Strengths: Price / value, solid frame, good handling, basic and reliable component group, downtube shifters (a plus for me)
Weaknesses: Frame / tire clearance (not easy to fit fenders), graphics and saddle are kinda over the top
I agree with KevinPhilly. As a newly "born-again" commuting bicyclist, my daily ride is more about A.) lower costs, B.) simplicity, and C.) reliability.
I considered a second hand bike from eBay and the local bike club classifieds but with fix up and shipping costs and / or questionable crash & maintenance histories, I decided to get something cheap but new. I wanted a bike made of steel for the long-fatigue life, re-workability in a crash, and the solid but not harsh ride-quality. I also wanted a simple component group that would get the basic job done without a lot of bells and whistles.
After some poking around, this Fuji League seemed to fit the bill. Cromoly main-frame with carbon steel stays (kinda old school) and 2200 component group with downtube shifters. So far after the first few weeks and few hundred miles, this has been a remarkably solid bike for the money. As is typical of a "sport" road bike, the handling is more stable than a race frame but noticeably quicker than a comfort / hybrid. During the break in period, the bike has held up well over the not-so-smooth country roads that I ride daily. Sure it's not light by road bike standards but of course I'm not gonna race it and I even think the heft seems to help it stick to the road.
I know a steel frame and downtube shifters shout "anachronism" these days but whenever this comes up, I remind myself of my ABC criteria. Sure you need to take your hand off the bar to shift but to quote the Rivendell Catalog "Most riders who use downtube shifters wouldn't think of using any other . They're light, out of the way, accessible enough, and they clean up the handlebar area, making bar-stem-tape-brake lever switches quick and easy. Moreover, they're the least distracting of all shifter--they don't tempt you to shift every time the slope increases ever so slightly."
Strengths: Sturdy, good drivetrain action, fit and finish very good. Much, much faster than a MTB or a hybrid or comfy bike.
Weaknesses: Heavy, downtube shifters, cheap rims, no toeclips.
The absolute cheapest new road bike on the planet. I wanted to try a roadbike longer than a week. Renting was not relaly an option in my area. I looked hard at the Trek 1000 for 509.00 I decided to save a bit and try this Fuji. nice ride with the cromoly/hi-tensile frame and cromoly fork. Bike weighs a ton at 25 pounds. Be aware the front shifter is friction, the rear is indexed. I hope that the Alex single wall RPF15 wheels hold up.
Similar Products Used: None, Western Flyer 10 speed
Bike Setup: Toe clips, cateye mity3, bottle cages
Date Reviewed: September 15, 2003
Strengths: Cheap. Smooth ride. No mechanical problems yet. Reliable.
I have had this bike for about half of a year, and am more than quite pleased with it. I have since added clipless pedals and bike shoes to the cranks and it is as close to a top quality road/racing bike as I could comfortably afford. Compared to other bikes I have owned this one is lightwieght. 24 pounds. It has 25 cm tyres that can be inflated up to 100 psi.
It responds more to my will than to muscular force for steering, and is not too heavy to crank up hills. I don't understand why many people need several thousand dollar alluminum or carbon framed bikes to get around, or even to compete. I can easily maintain a twenty mph average on this bike on flat ground. I would recommend this bike to anyone who wants a top grade road bicycle for a comprably very cheap price.
Bike Setup: As from factory except clipless pedals installed.
from Philadelphia, PA, USA
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2003
Strengths: Unbelievable price! I walked out the door with a fully-assembled steel-framed road bike for less than $300! (One penny less.)
Plenty of range in the 24 gears, especially in the low end. Well-suited for comfortable uphill riding.
The bike feels strong, and remains sturdy and balanced at full gallop.
The frame is mega-solid; I've hit some ferocious potholes, and there's been no wobble or ricochet.
The bike gives a stable ride during "tucks" at high downhill speeds.
The tire nozzles are the same size as autos; i.e., you can put air in at the gas station.
Weaknesses: Downtube shifters. In particular, the left shifter is remarkably clunky.
The saddle is bare-bones. It took longer than usual to get used to.
The bike is heavy for a road bike.
I have no numerical/data basis for this, but the highest gear (24th) does not seem to be as efficient as it ought to be.
The crank frequently loosens.
The bike does not really have any engineering features that "soften" the ride; if the road is bumpy, your ride will be bumpy.
The rear brakes are as useless as rear brakes can possibly be.
Warning: the tires and rims are just as narrow as more expensive road bikes. (I am told that "fatter" tires can be fitted onto the rims.)
Back to the future: the least expensive new road bike in years. I set out looking for the cheapest, and this one seems to be the clear winner.
The frame is steel, and the components are cheap, so the bike is relatively heavy; in fact, it would be hard to imagine a heavier modern road bike. That being said, if (like me) you are riding on city roads, this bike is very solid and can take a pounding.
The geometry is a little relaxed, as compared to more expensive performance bikes, so the seating/positioning is comfortable for long casual rides. (The handlebars are road-style, which I happen to like but, if you are used to riding upright, you'll need to do some retro-fitting.)
The low price and sturdy frame make for a guilt-free urban bicycle. While it has the profile of a road bike, the frame can take the abuse from bad roads. (The rims and tires are skinny though---I don't recommend jumping curbs or riding bithely through broken glass.) And given the low cost, you just plain feel better about locking-it-up around the city.
City-dwellers with a few hundred bucks to drop may want to consider this bike as a second bike. Use it for commutes and such; protect your expensive road bike by leaving it at home and relying on the League as your "beater bike."
Here in Philadelphia, the market for old road bikes is tough; a reconditioned bike with spare parts thrown together is not going to be much cheaper than a new League. Ultimately, that's why I bought this bike. To quote a friend of mine, as compared to an old thrown-together bike, the League "rides like a Mercedes."
Similar Products Used: Schwinn Varsity, Huffy Santa Fe.
All these bikes are (were) just so very "bike." Heavy, nothing-fancy cheapo road bikes.
Bike Setup: My bike was assembled by the dealer, who did a GREAT taping job, thanks!
I carry allen wrenches with me; the cables, seat and handlebars all adjust with them. Since the honeymoon period (about two weeks) of frequent adjusments, I have not had to stop mid-ride at all.
I bought the 61cm frame, which fits me fairly well. The bike does seem to run small though. I have plenty of crotch clearance. My saddle is set just about fully back and up. (I'm a little over 6' tall.) I feel like I could probably even ride the 64cm frame comfortably. So if you're buying based upon a typical frame-size chart, you may want to go a size higher.