We ride and rate four bikes that come in at the government's Cycle to Work maximum price point of £1,000
The frame is made from Fuji's custom-butted Altair 2 aluminium and compared with some of the riotous colours and shapes thrown by the Cinelli and the Condor, looks relatively conservative. However, the top tube is subtly arched and the seat tube is round-profiled but oversized, taking a seatpost with a diameter of 31.5mm by our measurements.
The components are definitely on the money - Shimano 105 shifters and derailleurs with a cost-saving FSA Gossamer Pro chainset specced. The brake calipers are the other deviation - made by Oval Concepts, which is part of the same family of brands as Fuji. Oval is known for its top-end time trialling equipment so it's slightly surprising to see its name featuring on a £1k bike.
The wheels are Alex ALX 200s - fairly basic and, at 1,980g for the pair, 100g heavier than the Campag Khamsins of the Cinelli.
As you would expect, Shimano 105 shifting is fast and accurate, but the Oval calipers don't supply the same stopping power as the Cinelli's Campag Veloces.
As for the ride - after spending the winter on an old steel fixed with a quill stem it was a shock to rediscover how good modern bikes are, even so-called entry-level ones. It was possible to just set the saddle height of the Fuji and ride off, and it felt instantly right.
The head tube is 1cm shorter than the Cinelli's, giving a more aggressive position, and overall the feeling was one of raciness rather than sportivism, although Fuji says this bike is suitable for all-dayers.
We might hesitate to ride all day on it - it's not the most comfortable on test and this could be partly due to the oversized aluminium seatpost, which tends to transmit lumps and bumps straight through the saddle. Perhaps if your all-day ride was on the Continent this wouldn't be an issue, but in this country the roads are covered in bomb crater-sized potholes now, and we may all need to resort to full-suspension mountain bikes soon.
It's only a small criticism, but as bikes are said to be bought mostly with the eyes here goes: the red, black and white scheme is a bit Noughties, especially next to the Cinelli's Pac-Man palette. With the renewed interest in keirin racing and NJS components, now would be a good time for the company to reconnect with its Japanese roots and come up with something more eye-catching. But we're just being picky.
Fuji Altair 2 aluminium tubing
Shimano 105 shifters/mechs
Alex ALX200 wheels
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