Thursday, March 17, 2005

First ride on the Fuji Team SL

After 10 yeras of never owning a bike that weighed less than 24 pounds, I finally went whole hog and bought a Fuji Team SL. It weights 16 odd pounds after I put in pedals and swapped out the cassette from a 12-23 to a 12-27.

After fixing shipping damage (which still cost less than sales tax would have been!) and putting on a bike computer, I took it for a 10 mile ride. The first thing you notice about the weight loss is the acceleration. It's amazing to go from 0 to 20mph in about 6 pedal strokes almost effortlessly. Then the climbing. The lowest gear was a 36x27 (thank goodness for compact cranks), but I found that when climbing 15-16% grades I was still standing up and going in a straight line and not to-and-froing like you see on TV sometimes. Very nice. (My touring bike has a low of 19 inches, and I think I've had to go into the granny on the same hills!) Now, Ultegra STI isn't necessary if you have low enough gears that you can sit and spin up anything, but if you have to stand up for any significant hills (anything > 8% grade), then I think STI is almost a necessity. Shifting while standing took a little bit of getting used to, but wasn't as disconcerting as I thought it would be. I found I could shift in both directions (both up and down) under power.

Descents were a blast. This bike geometrically speaking is practically a clone of the Bridgestone RB-1, with perhaps a slightly shorter top tube and a slightly high bottom bracket, so that's not suprising. I took it up to about 35mph, and won't hesistate to do more.

I still have to get the fit dialed in a bit more (whenever I get a new bike I have a tendency to set the seat too high), but I'm very surprised by how I seemed to fit this bike almost naturally. (Once again, given that I selected this bike partly because it was so close to the Bridgestone RB-1, isn't surprising)

The price I paid for this bike $1642 after customization, was nothing short of amazing. My 1993 Bridgestone RB-1 was built from frame up and cost $1800 or so, and that was in 1993 dollars! On the other hand, the RB-1 had components so reliable that even after 8 years it was running as well as it was brand new. I have my doubts that the Team SL will still run like that in 3. (The wheels are the weak spot, they are very light, and even given how light I am, I expect them to get trashed very shortly) Nonetheless, the bike's a great buy, and I look forward to spending a few miles on it.
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