Fuji have been making bikes since 1899, and for they’ve been putting their weight behind women’s cycling since sponsoring the first ever US women’s pro team, Fuji-Suntour, in the 1970s.
They key ranges available in women’s fit are the Fuji Finest, and the Fuji Supreme. The Finest is designed for mile munching sportive riders looking for relaxed adventures on an aluminum frame. The Supreme is an animal for those with their eyes set on the racing world.
Listed in one go these might seem a bit like a confusing maze of tech befitting of a car manual – but it’s all actually very effective in making the ride the experience that it is.
Ranging from £1,300 to £1,800, the Supreme family members are bursting with zooty features. Listed in one go in these might seem a bit like a confusing maze of tech befitting of a car manual or other (uninteresting) reading material – but it’s all actually very effective in making the ride the experience that it is.
All of the bikes have been treated with Fuji’s patented party trick – RIB technology. This basically means that that the fork and down tubes feature an extra slither of carbon that runs down the middle – providing added stiffness (oh, the holy grail of bike geeks!) and handling, without the weight penalty of hefty tubing.
Energy Transfer Chainstay
You’ve also got more buzzword technology in the Energy Transfer Chainstay (ETC), which gives the non-driveside chainstay a little extra padding compared to the side with your cassette on – meaning the rear end shouldn’t flex about with your supremely powerful pedaling.
105 for £1,500
We tested the Fuji Supreme 2.3, which sits in the middle of the price bracket, at £1,500- though you can currently get a slice off that at the sale price of £1,200 at Evans Cycles.
At this price point, you get Shimano 105 shifting and braking. It’s good to see the matching brakes, since these are often one of the first things to go when a brand is trying to save cash. You've got a compact chainset and 11-28 cassette, which means there's plenty of scope to go climbing.
An in-house componentry company, Oval, supply the chainset, wheels, saddle and seatpost – which probably explains how they can afford to spend money elsewhere, giving the customer an overall better deal.
The saddle is women’s specific – though it's quite squishy and has a fairly small cut out. Personally, not great for me, but bums are like snowflakes, so I’ll not dwell on my own relationship with this perch.
In terms of ‘how is it women’s specific’ – the top tube is shorter than the closest comparison, the unisex Altamira, the wheelbase is shorter, handlebars are narrower and the cranks are brought down as well.
All of this would cater for someone with longer legs and a shorter torso, as the saying goes. The ongoing debate over leg and torso length aside, this will mean a less stretched out position, less stress on the upper body, with more driving force through the legs, at the sacrifice of a little aerodynamics.
Regardless of frame geometry - the benefit of tweaks such as narrower handlebars and a female specific saddle go a long way, meaning women don't buy a bike with the penalty of having to change all the touch points straight out the box.
How does it actually ride?
Swinging my leg over this bumble-bee of a design, I was instantly impressed with the smooth ride.
The bike has what I like to call ‘magic carpet’ qualities
The bike has what I like to call ‘magic carpet’ qualities. All road buzz was completely dampened out. Perhaps the squishy, padded suede bartape was influencing my reactions slightly, but I certainly felt the push of a quick and capable bike that I could travel many happy miles on.
I was immediately aware of a fineness of handling that comes from confidence in the front end
Taking my first corners on my favourite local circuit, and later up and down the hills of Kent, I was immediately aware of a fineness of handling that comes from confidence in the front end. That RIB technology didn’t seem so buzzwordy and irrelevant when it came to swooping round the bends.
I did find I felt quite long and stretched out on the Supreme, which might have contributed to the fun of cornering. This said, the 100mm stem could be easily swapped for a 90mm if this became an issue.
The lightness of movement extended into the remit of the bike when it came to climbing, and the Supreme felt perfectly at home on a climby 80 miler in the Surrey hills.
I was also impressed that I could fit two 750ml bottles in the frame - handy on a long ride, and not something I can do with my own regular steed.
My only downmark on the Supreme is the lack of stomp, urgency, snap – whatever you want to call it. I enjoyed the swiftness, the smoothness and the cornering prowess, but I struggled to find any angry sprinty notes in this frame.
‘Riding in anger’ wasn’t something that felt easy, though it’s worth bearing in mind that sometimes some tweaks to the set up, or a wheel upgrade can sometimes remedy that.
Oh yes, the colours...
Finally - a note on the paint job. Colour appreciation is subjective, but personally I'm not a massive fan of orange. Fuji have offered white and purple one their top end 2.1 model, and black and orange on the 2.3. It seems they've gone to two ends of the spectrum - one traditionally 'girly' colourway, and one total departure from what is quintessentially feminine.
Make of that what you will, but if I was armed with colour swatches and a dab of paint, I'd look closer to the middle of the scale. Each to their own, however, and this means nothing to performance. Regardless, I do like how the crimp ends on the cables match.
Overall, a fast, capable bike that handles beautifully and climbs like a cloud. Not one for sprinting in anger, but definitely likely to get you to the finish line in comfort.
After a new road bike? Check out our buying guide here.