bills the Roubaix as a ‘road race’ model, we do question the inclusion of a mid-compact chainset offering 52 and 36-tooth rings. Although they are coupled to a wide-ranging 11-28 tooth cassette, some may find the bike over-geared for their needs.
Rather than going for no-name or third party brakes, Fuji has stuck with Shimano 105 units to provide proven and reliable stopping power. Oval Concepts provides much of the rest of the finishing kit including stem, bars, seatpost and saddle. The bars retain their full diameter along the tops and are wrapped with thick bar tape to give a comfortable grip.
Oval Concepts crops up again, providing its 327 wheelset shod with decent 23mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres on the Roubaix 1.1. Black rims and hubs are well finished, with the rim profile offering a smooth curve rather than a more angular point where it meets the spokes.
The stuck-on graphics are rather chunky, and are perhaps one of the only indicators that these are an entry–level set of wheels. The nicely finished quick-release skewers look great, though.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Roubaix 1.1 was a very smooth ride, even over some of our bumpy, potholed local roads. Buzz from uneven tarmac wasn’t directly transmitted as you sometimes find with alloy frames and the silence of the drivetrain and lack of rattles that sometimes plague internal cable routing were absent. It was an almost eerie experience whipping along quiet back lanes, and the bike does shift along nicely.
We appreciated Fuji’s speccing of thick bar tape; even that few extra millimetres of give helps for a comfy ride. Our size Large model came with a stack of 35mm of headset spacers under the stem, which made for a relatively upright position which felt good and certainly puts the rider in command on steeper descents.
The Oval Concepts wheels also felt plenty stiff enough, with no side-to-side movement when we were riding out of the saddle on climbs — and seemed to have little wobble in stiff crosswinds either, despite the rim depth.
The drivetrain was superb, confirming our initial impression that Fuji has done a good job of sensibly mixing and matching parts to retain the smooth operation of 11-speed Ultegra. Only when the road reared up did we miss the lower gearing of a compact chainset, although the bike’s very respectable 8.58kg weight certainly helped fight off gravitational pull.
For more details visit the Evans Cycles website.
There was really very little to fault with the Roubaix 1.1, and we had to remind ourselves of the price when we got back from our rides. This is a £1,100 bike that offers a lot.