Review: Fuji SLM 29 1.0

29er Cross Country Pro Reviews

Chris Sota Review:

Key Specs

  • Fuji’s D6 HMC
  • Internal Cable Routing
  • Replaceable Derailleur Hanger
  • Integrated Tapered Head tube
  • Low stand over height for smaller riders
  • Fuji Ride Tuned Chain stays and down tube

Build Specs

  • Drivetrain consists of a 2X10 Build of Shimano XT cranks, Shifters, Brakes, Front and Rear Derailleur and SLX 11/36 cassette
  • Wheel set consisted of XT hubs w/ WTB laserdisc Trail 29er Rimes and Hutchinson Cobra Tires
  • Cockpit consists of Oval Aluminum Bars, Stem, Seat post, and Leather saddle
  • Fork Consist of a Rock Shox SID 29er w/ Remote lock out and 15mm Front axle
  • Actual Build Weight on the large 25.8lbs

Rider Bio

  • Name: Chris Sota
  • Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Age: 29
  • Hometown: San Jose, CA
  • Riding Style: XC, All Mountain
  • Similar Bikes Ridden: Gary Fisher Superfly, Niner Carbon Air 9, Marin CXR 29er, Specialized Carbon Stumpy 29er, Santa Cruz Highball, Scott Scale 29er
  • Current: Cat1 XC racer for Quadzilla Racing Team

Overview
At first look, the Fuji is aesthetically pleasing to the eye; clean lines, subtle graphics and nice matte finish with no gloss make it very appealing. Large sweeping bars inspire confidence and control on the descents, tapered head tube with a 15mm axle fork gives the stiffness to be aggressive as well. The internal cable routing keeps everything looking clean and Fuji’s ride tuned chain stays are wish boned shape and offer great stiffness without sacrificing ride quality in rough sections. Fuji went with a BB92 BB and their ride tuned down tube features a boxed shape at the BB area for stiffness and rounds its shape out while making its way to the head tube to help with vibration dampening.

The Ride
My first ride on the bike was a straight fire road climb up and a fast descent down and I noticed how comfortable it was to climb right away. The front end didn’t wander around and it stayed firmly planted, it was very efficient. The frame also showed good power transfer and acceleration. The one thing I did notice was that you could feel the weight of the bike holding you back during these accelerations. Next was a wide open fire road descent all the way to the bottom. The bike was very stable and handled speed very well it never felt twitchy and just seemed to want to keep going faster. I was very impressed with the way the frame handled small chatter. With a good idea of how well it climbed and descended, it was off to more fun places. Next stop Santa Teresa Park in San Jose, CA with steep climbs and rocky descents. At Santa Teresa I got to tackle some steep grades which further confirmed how well the bike climbed. I never needed more gears and the front never felt like it was going to start floating around. It was here as well I noticed my first dislike about the bike, the stem length (easy to fix but effects the overall experience of having a ready to go bike out of the box.) I felt that while out of the saddle the stem positioned you too far forward loading the front fork way too much, even with the fork locked out there was still a noticeable amount of weight being shifted forward which you really don’t want when climbing something steep and trying to power out of the saddle. After riding numerous 29er hard tails and after receiving the bike I knew this was going to be something I wasn’t going to be very fond of, but I kept an open mind about it. Next was a 1.5 mile rock garden descent (Rocky Ridge) most donot take their hard tails on. I attacked it hard and didn’t hold back, the bike handled it very well, it was easy to pick lines and control and the 29 inch wheels just steam rolled the little stuff in the way making for a very confident descent on a not so comfortable trail. My next stop was to Belmont, CA Waterdog Park for some tight single track. At this park everything is compacted into 3 mile loops with short punch climbs, single track and tight switchbacks everywhere, perfect for testing the handling and the quick accelerations. I was very impressed even with the long stem the bike was very easy to maneuver and get around on the tight trails. Once again you could feel the bike wanting to accelerate faster than it could because of the weight. Last stop was in Santa Cruz, CA Wilder Ranch, a mix of all the above to see how comfortable and versatile the bike could be on a long trail ride. The verdict… it held up very well, it gave me confidence and stability while going down and strength and efficiency for going up, handled very well and I never felt a lack of control in any situation. The gearing of the 2X10 was perfect, plenty for going up, down or motoring through the flats. This is a very solid platform to upgrade when the rider is ready for an ultimate build.

Strengths:

  • Efficient climber
  • Good power Transfer
  • Excellent damping through the frame
  • Stiff head tube

Weaknesses:

  • Price
  • Weight
  • Component Choices

Bottom line
So the bottom line is this… the bike does everything it is supposed to do, it climbs and descends and makes the rider confident, but it could do it much better if there was more attention to detail given. I feel as if they spent so much effort and detail making a great frame, Fuji just does not do it justice with its component choices, especially for the price point. (Bike tested $4329 retail) I feel like at 25lbs they just took the easy way out in picking the components just to have a finished project. Heavy aluminum seat post and bars and wheels on a $4200 bike? I believe it’s the attention to detail that I think is important in an overall product and produces a great bike. As a trail bike it has a purpose, but to fit in with the market they are trying to hit with this bike as their flagship race 29er, they need to drop 2-3 lbs. and keep the same price point in my opinion, I can’t help but imagine how amazing this bike would be if some slight changes were made to it these are my notes for Fuji. Carbon Seat post to save weight and to help with vibration damping. 80mm Stem with slight drop to keep an aggressive position yet center the rider a bit better on the bike and over the pedals while standing. Carbon bars with a slightly smaller width which will help with Weight to make the front end feel lighter, Turning Ability the bars are just a bit wide for what I would consider a race bike they are more like downhill bars width and vibration dampening from the carbon. The wheels this bike could easily stand to lose at least1-2 lbs. in the wheels; this will greatly help its acceleration and weight more than anything. In terms of Value Rating I am giving this bike 3 out of 5 not because it’s not a great bike or have anything wrong with it, but because at the price point this bike is set at plain and simply you can find a better bike. In terms of the Overall Rating I have to give this bike 4.5 out of 5, without taking price into account this bike does everything it is supposed to do and well.

Value Rating:

3 out of 5 Stars

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato has been the Site Manager of Mtbr.com for over 12 years and enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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  • WLB says:

    Are those 2012 XT Icetech brakes? You must ride your brakes like an old lady to be able to get them to fade. I have XT on a Mojo SL-R & rip the long, fast downhills here in Utah & never get any fade.

  • Francis says:

    We’ve deleted the comments about the brakes. The brakes needed to be bled and were not in top form. Normally, those brakes are one of the best today.

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