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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.


Gary H said...

How do you like your Fuji Team SL after all these months? did you pay 1642 after taxes?

Piaw Na said...

It is a great bike! The Team SL is everything I wanted in a bike. I did pay $1642 after taxes. I've since swapped out the chainrings for 34/50. The bike handles beautifully, and I can now keep up with people I used to have trouble with on the climbs. I'm also glad I bought it then, because for 2006, the model does not exist any more!

Gary H said...

I put a deposit on the Fuji Team Issue full carbon ($4500 on sale for $2999) AND a Team SL ($2350 on sale for $1799) but one size too big. I cancel both today and picked one up at the LBS for 1799 in my size (including tax). Very lite bike. How did you manage to swing such a good deal?

Piaw Na said...

Ebay! :-) Actually, for a while Supergo/Performance Bikes was having a major blowout on Fujis. (They're doing it right now, as a matter of fact)

Gary H said...

Just an update on this bike..

-> This bike rocks!

I manage to shave 17 mins off a
48 min ride....

I brought a heavy Giant DS-1 and I
pushed myself hard on this route and was
able to finish in 48 min.

I also did this route on a Santa Cruz
Superlite... But I don't have stats
on that bike because I reset the
computer for another ride so I have
no idea how fast I can do it on that

I just finish riding the TeamSL on
the very same route.. I
only pushed it after 3/4 of the ride
to do some hills and I shaved off an
incredible 17mins!!
I did a leasurely ride for the first
3/4 of this route. Imagine if I
pushed it at the start.. Amazing

I have an '05 Team SL. Do you have an
05 or 04?


Piaw Na said...

I have an '04 (black) Team SL. It's a nice bike alright. :-) I love it. I hope you know that the '05 had a recall on the wheels. Fuji will replace the wheels for free.

Gary H said...

Yeah heard about the recall. I wrote to american classics a few days ago and got a reply that if I bought my bike recently it's not affected, but my serial # starts with an "S" which is one of the batches that are included in the recall.

Know of any other links that discuss the Team SL? I'm a team SL freak that's how I found your site.

Piaw Na said...

I'd definitely send the wheels back to American Classic for a replacement. I don't know of other links that discuss the Team SL, other than Terry Morse's postings here and there on USENET. Fuji isn't a very well known brand (or very well respected), even though their bikes are right now excellent and well designed.