The author on his way to a new hill climb PR.

The author on his way to a new hill climb PR (click to enlarge).​

Lowdown: Fuji SL 1.3

Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Fuji bikes. I think they offer amazing quality and value at a very good price. In fact, the first Fuji I bought was a scandium Fuji Team Issue road bike in 1999 - and I rode the snot out of it until 2004. In fact, It's still being ridden by a friend's 14-year-old son, who is using it to race triathlon. In 2010, when I worked at Yahoo!, the company cycling team was issued Fuji SL-1 Pro bikes, another great ride. Even years after the team was disbanded, some of my old team members continue to ride it. I also rode a 2012 D6 triathlon bike, which helped me set a PR on the Wildflower 1/2 ironman bike course, shaving 2 minutes off my previous best. Needless to say, I was looking forward to testing the new lightweight Fuji SL 1.3. Find out how it worked out in the full review below.

Weight: 14.17 poundsWheelset: Oval 724 clincher
Claimed frame weight: 695 gramsWheelset weight: 1360 grams
Size tested: 56cmTires: Vittoria Open Corsa 320 tpi
Parts: Shimano Dura Ace Di2 MSRP: $6320
Crankset: 52x36Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Cassette: 11-25
Stat Box


Pluses

Minuses
  • Lightweight frame
  • Loud graphics
  • Best-in-class drivetrain
  • Uncomfortable saddle
  • Wide gearing range
  • Uncomfortable handlebars
  • Light wheelset with alloy braking surface
  • May need negative rise stem
  • Comfortable ride
  • Immediate acceleration
  • Not flimsy like some weight weenie bikes

Review: 2015 Fuji SL 1.3

The Fuji SL 1.3 has a claimed sub-700 gram frame weight and is equipped with a Dura Ace Di2 electronic shifting drivetrain, Oval 724 alloy clinchers, Oval seatpost, Oval saddle, and Oval cockpit. The best-in-class Dura Ace Di2 gruppo works flawlessly, and the Oval wheelset is remarkably light, yet offers the confident braking you expect from an alloy brake track.

So light you can hang it on a clothesline.

So light you can hang it on a clothesline (click to enlarge).​

The house-brand cockpit was easy to adjust, and reasonably comfortable. The only thing I'd likely upgrade was the saddle, which I found uncomfortable on rides of more than 2 hours.

The frame has a massive down tube, top tube, and chain stays. But the seat stays are truly pencil thin, which likely gives it an amazingly compliant and comfortable ride.

Continue to page 2 to find out how the Fuji SL 1.3 performed »



The seatstays are indeed pencil thin.

The seatstays are indeed pencil thin (click to enlarge).​

So how did it ride?

This is a bike that you can put miles and miles on. It's stable, accelerates quickly, climbs great, and descends confidently. With each pedal stroke, the bike shoots forward thanks to the frame's stiffness, light weight, plus the excellent wheelset. I detected no flex, even when out of the saddle on steep climbs.

I rode this bike on a local hill climb race and despite it being just my third time on it, the Fuji SL 1.3 felt like an old friend. In fact, I set my PR for the year that day.

Going downhill it didn't disappoint, either. The handling is responsive and the ride is exceptionally comfortable, with the frame isolating road feedback. Also, unlike some other super-light bikes, it didn't feel fragile. Indeed, this bike actually felt aero. I was able to descend in a tuck passing another group no problem. And it didn't seem like it was holding me back at 28+ mph on the flats.

Even in its lowest position, the bike felt a little more upright than we'd have liked.

Even in its lowest position, the bike felt a little more upright than we'd have liked (click to enlarge).​

This said, while this is a great bike for long days in the saddle, some more aggressive riders may find its ride feel a bit muted. The head tube is on the tall side, which forced me to position the stem in its lowest position. Racer types will likely want to swap on a negative rise stem to get a bit lower.

Other quibbles include the saddle, which I found uncomfortable on rides over 50 miles. Also, I wasn't a huge fan of the handlebar shape, and even experienced some hand cramping during long descents in the drops. Finally, graphics are always a matter of personal preference, but the shiny red-on-black is a bit bright for my tastes.

The mid-compact 52-36 chainring set-up is a great compromise between spinning and sprinting.

The mid-compact 52-36 chainring set-up is a great compromise between spinning and sprinting (click to enlarge).​

Summary

Bottom line, this is a great bike that will provide years of comfort, especially when climbing. The frame is stiff yet comfortable, and it's draped with an excellent gruppo and wheelset that should make any owner happy for many many miles. And for those looking for the ultimate weight weenie bike, Fuji also offers the SL 1.1, which has the same frame, but an even lighter wheelset and components, which bring claimed weight to 10.91 pounds. Of course, at $10,000, the SL 1.1 doesn't come cheap.

For more information visit www.fujibikes.com and check out the video and photo gallery below.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lojLjiHlPFU